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Tim Schafer on the Double Fine difference

Tuesday, 20th November 2012 23:42 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Double Fine does things differently – its games are charmingly quirky and it experiments with alternate business models. In a couple of recently-published interviews, founder Tim Shafer explains why the developer stands out from the pack.

Speaking with Rock Paper Shotgun in a lively chat on a number of topics, Schafer said the “ultimate product” of Double Fine isn’t the games so much as the company itself.

“Making Double Fine, making a creativity machine, that just runs. It outputs great games, but really it’s the living, breathing machine itself that’s the thing we care about and work on,” he said.

“Part of that’s because we want to have a great place to go to every day to work. To go to a place where ideas, creativity and originality are valued, where people have fun and have some balance between their work and their life.

“It’s led to some tough times, because we’ve chosen those priorities over, like, you know, making a lot of money. But there’s definitely a feeling that if we keep doing this, and get better and better and better at it, then we’ll have success on our terms.”

Double Fine famously turned to Kickstarter to fund an old school adventure game, setting records and inspiring a wave of crowd-funded titles. This decision gave the company a chance to escape the clutches of traditional publishing contracts, which just don’t fit with Sshafer’s ideals for Double Fine,

“We’ve had a really standard way of getting a game funded and made for a really long time, and it’s not that beneficial to the little guy, and it’s hard to get profitable when you’re working with those kinds of publishing contracts,” he said.

“If you’re basically making something and giving it away to a publisher, it’s like they hired you to mow their lawn. It’s just not the way the world should work.”

“Most publishing contracts are not a great deal. And then it’s, woah, there’s this other great way you can actually make money.”

Speaking to GameInformer, Schafer said crowd-funding allows developers to talk directly to their fans.

“We don’t necessarily need these big, bureaucratic companies in between us. It doesn’t completely change the industry, but it opens up the doors for a lot of projects that were previously thought of being too niche to fund,” he said.

Another point of difference at Double Fine is that it tried to hold on to its IP, managing to retain all so far except Iron Brigade, which Schafer said is “still a thorn” in his side.

“One of the reasons why we went to smaller projects because asking for a budget for a Brütal Legend-sized game in the future, I would have to give up the IP.,” he said.

“If you’re basically making something and giving it away to a publisher, it’s like they hired you to mow their lawn. It’s just not the way the world should work.”

Both interviews, available through the link above, are well worth a read for insight into this fascinatingly different company. Yesterday, Double Fine launched an initiative with the Humble Bundle, in which players can donate funds to earn votes on which prototypes the company will develop during its annual Amnesia Fortnight. That’s pretty unique.

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