At the Game Awards 2015, Double Fine President Tim Schafer took the stage to unveil the Fig campaign for the long-requested Psychonauts 2. A sequel to the 2005 cult hit is something fans have longed for since its release, and thanks to Fig, they now have the opportunity to not only fund the game into existence, but to become actual project investors. It’s been a long time coming, and we caught up with Schafer to discuss the game’s direction, development history, and crowdfunding lessons. 

Psychonauts 2 picks up after the first game’s cliffhanger ending. Raz and the gang arrive at Psychonauts headquarters following the rescue of Truman Zanotto, the Grand Head of the Psychonauts, who’d been kidnapped during the first game’s conclusion. One of the most exciting prospects of the sequel is getting the chance to work within the brain trust of the psychic agents. 

“Where the first game was set in a summer camp where you're training to be a Psychonaut, now you are a Psychonaut and you're back at Psychonaut's headquarters seeing how they do it downtown – where they actually go on international espionage missions and exciting things like that,” Schafer says. 

However, Raz soon discovers his organization is rife with internal problems and hidden, perhaps even sinister, agendas, leaving it up to him to uncover the truth and keep the Psychonauts alive. He’ll have some help from old allies, including his equally talented girlfriend, Lili Zanotto, as well as his camp counselors turned agency comrades Milla Vodello and Sasha Nein. 

With the Psychonauts 2, Double Fine hopes to deliver a sequel that lives up to the original while also addressing the previous title’s weaknesses. “At a base level, we're trying to do all things people liked about the first game – just better," Schafer says. "We definitely want to refine and polish the movement of Raz, but also add a few new psychic powers.” 

So far, Psychonauts 2 seems to be on the right track in terms of giving fans the things they liked before. Like the original, a central hub area acts as an exploratory junction point between the myriad of new minds that players will dive into. Another welcome return is that of Erik Wolpaw, who co-wrote the first Psychonauts and is once again lending a hand in penning the sequel.  

Psychonauts’ main highlight was the collection of eccentric, demented minds that hosted a variety of unique and varied gameplay ideas. Visiting the mind of Linda the mutated Lungfish transformed Raz into a Godzilla-sized behemoth who smashed his way across a metropolitan area. Conversely, entering Fred Bonaparte’s psyche shrank players to the size of pawns used in a massive strategy board game against Fred’s ancestor, Napoleon. Players never knew what to expect from each world, which Schafer promises to deliver more of in the second game.  

Waterloo from Psychonauts 1

“I think of them as more taking Raz's mostly standard moveset and putting that in a strange situation, so it's more that the world changed dramatically and rules of each world was so different,” Schafer says. “I think that it's a hallmark of Psychonauts, and it would be wrong not to have that be a strong element of the sequel. So for sure, we really want each level to take your gameplay and twist it around so that it's nothing like what you experience before.”

In addition to pleasing fans, Schafer also hopes Psychonauts 2 can help herald a comeback for imaginative, triple-A 3D platformers. “I think, there was a period where there was a bunch of those coming out and then I think everyone saw where the dark games like [Grand Theft Auto] getting more popular and feeling like 'Oh, these games that are funny and brightly colored and cheerful are not going to sell as well as GTA, so we have to make them all darker and grittier' and they kind of went away, and I feel like that's something that was a big loss for the games industry.”

Evidenced by the crowdfunding success of upcoming platformer Yooka-Laylee, Schafer is confident there’s a large enough audience out there who wants to “just have a fun time jumping around in a brightly colored world of ridiculous, surreal things”. 

On the next page, Schafer discusses the game's long and winding development road.