Tim Schafer interview – The frustrating aspects of working with publishers

Tim Schafer interview – The frustrating aspects of working with publishers
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Legendary developer Tim Schafer talks about his upcoming visit to Melbourne’s Game Masters exhibition, Kickstarter and working with publishers.

You may have already heard that Tim Schafer is heading Down Under as one of the special guests at the Game Masters exhibition (for more details, check out the official website here). We recently had a chance to talk with Tim about a bunch of gaming-related topics. He discussed what you can expect from him at the Game Masters exhibition—including the possibility of a cage fight with Peter Molyneux—the serendipitous birth of Double Fine’s Kickstarter-funded point-and-click adventure, and the pros and cons of working with publishers. Read on for our verbatim discussion with the legendary Tim Schafer. (Please note, any references to beeping or anything else random is due to the fact that this was an international call.)

Atomic: Hello is this Tim?

Tim: Has the beeping stopped? Oh, yes, this is Tim!

Atomic: Yes, the beeping has stopped. I was talking to myself like a crazy person before. I hope you’re having a good afternoon.

Tim: Yes, good morning to you.

Atomic: Shall we jump straight into this?

Tim: Yeah, because we have to get off in 20 minutes.

Atomic: They’ve got you opening and starring in games exhibitions now. How did that come about?

Tim: They just called out of the blue and asked me, and I said, ‘I’m honoured to be a part of your presentation.’ I’m very interested in games as an art form and I love when they’re treated… and I think that people in the games industry hope that they’ll be treated someday: worthy of being in a museum.

Atomic: So does that mean you’re available for house parties as well?

Tim: *Laughs* Whatever takes.

Atomic: You mentioned games as art. What do you have to say to naysayers such as Roger Ebert who believes that games can never be art?

Tim: Well, I mean, I don’t see how that’s relevant, really. I hope that’s not taken out of context. I’m not a big crusader on that, I don’t want to publically fight with anyone or disagree visibly. I have my interests, like, I guess, to me, I think of them as art, and I think that the people who play the games, a lot of them think of them as art, so I don’t see that it needs anyone else’s opinion.

Atomic: Fair enough. What exactly are they getting you to do in Melbourne at the Games Masters Exhbition?

Tim: What am I to do?

Atomic: Yeah, what are they getting you to do there, apart from talking, obviously?

Tim: I am going to… I think there’s a talk or a panel that I’m going to be on. I’m going to be around and about the exhibition. I have a very full schedule of workshops and stuff. I think that they probably have a more detailed schedule than I do. Basically, I’m at their disposal all week.

Atomic: Do you know what games of yours they’re showing off particularly or showcasing?

Tim: I’ve sent them a whole bunch of art from all my games so I think they’re going to pick through the stuff that people haven’t seen before and I think they had some original art and some playable games, and I know there are a lot of… I mean, the exhibit has a lot of other great—it sounds like I’m saying I’m great—it has a lot of more recognisable characters than me, like, Miyamoto and stuff. I imagine they’ll have rooms and rooms and I think there might be a little closet for me, I dunno. There’ll be just one little plaque for me, and I’ll stand by it all day.

Atomic: Are they getting you to go head to head with the likes of Peter Molyneux or anyone like that over any hot topics?

Tim: You mean like in a cage match? Like in a fight? A fight to the death?

Atomic: Well, however you want to interpret that question, really.

Tim: That’s scary. Peter Molyneux would win.

Atomic: Yeah?

Tim: Yeah, he’d use witchcraft.

Atomic: I hadn’t considered that angle.

Tim: I just assume he has dark magical powers.

Atomic: I think we all assume that. He certainly has a silver tongue, doesn’t he?

Tim: He can speak to serpents.

Atomic: They covered that in Harry Potter, didn’t they?

Tim: Uh huh. I’m not saying he’s evil, don’t get me wrong.

Atomic: No, no, no. I won’t quote out of context.

Tim: He’s a lovely man. A lovely, lovely man who I never want to anger.

Atomic: Because of the aforementioned reasons, right?

Tim: Exactly.

Atomic: In your opinion, whatever happened to the point-and-click adventure genre?

Tim: Well, it’s interesting, I think that the industry grew around it. I think our games always sold a certain amount and I think the rate we sold them at is still the same today: adventure games, that is. Other games have gone on… I mean, the console market showed that you could sell many, many million copies of something, and you’ve got social/casual games, you can sell even more copies of games. It seems like every couple of years, they figure out how to sell millions and millions more games, and yet adventure games seem to have not had that sort of explosive growth. I think that people… games have gotten more and more immersive, too. When you’re playing Uncharted, you feel like you’re controlling a character in a movie, jumping on airplanes and all that, and I think point-and-click games have a certain distance and a certain… it’s still immersion, but it’s a lack of… it’s not as visceral, it’s not like you feel as though you’re punching guys yourself. It feels more like you’re scratching your head and thinking about puzzles, and moving around, and it’s a different sort of slower kind of gameplay style for a slower-paced experience. And I think it was something that some people really, really liked. But it was not as splashy or attention-getting as other game genres, and they definitely grew a lot faster.

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