Tim Schafer Dreams Of An Open-World Grim Fandango Sequel

Tim Schafer Dreams Of An Open-World Grim Fandango Sequel

A sequel to Tim Schafer and co's classic skeleton noir LucasArts adventure, Grim Fandango? Be still, my non-beating heart. This is only an idea that's been kicking around in Schafer's skull for a while, but it's an exciting one nonetheless. And it's inspired by Grand Theft Auto, of all things.

I recently interviewed Tim Schafer at Double Fine's "Day of the Devs" event in San Francisco. Curious about what the future holds for his newly resurrected land of the dead, I asked Schafer if success for the remaster could lead to a full-blown Grim Fandango sequel. Here's what he told me:

"Never say never. Grim is something [special], but storywise it's hard because [main character] Manny went to the land of eternal rest at the end. We'd have to drag him back from there or make a game about another character. It's tough to imagine a satisfying story about that."

However, if he were to do it (and that's a big "if"), it sounds like it'd be a pretty interesting game. Think classic point-and-click adventure mixed with Grand Theft Auto-style open world:

"I've had this urge to make a fully 3D version of El Marrow, where it's more like an open world game. You're running around the city and stuff. Games like Grand Theft Auto have a lot of the elements of adventure games, and if there was just an inventory that wasn't guns, you could probably do a full adventure game in one. That's something I've thought about since the '90s."

I'd play that. It's cool, too, to hear someone talking about how classic adventure game tropes could slot — in the same fashion as a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle — into a more modern-style game world. Even if it's not Grim Fandango, I'd love to see that idea explored.

Our interview covered topics ranging from what it took to resurrect everyone's favourite stroll through the land of the dead (engineering wizardry, stolen hard drives, aid from fans) to Spacebase DF-9's unfortunate end. Look for more tomorrow.


    An interesting concept but building a set that size would be a pretty insane task. Not to mention the old 'oh, I was meant to put the monkey in the dishwasher to get the key' problem rockets out of control with an area the size of a city to experiment in. =P

      They made a pretty great open world with Brutal Legend, but an adventure is different beast entirely. I'd like to see them attempt it!

        I absolutely loved Brutal Legend but the areas didn't have that level of depth required for an adventure game. They were relatively detailed in that there were lots of cool looking quirks and interesting landscapes but I think even GTA with it's attempts at living cities fails short there.
        You're right though. It was a great open world using a classic Tim Schafer style design. I don't think that game gets nearly enough credit for being huge, different and well designed. So many open world games are just set in generic fantasy Kingdoms or New York. When you can make all the rules yourself it seems like a bit of a waste not to be Wonderland.

    Schaeffer... with all due respect go and actually *finish* a game before you start dreaming of another please?

      But that's what makes him great. The way he dreams things up is perfect. The way he wants to make things is perfect. If you fix the production side of it you break what makes the product worthwhile.
      Guys like Tim Schafer and Peter Molyneux are exactly the guys we need making games, they just need the sort of freedom Shigeru Miyamoto gets. They sometimes get backing from people with that level of money but they never seem to get that level of freedom.

        That was the whole point of Kickstarting what was then known as "Double Fine Adventure" though. To have the freedom to make the game of your vision without being beholden to the restrictions and control of investors and publishers. Several years on, we only have half a vision realised and Double Fine ran out of money in the middle. Not to mention Spacebase DF-9 just got abandoned by them. Hack and Slash was an interesting experiment but never really worked in practicality.

        Then you have Molyneux promising an oak tree but not even having an acorn to plant. Godus was his Kickstarted project, free from outside influence and though I haven't read too much on it (which is telling in itself), the general feeling is that it was another over-promised under-delivered affair that Molyneux is known for.

        It's all well and good to say we need people who subscribe to Plato's perfect chair theory, but at the end of the day, we need something to sit on that won't break.

          I can agree to an extent but Kickstarter isn't Nintendo. It comes with creative control which is a big part of the formula but it's not the entire package these sorts of designers require.

          Although personally I think Peter Molyneux's real problem is that he can't help but talking about his ideas. Fable would have been considered amazing, absolutely revolutionary, if only he had of kept his mouth shut.

        Guys like Tim Schafer and Peter Molyneux are exactly the guys we need making games, they just need the sort of freedom Shigeru Miyamoto gets.

        They HAVE the sort of freedom Miyamoto gets. They come to Kickstarter with a dream, they put that dream up and people back it. Most of Schaeffers backing went on name recognition alone, articles at the time practically orgasming over the fact Tim Schaeffer was asking for kickstarter money are proof alone of that, not the actual game design. Not to mention the facts:

        a. Miyamoto EARNT his respect and freedom due to his actual output
        b. Miyamoto sets himself a level he wants to meet time and time again and does so
        c. Miyamoto actually generally meets his deadlines

        Schaeffer has shown time and time and time and time again he is completely incapable of this. I mean episode 2 of his game only just came out what, 9 months later with EXTRA funding? Gtfo.

        *Edit* Sorry, @Badger, my bad it hasn't come out yet I jumped the gun, of course making it even worse that it's going to be around a year or close to potentially.

        Last edited 05/11/14 8:17 pm

          Agreed completely with Weresmurf... Not too mention the game he delivered 9 months ago was a mere shadow of his original adventure game greatness. I could only play through the first part of the game before I put it down. I like my adventure games to actual involve thinking... You know the old "pull, push, use look etc" not just click to EVERYTHING so puzzle solving just involves clicking everywhere till you get it right. That and the story was garbage... and the graphics were worse then Grim Fandango. Maybe next project he should spend less on getting big names for the voice overs and concentrate on the game. Oh and hire an accountant to budget the kick starter funds....

          Wait, what? Broken Age part 2 is out? I thought that wasn't happening until next year?

          Exactly, the Double Fine adventure was funded primarily on Schafer saying "I'm going to make an adventure game!" and that was pretty much it.

          We might hate publishers and blame them for lots of things but Kickstarter is starting to demonstrate that they actually do have a part to play in trying to keep developers on target to releasing a finished product. It's easy to blame them when things go wrong, but as we're starting to see now, sometimes it's actually the developers who screw up.

    Tim Schafer, huh? Kinda sick of his bullshit and excuses and not about to go back to the Schafer/Doublefine trough again. Hype doesn't write code.

      Not to mention no doubt he'll try to get a kickstarter going for this instead of funding it with the money they've actually made off the games at this point.

      Yeah, I agree. He has proven recently that he can't keep games on schedule or budget at all. The Spacebase debacle shows that he has no clue when it comes to running a business. He expected to finance and make lots of money from a game that was still in alpha and not released. Unsurprisingly, the unfinished game didn't sell on the scale of Minecraft or Prison Architect standards before release and he used that as an excuse to declare it finished (i.e. given up).

      I don't think Double Fine can do a decent job without getting a publisher and hardass project manager on board. I have lost respect for them.

      Last edited 05/11/14 5:23 pm

        People are too quick to dismiss publishers, because they only see publishers in the role that they have assumed - which is not just marketing and distribution, but financial investor/controller/IP-holder/thief/creative-meddler/joy-killer.
        Much like record labels in music.

        Publishers know how to market games, and how to move units where they need to be, to sell. They have the relationships in place with distributors, they have the expertise to avoid getting screwed.

        What they also have at the moment is a taste for scamming developers by exacting ownership of IPs and exerting creative control to better influence what they see as a sales formula. Which is why developers have been scrambling to get out from under Publisher-as-investor thumbs and source their own funding. But they're really throwing the baby out with the bathwater by not having anything to do with publishers.

        If developers were able to make their games with the appropriate investment capital that comes free of soul-ownership clauses from crowd-funding or their own pocketbooks, and hire some decent lawyers, actively get publishers involved at the appropriate stage of development that allows them to market and distribute effectively, then they'd probably see a lot more commercial success.

    The guy should just write animation. He's funny and clever but his gameplay is boring and dated



    Huh. Perhaps should not have done that.

      [Safe goes into the screen. Meanwhile at another computer.]

      Me: "OK, let's see what's on Kotaku."

      [Logs in to Kotaku only to have the safe fire out and take me with it. The key Raz needed to open a door at his end falls back down the same path as the safe and arrives on his keyboard.]

      Last edited 05/11/14 7:45 pm

    What were you doing at an event organized by the company whose products you have to review?

    It's annoying enough as is to get stuck in an adventure game trying to work out where the next puzzle that needs to be solved is. I don't think a bunch more space is really going to improve the experience.

    Open world games are technical marvels, but they tend to conflict with delivering a well paced, well written narrative. You just end up with pointless navigation padding out the story, and the open world generally only adds value when you give up on the main plot for a while to wreak some havoc.

    Hasn't delivered on anything promised so far, no more money for you Mr Schafer. Good day sir.

    Tim Schafer Dreams Of An Open-World Grim Fandango Sequel
    ...Well dammit, now I am too. Dammit! I don't need more pipe dreams, thankyouverymuch!

    No, I do not want a sequel to Grim Fandango. One of the things I loved about Grim Fandango was it telling a whole story. It doesn't need continuation.

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