Promotional artwork for Psychonauts 2, showing the characters of Sasha (far-left), Lili (left), Raz (right), and Milla (far-right)
|Developer(s)||Double Fine Productions|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 4|
Double Fine and game director Tim Schafer had expressed desire to create the sequel to Psychonauts, but the financial demand of developing the game stalled any serious attempt. After strong sales of the original through various outlets along with strong demand from the fanbase of the original game, Double Fine sought to acquire part of its financial capital to fund the developments of Psychonauts 2 through a US$3.3 million crowd-funding and investment drive through Fig, launched simultaneously with the game's announcement. The campaign raised a total of nearly US$4 million by the beginning of 2016.
Psychonauts 2 will be a third-person platform game similar in gameplay to its predecessor. The player will control Raz, a newly graduated Psychonaut with powerful psychic abilities, as he delves into the minds of others. The player will use "Psi-Powers", such as telekinesis, pyrokinesis, and levitation, in combination with more common platform game elements, to explore the mental worlds of several non-player characters.
The game will pick up after the conclusion of Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin, with Raz having assisted Sasha Nein and Milla Vodello in rescuing head Psychonaut Truman Zanotto — a mission begun at the end of Psychonauts. Following Zanotto's rescue, the team returns to Psychonaut Headquarters, where Raz discovers that the organization is not all that it seemed. In Zanotto's absence, the Psychonauts organization had been changed by its second-in-command, and psychic research was directed away from peacekeeping efforts towards more unorthodox studies including necromancy.
Tim Schafer, director of the Psychonauts series, said that some of the ideas introduced in Psychonauts, such as Raz's family, their history, and the curse that continues to affect them, would be further explored in the sequel. Raz will also come to understand what the term "girlfriend" means.
Double Fine's first title as a studio was Psychonauts, released in 2005. The title was highly praised by critics for its characters and writing, but was considered a commercial failure. Psychonauts has since gained a cult following; fans have urged Tim Schafer, CEO of Double Fine and principal creative lead on the game, to develop a sequel to the title, and it is often considered by game journalists on lists of games that need sequels.
Schafer had expressed interest in working on the Psychonauts franchise again, the company having envisioned larger story arcs for the game's characters over the course of its development. The development of the sequel would require a publisher that was interested in the game, and Double Fine approached publishers with the idea; Schafer said that in these pitches, he pointed out the large number of both legitimate sales through digital distribution and through the illegitimate means of software piracy. After Double Fine's success with the concurrent development and publishing of several smaller games, such as Costume Quest and Iron Brigade, Schafer also felt more comfortable about embarking on a sequel, knowing that it need not obstruct the creation of any newer properties. Despite this, the publishers continued to turn down the idea. Some called the concept too creative or too obscure, according to Schafer. For others, with whom Schafer said he had good relations, the deals they offered did not fit with the scale Double Fine had planned for the game.
In February 2012, Markus Persson, at the time the owner of Mojang, made a public offer to fund a sequel to Schafer through Twitter. Later that day, a company representative for Double Fine stated that Persson and Schafer were discussing the possibility, without further affirmation. Persson noted that the anticipated costs that Double Fine would need would be an estimated $18 million, far exceeding what was initially expected to fund and cautioned fans to avoid hyping the funding possibility. Persson and Schafer met at the Game Developers Conference in March 2012; however, no definitive plans were made for funding a sequel. In February 2013, Persson officially stated that he is no longer directly trying to fund the sequel, commenting that he doesn't "have the time at the moment to even try to get educated enough to make an 18 million dollar deal", though would be open to the idea at a later time after he left game development; Persson did note other potential investors have stepped forward to help any such effort.
Announcement and fundraising
At the 2015 Game Awards, Schafer announced Double Fine's plans to work on Psychonauts 2 using a crowdfunding campaign through Fig. The company sought $3.3 million in funding for the game, which represented approximately one-third of the planned development costs, and would augment money being put in by Double Fine and a third-party investor. Schafer noted that while the amount was the same that they had raised for their Broken Age Kickstarter, which by the time of its release had significantly overran its budget, he felt the studio was in a better position to manage the costs and processes necessary to deliver Psychonauts 2 on schedule. Schafer noted that this funding approach — bringing in money from multiple investors instead of from a single publisher — is similar to the approach taken by the movie industry, and further, that the use of crowdfunding can alleviate some of the traditional risks associated with investment, being an effective means of proving public interest in a title.
Mere days after the announcement of the Psychonauts 2 campaign, Double Fine also announced the development of Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin, a publisher-funded virtual reality game for the PlayStation VR. The game is a smaller standalone chapter that serves as a bridge between the original game and its sequel, featuring Raz and the other psychonauts rescuing Truman Zanotto, tying into the conclusion of Psychonauts.
During the campaign Schafer confirmed that the sequel would see various team members from the original return, including Richard Horvitz and Nikki Rapp as the voices of Raz and Lili respectively, Erik Wolpaw as writer, Peter Chan and Scott Campbell as artists, and Peter McConnell as the composer. Jack Black, who has worked on previous Double Fine games, will also voice in the game. 2 Player Productions, a video production company who had previously worked with Double Fine to document the development of Broken Age, would be similarly documenting the creation of Psychonauts 2. Double Fine also planned to utilise Unreal Engine 4 to develop the sequel, allowing them to save time and money which would otherwise be spent developing a custom game engine, as they had done in the past.
The campaign reached its target funding goal with five days left in its 38-day campaign. Upon completion, a total of $3,829,024 had been raised from 24,109 backers, with about $1,874,000 (48%) coming from those who opted to invest in the game compared to those who chose the more traditional reward-based options. Some of this funding was tied up in process with the Security and Exchange Commission to authorize Fig's use of unaccredited investors; Fig during this time covered Double Fine's development costs from their own capital. The matter was resolved by September 2016, assuring Double Fine will receive the amount funded or invested.
In February 2017, it was announced that Starbreeze Studios had invested $8 million to help digitally publish the game across all platforms. They will recoup the investment by gaining 85% of the profit on sales, after the Fig investors are accounted for, until it is recovered, and then take 60% beyond that. The investment only affects the distribution, as Double Fine retains all control on the IP and the development process.
Double Fine had originally planned on a 2018 release for the title, but announced in December 2017 that with the game now in full development and their planned roadmap towards release completed, they do not expect to release the game until at least 2019. Double Fine premiered the game's first full trailer at The Game Awards 2018 in December 2018. Psychonauts 2 is currently in alpha.
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I love that game and I would love to do something with it someday, but right now we're not working on that. If the fans keep talking about it, maybe it will happen.
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