Double Fine Productions began life in July 2000 when it was birthed by veteran game designer Tim Schafer following his departure from LucasArts, where he was well known for his work on several popular adventure games, such as The Secret of Monkey Island, Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle. The company recruited many of Schafer 's former colleagues from his previous projects.
Their first released title was Psychonauts. Although the game was well-received by critics, it sold rather poorly (roughly 120,000 copies) as a result of limited marketing from Majesco and a small budget. The game was regarded by many as a cult hit and earned the young company a dedicated fanbase.
Brütal Legend, Double Fine's second title, was released on October 19th, 2009. The new title had a comparatively huge marketing campaign thanks to financing from publisher EA, being plugged at MTV's 2009 Video Music Awards and sponsoring the winning team at the 2009 Red Bull Soapbox Race. The game was generally well reviewed by critics, with a Metacritic rating of 82 on Xbox 360, and a rating of 83 on the Playstation 3. The game sold much better than Psychonauts, selling 1.1 million copies across all platforms.
Unfortunately, because of the fairly high cost to produce the game, Brütal Legend's 1.1 million copies were still somewhat disappointing. As a reaction to the relatively low payoff for such a big-budget project, Double Fine announced in August of 2010 that going forward they would develop multiple smaller games concurrently for eventual digital release on consoles.
Tim Schafer said that the target would be to work on four games at any given time, with one being a major retail release, and three being smaller download-only projects.
The first downloadable game announced was Costume Quest, helmed by former Brütal Legend lead-animator Tasha Harris. The game is the first by Double Fine to be created for digital release, as well as the first project at Double Fine led by someone other than Tim Schafer.
While everyone at Double Fine helps create their download-only games, the majority of work on each project is done by relatively small teams within Double Fine, so that multiple projects can be in production at once. This differs from Psychonauts and Brütal Legend, which both involved the entirety of the developer for the full length of the projects.
In late September 2010 it was revealed that Double Fine had hired Tim Schafer's long-time friend and former colleague Ron Gilbert to lead development on a new downloadable game. Like Schafer, Gilbert made his name creating visually unique, humorous, character-driven adventure games (with both men working together on the first two Monkey Island games).
Double Fine revealed their second downloadable title, Stacking, on November 23, 2010. Stacking is a puzzle game featuring characters that look a lot like Russian matroshka dolls, and set in the 1930s.
The third downloadable title by Double Fine, Trenched, was released on June 22, 2011. It features a mix of mech combat and tower defense style gameplay.
On February 8th 2012, Double Fine announced a new, untitled adventure game that would be funded on Kickstarter. Schafer stated it as a way to remove publishers from helping fund the game as the adventure game genre is all but dead. Instead, Schafer hopes that enough fans of old school adventures games will rally enough money to get the new game funded. The project met its $400,000 budget in approximately 8 hours and within 24 hours would become Kickstarters fastest growing and highest funded project to date.
- 2005 “Best Action / Adventure Game” for Psychonauts from Official XBOX Magazine
- 2005 “Game of the Year” for Psychonauts from Eurogamer
- 2006 "Best New Studio" for Double Fine Productions, Inc., from the Game Developers Conference
- 2009 "Best Strategy / Simulation Game" for Brütal Legend from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
- 2009 "Outstanding Achievement in Soundtrack" for Brütal Legend from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
- 2011 "Developer of the Year" from Official XBOX Magazine
Origin of the Name
The name for the company was selected by Tim Schafer after seeing a sign on the Golden Gate Bridge that read “Slow to 45 mph – Double Fine Zone.” He hoped passers-by would read the sign as a declaration that the zone beyond (San Francisco) belonged to his production studio. Unfortunately, the sign has been replaced and no longer features any mention of a "Double Fine."
Double Fine Action News
Double Fine Action News is the name of Double Fine's blog. It is written by Tim Schafer and generally acts as his personal blog rather than a marketing outlet. (For example: multiple posts are devoted to an ordeal involving Schafer's discovery of a weevil in his Kashi Instant Oatmeal.) The header image changes periodically and generally features one image mirrored to create two.
Double Fine Action Comics
Double Fine Action Comics are seven web comics created by five Double Fine artists and one senior producer, hosted on the official Double Fine website. Artists Scott Campbell, Nathan Stapley, Mark Hamer, and Tasha Harris each have their own unique series, while Razmig "Raz" Mavlian has two. Gabe Miller, the senior producer at Double Fine, is the most recent addition to the lineup.
Currently, Scott Campbell, Nathan Stapley, Tasha Harris, and Gabe Miller add new comics once or twice every week or so. Scott Campbell's comic has over 700 entries so far, Nathan Stapley's has over 400, and Tasha Harris's comic has well over 200 submissions.
In the summer of 2009, Scott C.'s first 300 comic strips were compiled into Double Fine Action Comics, Vol. 1, a book sold through the Double Fine Shop.
Double Fine Shop
The official Double Fine website also hosts the Double Fine Shop. The Double Fine Shop sells many exclusive items related to both Double Fine games and Double Fine Action Comics. Of particular note are various items hand signed by Tim Schafer.
- The mascot featured in the studio's logo is known as 2-Headed Baby, often shortened by employees and fans to "2HB."
- Psychonauts is almost always referred to as "Excellent Game Psychonauts" throughout the Double Fine website.