During the latest update for Psychonauts 2 from Double Fine Productions, there’s a revelation that the game won’t be able to make the scheduled 2018 release window.
The update stated…
“Now we are in full swing, we know a lot more about the size and scope of the game we are going to make, how long it will take us to make it, and the amount of time we need to make it be great. From those projections we know that Psychonauts 2 will not be shipping in 2018, like we originally estimated when we published the Fig campaign two years ago,”
They don’t say when the game will be released, but we know for sure that it won’t be arriving in 2018. The fact that they won’t even commit to 2019 is kind of scary, too, which means it could be delayed as far back as 2020.
You can check out the video below, which also covers what they’re working on at the moment at this stage of development.
The rest of the video – after spending a few minutes on seemingly pointless miscellaneous stuff – finally gets into the actual development and design of the game.
What’s kind of scary is that they’re still working through a lot of concept art and conceptual gameplay designs. It seems like this stuff would have been completed a long time ago, and the story written out and structured at the very start of the production.
Keep in mind that the game was funded back at the start of January, 2016. So nearly two years on they’re still finalizing concepts for characters and fleshing out some of the stories. If you’re not worried, just keep in mind that BioWare Montreal was doing something similar during the troubled production of Mass Effect: Andromeda, where they were writing out the story while developing the game, just a year out before its release.
I would have had all of that worked out while the game was being funded so that once the funding drive is complete, you’ve got a flowchart of everything you need from each department to design the game and what time-frame you’re expecting it all to get finished within.
The really troubling part is that they still have to design new gameplay features, powers, and abilities for Raz. So that means they haven’t actually started prototyping all of the special powers that players will have at their disposal.
Usually, if you want to streamline development you have everything you want to do, and think you can do, written out and charted out so you can plot out how much it’s going to cost each department to finish that module of the game. Once you figure out every special, every move, and every core animation you plan to have in the game (viz., from jumping and running, to falling, getting hit and using your powers) .
From there you plot out exactly what sort of game mechanics you’re going to include so that you have some rough idea what you’ll need to prototype in the white box phase before starting full production. Depending on the scope of your mechanics will also determine what sort of engineers you’ll need, how much of the game will rely on physics-based properties, how much will rely on hand-animation, how much will rely on procedurally generated effects, or how much will rely on custom made VFX.
This way if you start attempting to implement something that may not work out during the prototyping phase, you can scrap it and focus on the stuff that does work when it comes time to implementing it into the full game.
What you never want to do is start developing full systems, get halfway through the development and then start coming up with “cool” new features that you didn’t plan for or add to the budget flowchart at the start of development. Because what happens when that feature costs more to implement than what you budgeted for? Or what happens when you didn’t prototype it at the start of development and you find that adding it to the game requires more months than what you had penciled into the production schedule? What happens when you need a specialist to design that feature? Etc., etc.
While CIG and RSI get a lot of flak for feature creep, one thing they do well is at least plot out how long it will likely take and what sort of manpower will be required to implement some very complex and development-intensive features into Star Citizen.
The kind of “create-as-you-go” mentality that we’re seeing Double Fine exhibit might seem fun and cool from a behind-the-scenes perspective from those on the outside looking in, but as evident with the delay from out of 2018, it doesn’t look like the most streamlined of development cycles for Psychonauts 2.
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