It’s very rare that one gets to have a conversation with one of their heroes growing up, not least one who has just received a BAFTA Fellowship. After hearing that Tim Schafer, one of the men behind many LucasArts point & click classics such as Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, and the hugely underrated Grim Fandango, had a spare five minutes to talk to me, I was incredibly excited for this encounter. I knew that this interview had to be brief, and as it was the end of the day, it was tricky to know exactly what to ask him about.
Below is the audio conversation that we had, as well as a transcript of the dialogue we had which ended up talking about Hobbits, Bit Rot, and Sam & Max: Hit the Road. I would like to thank the folks at Double Fine for setting this encounter up, as well as Tim for taking the time out of his busy schedule, and Double Fine’s Greg Rice for being so patient while I had my moment with Tim. The more in-depth questions for Double Fine were directed at Greg, and you’ll be seeing the results of that conversation soon.
TSA: First of all, congratulations on the BAFTA Fellowship. How does it feel to be recognised in this way by the game industry?
Tim Schafer: It’s so nice, especially from BAFTA, they do a lot of great work in encouraging young talent and that’s something we believe in a lot. They’ve been around my whole career, our first game at Double Fine; Psychonauts won a BAFTA. So they’ve been alongside us the whole journey!
TSA: There’s now a total of nine Fellows, including yourself…
Tim: And am I the best one? Is that what you’re going to ask?
TSA: Umm, actually it is a different question. So you’ve got the likes of John Carmack, David Braben, Rockstar Games as a whole for some reason, Gabe Newell, Peter Molyneux, Shigeru Miyamoto, Nolan Bushell, and Will Wright. If all of you were in the Fellowship of the Ring, who would you be?
Tim: Who would be who? Let’s see, I’m trying to think of who the Frodo would be… They’re all such towering figures. Who gets to be the dwarf? Who is the handsome one?! [He then asks me to repeat the names while he thinks.]
Rockstar Games is Boromir, because you can’t trust them. Peter Molyneux is obviously Gandalf, because he disappears mysteriously once in a while. Will Wright, we’ll let him be Strider, just cause he’s so handsome! Miyamoto can be Frodo and I’ll be Samwise. My life’s dream would be the Samwise to Miyamoto’s Frodo!
TSA: Maybe the two of you should get in contact and maybe partner up for a game?
Tim: It’s that or I’ll be Gollum and bite his finger off. That’ll be a great story. Although don’t tell him that, that’ll probably freak him out!
TSA: I’m not sure how much time I have left, but what’s next for Tim Schafer?
Tim: I’m almost done writing the cutscenes for Psychonauts 2 – all I do all day is write dialogue for Psychonaut – but then I have no idea! Other than secrets, of course. Secrets, secrets, secrets!
TSA: There was an interview with the BBC in which you mentioned something called ‘Bit Rot’. You explained in quite some detail what this was. [Bit Rot is when a game becomes unplayable and unpurchaseable through modern systems, and Tim was talking about remastering his older games and re-releasing them for modern audiences]
Have there been any games that haven’t been updated to modern formats that are left in the pipeline potentially?
Tim: I’ve been trying to think of old games you can’t play anymore. I think they did an HD edition of Okami, I don’t know if that’s on the latest ones?
TSA: Yeah, it was released last year.
Tim: There are certainly some games I’d like to go back and play, like Katamari, is that available?
There are still some LucasArts games that aren’t remastered that I’d still like to do.
TSA: Such as?
Tim: Well Sam & Max: Hit the Road of course, Indiana Jones…
TSA: Don’t TellTale own the rights for that?
Tim: Oh no. Well, I don’t know about the rights for the games, but Steve Purcell owns Sam & Max.
TSA: Incidentally, Sam & Max was one of my favourite LucasArts games.
Tim: To remaster that game you have to be in partnership with Disney, and the first remasters went really well, so who knows, maybe!
TSA: Well, I’m sure you’ve got naps to take and places to be…
Tim: I think John Carmack would be Legolas, he’s pretty tall now I think about it. I think that about covers it? Who’s left? David Braben as Gimli? That sound right?
TSA: Umm, I’d say that’s about right?
Tim: Reckon he could carry a grudge? Seems like a thing a dwarf would do…
Once again I’d like to thank Tim Schafer and Greg Rice for talking to us, as well as Double Fine for setting up the meeting.
Header image credit: BAFTA/Jamie Simonds