Tim Schafer has made some pretty great games over the years, like Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, and Psychonauts. He was also recently awarded a BAFTA Fellowship (opens in new tab), a lifetime achievement award and "the highest accolade BAFTA can bestow up an individual." But in a recent interview with GamesIndustry he said that even after all that, he feels like he's still trying to get a handle on what he's actually doing.
"This sort of award feels like something you get when you're done, but I still feel like I'm working towards figuring out how to make games. Slowly, over time," Schafer said. "I don't think I've made my best game yet, and I feel like that's something I want to work towards."
Schafer said that the bulk of his time is occupied with the day-to-day business of running Double Fine and working on Psychonauts 2 (opens in new tab). But he's also interested in trying "new things with experimental stuff." That, he said, is where the real innovation comes from—and not just in indie games, but in big-budget releases as well.
"There are still things that are really interesting, like the Nemesis system (opens in new tab) in Shadow of Mordor, and there are other things [in AAA] that I feel like I haven't done before, or mechanics I haven't seen before. So I still think there's plenty of innovation in AAA games—it's just that it's still being led by the indie games," he said. "Because when you're spending hundreds of millions of dollars, people get more risk averse. But they know they still have to stand out."
That, he acknowledged, is a part of the equation that can't be overlooked. "I'm encouraging people to bring their personal uniqueness to games, but I'm not guaranteeing that it's going to make them a lot of money," he said. "First-time indies need to moderate their expectations."
I'll certainly be happy if it turns out that Schafer's best work really is ahead: A game that could surpass his best-work-so-far would have to be very special. (But not more of that Meat Circus (opens in new tab) nonsense, please.) Schafer's current project, Psychonauts 2, doesn't have a release date but will hopefully show up sometime in 2019.
Schafer's BAFTA Fellowship award ceremony can be seen below.