Tim Schafer on Double Fine publishing and not being told what to do | PCGamesN

Tim Schafer on Double Fine publishing and not being told what to do

Double Fine Presents

Double Fine has, in the last five years, has gone through quite the transformation. The studio was treading water after Brutal Legend in 2009, but now it has complete control over its IPs, has successfully experimented with emerging business models - in many ways setting a trend - and is now assisting other developers with the Double Fine Presents label. 

Speaking with GamesIndustry International, Tim Schafer chalked the big shift up to not liking being told what to do. And now he wants to help new indie developers chart their own course. 

"Maybe the old publishing model was just hard for me, because I'm someone who doesn't like to be told what to do," Schafer explained. "That's maybe a bit childish, but that's the way I am. And I think that's the way a lot of indies are. They're independent. They don't like anybody acting like their parents, claiming they know what to do. [Publishers] aren't your parents. They're a business and you're a business, and when it comes down to it they're going to do what's right by them. That can be a dangerous thing for anyone just starting out.

"We wanted to share that and stop them from falling into that trap, because when you're just starting out you have such a great advantage over everyone else. You don't have a lot of bills to pay and employees to feed; you're just two people making a game and it's easy to be fooled by someone who comes along and says, 'You don't know what's going on. You're going to be taken advantage of by the industry, so comes to us, give us your rights, your copyrights, let us take care of you and make sure you're okay'."

Schafer wants to use his studio’s experiences from dealing with AAA publishers and marketing games to help developers navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of game development. But he wants to use a light touch to do it, ensuring that the developers remain independent. 

Double Fine isn’t acting like a traditional publisher, but is lending resources and experience. Escape Goat 2 was released under Double Fine Presents, and recently Kickstarted noir adventure game Last Life was picked up a few months ago. Double Fine’s assistance will be tailored for each of the carefully selected games. 

"We're lending our notoriety and your experience to help out, but the main thing for us is it's customisable to whoever we meet," Schafer said. "Escape Goat 2 is done. We didn't help them make that game, but we can promote it. Last Light is just starting out, so we can help with their Kickstarter. Everybody will have different ways that they need help. Maybe they want playtesting and feedback from that, maybe they don't have any audio. We can be flexible and fit into whatever those needs are."

Perhaps most importantly, unlike a publisher, Double Fine isn’t looking to profit financially. "If we want it to be something that's supported by a paid staff on hand to deal with it, we're going to need to be paid something. I think that would be something where, if a game is a huge hit, we'd be able to share in that in some way, but not have it be ticking a box upfront. We don't get any of their Kickstarter money. We don't take a chunk of their funding."

Cheers, GamesIndustry International

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unwanted avatarFraser Brown avatarJampacked avatar
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788
3 Years ago

So what is he doing? This seems like he will just get paid all profits of the game that's created. Yeah you don't get the Kickstarter cash but if the game is a hit, I'm supposed to believe you just pat the team on the pat and say good job? At least he got the publisher talk down.

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Fraser Brown Avatar
960
3 Years ago

Where are you getting that from? I think that even the most naive developer would have enough common sense to avoid a deal where someone else got "all profits of the game that's created".

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unwanted Avatar
788
3 Years ago

Nowhere. I'm just wondering out loud what is the purpose of being a publisher and emphasizing that you won't get any of the Kickstarter money. Is he just going to use his name to promote games of people that ask him? I'm just confused by all of this.

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Jampacked Avatar
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3 Years ago

Reread what he said: "If we want it to be something that's supported by a paid staff on hand to deal with it, we're going to need to be paid something. I think that would be something where, if a game is a huge hit, we'd be able to share in that in some way"

Change the "we want it to be... supported by staff" to "they" and you will see that what he is saying is that he files DF isn't contributing financially so they aren't asking for part of the profits. BUT, if that's what they end up agreeing to with the developer then so be it, but at that point they would take some money.

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