GAME 260, Week 2

Blood, Sweat, and Pixels, ch. 1: Pillars of Eternity

“The most important question in video game development has nothing to do with making video games” (1)

How are we gonna pay for this thing?” (1)

Stormlands was “full of ambitious ‘high-level’ ideas, many driven by Microsoft’s vision of what should be in an Xbox One launch game” (3)

“The standard burn rate for a game studio was $10,000 per person per month, a number that included both salaries and overhead costs, like health insurance and office rent” (3)

“$500,000 every month” (3)

“Double Fine … had just found a way to revolutionize the video games industry” (5)

“the bulk of video game development was funded by big publishers with deep pockets. Publishers almost always had the leverage in these negotiations, which could lead developers to agree to some rigid deals” (5)

“No decent-size indie studio could survive without relying at least partly on money from outside partners, even if that meant dealing with cancellations, layoffs, and bad deals” (6)

“Obsidian needed to diversify” (7)

“they needed to make an old-school RPG” (9)

“‘Obsidian employees want to make this game’” (11)

“‘The way I view the relationship between production and direction is there intentionally should be a little bit of antagonism,’ Sawyer said. ‘Not hostility—but the director at some level is saying, ‘I want to do this, I’m writing this check.’ Production holds the checkbook” (16)

“In real life the math was never that clean” (17)

“Without the ability to estimate the length of basic art tasks, the producers couldn’t put together an accurate schedule. Without an accurate schedule, they couldn’t determine how much money the project would cost” (18)

“During traditional, publisher-funded development, it was important for a vertical slice to look impressive, because if the publisher didn’t approve, the studio wouldn’t get paid. ‘When you’re focusing on a publisher, a lot of the times you’ll just do things the wrong way [on purpose],” said Bobby Null, the lead level designer. ‘It’s smoke and mirrors, hacking stuff in and trying to impress the publisher so they’ll keep paying the bills’” (19)

“On many games, once the schedule starts feeling too tight, the producers might look to cut features or areas that don’t seem critical … Obsidian had already promised many of those features to fans” (23)

“Everybody said, ‘I wish we hadn’t done that’” (24)

PsychOdyssey, eps. 1-3

Episode 1: The Color of the Sky in Your World

On the ten-year anniversary of Psychonauts, Double Fine veterans reflect back on the turbulent production. Tim decides it might be time to return to the Psychonauts universe… —Episode Description

“Psychonauts, like all of Tim’s games, is an evergreen title that continues to sell.” —Greg Rice

“It’s be great to make a sequel, but it’s hard. Costs money.” —Tim Schafer

“These are the priorities you have when you’re starting a company when you’re in your twenties.” —Schafer

“Back then I was thinking a lot about cultural fit. You know, ‘will this person work out here?’ It’s almost fifteen years later for some of those people. I was at least right fifty percent of the time.” —Schafer

“I feel like you can tell when you meet somebody whether they are just like the kind of person who gets involved in things with their whole person. They were just like, ‘I’m going to give everything I have to this game.’ You could tell that when you met them.” —Schafer

“It was kind of an outsiders take on art. And I really felt it was important to hire people who were not just kind of from the mindset of games as they were, but like from the world of fine art or outside of games, to bring a really fresh look to it.” —Schafer

“I didn’t want Double Fine games to look like other people’s games.” —Schafer

“There was a lot of just figuring out how to be a company … So like, figuring out how to exist as a business entity.” —Schafer

“We were really, really lucky that the Xbox launched right then. Because Ed Fries was running it, and he had this thing about games being more, games being art.” —Schafer

“I loved video games and played them all the time.” —Ed Fries

“And the programmers were like, ‘nooooo, don’t do it,’ and I was like, ‘tough luck, come on, figure it out. It’s fun!’ Sometimes the whole concept for the level would come from that.” —Schafer

“You know, a lot of late nights in the very beginning … spending the night to try to just get the first. The theatre level, done to prove what we can do.” —Scott Campbell

“Say ‘I love crunch mode,’ say it, say it.” —Schafer

“That’s what you do when you first get a job in the games industry. Especially when you love it. It’s just, you work.” —Geoff Soulis

“My best, most comfortable nights, were sleeping on the floor sometimes.” —Schafer

“I was thinking about how we were working then. Because I mean there was a certain amount of naivety … there was a lot more naive optimism, maybe?” —Kee Chi

“There was a lot of camaraderie. There was a very family atmosphere. It was also sort of like, in the trenches atmosphere. It was such a tough project.” —Soulis

“I remember during the crunches … those are some of the happiest memories I have of working on Psychonauts, but it was during the worst time of working on Psychonauts.” —David ‘Rusty’ Russell

“We struggled to make a good, fun level.” —Schafer

“After trying to make the levels for a while with level designers and artists, there was always these big fights back then about who owned the levels. ‘Am I making the level and you are just making it pretty?’ Or ‘am I making this beautiful thing and you are just dropping logic into it?’” —Schafer

“So eventually … I fired my Lead Level Designer. We promoted one of our level designers we believed in … and then ended up clearing out the whole level design team.” —Schafer

“The impression that I had was it was pretty close to shipping, which it definitely was not.” —Chi

“I remember when we got a call. We heard that there had been a change with the management … After we’d heard everything is fine, I think it was the next day that everything wasn’t fine, and we found that we were canceled.” —Ray Crook

“You know, I’m not even 100% sure how even the company kept running at that point? I don’t really know where the money came from.” —Crook

“I asked a friend of mine, who I knew pretty well, in the games industry, who I knew had done really well, if I could borrow the equivalent of one payroll. Which was about $250,000.” —Schafer

“‘we are out of money.’” —Schafer

“We kind of misprioritized a lot of hard to find stuff in the game, that we put a lot of work into. So there’s a lot of little things you can stumble upon that, obviously it’s like two weeks of someone’s time. And you are like, ‘wow, I didn’t know that was in there!’” —Schafer

“We did it. We finished the game.” —Schafer

“I remember being really proud of it. But then thinking, like, ‘why aren’t more people buying it?’” —Crook

“‘I wonder why this game didn’t just take over the world? Because I worked so hard on it.’ And I think the team took that really hard too, because like I said, they put everything they had into it.” —Schafer

“All anyone would talk about was how it was a poster child for a good game that didn’t sell. Can’t we just talk about it being a good game?” —Schafer

Crew: “Do you expect it to go smoother overall?” Russell: “Oh, god, yes. Yeah, I’m too old for it to go the way it went the last time. We kind of all made a pact with each other that that would not happen again.”

“I think we’re experienced enough to pull that off without completely destroying ourselves.” —Chi

“People make games.” —Anna Kipnis

Episode 2: Not in the Cards

The studio kicks off development of the Psychonauts VR game that will bridge the gap between the original Psychonauts and its sequel. —Episode Description

“To get to the dollar amount we’re talking about, it’s probably going to take financing from a lot of different avenues. And then yeah there’s the potential of crowdfunding too.” —Greg Rice

“No we have something to lose. We didn’t really have something to lose back then. Because no one really expected us, and no one knew what Kickstarter was.” —Schafer

“The best thing about [VR] is that there’s two billion dollars in it … People with money are very excited about it.” —Brad Muir

“I’m used to being the project leader on Psychonauts, but I feel like I mostly want to be the creative director of the studio. But also, I want to be figuring out the plot, and the story, and the backstory, and what the characters are going through, and then be involved with brainstorming on design. And eventually, the actual making of the game would probably be led by someone else, with me just checking in, and seeing how they’re screwing up my impeccable vision for it.” —Schafer

“I’m also trying to keep in mind that the budget isn’t huge, and there’s all these constraints on it. Like, the new tech, like we’re using Unreal Engine, which is really smart, but there’s a cost for that. And then there’s a cost for using headsets, you know, using any kind of VR is a crazy cost.” —Muir

“What are the things that would work that will let us test out the mechanics?” —Muir

“There a lot of critical things that have to come together in order for us to even have a hope of hitting the date and budget that has been, like, you know, predestined for the project … It seems like an uphill battle. That’s where we run into our own internal standards, because it is a Psychonauts game.” —Muir

“We tend to that a lot here, is that we thing about the game being all things to all people. And I think that constraining it a little bit more, will make it more doable, more achievable, and then that will also leave more time for iteration and polish.” —Muir

Episode 3: Awesome Toybox

Rhombus of Ruin gets a pair of new project leads. Tim invites his most trusted artists to the studio to help brainstorm for Psychonauts 2. —Episode Description

“I’m a strong believer that when you are first time leading a project, you should have a partner.” —Schafer

“Yeah, you don’t do what you’re good at, right? Yeah, I think it happens to everybody, I think everybody that has a speciality, you eventually move into management, and you get to do less and less of what you enjoy doing.”—Crook

“This skill that you’ve been trying to hone and practice, that you love doing, you start losing it, right? You start losing it to some degree, and when you’re not doing it you become rusty at it.” —Crook

“Whenever Grasslands is going to start, pre-production is going to start, you know, Tim is just going to start… taking our people.” —Crook

“We now, I think, have the most number of production people in the company devoted to this project … I think it says that this is important.” —Malena Annable

“As someone coming in, as a producer working on a game, watching Double Fine Adventure has been a very, very eye-opening experience about watching a production happen in this company. It’s been very, very informative to look at, like, ‘how did things happen? And why do you think things happened?’ That’s been very, very educational. And it’s perfect timing too, because production is about to start.” —Andy Alamano

The Standard for Project Management


“This standard applies regardless of industry, location, size, or delivery approach, for example, predictive, hybrid, or adaptive.” (30)

“Organizations expect projects to deliver outcomes in addition to outputs and artifacts. Project managers are expected to deliver projects that create value for the organization and stakeholders within the organization’s system for value delivery” (4)

Terms: outcome, portfolio, product, program, project, project management, project manager, project team, system for value delivery, value (4-5)

System for value delivery: “A collection of strategic business activities aimed at building, sustaining, and/or advancing an organization. Portfolios, programs, projects, products, and operations can all be part of an organization’s system for value delivery” (5)

Value: “The worth, importance, or usefulness of something. Different stakeholders perceive value in different ways. Customers can define value as the ability to use specific features or functions of a product. Organizations can focus on business value as determined with financial metrics, such as the benefits less the cost of achieving those benefits. Societal value can include the contribution to groups of people, communities, or the environment” (5)

A System for Value Delivery

“Organizations create value for stakeholders” (7)

“The components in a value delivery system create deliverables used to produce outcomes. An outcome is the end result or consequence of a process or a project. Focusing on outcomes, choices, and decisions emphasizes the long-range performance of the project. The outcomes create benefits, which are gains realized by the organization. Benefits, in turn, create value, which is something of worth, importance, or usefulness” (10)

“A value delivery system works most effectively when information and feedback are shared consistently among all components, keeping the system aligned with strategy and attuned to the environment” (11)

“People drive project delivery” (12)

“Coordinating a collective work effort is extremely important to the success of any project” (12)

“Regardless of how coordination takes place, supportive leadership models and meaningful, continuous engagements between project teams and other stakeholders underpin successful outcomes” (12)

“Regardless of how projects are coordinated, the collective effort of the project team delivers the outcomes, benefits, and value” (13)

“A product is an artifact that is produced, is quantifiable, and can be either an end item itself or a component item” (19)

“Product management involves the integration of people, data, processes, and business systems to create, maintain, and develop a product or service throughout its life cycle” (19)

“The product life cycle is a series of phases that represents the evolution of a product, from introduction through growth, maturity, and to retirement” (19)

Project Management Principles

“The principles of project management are not prescriptive in nature. They are intended to guide the behavior of people involved in projects” (21)

“Principles can, but do not necessarily, reflect morals. A code of ethics is related to morals. A code of ethics for a profession can be adopted by an individual or profession to establish expectations for moral conduct” (21)

PMI Code of Ethics (21):

  • Responsibility
  • Respect
  • Fairness
  • Honesty

“The 12 principles of project management are aligned with the values identified in the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct” (21)

Stewardship: Be a diligent, respectful, and caring steward. “Stewards act responsibly to carry out activities with integrity, care, and trustworthiness while maintaining compliance with internal and external guidelines. They demonstrate a broad commitment to financial, social, and environmental impacts of the projects they support” (24)

  • Integrity
  • Care
  • Trustworthiness
  • Compliance

Team: Create a collaborative project team environment. “Project teams are made up of individuals who wield diverse skills, knowledge, and experience. Project teams that work collaboratively can accomplish a shared objective more effectively and efficiently than individuals working on their own” (28)

  • Authority
  • Accountability
  • Responsibility

Stakeholders: Effectively engage with stakeholders. “Engage stakeholders proactively and to the degree needed to contribute to project success and customer satisfaction” (31)

Value: Focus on value. “Continually evaluate and adjust project alignment to business objectives and intended benefits and value” (34)

  • Business needed
  • Project justification
  • Business strategy

Systems Thinking: Recognize, evaluate, and respond to system interactions. “Recognize, evaluate, and respond to the dynamic circumstances within and surrounding the project in a holistic way to positively affect project performance” (37)

Leadership: Demonstrate leadership behaviours. “Demonstrate and adapt leadership behaviors to support individual and team needs” (40)

Tailoring: Tailor based on context. “Design the project development approach based on the context of the project, its objectives, stakeholders, governance, and the environment using “just enough” process to achieve the desired outcome while maximizing value, managing cost, and enhancing speed” (44)

Quality: Build quality into processes and deliverables. “Maintain a focus on quality that produces deliverables that meet project objectives and align to the needs, uses, and acceptance requirements set forth by relevant stakeholders” (47)

  • Performance
  • Conformity
  • Reliability
  • Resilience
  • Satisfaction
  • Uniformity
  • Efficiency
  • Sustainability

Complexity: Navigate complexity. “Continually evaluate and navigate project complexity so that approaches and plans enable the project team to successfully navigate the project life cycle” (50)

  • Human behaviour
  • System behaviour
  • Uncertainty and ambiguity
  • Technological innovation

Risk: Optimize risk responses. “Continually evaluate exposure to risk, both opportunities and threats, to maximize positive impacts and minimize negative impacts to the project and its outcomes.”

Adaptability and Resiliency: Embrace adaptability and resiliency. “Build adaptability and resiliency into the organization’s and project team’s approaches to help the project accommodate change, recover from setbacks, and advance the work of the project” (55)

Change: Enable change to achieve the envisioned future state. “Prepare those impacted for the adoption and sustainment of new and different behaviors and processes required for the transition from the current state to the intended future state created by the project outcomes” (58)

Project Management Code of Ethics

Vision and Purpose

“we are committed to doing what is right and honorable” (1)

“The purpose of this Code is to instill confidence in the project management profession and to help an individual become a better practitioner” (1)

“We believe that the credibility and reputation of the project management profession is shaped by the collective conduct of individual practitioners” (1)

Persons to Whom the Code Applies

  1. All PMI members
  2. Non-members who hold a PMI certification
  3. Non-members who apply to commence a PMI certification process
  4. Non-members who serve PMI in a volunteer capacity

Values that Support this Code

“The values that the global project management community defined as most important were: responsibility, respect, fairness, and honesty” (2)

Aspirational and Mandatory Conduct

“The aspirational standards describe the conduct that we strive to uphold as practitioners” (2)

“The mandatory standards establish firm requirements, and in some cases, limit or prohibit practitioner behavior” (2)


“Responsibility is our duty to take ownership for the decisions we make or fail to make, the actions we take or fail to take, and the consequences that result” (2)

Aspirational Standards

  • “We make decisions and take actions based on the best interests of society, public safety, and the environment” (2)
  • “We accept only those assignments that are consistent with our background, experience, skills, and qualifications” (2)
  • “We fulfill the commitments that we undertake – we do what we say we will do” (2)
  • “When we make errors or omissions, we take ownership and make corrections promptly. When we discover errors or omissions caused by others, we communicate them to the appropriate body as soon they are discovered. We accept accountability for any issues resulting from our errors or omissions and any resulting consequences” (3)
  • “We protect proprietary or confidential information that has been entrusted to us” (3)
  • “We uphold this Code and hold each other accountable to it” (3)

Mandatory Standards

  • “We inform ourselves and uphold the policies, rules, regulations and laws that govern our work, professional, and volunteer activities” (3)
  • “We report unethical or illegal conduct to appropriate management and, if necessary, to those affected by the conduct” (3)
  • “We bring violations of this Code to the attention of the appropriate body for resolution” (3)
  • “We only file ethics complaints when they are substantiated by facts” (3)


“Respect is our duty to show a high regard for ourselves, others, and the resources entrusted to us. Resources entrusted to us may include people, money, reputation, the safety of others, and natural or environmental resources” (4)

Aspirational Standards

  • “We inform ourselves about the norms and customs of others and avoid engaging in behaviors they might consider disrespectful” (4)
  • “We listen to others’ points of view, seeking to understand them” (4)
  • “We approach directly those persons with whom we have a conflict or disagreement” (4)
  • “We conduct ourselves in a professional manner, even when it is not reciprocated” (4)

Mandatory Standards

  • “We negotiate in good faith” (4)
  • “We do not exercise the power of our expertise or position to influence the decisions or actions of others in order to benefit personally at their expense” (4)
  • “We do not act in an abusive manner toward others” (4)
  • “We respect the property rights of others” (4)


“Fairness is our duty to make decisions and act impartially and objectively. Our conduct must be free from competing self interest, prejudice, and favoritism” (4)

Aspirational Standards

  • “We demonstrate transparency in our decision-making process” (5)
  • “We constantly reexamine our impartiality and objectivity, taking corrective action as appropriate” (5)
  • “We provide equal access to information to those who are authorized to have that information” (5)
  • “We make opportunities equally available to qualified candidates” (5)

Mandatory Standards

  • “We proactively and fully disclose any real or potential conflicts of interest to the appropriate stakeholders” (5)
  • “When we realize that we have a real or potential conflict of interest, we refrain from engaging in the decision-making process or otherwise attempting to influence outcomes, unless or until: we have made full disclosure to the affected stakeholders; we have an approved mitigation plan; and we have obtained the consent of the stakeholders to proceed” (5)
  • “We do not hire or fire, reward or punish, or award or deny contracts based on personal considerations, including but not limited to, favoritism, nepotism, or bribery” (5)
  • “We do not discriminate against others based on, but not limited to, gender, race, age, religion, disability, nationality, or sexual orientation” (5)
  • “We apply the rules of the organization (employer, Project Management Institute, or other group) without favoritism or prejudice” (5)


“Honesty is our duty to understand the truth and act in a truthful manner both in our communications and in our conduct” (6)

Aspirational Standards

  • “We earnestly seek to understand the truth” (6)
  • “We are truthful in our communications and in our conduct” (6)
  • “We provide accurate information in a timely manner” (6)
  • “We make commitments and promises, implied or explicit, in good faith” (6)
  • “We strive to create an environment in which others feel safe to tell the truth” (6)

Mandatory Standards

  • “We do not engage in or condone behavior that is designed to deceive others, including but not limited to, making misleading or false statements, stating half-truths, providing information out of context or withholding information that, if known, would render our statements as misleading or incomplete” (6)
  • “We do not engage in dishonest behavior with the intention of personal gain or at the expense of another” (6)

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