Double Fine Productions, the creator of the Psychonauts series Broken Age and many others, recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. To celebrate this milestone, Double Fine has partnered with Indie By Design to publish a comprehensive art book detailing the visual history of every single game the developer has released over the years – including developer insights, in-depth interviews, and seen unprecedented concept art.
Read an exclusive excerpt from the book entitled below 20 double fine years, a quick look at the design choices behind the Psychonauts 2 Aquato family and the many, many minds involved in the game. We’ve also put a handful of pages together so you can see how the entire book is organized.
If you want to try it out 20 double fine years for yourself, it’s available here in a standard and collector’s legend edition. In addition to a behind-the-scenes look at each Double Fine game, the book also covers 2 Player Productions’ Double fine adventure Documentary series, webcomics the studio posted on its website, its Day of the Devs events, and more.
Finally, to learn more about Double Fine, check out our Double Fine Productions story we released in July to read how the entire studio came together.
20 double fine years is now available.
Raz & The Aquatos
“It was insanely addicting to draw these characters again,” says conceptual artist Scott Campbell, art director of the original Psychonauts. “It was almost like being wrapped in that warm, soothing blanket.”
Raz returns as the protagonist in Psychonauts 2 and this time more of his family members are explored, showing their lives and relationships in more detail. Much of Campbell’s joy in designing them was their ability to give them meaning instead of creating it from scratch.
“It’s like pulling on an old family patchwork quilt and adding it to it at the same time. You need these characters to feel like they were brought here by the lore from the previous games.
“You can’t feel brand new, you want you to feel like you exist in this world and have made your own place in it. Taking something that already exists and creating connections and history for it is really fulfilling. “
Psychonauts 2 takes us through an incredibly diverse array of brains, each of which is presented as a fully trained level for the player to explore. These levels are related in the sense that you always see them through the eyes of Raz, and that each represents a character’s innermost thoughts, but visually they are strikingly different.
“We looked at Psychonauts to see what was holding these different environments together, even though you were jumping through all these different brains,” explains environmental artist Levi Ryken.
“One of the biggest things is the proportions. We have this thing we call the ‘psychonaut wink’ which basically means you can include things that seem pretty normal and consistent, but you can’t present them normally. It has to have the ‘hint’. “
For example, parallel lines are largely avoided. Characters are allowed to have two eyes that are essentially the same, but they are usually depicted as having one larger than the other, or one higher or lower in the face.
“It makes the whole world feel a little miserable at all times,” continues Ryken. “It’s almost as if it was drawn by someone who really holds a pencil at random and drops it all the time.”