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Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support

A comment on reddit has follow up to comments made almost exactly one year ago by Markus "Notch" Persson about being willing to fund Psychonauts 2, a sequel to Double Fine's adventure game. Notch explains what's changed: "I somewhat naively thought 'a couple of million' was two million. I had no doubt in my mind that a Psychonauts 2 would earn that money back easily. Turns out they wanted 18 million dollars, haha. I don't have the time at the moment to even try to get educated enough to make an eighteen million dollar deal. Perhaps in some distant future when I'm no longer trying to make games, I could get into angel investing. I've made one private investment into a game so far, at 100k, and it's frankly a lot more work than I thought." Thanks VG247 via PCGamesN.

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58. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 7, 2013, 13:31 Beamer
 
Sepharo wrote on Feb 6, 2013, 23:52:
I wish you would just refer to your city, or small cities or something else when making those claims instead of "midwest". Claiming the "midwest" is like that is just wrong. Chicago is midwest, Detroit is midwest, St. Louis is midwest, Cleveland is midwest.

Those cities and their suburbs are not the uncultured shitholes you make them out to be. Not everything fine is from LA or NYC.

Cleveland isn't a shithole?
 
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57. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 7, 2013, 12:34 Bhruic
 
Beamer wrote on Feb 6, 2013, 08:43:
In any case, though, you're wrong. Yes, it's true, my experiences can't be extrapolated out, but for godssake look at where tech companies are located. Typically LA, SF, and NYC. Why is that?
Because you have to go where talented people want to be.

Typical backwards way to look at it. It's not because that's where they want to be, it's because that's where the jobs are. If you're looking to be in technology, are you going to be the location where there are thousands of potential jobs, or the location with dozens of potential jobs? I know plenty of people who don't like "the big city", but have to live there in order to have decent employment potential.

Where the problem comes in is that it's a self-reinforcing cycle. People live in cities because that's where the jobs are - so if you're an employer, where are you going to go? The city, of course, because that's where the potential employees are.
 
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56. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 6, 2013, 23:52 Sepharo
 
I wish you would just refer to your city, or small cities or something else when making those claims instead of "midwest". Claiming the "midwest" is like that is just wrong. Chicago is midwest, Detroit is midwest, St. Louis is midwest, Cleveland is midwest.

Those cities and their suburbs are not the uncultured shitholes you make them out to be. Not everything fine is from LA or NYC.
 
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55. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 6, 2013, 08:43 Beamer
 
Creston wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 22:10:
Beamer wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 15:35:
As someone that has moved around the country and been in cities big and small (though never rural or suburban), I can say that I'd happily take much less disposable income and have more options at hand. The Midwestern city I live in now blows. Good food is hard to find, you need to drive almost everywhere, the lack of upper echelon schools deemphasized education and overemphasized getting pregnant so finding an intelligent, educated, attractive single girl is neigh impossible, etc.

Being a single guy with a lot of money in a small to mid sized city is far less entertaining than being one with much less money in a big city.

Overly absurd stereotypes, ahoi! Yes, Beamer, I'm sure there are no attractive and intelligent girls to be found anywhere, nor is there anything to eat in your city. Rolleyes

I've said this about a billion times before, but let me take one more stab at it: Your personal experience does not somehow equate to "this is how the rest of humanity feels about it as well."

I think quite a few of these devs, if given the chance between working in Shitsville, Arkansas, or Cool Single Dude Town, California, would work in Shitsville if doing so meant they'd have a far better chance of their studio surviving throughout the years. Not all of them, surely, but I think quite a few would happily make that sacrifice. Because it's not just THEIR personal lives that cost less, it's also the expenses of the place they work for, and thus it has a better chance of surviving as well.

But hey, I don't really give two shits. They can all work in studios in Silicon Valley if that makes them happy. I'll just nod knowingly when Yet Another Dev Studio can't pay its bills because they went without a contract for a month and thus goes belly-up.

Creston

It's a generalization, but it's relative. When I lived in NYC good food and attractive girls were not a problem. In the midwest? Good luck finding any good pizza, good luck finding any italian at all, and it's far more common for girls to get married in their early 20s here whereas in the Northeast and West they tend to do so 10 years later, meaning a much larger dating pool.

In any case, though, you're wrong. Yes, it's true, my experiences can't be extrapolated out, but for godssake look at where tech companies are located. Typically LA, SF, and NYC. Why is that?
Because you have to go where talented people want to be. Things move in cycles, sure, and right now the cycle for young, talented people is large cities. My city has lost several big companies, and had most of the others move their creative functions to other cities. Why? Because it's nearly impossible to get talented people to come here. Even though the cost of living is less we have to throw enormous amounts of money to convince someone to move from Chicago or New York to here. We've had positions open years.

It's a very, very common problem in smaller cities right now. Simply put - living in a small city is not attractive to people that did not grow up in the small city. Whereas companies in larger cities can easily attract any talent they need, companies in smaller cities are often playing solely in a pool of homegrown talent, which means finding the needed skillsets can be nearly impossible.

 
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54. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 6, 2013, 04:15 jdreyer
 
Creston wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 22:10:
Beamer wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 15:35:
As someone that has moved around the country and been in cities big and small (though never rural or suburban), I can say that I'd happily take much less disposable income and have more options at hand. The Midwestern city I live in now blows. Good food is hard to find, you need to drive almost everywhere, the lack of upper echelon schools deemphasized education and overemphasized getting pregnant so finding an intelligent, educated, attractive single girl is neigh impossible, etc.

Being a single guy with a lot of money in a small to mid sized city is far less entertaining than being one with much less money in a big city.

Overly absurd stereotypes, ahoi! Yes, Beamer, I'm sure there are no attractive and intelligent girls to be found anywhere, nor is there anything to eat in your city. Rolleyes

I've said this about a billion times before, but let me take one more stab at it: Your personal experience does not somehow equate to "this is how the rest of humanity feels about it as well."

I think quite a few of these devs, if given the chance between working in Shitsville, Arkansas, or Cool Single Dude Town, California, would work in Shitsville if doing so meant they'd have a far better chance of their studio surviving throughout the years. Not all of them, surely, but I think quite a few would happily make that sacrifice. Because it's not just THEIR personal lives that cost less, it's also the expenses of the place they work for, and thus it has a better chance of surviving as well.

But hey, I don't really give two shits. They can all work in studios in Silicon Valley if that makes them happy. I'll just nod knowingly when Yet Another Dev Studio can't pay its bills because they went without a contract for a month and thus goes belly-up.

Creston

We have a really good example of a studio that tried to move to a cheaper place to do business. They payed gobs to move their staff to the new city, and even secured a nice fat loan from said local government, and... went belly up. 38 Studios.

You can do it, but it's very difficult. Providence didn't have any local talent, they moved those guys there, and that was costly (38 studios was supposed to sell their houses for the employees that moved). And being a game programmer/developer/artist is a very specific skill set. Lots of cities have thriving software houses, but only a few have thriving software GAME houses.

And it better be a location as cool and interesting as SoCal, Seattle, or Austin, or your talent will pack up and leave when they get bored.
 
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53. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 22:10 Creston
 
Beamer wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 15:35:
As someone that has moved around the country and been in cities big and small (though never rural or suburban), I can say that I'd happily take much less disposable income and have more options at hand. The Midwestern city I live in now blows. Good food is hard to find, you need to drive almost everywhere, the lack of upper echelon schools deemphasized education and overemphasized getting pregnant so finding an intelligent, educated, attractive single girl is neigh impossible, etc.

Being a single guy with a lot of money in a small to mid sized city is far less entertaining than being one with much less money in a big city.

Overly absurd stereotypes, ahoi! Yes, Beamer, I'm sure there are no attractive and intelligent girls to be found anywhere, nor is there anything to eat in your city. Rolleyes

I've said this about a billion times before, but let me take one more stab at it: Your personal experience does not somehow equate to "this is how the rest of humanity feels about it as well."

I think quite a few of these devs, if given the chance between working in Shitsville, Arkansas, or Cool Single Dude Town, California, would work in Shitsville if doing so meant they'd have a far better chance of their studio surviving throughout the years. Not all of them, surely, but I think quite a few would happily make that sacrifice. Because it's not just THEIR personal lives that cost less, it's also the expenses of the place they work for, and thus it has a better chance of surviving as well.

But hey, I don't really give two shits. They can all work in studios in Silicon Valley if that makes them happy. I'll just nod knowingly when Yet Another Dev Studio can't pay its bills because they went without a contract for a month and thus goes belly-up.

Creston
 
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52. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 21:39 Dev
 
nin wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 21:32:
Smellfinger wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 21:25:
If 18 million dollars is a 'reasonable' figure, this industry deserves to be crushed under its own corpulence.

True, but it's also what we as gamers are spoiled to. We need to lower our standards a bit, also.

As long as the majority of gamers ONLY buy the latest thing because its a) a shooter and b) for its graphics, such as the latest CoD for $60 (usually on consoles), it won't change.

Fortunately there's a healthy minority buying things like indie games. If people didn't buy things like that, we would be stuck with recycled mega millions crap like CoD.
 
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51. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 21:32 nin
 
Smellfinger wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 21:25:
If 18 million dollars is a 'reasonable' figure, this industry deserves to be crushed under its own corpulence.

True, but it's also what we as gamers are spoiled to. We need to lower our standards a bit, also.

 
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50. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 21:25 Smellfinger
 
If 18 million dollars is a 'reasonable' figure, this industry deserves to be crushed under its own corpulence.  
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49. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 19:52 cento
 
jdreyer wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 19:33:
And good talent will live where they can find another job easily, if they want or need to.

This is HUGE. Almost 2 decades of industry time here - if I relocate, it'll only be to another hub, especially as I have a family dependent on me.


**edit** to add: I should note that my reference to AAA budgets were for console titles. I don't know if traditional PC oriented titles would be cheaper, since most of my PC platform dev time is over the last 4 years and THAT is MMO development which is a whole other tier higher in terms of costs.

This comment was edited on Feb 5, 2013, 20:01.
 
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48. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 19:33 jdreyer
 
Chris Taylor said that Supcom 1 and 2 were something like $10m and $11m respectively. Big games cost money.

As for talent, devs are high skill, high education, intelligent employees. Most want the stimulation that an urban environment provides. Know some devs who used to live in Hawaii, but moved to SoCal after a couple of years for that reason. If you can't keep people in Hawaii, good luck keeping them in Wichita.

And good talent will live where they can find another job easily, if they want or need to. That means SoCal, SF, Seattle, maybe Austin.
 
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47. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 19:14 007Bistromath
 
cento wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 16:06:
15-25mil is COMPLETELY inline with any kind of AAA console title.
I feel like we really need a good definition of AAA if we're going to swallow that. Psychonauts was excellent, and it was beautiful, and there needs to be more of it... but it did not feel at all like a big-budget game. It vastly outstrips other things that usually have the AAA label applied to them in terms of artistry and fun, but didn't feel like it had nearly the same level of polish. And that's fine. Polish is massively overrated, and hideously overpriced.

Knowing that it will carry the outstanding Double Fine flavor that they practically seem able to convey with two pencils and a ball of string, I'd much rather have a cheap Psychonauts 2 than wait 'til the end of never for a fancy expensive one.
 
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46. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 16:06 cento
 
15-25mil is COMPLETELY inline with any kind of AAA console title. You want to relocate to a more remote location or structure the deal to pay off royalties or what have you? Cool, but you are severely limiting your available talent pool, mostly down to the people that are desperate or naively hopeful. And good luck getting a quality product out of the desperate and the naive. And for the veteran staff that you are going to want to be your core team - those vets don't want to keep moving around for a job, especially if they have a family. So the talent pool tends to concentrate.

A staff of 10 people is laughably small. It's going to be much bigger, just on actual dev staff alone, not to mention support staff. The last console title I worked on had a budget of $22mil. The one before that was even bigger (much bigger, actually, but also extremely poorly managed and colossal waste of resources).

Anyway, simply put, 2mil doesn't buy much of what most people think of for a AAA console title.
 
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45. Re: Out of the Blue Feb 5, 2013, 15:54 Beamer
 
Rigs wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 15:51:
There's a dev down there in Texas land...some big developer but the name escapes me at the moment...hmmm, made some marginally effective FPS's in the 1990's called Doom and Quake. Heard of them?

I want to know why there's such a dearth of good art talent for games these days? All these 16-bit (or, god forbid, 8-bit like 'Hotline Miami' and 'I seek the troof') wannabes with they're 'art' is making me cross-eyed. C'mon, fellas, it was fun at first, but now you're just trying to hard to look like you're not trying...


=-Rigs-=

16 bit art is very cheap, can typically be done by 1 person with limited training (which isn't to say limited skill, but it's certainly easier to learn to do than a model in Maya, and 3D art requires more people as you typically don't have the same person doing the model, animation and skin), is very easy to make a map with, and can be easier to hide flaws.

 
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44. Re: Out of the Blue Feb 5, 2013, 15:51 Rigs
 
There's a dev down there in Texas land...some big developer but the name escapes me at the moment...hmmm, made some marginally effective FPS's in the 1990's called Doom and Quake. Heard of them?

I want to know why there's such a dearth of good art talent for games these days? All these 16-bit (or, god forbid, 8-bit like 'Hotline Miami' and 'I seek the troof') wannabes with their 'art' is making me cross-eyed. C'mon, fellas, it was fun at first, but now you're just trying too hard to look like you're not trying...


=-Rigs-=

This comment was edited on Feb 6, 2013, 02:36.
 
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'I know what you think you are, what you want us to believe! But I don't buy it! For three years now you've been pulling everyone's strings, getting us to do all the work, and you haven't done a damn thing except stand there and look cryptic.'
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43. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 15:46 saluk
 
The original psychonauts cost 13 million, it only makes sense for the sequel to cost more. Also, I think there is some miscommunication or Notch is making stuff up because I don't think it was ever going to be just "a couple of million".

That said I don't really blame him for not going good on a twitter semi-joke, and I'm sure the price has gone up from the original estimates.

And I don't think you can really blame Double Fine for facing reality and upping the cost of development. Psychonauts 2 would be a much bigger project than reds, which is already going over it's ~3mil budget.
 
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42. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 15:35 Beamer
 
Creston wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 15:31:
nin wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 14:36:
Infinity Ward used to be here in Tulsa, but I'm pretty sure they've moved...and Texas has dev houses springing up all the time.



Yeah, they've long since moved to Austin, I believe. There was a sega developer here in Tulsa, but they've gone belly-up as well.

It makes no sense to me that dev houses, especially nowadays, sit in these fucking ridiculously expensive areas. Your code works just as well if you code it in fucking Wichita, fellas. You just save yourself about a million dollars in living expenses a year.

Creston

Yeah, plus it's much easier to get guys to work 100 hour weeks in Wichita. What else would they do?

As someone that has moved around the country and been in cities big and small (though never rural or suburban), I can say that I'd happily take much less disposable income and have more options at hand. The Midwestern city I live in now blows. Good food is hard to find, you need to drive almost everywhere, the lack of upper echelon schools deemphasized education and overemphasized getting pregnant so finding an intelligent, educated, attractive single girl is neigh impossible, etc.

Being a single guy with a lot of money in a small to mid sized city is far less entertaining than being one with much less money in a big city.
 
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41. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 15:31 Creston
 
nin wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 14:36:
Infinity Ward used to be here in Tulsa, but I'm pretty sure they've moved...and Texas has dev houses springing up all the time.



Yeah, they've long since moved to Austin, I believe. There was a sega developer here in Tulsa, but they've gone belly-up as well.

It makes no sense to me that dev houses, especially nowadays, sit in these fucking ridiculously expensive areas. Your code works just as well if you code it in fucking Wichita, fellas. You just save yourself about a million dollars in living expenses a year.

Creston
 
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40. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 15:20 Beamer
 
Also, if you want to get an idea for what people make, read this.

My salary guesses are pretty accurate, off here and there but under instead of over.
Don't look at the <3 year salaries, because you wouldn't have many on a project like this that are that green. Look at the 3-6 year salaries. Which, again, shows that 10 guys making $50k including benefits would basically be fresh from Full Sail.
 
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39. Re: Notch Backtracks on Psychonauts 2 Support Feb 5, 2013, 15:06 Beamer
 
Cutter wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 14:55:
McSterls wrote on Feb 5, 2013, 13:55:
I think they saw Notch made $101 million last year and the costs skyrocketed. How bout not making the game int he Bay area or structuring peoples salaries so that they get less money upfront and a percentage on the back end. There are all sorts of creative ways to bring a project together, it's not like studios aren't collapsing all over the place and developers are letting their people go to a jobless future.

Exactly. Call it 10 guys at 50k each + points on sales. Why needlessly pay a premium to run an office in one of the most expensive cities in the world? Point I was making is they could do it for about 2 million or less, they simply choose not to.

10 guys for $50k each?
Seriously?
Is this 1996? Are they making a Doom clone?


Yes, you can strip Psychonauts down, but is it still Psychonauts then? Plus, fine, let's take your scenario of 10 guys for $50k each, Add benefits and that's $65k each. Give them 2.5 years to do it and you're at 1.6 million. In salary alone. Who is paying for the rent, the utilities, the equipment. Who is hiring these guys? Who is paying their salaries (as in who is literally writing the check and handing it to them?) Are they coding the engine themselves (good luck getting someone competent to write a 3D engine for $50k/year.) What roles do these 10 guys have? Who is doing the QA to make sure that you can't job off a level?

Without looking, I guarantee there were more animators on the original than you're saying should make the entire sequel.
So yeah, it could probably be done. You could take 10 guys right out of Full Sail, give them ~$40k per year ($50k after benefits), and tell them "make Psychonauts," but it wouldn't be the game you want.

 
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