PDA

View Full Version : Psychonauts: Behind the Concept


Paranoidish
01-08-2006, 11:40 AM
Wow, I havn't visited these forums in a while. But a certain article on our beloved game Psychonauts drove me back here and demanded to be shared.

The Story

I'm a huge gaming fan and love to keep up with where the industry is going. As most of you know, the next-generation is coming upon us with the recent release of the x-box 360. It has been critically acclaimed to be a huge innovation in the future of gaming and is said to change the way we will approach games. BUT, I feel almost as if the industry is trapped into regurgitating generic shooter/platformer/rpg/etc. over and over again in prettier packages. I beleive that the next-gen consoles are only there to reinforce that because, as we've seen and (I've) come to expect, big companies like to stick to formulatic (sp, or is that even a word...whatever) games that they know will sell well.

Anyway, in depseration of searching for games that might entice me back to the gaming community, I've come across this (http://www.gamespot.com/news/6141519.html) article. (As well as finding the superb game Jet Set Radio Future but now I'm getting OT) I'd recommend reading it, there are a lot of interesting points made. But I'd stay away from the comments made as we know "hardcore" gamers will constantly fight and lose sight of the original arguement which will certainly lead to fights over the next-gen consoles with nintendo fangirls/boys and x-box die-hard fans.

Back to the point, I was pleasently suprised to find the inclusion of Psychonauts and Grim Fandango (which I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of and waste a good week of my life on) and Tim Schaffer's other games being hailed as innovative shakers of the industry. But, they point out also that these games are perfect examples why there arn't any innovative games in the industry! :ball:

After reading the article and finding this site to be most informative, I search for more Psychonauts related goodies and find plenty of interviews and such. I found one to be especially interesting where Tim Schaffer explains where he found the inspiration for many of the characters in the game. What I believed to be most interesting was the fact that in college he studied dreams and psychology which led to many of the level designs and enemies in the game (like censors and figments). So I did a little research and found another interesting article entitled Personality and the Unconscious Mind (http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:rNNMO4VuzBwJ:www.survivalafterdeath .org/articles/barnard/unconscious.htm+the+study+of+dreams+figments+censo rs&hl=en) <---link.

You can read it if you like. I'll quote parts of the article that I found Psyconauts-related.

From the point of view of modern psychology, however, the Control is only a secondary personality of the medium's, and the Communicators are mere fleeting figments, fragmentary reconstructions based on hints given by the Consultants, on telepathic impressions, and occasionally on more recondite information obtained clairvoyantly.

That's basically fancy talk for saying that "clairivoyant psychics" can interpret people's figments and determine the person's personality or mental problems based on the shape or form. Funny how in the game the figments were related to the person's mental health (Boyd saw people as figments possibly hinting his dissconnection to society and the G-men as solid forms possibly also hinting at his fear that they are always watching. Or maybe I'm looking too far into this otherwise known as :coffee:.)

Not so mentioned in this article but also interesting is the fact the people beleived there to be censors in the unconsioius mind that would "stamp out" any bad feelings or thoughts as you slept.



So if you don't like reading any of that you can always watch the interveiws and reviews of Psychonauts at here:

http://www.gamespot.com/xbox/action/psychonauts/index.html

I'd recommend going there. And if you've made it down this far, congrats you earn a death trooper : :dtrooper:

Klia
01-08-2006, 11:50 AM
Hah I earn a death trooper!

However I take issue with one of your lines.

But, they point out also that these games are perfect examples why there arn't any innovative games in the industry
Are you saying that Tim Schafer's games are percect examples why they aren't any innovative games in the industry? It's almost contradictive don't you think?

I agree with the article and think that the lack of innovative games is from developers taking "the safe route" of video games and investing in a genre that is going to sell. The first time around, those games are innovative and exciting but when millions of rip-offs of lesser qualities are coming out, people are going to turn to "abstract" games such as Psychonauts. Sure, mainstream games such as Madden will continue to sell.

But look at the underground classic, Grim Fandango. It continues to sell even to this day because it was, is, and forever shall be an innovative milestone in video game history. Look at all of the game critics who hail GF and Psychonauts. With the growing praise from critics and fans of such games they might become underground classics.

And you know, it may not seem like a lot but if such games are quietly growing in popularity and getting new gamers, then that's an acheivemnt in itself.

Paranoidish
01-08-2006, 12:00 PM
Are you saying that Tim Schafer's games are percect examples why they aren't any innovative games in the industry? It's almost contradictive don't you think?

Taken directly from the article:

The game was released on the Xbox, PC, and PS2 earlier this year, and met with critical praise and consumer apathy. Majesco (and a number of analysts, Pachter included) had great expectations of the game's retail performance. When the sales didn't materialize and another high-profile Majesco title flopped in Advent Rising, the company lowered its projected revenues for the year by a third, the CEO Carl Yankowski resigned, and a number of shareholders sued as the stock plummeted.

So because Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee, Voodoo Vince, and Blinx the Time-Sweeper didn't post big numbers, it was considerably more difficult for Psychonauts to find a publisher. Depending on how good a job one thinks Majesco did with marketing and distributing Psychonauts, its disappointing sales might vindicate the publishers' decisions to pass on it. So why didn't it sell better? Schafer says it's always tempting for developers to blame failures on bad marketing (convincing consumers they want a game, as Pachter would say), but it's usually more complex than that.

"It's a number of things," Schafer believes. "Some of it is how the game was sold and some of it is how the game is made. We looked at various things about the game like the age of the main character. The age of the main character affects who will be drawn to the game and I think our main character was a 10-year-old boy. So were we selling the game to 10-year-old boys or were we selling the game to an older market? Because a lot of the humor and the puzzles are for an older market. We thought we were safe because Zelda's got a young kid as a hero but that falls into the special rule of Zelda-can-do-anything-it-wants. I guess the rule is that if you're established, you have more room to experiment."

Basically, I'm saying that Psychonauts is a perfect example for lack on innovation in the industry to do its dissapointing sales, plummeting stocks in the company and the lack of interest the majority of the gaming public has on these games. Right now, the numbers just don't add up to good sales and as publishing companies evolve, grow, and spread, that's what they're looking for. I don't want to sound like a "hard-core old-school" gamer but I beleive that the whole buisness has become too commercialized leading to the focus on profit, and decreasing interest on new ideas.

Of course, i'm not saying that there arn't innovative games on the market. Its just that most end up having sequels that end up setting a standard for many cheap knock offs. (GTA-oh dear god!).

Of course, without money and renevue no games would be made in the market and sold to the public. But I beleive that there should be an increased focus on finding a happy medium between bringing in money and creating great and original games.

Klia
01-09-2006, 07:39 PM
Alright gotcha.

90SK
01-11-2006, 02:07 PM
I loved reading the interview with Tim. You can tell he's pissed. I mean, so would I. Being jerked around by the gaming market must be frustrating. He really portrays the way he feels through his words (blunt and otherwise).

"Can't let the f*****s win"

There isn't much I can say that hasn't already been said, I'm afraid. Though I'll interject that the psychology article that you linked to is fascinating. I read several paragraphs, and I'm keen on reading the rest.

Paranoidish
01-15-2006, 10:14 AM
There isn't much I can say that hasn't already been said, I'm afraid. Though I'll interject that the psychology article that you linked to is fascinating. I read several paragraphs, and I'm keen on reading the rest.

Yeah, it took me a while to get through it too. Although that was when I was feeling alll literate and now...I do not.