Double Fine boss says smaller devs need to plan beyond their ‘One Big Idea’

Schafer: Indies need to think about the long haul

Tim Schafer believes many indies are still falling prey to the myth that their first game could be the one to make them a huge success.

Speaking during his opening keynote session at Reboot Develop today, the Double Fine CEO was asked if he believes talk of the so-called ‘indiepocalypse’. While Schafer doesn’t believe the indie era is ending, he does think some studios need to reign in their expectations.

“It’s intimidating out there,” he said. “In the early days of this current wave of indies, there was certainly a gold rush. People saw games like World of Goo, Braid and so on and thought ‘all I’ve got to do is make a game and I can be rich’.

“But a lot of people forgot that those were really good games. They have very high expectations now, thinking they’re going to be making all of that Minecraft money, but indies have to think about the long haul. You can just think about your first game, you’ve got to think about your second, your third and so on.”

Schafer did praise the opportunities available to developers today, which have made it easier to bring unique games to market.

“There are so many new ways to develop and distribute games today,” he said. “Anyone, even if they don’t know how to program, can make a game and get it out there.”

Reflecting on his time at LucasArts, he said he was lucky to be at a studio that was willing to invest time and resources into original games like Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle.

“It was really unusual to have a well-funded, new small IP,” he said, adding that LucasArts’ access to “the Indiana Jones money” helped. “The pressure to have a game be financially successful can push out the smaller, more original ideas.”

Talking about his current studio, Double Fine, the veteran developer said he’s trying to bring back those opportunities.

“Every studio has a defining thing, and ours is uninterrupted creativity,” he said. “Everyone needs to know they have a chance to add to a project, and we try to protect that creativity from the forces that tend to hinder it.”

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