Earlier this month, Double Fine released PsychOdyssey, a 32-episode, 22-hour documentary series on the making of Psychonauts 2. Now that the world has actually had time to watch most of it, game devs are lauding the series as the absolute best insight you'll get into how hard making games actually is.
Double Fine started chronicling its production process back in 2012 when the game that would eventually be known as Broken Age hit Kickstarter. The studio worked with 2 Player Productions to produce a lengthy episodic documentary chronicling the making of that game, and 2 Player essentially became Double Fine's in-house documentarian group.
Now, Double Fine and 2 Player have released the full run of episodes chronicling the production of Psychonauts 2 with PsychOdyssey (opens in new tab), and the results are absolutely incredible. The presentation feels so candid and honest that, even when it feels a bit voyeuristic to watch ordinary people do their jobs, it's absolutely enthralling. You don't know heartbreak until you watch a newly hired level designer have an idea gently shot down by Tim Schafer.
I haven't been able to stop thinking about this moment from the new Double Fine Psychonauts 2 doc. pic.twitter.com/I7NixkNrbqFebruary 14, 2023
The documentary doesn't shy away from the hard parts, even those bits you might expect to be swept aside for corporate or legal reasons. Take this bit from the time of Microsoft's buyout of Double Fine, where Xbox Game Studios boss Matt Booty gives some (arguably unsatisfactory) answers about moonlighting to concerned employees.
Huge shout-out to 2 Player Productions and to Tim Schafer for protecting the PsychOdyssey documentary. There are unbelievable glimpses into what it's like to sell your studio to Microsoft in here.They dropped the documentary on Friday and need your help sharing it. pic.twitter.com/pfYxnylMSsFebruary 13, 2023
Game devs from all corners of the industry - from folks at indie studios to lead designers at places like Respawn and Naughty Dog - have been praising the documentary for its insight into the game development process.
Finished the @DoubleFine documentary. Probably one of the most important industry "things". Stories like this are not few & far between- good & bad happen at every studio in all game dev. But never see it. Here it is laid bare for all to learn- immense.https://t.co/LauaXmZwy4February 21, 2023
Much like everyone else in GameDev - I am watching the @DoubleFine documentary. I'm a bit too invested now cause of how real it is - going to be sending some annual feedback requests to @TimOfLegend and co. Please respond in a timely manner.February 22, 2023
Once again, @DoubleFine & @2PProductions have created an intimate & honest documentary on the process of making video games. If you want an unvarnished look at how the sausage is concepted, planned, iterated on, revised, cut back, & eventually (sometimes!) made, look no further: https://t.co/e3wNO5S9nbFebruary 13, 2023
It would probably drive me insane with stress also but I can get through it because I know at the end of all the struggles they made an incredible game 🥲February 18, 2023
The only problem anybody in the industry seems to have with PsychOdyssey might be that it's a little tool real.
Finished #DoubleFine #PsychOdyssey & Damn...It's rare to find documentaries that showcase challenges of creative studio work, but I have NEVER seen a documentary tackle the sensitive issue of the cracks that break trust in the workplace and fosters resentment among coworkers. pic.twitter.com/CK5vhkT7tEFebruary 14, 2023
Nine episodes into PsychOdyssey and I got to the part where one of the developers is investigating a game breaking bug, tries to reproduce it, and gets a different bug that completely crashes the game.…I feel so seen right now.February 19, 2023
I’m laughing, I’m crying, but also I’m like “damn that center of mass trail debug is a dope idea”February 18, 2023
But really, where else are you going to find an honest discussion about how terrible it is to make a working platformer camera?
Double Fine PsychOdyssey EP10 pic.twitter.com/ntGjnp57VsFebruary 22, 2023
If you have any interest in finding out how much work goes into making the games you play, PsychOdyssey is essential viewing.
I haven't even finished PsychOdyssey yet and I'm already looking forward to the documentaries on whatever Double Fine's next upcoming Xbox Series X games will be.