When it comes to cult classic games, Psychonauts sits at the top table alongside the likes of Earthbound and Beyond Good & Evil. Created by one of the best indie developers in the form of Double Fine Productions, the title may not have lived up to sales expectations but certainly developed a strong following. When Psychonauts 2 was revealed last year, fans of the original – and the gaming community in general – were ecstatic, wondering exactly what Double Fine could do to improve upon the original game.
As it turns out, Double Fine has just released a video explaining exactly that. The studio has dropped a development diary on its official YouTube channel, with lead designer Zak McClendon talking about the creation of Psychonauts 2. It sounds as though improving on the first Psychonauts has been a real focus of the team, rather than retreading the ground of the original title, and McClendon was on hand to explain some of the ways in which Double Fine is planning to do this.
After being introduced by Double Fine founder Tim Schafer, the lead designer then went on to explain that a primary focus of the development team is to improve upon aspects of the original that are “obviously fixable,” such as the core controls of protagonist Raz and control of the game’s camera. McClendon goes on to suggest that the game will require an improved level of polish, perhaps due to the increased level of gamer expectations since the original game saw release.
“I think there’s a lot of bits of Psychonauts that are charmingly lopsided and don’t quite fit together in a way that people expect or want in a modern game,” explained McClendon. The designer went on to suggest that these issues are “pretty easily fixable,” however, and clearly has high hopes for the sequel. However, McClendon did state that reaching certain expectations is “the thing that Psychonauts 2 absolutely has to hit to be as good a platformer game as anything else out there.”
That level of polish is perhaps one of the reasons that McClendon was brought into the Double Fine team in the first place. The designer has a history in AAA development, taking up the mantle of lead designer on BioShock 2 and being involved in a number of high profile projects, including Rock Band 4. Indeed, this may have been why Shafer was so keen to bring on the designer, who left 2K Marin earlier this year to join Double Fine.
The original Psychonauts may not have proved to be much of a commercial success, but so far the game’s sequel is already faring a little better. After Psychonauts 2 was revealed through a trailer at the 2015 Game Awards, the project was made available for crowdfunding through Kickstarter-alternative Fig. Any worries about the game failing to meet its target were quickly blown away, however, as the game passed the $1 million mark in less than 24 hours. Let’s hope that the game lives up to the high expectations set.