Double Fine is at it again with another crowdsourcing video game venture. Double fine is a local video game development company founded by Tim Schafer. While they have been well-loved by fans since their founding in 2000, Double Fine became more widely known in February of 2012 for their Kickstarter project Double Fine Adventure. It was the largest crowd-funded project ever at the time, raising $3.45 million in contributions, even though they asked for just $400,000.
Double Fine’s new project is called Amnesia Fortnight, which was originally conceived as a way to boost company morale after the publishing deal for their game, Psychonauts, was revoked in 2008. While Schafer and his team looked for a new publisher, the rest of the company was given two weeks to forget their current work, divide into four teams, and focus on making their own game prototype from scratch. These annual power prototyping sessions have proven quite productive for Double Fine over all, incubating several fully realized games such as Costume Quest and Stacking, which are both now available on Xbox live.
Double Fine founder Tim Schafer
But this time Amnesia Fortnight is open to the public. Schafer posted this video announcing the project. Basically all of the interested employees at Double Fine made a pitch video for their game demo idea. The Internet public was, for a donation, invited to vote for the ideas they liked the best. Those ideas were chosen, teams were formed, and now the five teams are off to build their game in just two weeks. As of December 1st the project has raised more than 150k, a portion of which will go to charity.
Not only is Double Fine reaching out to their fans with projects like Amnesia Fortnight and Double Fine Adventure, but they are revealing and demystifying the game-making process for many who are not in the industry. They have released a steady stream of posts about the design and development process, job titles and responsibilities surrounding the games. Through their collaborations with 2 Player Productions, documentary filmmakers focused on game culture as well as the industry, Double Fine has been releasing daily video updates keeping contributors in the know on the progress of the prototypes.
The videos are not only informational but show the human faces of Double Fine. The teams speak about what they have been up to each day, giving players a rarely seen glimpse into the habits and efforts and even industry speak that go into making games. They discuss lighting conditions, materials, textures, all various assets cobbled together from their library of code and art. In an email conversation with Chad Dawson, a lead engineer on the White Birch team, he described how they can get a game demo working in just two weeks. "Double Fine games span a pretty broad range of gameplay styles and these Amnesia Fortnight games are no exception. As a studio, this has required us to develop an extensive and flexible code base that lets us quickly get new ideas up and running." The teams scrap together, re-skin, re-tool, and re-think assets from the Double Fine library as well as making new things from scratch. Listening to discussions about the minutia of enemy types and combat styles may not be for everyone, but it is a unique chance for fans to learn about and engage in the development of a game as it happens.
This new more public Amnesia Fortnight is exciting to watch from the outside and is still doing great things for the people at Double Fine. Chad also described how the process has helped relieve some of the pressure of launching a new title. "I'm just coming off a couple months of long hours and intensely focused work wrapping up The Cave, so I was feeling a bit burnt out -- as it can sometimes be after a project finishes. I wasn't entirely sure If I wanted to participate in AF or just take some time off. But then I watched the pitch videos and all the creative ideas of my coworkers and laughed and smiled." With Amnesia Fortnight Double Fine has found a way to re-engage their fans and devs alike in the work and passion of making games.