Behold Double Fine’s ‘first playable’ build of ‘Psychonauts 2’

With the revival of 3D platformers, fans have been clamoring for sequels to their favorite franchises. Banjo-Kazooie returned as Yooka-Laylee, Mario returns to 3D sandboxes later this month in Super Mario Odyssey, and Psychonauts 2 is making headway in development after its successful Fig campaign.

In a newly posted update, Double Fine Productions recently completed a major milestone by creating the game’s “first playable” build. Previously shown gameplay segments were focused on being art tests. Testing areas such as the Whispering Rock remake were designed to look pretty, but they wouldn’t be incorporated into the final game. Instead, they allowed developers to test various lighting and graphical settings as they continued to work on the art style.

As a “first playable” build, this area represents a segment of the full game that showcases the tricky platforming and exploration that is central to Psychonauts 2. In this new area, Double Fine can tests new pipelines and workflows from any department, be it art, animation, tech, design, cinematics, or others. This is the studio’s first attempt to create a chunk of gameplay with all the systems working together. Other developers might refer to this as a “vertical slice,” but Double Fine doesn’t want to imply a level of polish that isn’t required at this stage of production.

Far from being shippable, the first Playable build has everything the final game would have including combat, quests, experience, user interface, and even a cutscene. At this stage, everything is working with scratch dialogue and audio, along with rough visual effects, textures, and lighting.

Another focus in this update includes a look at how all the characters and critters make it from a 2D sketch to a 3D in-game model. Each character starts out as a rough sketch in various poses. After some feedback, the sketch is refined and shows the character from every angle. From there, another artist takes the sketches, builds a 3D model, and goes back and forth with the original artist to refine the model.

Every asset, no matter the size, goes much the same way. A rock or tree might go by more quickly, but something like a main character takes multiple weeks to perfect.

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