With all of the level concepts and core mechanics locked in, Double Fine have announced that they are entering the full production stage of Psychonauts 2. As work is now starting in earnest, Double Fine president Tim Schafer and project lead Zak McClendon have released a new video update to explain what the jump to full production means for the Psychonauts 2 team.
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All the foundational systems for Psychonauts 2 are now in place, including all of Raz’s moves, the enemies you will fight and the mindscapes you will explore, so Double Fine can begin the arduous task of actually making the game. Along with building out Psychonauts 2’s hub world and its first level, this particular video update shows how main character Raz has changed from the original Psychonauts to now.
With Raz trying to impress some of the older Psychonauts in the sequel, his new design makes him look a bit more mature than his previous incarnation. To get the design just right, the team drafted in original Psychonauts director Scott Campbell to oversee Raz’s new look. He will start off the game wearing his original costume, but a “super secret story point” will eventually see him borrowing the old clothes of his idol and fellow Psychonaut Sasha Nein. From that point on in the story, Raz will sport a trendy black trenchcoat, alongside a blue turtleneck jumper and his flying goggles. So stylish.
As production has properly begun, Double Fine have begun ‘whiteboxing’ their first major level, as well as building out the game’s hub world. If you’ve never heard the term whiteboxing before, it’s where developers will make a basic outline of a level using (unsurprisingly) white boxes, so they can iterate on level design and change aspects of the world without much fuss. Once the design is refined and agreed upon, the art team can then go in and make the level look nice and pretty. You never put the art in first, as if you decide to change a large aspect of your level, it is quite the costly process to redo a whole bunch of art compared to swapping a few white boxes around.
According to Psychonauts 2’s fig page, the next big milestone for the team is creating a vertical slice of the game to be shown off at trade shows and game conventions. This should give players a proper look at what the full version of Psychonauts 2 should be like, by showing examples of its levels, puzzles, and art. It’ll probably be quite a while before this vertical slice is finished, so don’t expect a demo at E3.