Timothy John Schafer
July 26, 1967
Sonoma, California, U.S.
|Occupation(s)||Game designer, game programmer, game writer|
Timothy John Schafer(born July 26, 1967) is an American video game designer. He founded Double Fine Productions in July 2000, after having spent over a decade at LucasArts. Schafer is best known as the designer of critically acclaimed games Full Throttle , Grim Fandango , Psychonauts , Brütal Legend and Broken Age , co-designer of Day of the Tentacle , and assistant designer on The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge . He is well known in the video game industry for his storytelling and comedic writing style, and has been given both a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Game Developers Choice Awards, and a BAFTA Fellowship for his contributions to the industry.
Tim Schafer was born on July 26, 1967, in Sonoma, California, the youngest of five children. His father was a doctor and his mother was a nurse.While studying computer science at UC Berkeley, Schafer became interested in writing, and took inspiration from Kurt Vonnegut, who while a publicist at General Electric wrote short stories in the evenings. Schafer opted for a similar course, interning to help develop databases for small companies while trying to position himself for an opening in a larger corporation such as Atari and Hewlett-Packard, but he was rejected by these. He saw an offering at Lucasfilm Games, looking for programmers who could also write game dialog, which piqued his interest.
During his application process for the job, he had a somewhat disastrous phone interview with David Fox in which he mentioned being a fan of Ballblaster. Fox informed him that the Lucasfilm Games title was Ballblazer , and that only the pirated version was known as Ballblaster, but despite the misstep, Fox asked Schafer to submit his resume for further consideration.To make up for the phone interview, Schafer sent in a comic of himself applying for and getting the job at Lucasfilm Games, drawn as a text adventure.
Schafer was hired by LucasArts in 1989, and his first position was as a "scummlet", a programmer who helped to implement features and ideas proposed by the lead game developers within the LucasArts SCUMM engine. He, alongside Dave Grossman, helped to playtest Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game and implement the NES version of Maniac Mansion . Schafer and Grossman, along with two others, were taught by Ron Gilbert as part of a "SCUMM University" on how to use the engine to set up rooms and puzzles.
Later, Gilbert approached Schafer and Grossman, offering them the chance to work on his new project, which would ultimately become the pirate-themed adventure game The Secret of Monkey Island .
According to series creator Gilbert, Schafer and Grossman were responsible for about two thirds of the game's dialogue.The Secret of Monkey Island became one of the most acclaimed games of its kind. The same team created the sequel, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge .
In his first lead role on a game project, Schafer co-designed (with Dave Grossman) Day of the Tentacle , a time-travel comedy adventure and the sequel to Ron Gilbert's Maniac Mansion.Schafer's first solo project, the biker adventure Full Throttle , was released in 1995. He went on to design the highly acclaimed Grim Fandango , a noir adventure game set in the Aztec afterlife featuring characters similar to the papier-mâché skeleton decorations from the Mexican holiday Dia De Los Muertos. Grim Fandango won many awards, including GameSpot's Game of the Year award of 1998.
Schafer worked on an unannounced PlayStation 2 action-adventure game at LucasArts, but it never entered production.Prior to his departure, a number of other developers were leaving LucasArts as the studio shifted away from adventure games. Schafer was approached by his colleagues with the idea of leaving the company to develop PlayStation 2 games on their own; Schafer was initially wary of this believing he felt secure in his position at LucasArts. He left the company in January 2000, to found Double Fine Productions, where he created the platform game Psychonauts . The game was first released on Xbox in North America on April 19, 2005. While the game was met with critical acclaim, including a Game of the Year award from Eurogamer, it sold poorly at its initial release and led to financial troubles for its publisher Majesco Entertainment. Double Fine reacquired full rights to Psychonauts by 2012, allowing them to release the game with improvements for modern systems, and in that year, Schafer stated that "We made more on Psychonauts [in 2012] than we ever have before."
On March 7, 2007, he hosted the annual Game Developers Choice Awards. He later hosted it again in 2009. To coincide, Double Fine released a free Flash minigame entitled Host Master and the Conquest of Humor , a pastiche of Schafer's LucasArts games in which the player takes on the role of Schafer backstage at the GDC Awards.
Schafer led the development of Double Fine's next game, Brütal Legend , released on October 13, 2009, after a tortuous development route due to having its original publisher Vivendi Games drop the title following its merge with Activision in 2008 to be picked up later by Electronic Arts.The game was Schafer's tribute to the music and art of heavy metal and featured voice acting from actor/musician Jack Black and cameos from rock musicians including Lemmy Kilmister, Rob Halford, Ozzy Osbourne and Lita Ford. Schafer said "For Brütal Legend, I've always seen this overlap between medieval warfare and heavy metal. You see heavy metal singers and they'll have like a brace around their arm and they'll be singing about Orcs. So let's just make a world where that all happens. That all gets put together, the heavy metal, and the rock, and the battling, actually does happen. Let's not flirt around with this; let's just do it."
During Brütal Legend's development, Schafer had Double Fine's staff take two weeks away from the game's development to participate in Amnesia Fortnights once a year starting in 2007. This was an internal game jam where the company was split into four teams to make a pitchable game prototype, an idea he compared to what film director Wong Kar-Wai had used previously. After Brütal Legend's release, the game had generally positive reviews but did not perform as well as expected, and Electronic Arts cancelled the preliminary work Double Fine had started on the sequel. To keep Double Fine above water financially, Schafer went back to the past Amnesia Fortnight projects and selected games they could reasonably expand into full releases. From these, four smaller games were picked up by publishers, and were the first games in Double Fine's history to have project leaders other than Schafer: Costume Quest , Stacking , Iron Brigade and Once upon a Monster . The titles helped to keep Double Fine financially stable, and Schafer has continued to implement the Amnesia Fortnight as a yearly process; most of the games that result from these are led by someone other than Schafer.
On February 1, 2012, Schafer returned to the role of director in the Kinect-based Double Fine Happy Action Theater , a game concept he devised based on Once Upon a Monster to be able to play a game with his two-year-old daughter that she would be able to enjoy as well.
In February 2012, Schafer launched a crowdfunded project for an unnamed adventure game via the crowd-sourced Kickstarter, using the placeholder title "Double Fine Adventure"; Schafer stated that he had found publishers extremely wary of an adventure in the current video game industry, and decided to turn to crowdfunding to seek player interest. The game and accompanying documentary were projected to cost US$400,000 dollars. Contributions exceeded that amount by more than three times in less than 24 hours, making it the first Kickstarter project to reach a $2 million figure, and the second most successful project on the website at the time. When the project ended on March 13, funding reached a level of $3,336,371 in Kickstarter with an additional $110,000 from premium pledges. Ultimately, the project culminated in Broken Age , released in two acts over 2014 and 2015.
Schafer and Double Fine had been able to negotiate with The Walt Disney Company, who acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, to obtain the rights to three of the titles that Schafer had directed there: Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango, by 2014. Double Fine subsequently released remastered versions of all three games over the following years.
Schafer stood in support of Anita Sarkeesian and other game developers that were being harassed by supporters of Gamergate, a loosely organized misogynistic online harassment campaign and a right-wing backlash against feminism, that started in August 2014.
Schafer hosted the 2015 Game Developer’s Choice Awards on March 5; during the event one of his jokes referenced the #NotYourShield tag connected to the harassment Campaign. Gamergate supporters claimed #NotYourShield was used to demonstrate women and minorities supported their cause, but Schafer's remarks spoke to the wider assessment that the tag's use was largely composed of sockpuppets, which was later proven to be true.Following the event, Gamergate supporters targeted Schafer for harassment by claiming he had been making a joke that mocked the minorities using this hashtag.
Gamergate supporters also found other opportunities to target Schafer for harassment, including a decision to expand the scope of Broken Age after its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign raised far more than the amount asked for, and a later decision to seek additional funding for the studio by offering the game's first half for sale on early access. Since then he continues to be an occasional target of harassment from either GamerGate supporters or those who were swayed by the campaign's claims.
Schafer joined with other industry leaders with crowdfunding experience to help create the crowdfunding platform Fig in August 2015, serving on its advisory board until March 2020. [ citation needed ] Through Fig, Schafer announced the sequel Psychonauts 2 in December 2015.
In June 2019, Microsoft announced that it had acquired Double Fine as part of Xbox Game Studios. Schafer stated that while he had not been looking to be acquired, he found the opportunity in his talks with Microsoft to be promising; the acquisition would not affect Double Fine's independence and would still allow the company to publish its pending titles on its own choice of platforms, and would provide the financial security needed for Double Fine to be able to concentrate on developing a quality product.Through this support, Double Fine was able to retain several gameplay elements within Psychonauts 2, which was eventually released on August 25, 2021, to critical praise.
In an interview at the Game Developers Conference in 2003, Schafer stated that he strives for integrating story into the gameplay, setting a creative goal of someday creating a video game without any cutscenes at all.Furthermore, he said he often sets a story in an established world:
"[O]ften, the world is the initial inspiration for the game. One day I was listening to someone tell me their stories of spending the summer in Alaska. They had hung around this one biker bar, with these people with names like Smilin' Rick and Big Phil. And I thought, 'Wow, what a crazy world that is.' It's so apart from everybody's life, and yet it's right there, it's so mundane in a way. And that's where Full Throttle came from."
The press first previewed Psychonauts at the E3 trade show in 2002, where it won the Game Critics Award for Best Original Game.An hour-long episode of Icons on the G4 Network documented the last week of the production of Psychonauts and explored Schafer's career. At the 2006 Game Developers Choice Awards, Schafer and Erik Wolpaw won the award for Best Writing for Psychonauts. Schafer and Double Fine Executive Producer & COO Caroline Esmurdoc also won the award for Best New Studio. In October 2006, Schafer received a BAFTA video game Best Screenplay award for Psychonauts. In 2012, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) organized the "Game Masters" exhibition, where Schafer was featured as the creator of Grim Fandango, among a few other visionary designers, credited for having "pushed the boundaries of game design and storytelling, introducing new genres, creating our best-loved characters and revolutionising the way we understand and play games" In 2015, he won the Vanguard Award at Bilbao's Fun & Serious Game Festival. Schafer received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Game Developers Choice Awards in March 2018. He received a BAFTA Fellowship as "a true pioneer of game design, who has pushed the boundaries of the medium through his extraordinary talents" at the British Academy Games Awards in April 2018. In February 2023 Schafer was recognised as "a beacon of creativity and innovation in the games industry" by being selected as a Hall of Fame Inductee at the 26th annual D.I.C.E Awards, by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
|The Secret of Monkey Island||1990||co-writer, programmer, assistant designer||LucasArts|
|Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge||1991||co-writer, programmer, assistant designer||LucasArts|
|Day of the Tentacle||1993||co-designer, co-producer, co-director, co-writer||LucasArts|
|Full Throttle||1995||project leader, writer, designer||LucasArts|
|The Curse of Monkey Island||1997||additional design||LucasArts|
|Grim Fandango||1998||project leader, writer, designer, programmer||LucasArts|
|Star Wars Episode I: Racer||1999||"never actively tried to sabotage the project"||LucasArts|
|Psychonauts||2005||creative director, co-writer, designer||Double Fine, Majesco|
|Brütal Legend||2009||creative director, writer, co-designer||Double Fine, Electronic Arts|
|Costume Quest||2010||studio creative director, co-writer||Double Fine, THQ|
|Stacking||2011||studio creative director||Double Fine, THQ|
|Iron Brigade||2011||studio creative director||Double Fine, Microsoft Studios|
|Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster||2011||studio creative director, writer||Double Fine, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Haunt||2012||voice actor||NanaOn-Sha, Zoë Mode, Microsoft Studios|
|Double Fine Happy Action Theater||2012||director||Double Fine, Microsoft Studios|
|Middle Manager of Justice||2012||studio creative director||Double Fine, Dracogen|
|Kinect Party||2012||studio creative director||Double Fine, Microsoft Studios|
|The Cave||2013||studio creative director||Double Fine, Sega|
|Dropchord||2013||studio creative director||Double Fine, Dracogen|
|Broken Age||2014||director, writer||Double Fine|
|Spacebase DF-9||2014||studio creative director||Double Fine, Indie Fund|
|Grim Fandango Remastered||2015||creative director||Double Fine|
|Massive Chalice||2015||studio creative director||Double Fine|
|Day of the Tentacle Remastered||2016||creative director||Double Fine|
|Headlander||2016||studio creative director||Double Fine, Adult Swim Games|
|Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin||2017||studio creative director, writer||Double Fine|
|Full Throttle Remastered||2017||creative director||Double Fine|
|Psychonauts 2||2021||creative director, writer||Double Fine, Xbox Game Studios|
Day of the Tentacle, also known as Maniac Mansion II: Day of the Tentacle, is a 1993 graphic adventure game developed and published by LucasArts. It is the sequel to the 1987 game Maniac Mansion. The plot follows Bernard Bernoulli and his friends Hoagie and Laverne as they attempt to stop the evil Purple Tentacle - a sentient, disembodied tentacle - from taking over the world. The player takes control of the trio and solves puzzles while using time travel to explore different periods of history.
Lucasfilm Games is an American video game licensor that is part of Lucasfilm. It was founded in May 1982 by George Lucas as a video game development group alongside his film company; as part of a larger 1990 reorganization of the Lucasfilm divisions, the video game development division was grouped and rebranded as part of LucasArts. LucasArts became known for its line of adventure games based on its SCUMM engine in the 1990s, including Maniac Mansion, the Monkey Island series, and several Indiana Jones titles. A number of influential game developers were alumni of LucasArts from this period, including Brian Moriarty, Tim Schafer, Ron Gilbert, and Dave Grossman. Later, as Lucasfilm regained control over its licensing over the Star Wars franchise, LucasArts produced numerous action-based Star Wars titles in the late 1990s and early 2000s, while dropping adventure game development due to waning interest in the genre.
Full Throttle is a graphic adventure video game developed by LucasArts and designed by Tim Schafer. The game was released on April 30, 1995, for MS-DOS and Mac OS. It was Schafer's first game as project lead and head writer and designer, after having worked on other LucasArts titles including The Secret of Monkey Island (1990), Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge (1991), and Day of the Tentacle (1993). Set in the near future, the story follows motorcycle gang leader Ben, who must clear his name after being framed for the murder of a beloved motorcycle manufacturing mogul. A remastered version of the game was developed by Double Fine Productions and was released in April 2017 for Windows, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, with later ports for iOS and Xbox One.
Grim Fandango is a 1998 adventure game directed by Tim Schafer and developed and published by LucasArts for Microsoft Windows. It is the first adventure game by LucasArts to use 3D computer graphics overlaid on pre-rendered static backgrounds. As with other LucasArts adventure games, the player must converse with characters and examine, collect, and use objects to solve puzzles.
From the late 1980s to the early 2000s, LucasArts was well known for their point-and-click graphic adventure games, nearly all of which received high scoring reviews at the time of their release. Their style tended towards the humorous, often irreverent or slapstick humor, with the exceptions of Loom and The Dig. Their game design philosophy was that the player should never die or reach a complete dead-end, although there were exceptions.
Double Fine Productions, Inc. is an American first-party video game developer of Xbox Game Studios based in San Francisco, California. Founded in July 2000 by Tim Schafer shortly after his departure from LucasArts, Double Fine's first two games – Psychonauts and Brütal Legend – underperformed publishers' expectations despite critical praise. The future of the company was assured when Schafer turned to several in-house prototypes built during a two-week period known as "Amnesia Fortnight" to expand as smaller titles, all of which were licensed through publishers and met with commercial success. Schafer has since repeated these Amnesia Fortnights, using fan-voting mechanics, to help select and build smaller titles. Double Fine is also credited with driving interest in crowdfunding in video games, having been able to raise more than US$3 million for the development of Broken Age, at the time one of the largest projects funded by Kickstarter, and more than US$3 million for the development of Psychonauts 2.
Ron Gilbert is an American video-game designer, programmer, and producer. His games are generally focused on interactive story-telling, and he is arguably best known for his work on several LucasArts adventure games, including Maniac Mansion and the first two Monkey Island games.
Psychonauts is a 2005 platform video game developed by Double Fine Productions and published by Majesco Entertainment for Microsoft Windows, Xbox and PlayStation 2.
Peter Nelson McConnell, also known as Peter Mc, is an American video game composer and musician, best known for his work at LucasArts and for composing the soundtracks for every Sly Cooper game since the second installment.
Psychonauts 2 is a platform game developed by Double Fine and published by Xbox Game Studios. The game was announced at The Game Awards 2015 ceremony, and released on August 25, 2021 for PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, and on May 24, 2022 for Linux and macOS.
Broken Age is a point-and-click adventure video game developed and published by Double Fine. Broken Age was game director Tim Schafer's first return to the genre since 1998's Grim Fandango, and was released for Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and Xbox One platforms. The game was developed in two acts; the first was released on January 28, 2014, and the second was released on April 28, 2015. A retail version of the complete game for Windows, macOS, and Linux, published by Nordic Games, was released on April 28, 2015. A Nintendo Switch version was released on September 13, 2018.
Klint Honeychurch is an American graphic designer, video game designer, programmer, and writer. He designed Double Fine's free Adobe Flash games: the graphic adventure Host Master and the Conquest of Humor, sports game parody My Game About Me: Olympic Challenge, puzzle-platform game Tasha's Game, and fighting game Epic Saga: Extreme Fighter.
Nathan Stapley is an American artist. He was the lead artist on Double Fine's adventure game Broken Age and has worked on Psychonauts and Psychonauts 2.
Razmig Mavlian is an Armenian-Canadian artist, animator, video game developer, and musician. His nickname "Raz" was the inspiration for the name of the main character in Psychonauts. He currently is a concept artist at Oculus VR.
Video game development has typically been funded by large publishing companies or are alternatively paid for mostly by the developers themselves as independent titles. Other funding may come from government incentives or from private funding.
Chris Remo is an American video game designer, composer, writer, podcaster, and former journalist.
Brad Muir is an American computer game designer and programmer. He was a designer on Brütal Legend, and the project leader of Iron Brigade, Brazen, and Massive Chalice.
Jory Prum, also known as Jory K. Prum, was an American audio engineer, best known for his work in film and video games. He was the owner of a recording studio located in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Peter Chan is an American freelance concept and storyboard artist and animator for video games and films. Chan is best known for his work in several LucasArts adventure games, including Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango.
The music for the video game Grim Fandango was composed and produced by Peter McConnell and published by LucasArts in 1998. The soundtrack is a mix of South American folk music, jazz, swing and big band sounds, for the game story filled with adventure and intrigue set in a unique combination of film noir and Mexican folklore's Day of the Dead. The soundtrack garnered critical acclaim and remained subject of positive reviews and inclusion in critics' rankings for the two decades after its first release. The soundtrack was praised both as a stand-alone musical experience, as well as for its outstanding contribution to the overall game experience; capturing the spirit of the game, "gluing" the story together, and becoming "integral" to the success of the game.
Like The Secret of Monkey Island, is it more exciting if I keep it a secret forever? Yeah, my full name is Timothy John Schafer.