Skip

OMG OMG
February 7, 2012 10:54 AM   Subscribe


 
I read the exchange, chuckled idly, and then remembered how many piles of money Minecraft has made and got the biggest shit-eating grin on my face.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:57 AM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Man, I didn't realize Psychonauts, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango were all the same guy. Give him a few million and let him do whatever he wants!
posted by cmoj at 10:58 AM on February 7, 2012 [16 favorites]


Psychonauts was great, but I'd rather have a good new game than a sequel. Justmy2c.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:59 AM on February 7, 2012


This is by far the best thing to come from Minecraft to date.
posted by Aquaman at 10:59 AM on February 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


This has been a pretty neat story today. According to rough estimates I've seen Minecraft is on track to break 100m soon. Minecraft is pulling in roughly 250k per day. It is nice Notch can put this money to good use.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:59 AM on February 7, 2012


Yeah, I'll take a psychonauts 2, or anything else that Tim Schafer would like to give me. This makes me incredibly excited.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:01 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Y'know that Notch guy is a pretty cool dude.
posted by graventy at 11:01 AM on February 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh god I really hope notch is going to become an eccentric billionaire venture capitalist with "how many millions exactly?" as his catchphrase.

"It would take millions of dollars to establish a moon colony for the purposes of low-gravity dodgeball."
"How many millions, exactly?"
posted by griphus at 11:02 AM on February 7, 2012 [75 favorites]


To the best of my knowledge, Schaefer has never been gung-ho about making sequels to his older work, preferring to let Full Throttle or Grim Fandango stand alone. If he's confident enough in the idea of Psychonauts 2 to start pitching it to publishers on his own, instead of the other way around, I'm on board.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:03 AM on February 7, 2012


Also:

[+]xNotch 1252 points1253 points1254 points 5 hours ago (181 children)

Heh, I wouldn't get involved in the game design in any way at all if this happened.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:04 AM on February 7, 2012


I demand Manny make an appearance.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:08 AM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Whoa, he's the guy behind DOTT and some of the Monkey Island games ? Where do I send my $50 ?
posted by k5.user at 11:11 AM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Schafer's career is really interesting. So many great games, so few hits, and yet he's an icon and a hero. In the last two or three years, I've played through all the 2D Monkey Island games, Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango, and Psychonauts. Every one a joy ... but who's buying?

I mean, sure, if Notch wants to finance this thing as gamer-philanthropy, okay ... but when was the last time a Schafer project sold big? Was Brutal Legend a hit? I get the sense that it wasn't very good, but I don't know if it sold discs or not.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:14 AM on February 7, 2012


The Reddit thread about this indicates that people would be willing to crowd-fund a sequel. I wonder how many other games people would be willing to do the same for?
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:14 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder how many other games people would be willing to do the same for?

The Escape Velocity trilogy.
posted by digitalprimate at 11:16 AM on February 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


Tim Schafer has consistently made games that didn't sell well at the time they came out, but were very well-loved. Brutal Legend is probably the only game he's made that didn't fully gel, and I still enjoyed the hell out of it.

He's been so beaten down by the game industry over the years, though, that I wonder if he's got another Grim Fandango or Psychonauts left in him.

If he does do a Psychonauts 2, my only request would be to not make all the characters so freakishly ugly. That always really bothered me. And a difficulty level within the reach of ordinary mortals would be good, too. :-)
posted by Malor at 11:17 AM on February 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


You know, a lot of it's our fault -- Tim made these absolutely phenomenal games, and we didn't show up to buy them until it was way too late.
posted by Malor at 11:18 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder how many other games people would be willing to do the same for?

I would put literally tens of my own dollars into a sequel for Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes.
posted by griphus at 11:18 AM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Y'know that Notch guy is a pretty cool dude.

Eh kills creepers and doesn't afraid of anything.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:18 AM on February 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


Old'n'Busted: I wonder how many other games people would be willing to do the same for?

I suspect a good number of people would be willing to donate for another Zork game. I would. Stupid Activision will never let it happen, though.
posted by kittenmarlowe at 11:20 AM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Whoa, he's the guy behind DOTT and some of the Monkey Island games ? Where do I send my $50 ?

Here.
posted by Jairus at 11:21 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pschyonauts on the whole was really really awesome, but if there was a sequel I would like it to be a little less dependent upon hunting and collecting. Arrowheads! Baggage! Figments! Cobwebs! It got to be a bit grindy. But the level variety was awesome.
posted by sourwookie at 11:22 AM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm a little nervous about a sequel to Psychonauts. The first one did not build a very strong brand, so I'm not sure what themes would be carried into the second one. I think the gameplay from the first one was, although great at the time, now severely dated. The story was hilarious but I don't think that hilarity really creates sequels that well.
posted by rebent at 11:25 AM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder how many other games people would be willing to do the same for?

Castles II 2.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:28 AM on February 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


This is like George Harrison personally funding the complication of Life Of Brain cause he was such a Python fan.
posted by The Whelk at 11:31 AM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would like to see a sequel to Pong. How many millions would that take?
posted by spicynuts at 11:32 AM on February 7, 2012


BTW, if you haven't played the Double Fine's offerings since Brutal Legend, you're missing out. Costume Quest, Stacking, and Trenched Iron Brigade are all great. I've heard the Sesame Street Kinect game is pretty good too, and the only reason I haven't gotten around to Happy Action Theater yet is because I've barely booted up my XBox since SWTOR came out.
posted by kmz at 11:32 AM on February 7, 2012


Stacking is charming and fun, if a bit short. Happy Action Theater looks like much more than $10 worth of fun (provided you've got enough mind-altering substances on-hand).
posted by uncleozzy at 11:35 AM on February 7, 2012


Minecraft's sales data is public. They've sold 4.9M copies now, the majority at €20. I'd guess he's grossed about €80M or $100M. (Related: if anyone has a currently working historical record of those sales, please share! The m00d.net graphs have been offline for over a year.)

I know folks love Psychonauts but I honestly don't get it. Wildly creative, just not much fun, at least for me. And I've bought like three copies. I never get past the second level or so. I can't help but think Psychonauts 2 would be a terrible investment.
posted by Nelson at 11:38 AM on February 7, 2012


I once *saw* Tim Schafer at the GDC, but I was too shy to say hi, and it doesn't help that his eyebrows are permanently in the "I'm going to kill you" position.
posted by hellojed at 11:41 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I loved Psychonauts - Black Velvetopia and The Milkman Conspiracy were possibly the greatest levels in any game I've ever played - and I live in SF. I would be willing both to throw money into this and to wander into the Double Fine offices occasionally and dope-slap anyone who tried to turn the project into a half-assed RTS or something.
posted by Blue Meanie at 11:42 AM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


But you bought three copies! Yes, you probably wouldn't buy the sequel, but it's also got an entire prospective audience of people who haven't played the old game and would be going in fresh, because it's old and they're lame people who don't play old games even when they're $2.50 on Steam.

(I also bought three copies of Psychonauts. I am not ashamed.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:42 AM on February 7, 2012


I still maintain that the current tablet market is PERFECT for reissues of some of these games (including my favorite: Grim Fandango). The touch-screen works great with the mechanics of the games, so WHY NOT? I'd buy GF for the iPad in a flat second.

And I no longer own an iPad!
posted by Edison Carter at 11:44 AM on February 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Thinking about what you bring over from the original Psychonauts into a sequel, I would have to say it would be all about making a game with a ton of crazy different worlds to run around in (minds). Let that artistic creativity run wild with today's tech, and we could see some really interesting stuff.

The rest of the game could be whatever, but the core is jumping through minds and running through different worlds.
posted by keep_evolving at 11:46 AM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder how many other games people would be willing to do the same for?

I would for the old PC Game called "STUNTS" I think. You could build your own track, race against computer players (one named Otto Partz, for example), you could race in all different types of cars ranging from a compact car to a Lancia Delta to a F1 car of some kind. It was the best game I ever played, and I think it was made around 1993. The world building that was possible back then with 1993 technology was impressive. With today's technology, it would be like StuntCraft I think. Epic possibilites, a track that takes 24 hours to drive around once, etc.. it would be amazing in 2012.
posted by some loser at 11:49 AM on February 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


I had an idea for a "world" of dreams. A sort of patchwork world, where dreamscapes blend into each other and you can see the stitching between them.

I could see a game where he can hop between minds of people who have some connection...

I dunno. I just know that while some parts of PS dragged on, overall it was a fun romp and one of the few games I took the time to fully complete.

There's plenty to mine (no pun intended) from.
posted by symbioid at 11:51 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would for the old PC Game called "STUNTS" I think.

Do I have good news for you.
posted by griphus at 11:54 AM on February 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


The Whelk: This is like George Harrison personally funding the complication of Life Of Brain cause he was such a Python fan.
You're usually so reliable on Metafilter. What the heck happened in that comment?!
posted by hincandenza at 11:56 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is Happy Action Theater, BTW. Also, Schafer randomly did voice acting work in Haunt, a recent XBLA Kinect game.

Also, I just remembered that this wouldn't be the first time Double Fine has gotten fan funding for a project. The Mac Psychonauts port and PC Costume Quest port were both funded by some dotcom guy.
posted by kmz at 11:57 AM on February 7, 2012


I often wonder what I would do if I was wildly successful and suddenly had stupid amounts of money, luckily notch exists so I can just watch what he does.

Oi notch, Geoff Crammond and Andrew Braybrook could do with some love.
posted by fullerine at 11:58 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't see it. The original Psychonauts had a budget of around $15m, and average budgets for big name console games nowadays range from $20m-$30m. Would Mojang really want to spend that much money (at least one out of every five dollars they've earned with Minecraft) to fund/publish a game from another developer?
posted by aparrish at 11:58 AM on February 7, 2012


Do I have good news for you.

I really need to figure out why Trackmania 2 is so fucked up on my computer. Half the text is completely unreadable. I was able to stumble my way into a server by guessing what different buttons did, but it's not really ideal.
posted by kmz at 11:58 AM on February 7, 2012


I think the budget could be considerably less if it was an XBLA downloadable title, with the less demanding production values that entails. It's totally doable with the kind of budget Notch seems willing to provide. And the (many) fans of Psychonauts won't balk at the lack of super-cutting-edge visuals.
posted by naju at 12:16 PM on February 7, 2012


I think the gameplay from the first one was, although great at the time, now severely dated.

Really? What games have surpassed it? I still think zooming around on the TK ball, bouncing into the air, drifting on the parachute, slamming down to earth with the TK hand are all great fun. I can't think of many games that are more fun to move around in and explore. And the combat with that TK hand feels really solid and satisfying (and amusing). Shooting, setting things on fire, blocking with your shield, it's all really well done.
posted by straight at 12:20 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Excellent. A victory for good taste.
posted by zamboni at 12:22 PM on February 7, 2012


I don't see it. The original Psychonauts had a budget of around $15m, and average budgets for big name console games nowadays range from $20m-$30m. Would Mojang really want to spend that much money (at least one out of every five dollars they've earned with Minecraft) to fund/publish a game from another developer?

Easily addressed: when negotiating the deal, Tim & Notch start from the assumption that Notch's angel funding will be used to generate the initial prototype/art direction/vertical slice demo, and once that's done the result can be brought to a major publisher with the capital to fully fund the project (and eat any potential loss should it flop).

Tim & Notch lose a huge cut of the profit by doing things this way, but they can bargain a better rate based on their having self-funded the riskiest portion of the development, and the substantial guaranteed sell-through based on Notch's 570K Twitter followers. As I've said elsewhere, outside the realm of big-budget AAA titles, games are mostly competing for market visibility these days.
posted by Ryvar at 12:39 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Droste effect insane asylum level please!
posted by sexyrobot at 12:45 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


also, best line from any game evar: "You are fast like greasy lightning!"
posted by sexyrobot at 12:47 PM on February 7, 2012


And the (many) fans of Psychonauts won't balk at the lack of super-cutting-edge visuals.

Less detailed visuals might be a hard sell to Notch's fan base though.
posted by juv3nal at 12:51 PM on February 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


I don't suppose Valve would loan Erik Wolpaw to Double Fine to help Schafer with the writing?
posted by straight at 12:55 PM on February 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


You know, a lot of it's our fault -- Tim made these absolutely phenomenal games, and we didn't show up to buy them until it was way too late.

But these days, we have Steam and XBL/PSN that, along with Twitter and more attention from the press for indie games, would put the game in front of the eyes of untold millions of gamers worldwide.

I'm confident they could make a game and it would sell enough to recoup the initial investment.
posted by SirOmega at 1:04 PM on February 7, 2012


I'd rather notch just throw $10 million at Schafer to do whatever he wants.
posted by empath at 1:17 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, a lot of it's our fault -- Tim made these absolutely phenomenal games, and we didn't show up to buy them until it was way too late.

Hold it right there. There is a lot more at fault here than some nebulous "us."

Computer and video game publishers heavily pushes the next new thing, partly because systems go obsolete so fast. Many excellent games simply aren't on store shelves long enough to build enough word of mouth to find the audience they deserve. Thank god the advent of Steam, Good Old Games and similar services, which can make games available indefinitely, meaning they actually have a chance of building an audience that isn't composed of bro-game obsessed teenage males with money burning holes in their pockets.

And until the internet hit it big, who among us really had a way of knowing that Psychonauts, or Grim Fandango, or what have you was something special? Answer honestly now! Gaming magazines are nearly all crap -- even the better ones place more importance on review scores than on any personal connection the game made with the player, and Schafer's games all rely on building that connection.

This isn't to say that an audience couldn't have been built if people had paid more attention. But it's fallacious to say it's the fault of consumers, most of which have a horde of other competitors for their time, energy and money. It is true, I didn't buy Grim Fandango when it came out, but I wasn't buying a lot of other things either.
posted by JHarris at 1:17 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The reason why Schafer's games don't sell is because they are so much fun that they are fun even if you don't play them.
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:31 PM on February 7, 2012


graventy: "Y'know that Notch guy is a pretty cool dude"

eh crafts mines and WHAT DO YOU MEAN I MISSED MY CHANCE
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:07 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


...people would be willing to crowd-fund a sequel. I wonder how many other games people would be willing to do the same for?

Star Wars: Tie Fighter II

(runs off, hands on imaginary controls, making dopplered elephant roar sounds)
posted by Sauce Trough at 2:09 PM on February 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


kmz: "Also, I just remembered that this wouldn't be the first time Double Fine has gotten fan funding for a project. The Mac Psychonauts port and PC Costume Quest port were both funded by some dotcom guy."

Kim?
posted by symbioid at 2:10 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


"It would take millions of dollars to establish a moon colony for the purposes of low-gravity dodgeball."

No, no -- flying dodgeball. Here's a working human-powered ornithopter with a 32m wingspan. In lunar gravity, you can cut that to ~5m. Heinlein's trick: lift increases with pressure, so if you're in a pressurized room you can cut the necessary wingspan for human powered flight even further. Your moon colony already has a big pressurized room -- the air reservoir. At three ATM, the nedessary wingspan is down to 1.7m or so. That's a winglength that's about the same as your armspan. You'd pretty much just need to strap airfoils to your arms (and be in really good shape). Feathers might do the job.

Gingrich 2012.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:23 PM on February 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Computer and video game publishers heavily pushes the next new thing, partly because systems go obsolete so fast. Many excellent games simply aren't on store shelves long enough to build enough word of mouth to find the audience they deserve.

This is such a big factor. Books, films or songs can take years to find an audience. Bach wasn't appreciated until well after his lifetime. Grim Fandago and Psychonauts had to be hits within a couple of months to be considered a success. Games have to be smash hits. They generally aren't usually allowed enough time to slowly build a following (and reach profitability).

Minecraft is an interesting counter example, in fact.
posted by bonehead at 2:37 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I ever meet someone involved with Day Of The Tentacle, I am morally obliged to buy them a beer right then and there.
I need to keep a stack of bills on me at all time so I can then clutch them and thrust them at their chest.
posted by Theta States at 2:38 PM on February 7, 2012


Once I make my first zillion I'm going to pull Yu Suzuki out of his hole to finish the Shenmue series properly.

There will be a forklift chase scene with deadly consequences.
posted by Winnemac at 2:39 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Star Wars: Tie Fighter II

If only there were some insanely rich dude who was really into Star Wars who could just fund the thing with pocket change he found under his couch cushions...
posted by straight at 2:41 PM on February 7, 2012


This is why I love indies. Industry can go fuck itself. I imagine Notch having one of those "I'm CEO, bitch" business cards, a la The Social Network.
posted by Peevish at 2:47 PM on February 7, 2012


. . . some insanely rich dude who [is] really into Star Wars money . . .

FTFY

I wouldn't even care if it was just an engine and graphics update of the original TIE Fighter. With multiplayer. So, really, X-Wing Vs. TIE Fighter + TIE Fighter. Might as well throw the X-Wing campaign in there, too. Oh man, I have such a nerd boner just thinking about that.
posted by clorox at 3:15 PM on February 7, 2012


I wonder how many other games people would be willing to do the same for?

They're remaking the squad-turn-based-top-down game X-Com: Enemy Unknown and I would flick them a few bucks to ensure they don't make it stupid and annoying somehow.

But if they remove the trooper footstep sfx it will be like Transformers without the iconic "chk-chk-chk-chk" and I will SCREAM.

*tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak tak ta-FWOOOOOSHBOOM!* "AWW SHIT MY ENTIRE SQUADRON IS DEAD HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN AT LEAST LET ME OUT OF THE GOD-DAMNED PLANE!"
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:17 PM on February 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is really neat, but I'd be afraid that it would be hyped up to impossible-to-achieve levels, and everyone would be disappointed.

A few years ago, Joystiq asked a bunch of game developers to solve a silly adventure game-style puzzle that they had made up. It was supposed to be a cheap laugh, and I don't think there was even a right answer. Tim Schafer took their challenge and absolutely owned them.
posted by Sibrax at 3:35 PM on February 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


"AWW SHIT MY ENTIRE SQUADRON IS DEAD HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN AT LEAST LET ME OUT OF THE GOD-DAMNED PLANE!"

It happened because you didn't equip your front row guys with large rockets and fire immediately at anything that even smelled alien.
posted by FJT at 4:25 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait, there was smell-o-vision X-COM?

And I don't own it?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:40 PM on February 7, 2012


I would like to see a sequel to Pong.

Wasn't that called Breakout?
posted by hippybear at 5:32 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would like to see a sequel to Pong.

Wasn't that called Breakout?


No, it was called Shatter and it's awesome
posted by ymgve at 5:53 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]




I would like to see a sequel to Pong.

Wasn't that called Breakout?

No, it was called Shatter and it's awesome


No, silly. Shatter was the sequel to Arkanoid which was the sequel to Breakout. (Breakout was a solitaire spinoff of Pong, with a bit of a regular cameo appearance from Space Invaders, though that's more apparent in the sequels.)

The sequel to Pong itself (disregarding the bastardization from LogicalDash above) is Bit Trip Beat. It was a long, long time coming and there were no intermediate steps, which is curious, because all it would have taken was someone making a tennis or ping pong game. Luckily for my thesis here, none ever made it to production.
posted by nobody at 6:30 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rockstar Games presents Table Tennis.
posted by Nelson at 7:05 PM on February 7, 2012


Every Sport Ever
posted by Winnemac at 7:08 PM on February 7, 2012


I can see this because Psychonauts totally ended with a sequel hook, so I have to imagine there were plans for Psychonauts 2 somewhere.

The X-Com remake doesn't count, though - it's going to be another FPS. Because there aren't enough, apparently, and from what I've seen it's more fighting shoggoths in the 50s, which is cool but not what I imagined for X-COM. The rumor I heard is they were already working on it so they could reuse Bioshock resources and tacked on the X-COM name afterwards.

I have yet to find a good X-COM spiritual sequel.
posted by dragoon at 9:12 PM on February 7, 2012


The X-Com remake doesn't count, though - it's going to be another FPS

There's one of those, but there's also this.
posted by juv3nal at 9:56 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ohh. via giantbomb, the guy that backed the costume quest for pc and psychonauts for mac ports has chimed in too: @notch @timoflegend I'm in.
posted by juv3nal at 10:03 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


aparrish: "I don't see it. The original Psychonauts had a budget of around $15m, and average budgets for big name console games nowadays range from $20m-$30m. Would Mojang really want to spend that much money (at least one out of every five dollars they've earned with Minecraft) to fund/publish a game from another developer?"

Thanks for beating me to the punch.

I was going to say something along the lines of

It will happen, it will be awesome, and I will not get to play it as it will be console only.
posted by Samizdata at 10:06 PM on February 7, 2012


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: ""It would take millions of dollars to establish a moon colony for the purposes of low-gravity dodgeball."

No, no -- flying dodgeball. Here's a working human-powered ornithopter with a 32m wingspan. In lunar gravity, you can cut that to ~5m. Heinlein's trick: lift increases with pressure, so if you're in a pressurized room you can cut the necessary wingspan for human powered flight even further. Your moon colony already has a big pressurized room -- the air reservoir. At three ATM, the nedessary wingspan is down to 1.7m or so. That's a winglength that's about the same as your armspan. You'd pretty much just need to strap airfoils to your arms (and be in really good shape). Feathers might do the job.

Gingrich 2012.
"

Forget that. Low gravity love hotel.

Come ON PEOPLE! DO I NEED TO DO ALL THE THINKING AROUND HERE?!?!

Sheesh.
posted by Samizdata at 10:11 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Speaking of which, should anyone be all

"OMG! I MUST SUPPORT THIS AND I MUST BUY AT LEAST ONE MORE COPY OF MINECRAFT BUT I ALREADY HAVE ONE! WHAT TO DO?" there's this guy on MetaFilter that would happily solve your crisis by accepting a gift...

Just sayin'...
posted by Samizdata at 11:21 PM on February 7, 2012


I would like to see a sequel to Pong.
Wasn't that called Breakout?
No, it was called Shatter and it's awesome


You're going to make me do this, aren't you?

Look. Pong and ponglikes have a long and convoluted history. I don't know all of it myself, but I know enough to tell you that there have been literally dozens of Pong and Breakout clones over the nearly 40 years since Pong (1973) was created. A lot of new game developers create Breakout clones as a kind of game Hello World, as it's a very simple algorithm, at least in principle. Here are some of the most notable.

Pong was the first of course. Atari followed it up with a bunch of games like Quadrapong that date back to the company's really early history, almost forgotten today. They are to some degree commemorated in the Video Olympics cart for the Atari 2600, some of the games on which (I BELIEVE) are recreations of old arcade games. Many of these arcade games, including Pong itself, are not able to be emulated, because they were created out of discrete logic components instead of microprocessors -- since there is nothing there to emulate, technically they can only be recreated.

Both Breakout and Super Breakout were arcade machines released towards the tail end of the early period of arcade history (that is, Computer Space up to Space Invaders), but they are much better known as Atari 2600 games. Super Breakout is the first game, I think, to prefix the game name with "Super" to signify an upgraded version, which Nintendo would pick up on for Mario and many games in the SNES era. The legend behind Breakout is that Atari contracted out to Steve Jobs himself, pre-Apple, to design and program it. He in turn subcontracted it to Steve Wozinak for a small portion of the money he got from Atari, pocketing the rest. (I have no idea if this is really true or not. It seems a little too neat to me.)

Another similar 2600 game was Circus Atari, which was also based on an arcade game I believe (although one with a different name). It's a somewhat comical game in which you move a teeter-totter with the paddle to bounce two men up into the air. The closer to the end of the teeter-totter the man lands, the higher he bounces his friend, but if he misses the end he hits the ground with a startling crash noise, his head and upper torso smashed flat against the ground and his legs still kicking in the air. It is possible to read this two-second scene as either horrifying or hilarious.

Another early game, one that's better remembered now, is Warlords, which is a lot like four-player competitive Pong played around the corners of the screen, with a player in each corner. Each player gets Breakout-style walls behind his paddle (which orbits his corner as he spins his paddle) to defend a king; if a player's king gets struck by the ball, that player is out of the game. The Atari 2600 version of this is very good and is one of the best games for the system, not the least reason for which being that with two sets of paddles one can play four-player games.

Arkanoid is often considered a "sequel" to Breakout. It's one of the better clones, but it is, ultimately, an imitator, produced not by Atari but the Japanese company Taito.

Nintendo themselves has cloned Breakout at least twice: as a bonus round in the NES game Pinball, and in the Gameboy game Alleyway. And here's a bit of really obscure gaming history for you: HAL Laboratory, now a Nintendo second-party company and the original home of current Nintendo president Satoru Iwata once made a really weird deluxe Breakout game for the Commodore 64, called Pinball Spectacular. I can confirm this personally -- it was one of the first C64 games I had, and it's actually still pretty awesome. It would be extremely wonderful for me if it turned out that Iwata himself had worked on a Commodore game early in his career, but sadly I have no proof that he did. (Nintendo licensed work out for some of their early NES games, so it's possible that HAL was responsible for NES Pinball.)

Atari themselves returned to the well one last time. Much as like how they remade their ancient Sprint games as Championship Sprint and Badlands in the late 80s, they made another Breakout game called On The Ball (no relation to Taito's [wonderful] Cameltry, which was released as On The Ball for the US version of its SNES port). Some cabinets actually supported 4 players, but it was more of a co-op game. Instead of one player at the bottom of the screen, each player in the game would take up one side of the screen, and would have to prevent balls from getting past a paddle on his side. It had interesting and fun abstract graphics in a style slightly reminiscent of their game KLAX, but unfortunately this was very close to the release of Street Fighter II and the end of what I call the Silver Age of arcade gaming.

Right there we hit the beginning of the age of shareware, and a lot of people tried to make a living off of lacklustre Breakout ports, including, if memory serves, the infamous Moraff of a hundred Mahjong solitaire versions, who produced "Moraff's UltraBlast" in 1995 for Windows 3.1. (It turns out he's still kicking -- a recent release of his is Moraff Mahjong 2011. He'll get it right someday.)

So you understand, when I see someone talk about how X Breakout clone is great, I cannot help but take it with a grain of salt. People have been making and remaking this game for almost as long as there have been computer games. I'm not say that the last word on Breakout clones has been said, but I don't think anyone is going to definitively cap this venerable genre unless they've studied much of what came before, and I don't really see anyone doing that, or even attempting to.
posted by JHarris at 1:45 AM on February 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


The best Breakout clone ever was Blast Ball for the C64. I also had a 3D C64 version of Breakout but all it did was prove that Breakout doesn't work in 3D.

I tried to like Psychonauts but couldn't; I think the mistake I made was trying to play it directly after I finished Okami, and the contrast between stunning beauty and awkward hideousness was too much to bear. Also I was tired of item-gathering sidequests. Maybe I'll try again sometime.

Anyway, if someone with a spare several mil is reading this thread here are some other ideas for games you might like to fund:

Freespace 3
Descent 4
Master of Orion 3 non-alpha release
SCARAB 2
God Hands
Stellar 8 (yes I know there is already a sequel, but it was not good)
More games based on the works of David Lynch by the guy who made Deadly Premonition
XRogue HD
Rez 2 without Genki Rockets
Borges-themed MMORPG
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 2:45 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, let's do more:

The sequel to Rez is Child of Eden, but also The Gunstringer, which is pretty much the same game but in very different clothing. The prequel might be Tempest. I'm hoping to suss out another great JHarris comment here.
posted by nobody at 4:41 AM on February 8, 2012


Might & Magic X (Wizardry-style, not strategy and certainly not action)
Ultima VIII
Dungeon Keeper 3
Wing Commander VI

A political campaign to rename islands in the Caribbean to Plunder Island, Monkey Island etc.
posted by ersatz at 5:01 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bad Day At The Midway 2.
posted by Theta States at 6:05 AM on February 8, 2012


I think when JHarris says "On the Ball" he may mean Off the Wall, Atari's 1991 Breakout game. Only mentioning it because it's one of my favorite arcade games ever. The graphics were quite good for the time, the music is still great (a sort of Marble Madness thing going on), and the gameplay was a nice innovation in letting you make the ball curve.
posted by Nelson at 9:42 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd put in a vote for Dungeon Keeper 3.
posted by radwolf76 at 10:18 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm dating myself, but Warlords was the absolute shit, and my favorite game when I was like 5 or 6. That and Kaboom.
posted by empath at 10:22 AM on February 8, 2012


Anyway, if someone with a spare several mil is reading this thread here are some other ideas for games you might like to fund:

I was going to say that I wanted a version of minecraft that's not written in fucking java, but that's already coming.
posted by empath at 10:24 AM on February 8, 2012


Ah, Nelson is right; I got the name wrong. I write these things from memory mostly. Yes though, Off The Wall is cool. In my mind it is the last game Atari released in their Silver-age style, it even came out after Rampart, which is usually what comes to mind when I think of this period of Atari's history.

They did make other games at that time, but the story is that none of them tested well against Street Fighter II so they just never released them, which among other games also deprived the world of Marble Madness II. Although they had some other hits afterward (Primal Rage did pretty well, and somehow Area 51 can still be found in game rooms to this day), I don't think the company really found its feet again until San Francisco Rush and Gauntlet Legends.

(Yeah, I'm kind of an Atari buff. They are by far my favorite classic arcade company. Taito wasn't bad either, and of course Konami, Sega and Namco made some good stuff, but for a while it seemed like Atari would invent wholly new kinds of gameplay with every machine.)
posted by JHarris at 11:03 AM on February 8, 2012


"The X-Com remake doesn't count, though - it's going to be another FPS

There's one of those, but there's also this."

Wait Wait! there are TWO X-com's coming out??! The video for the FPS game looked like complete utter crap but this looks.... ... Sid Meier. (*hyper-ventilates*)
posted by stratastar at 12:10 PM on February 8, 2012


In the name of strict accuracy, I was also wrong about Off The Wall supporting four players. Evidently it only accepted three.
posted by JHarris at 12:22 PM on February 8, 2012


The X-Com remake doesn't count, though - it's going to be another FPS

There's one of those, but there's also this.


Yeah that's the one what I meant. The FPS has been delayed again and it's been in development hell for a few years now so it's basically going to be DNF.
posted by tumid dahlia at 2:38 PM on February 8, 2012


X-Com successor:
The UFO series by Altar..
UFO: Aftermath, UFO: Aftershock, and UFO: Afterlight.

It's very much like X-COM but real-time(with pause) instead of turn-based.
You give your people instructions, unpause, and everything happens simultaneously.
posted by TheKM at 9:52 PM on February 8, 2012


So apparently this is a thing.
posted by juv3nal at 10:07 PM on February 8, 2012


Yeah, I just pledged.
posted by empath at 10:46 PM on February 8, 2012


In my bit on Ponglikes I completely forgot about Bit Trip Beat, which for all its rhythm game aspects is really just super fancy solo (or co-op) Pong. Alas nobody I am not as knowledgeable about rhythm games. I didn't get to play Rez on the Dreamcast until much later, and not for long.
posted by JHarris at 12:24 AM on February 9, 2012


So apparently this is a thing.

First heard about this yesterday on Giant Bomb. The article said it was at 8k. When I clicked on the link in the article, it was already up to 70k or so. Then I wake up and see an article dated the middle of the night on Joystiq that they've already surpassed the goal. Wow.
posted by kmz at 4:47 AM on February 9, 2012


So apparently this is a thing.

Conflicted; I want a new Schaferesque adventure game, but don't own a PC. I mean, I guess I could just kick in my $15 and hope for a Mac version, but ... well I guess I could borrow my wife's PC ... okay, sold.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:20 AM on February 9, 2012


Hey uncleozzy -- in the comments on the Kickstarter they say that top priority with extra cash would be a Mac and/or iOS version. I figure that if they surprised a half-million dollars literally overnight they'll probably have enough to work on a Mac version.
posted by AmandaA at 6:22 AM on February 9, 2012


Yeah, I saw that. I would rather they blow the extra cash on better voice acting or music, honestly, but if they continue to raise money at any pace at all, I'd certainly expect to see a Mac version.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:27 AM on February 9, 2012


To paraphrase Notch "SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!"
posted by symbioid at 6:38 AM on February 9, 2012


More like, "TAKE MY MONEY AND STOP SHUTTING UP!"
posted by straight at 8:14 AM on February 9, 2012


So apparently this is a thing.

Goal: $400,000
24 hours later: $934,000+ and counting.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:28 PM on February 9, 2012


They've now passed that iPod Nano watchband for most-funded project in the site's history. They had the most backers of any project about 15 hours in.

This is pretty awesome to watch.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:57 PM on February 9, 2012


Eight grand away from a mil, as of now.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:31 PM on February 9, 2012


So I'd say the timing of the kickstarter thing was particularly shrewd. I mean it's like they saw all the buzz the Notch/Psychonauts2 thing got and mainlined the collective audience sense of "Well, I'm not a multimillionaire like Notch, but if I were, I would so totally do that."

Can't afford to give me a few millions? Well here is this other thing you can afford. Kind of evil-genius-brilliant.
posted by juv3nal at 3:32 PM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Five hundred bucks to go.

*Refresh*

Dang, all the cheering nerds took down Kickstarter.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:45 PM on February 9, 2012


Bang. A million bucks. In 24 hours. For a point and click adventure game.

Incredible.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:47 PM on February 9, 2012


There aren't very many people in the game industry who could say, "Hey, folks. I wanna make a game. Adventure game. Dunno what it'll be about. Dunno when it'll be done. Wanna help fund it?" and then get a million bucks shoved in his face.

Actually, it's $1.1 million as of right now, and climbing steadily.

About goddamn time that man started to get some good feedback for the awesome games he's done.
posted by Malor at 7:51 PM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I should say -- get a million bucks from customers, since being funded by distributors and/or angel investors is the way it's done right now. So the amount isn't particularly astonishing, but the source sure is.
posted by Malor at 7:53 PM on February 9, 2012


So I'd say the timing of the kickstarter thing was particularly shrewd. I mean it's like they saw all the buzz the Notch/Psychonauts2 thing got and mainlined the collective audience sense of "Well, I'm not a multimillionaire like Notch, but if I were, I would so totally do that."

Mrs. Schafer is a friend of mine, in fact I sit next to her at work, and she assures me that the timing of the kickstarter was pure coincidence.
posted by bendy at 9:54 PM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


There aren't very many people in the game industry who could say, "Hey, folks. I wanna make a game. Adventure game. Dunno what it'll be about. Dunno when it'll be done. Wanna help fund it?" and then get a million bucks shoved in his face.

I'd give Schafer/Gilbert money not just for a game, but even to release a script.

I'm impressed though, this is the second biggest amount of money I've seen pledged this way.

posted by ersatz at 6:20 AM on February 10, 2012


So the amount isn't particularly astonishing, but the source sure is.

And honestly, this is the only way a high-quality, commercial adventure game could get made these days. The conventional wisdom--and this is probably true--is that the market for such a thing is just too small to make it worthwhile. You'd have to be touched to put up a million bucks or more to fund that sort of thing and expect to make money.

But when you cut out the middleman--when nobody needs to recoup, and all the funding comes from, essentially, preorders--it suddenly becomes possible.

Let's even pretend that half of their funding doesn't exist--that those funders only kicked in for the novelty factor, and wouldn't do it again. How many writers, developers, artists, musicians, actors could three-quarters of a million dollars pay? In particular if, like Double Fine, you've already got a toolkit?

Obviously this is something that an unknown in the industry couldn't pull off. But for developers with any kind of reputation, it could be an interesting new wrinkle.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:14 AM on February 10, 2012


Obviously this is something that an unknown in the industry couldn't pull off.

Aside from established 'industry' names, I think guys like Edward McMullen and Jonathon Blow could easily fund their games this way.
posted by empath at 7:16 AM on February 10, 2012


Bang. A million bucks. In 24 hours. For a point and click adventure game.

Um, I haven't played it in a while, but I remember some pretty darn hard action sequences, no? Maybe I was dreaming, but I remember the Meat Circus. And the Butcher was a bitch. The Lungfishopolis boss fight also required some nifty maneuvering, if I remember.

Wow. I kinda forgot what a great game it was. Maybe I should go back and finish the final boss battle. I admit I gave up.

"We're gonna take the sausage and shove it in your face."

Fantastic.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:06 AM on February 10, 2012


Planescape 2, anyone?
posted by kmz at 9:08 AM on February 10, 2012


God, the amount of work in making a game like Planescape:Torment would be fiendishly difficult to cover in Kickstarter. I dunno if you've played through that game recently, but the Infinity engine (D&D 2E rules) was incredibly complex, and then you had an assload of content to go with it.

They were able to amortize the cost of making that engine over a number of games, but that doesn't work until game two and later... you have to make the whole thing to get game 1 out the door. True, modern dev tools are much better, but even today, developing something with similar complexity and tactical options as the Infinity engine would cost probably at least a couple million all by itself. And then you could actually start making your game.

I would be shocked if anyone could do something of the scope, complexity, and length of Torment for much under $15 million. And that's working in 2D... it would be a lot more expensive in a 3D engine. As far as I know, it's much less labor-intensive to animate 2D sprites that look 3D-ish than to actually model, texture, and animate true 3D models.

Neverwinter Nights was more or less an attempt to do something similar in 3D... I think it was moderately profitable, but didn't get anyone particularly excited. It was always an awkward engine to play with. It's not just the 3D that's hard, it's polishing the interface to actually work well.
posted by Malor at 9:40 AM on February 10, 2012


I dunno if you've played through that game recently, but the Infinity engine (D&D 2E rules) was incredibly complex,

I don't think anybody loved Planescape because of the D&D 2nd edition rules.
posted by empath at 9:44 AM on February 10, 2012


Or, for that matter, its tactical options. Or controls. Or interface. The reason NWN didn't reach the same cult-classic heights isn't because it was clunky - they both were. One gave us "What can change the nature of a man?" and the other did not.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:56 AM on February 10, 2012


Any Planescape follow-on would have to leverage an existing platform. It would make no sense to do elsewise. How open are the Fallout 3 or Skyrim engines?
posted by bonehead at 9:57 AM on February 10, 2012


the kickstarter was pure coincidence

"I can't get over how incredibly poorly timed my Psychonauts 2 offer thing was, haha." -- Notch
posted by straight at 9:57 AM on February 10, 2012


I remember some pretty darn hard action sequences, no? Maybe I was dreaming, but I remember the Meat Circus.

From the Double Fine FAQ:

"What’s up with Meat Circus is that you’re a sissy. Sure, sure, invisibility is very important when Raz’s dad is trying to knock you off those tight ropes. And your shield will bounce the knife thrower’s blades right into those spinning target wheels. And also you can throw a confusion grenade at that bunny and then just go pick it up, instead of trying to grab it with Telekinesis. Those things are also true. But the main point I’m trying to make here is that first one, about you being a sissy."
posted by straight at 10:00 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, "point and click adventure" refers to the Kickstarter game, which we don't know what it is yet, not Psychonauts 2, which still may or may not ever happen.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:01 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


pretty amazing demonstration of Kickstarter's potential...
Kickstarter blog: "There are crazy days and then there are days like yesterday."
Edge: Devs celebrate Double Fine's Kickstarter success.
posted by progosk at 10:47 AM on February 10, 2012


Yes, thanks for the clarification, Holy Zarquon. I made that realization myself.... oops.

the main point I’m trying to make here is that first one, about you being a sissy

It's been a while, but I think I made it past the tight ropes and knives. I remember being chased in a circle with no way to beat the Butcher. Again, it was a long time ago, and I was very stoned.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:06 AM on February 10, 2012


Honestly, i didn't think that Meat Circus was that hard, but I grew up playing NES games.
posted by empath at 11:08 AM on February 10, 2012


I think the trouble I had with Meat Circus was mostly the trouble I had with like Mario 64, which is that platforming in 3D is hard with no depth perception.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:23 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


It happened because you didn't equip your front row guys with large rockets and fire immediately at anything that even smelled alien.

Uhhh yeah but I was doing a pacifist playthrough *eyedart*
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:18 AM on February 12, 2012


"What’s up with Meat Circus is that you’re a sissy. Sure, sure, invisibility is very important when Raz’s dad is trying to knock you off those tight ropes. And your shield will bounce the knife thrower’s blades right into those spinning target wheels. And also you can throw a confusion grenade at that bunny and then just go pick it up, instead of trying to grab it with Telekinesis. Those things are also true. But the main point I’m trying to make here is that first one, about you being a sissy."

Those parts were easy. What was hard was the section where climb up a circular chain link fence and the controls were so imprecise that you managed to fall into fiery death nine out of ten times. But I seem to recall they fixed that problem after the original release.
posted by ymgve at 4:44 AM on February 12, 2012


« Older "Its fake!" Then she devours a piece in three...   |   "No minority should have their... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post