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Double Fine's Schafer: Expressive Games Come From Individual Vision

If games are to be viewed as art, they should be "an expression of the people who make them," says Double Fine's Tim Schafer, who talks Stacking's unique creative approach in
February 11, 2011
Double Fine's just-launched adventure-puzzle game Stacking is already receiving a warm fan reception after just a couple of days on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, in part because it's so unusual -- Russian nesting matryoshka dolls exploring a 1930s world isn't exactly a "been-done" idea. Like Halloween's Costume Quest, Stacking came out of the studio's Amnesia Fortnight brainstorming session, the second in a series of four smaller downloadable projects to be published by THQ. Each bears the creative imprint of an individual visionary -- Tasha Harris led Costume Quest, and Stacking was Lee Petty's brainchild -- and according to Double Fine head Tim Schafer, allowing for that vision is key to creating distinctive, memorable games. "You can definitely see the mark of Lee or Tasha on their games, and I think that's one of the cool things," Schafer tells us in today's in-depth Gamasutra feature interview on Stacking and Double Fine's current philosophy. "Because if you're going to make this argument about games as art, then I think they have to be an expression of the people who make them," Schafer adds. "Not just the person in charge, but the whole team, and the company who made them." "I think with games, you should always look at them and be like, 'There's no one else who could have made that game, except for the person who made it,'" he continues. "As opposed to a lot of games where they could've been farmed out to any work-for-hire developer. Which is fine -- but you know, the thing our company is going to do is to try and make games that are more expressive." Petty says Double Fine would like to extend the appeal of trick-or-treating game Costume Quest beyond Halloween through more DLC, if possible: "And cross our fingers, maybe we'll continue on... I'm always torn, because it would be fun to keep going with DLC and have like Valentine's Quest and Easter Quest," Petty mulls. "Well, maybe not Easter Quest." "But then there's also like, 'What else could that team come up with? Something fun, that's new?' too, so that's always kind of the question," he adds. "The great thing about games that are this inexpensive is that they don't have to sell a ton to make money, or to break even." You can read further on how Double Fine's found a zone of creative latitude and self-expression in the downloadable space, the tones Stacking inherits from Double Fine's adventure game affinities, and more in today's Gamasutra feature.

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