The following was received by The Escapist from a designer at Doublefine, the makers of Psychonauts, who asked to remain anonymous. He sheds a little light on the design theory behind the level of Psychonuats addressed in Lara Crigger's article "The Milkman Cometh" from issue 67 of The Escapist.
We've taken to calling him "Deep Doublefine." - Ed.
To the Editor: Hi - I just read Lara's article and enjoyed it very much. I also was blown away by the Milkman [Conspiracy] when I [played it]. My reading of the level is slightly different from Lara's and I wanted to share it.
The clues in the game point to the fact that the Milkman is not of Boyd. Boyd's memory vaults make us suspicious, and then we see the censors fighting the milkman's agents, and after that we see the milkman taking over, then leaving Boyd. I think in some ways Boyd's story would have been stronger if the milkman had been his repressed but naturally-occurring rage; it would have more real-world resonance.
I agree completely that one of the best things about Boyd's story is that his paranoia is real - "just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get me"! But it's difficult to tell and only becomes somewhat clear at the end of the level, and then again near the end of the game.
The level lacks censors. Their absence is of course a clue that this is a mind less healthy than previously encountered, but the clue likely registers as a vague feeling of emptiness and foreboding and only becomes clear after the fact.
At the end of the level we find out that the suspicious g-men are actually censors in disguise. This is surprising and brilliant because so many things are flipped on their head in that one moment.
Throughout the game, the player is taught that the censors are, if not evil, at least antagonistic to the player. And those G-Men certainly seem suspicious: but we learn that the G-Men are censors in disguise, hiding from the squirts. They are the good guys. The squirts are the evil agents (although this was more obviously and humorously telegraphed).
We also learn that Raz fails. He doesn't make Boyd better; the best you can say is that he accidentally initiates the struggle between the foreign Milkman and the native censors. You can hop back into his head watch Boyd struggling to regain control of his mind; I find it hard not to cheer, but sadly, when I see the fight. The censors don't look like they're going to win, and of course I know they don't.
Thanks for reading.
- Deep Doublefine
In response to "World, Interrupted" from The Escapist Forum: Having spent many hours in WoW, some in EVE and City of Heroes, and many in Guildwars, I have to agree with you about the limitations of the games. The one redeeming element of WoW is the social interaction that you can get with developing friends and partners in the game. Guildwars can also have this element, with guilds and such.
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/6.35450" title="Football as Madden 07" target="_blank">In response to "Football as Madden 07" from The Escapist Forum: Interesting article. I'm a bit more skeptical of EA and the Madden series, however. I feel that EA these days tends to go on autopilot for their yearly updates (especially with Madden), knowing full well that the name alone will move plenty of units. This is compounded by the fact that they no longer have competition due the exclusive NFL license. So we now have the NFL as filtered through the EA lens. As to whether that's good or bad is up to the individual to decide, however is lack of competition ever a GOOD thing? Your mention of 10 Yard Fight (a great game) got me reminiscing about Tecmo Bowl. I am a longtime fan of football videogames, and Tecmo Bowl had a certain simplistic magic that was something special. There have been great versions of Madden, sure, but the games these days tend to be so complex it can be a turnoff.
In response to 'I Didn't Leave Games, the Games Left Me" from The Escapist Forum: Whether his ego be justified or not aside, he's the first "professional" dev to speak sincerely (perhaps, at least since Lord British?) of how he feels in regards to the treatment he's received from his peers, how his IP was used, the control over creativity he was relieved of, and how all those companies are treating games nowdays as neato-business and zero care for it as a form of art and entertainment.