Tim Schafer

Tim Schafer, 2001.

Timothy Schafer (born July 26, 1967) is an American computer game designer. He founded Double Fine Productions in January 2000, after having spent over a decade at LucasArts.

Schafer is best known as the designer of critically acclaimed games Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, and Brütal Legend, and co-designer of the early classics The Secret of Monkey Island, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge and Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle. He is known in the video game industry for his story-telling and comedy-writing abilities.


While studying computer science at UC Berkeley, Tim Schafer worked at George Lucas's game production company LucasArts (then called Lucasfilm Games and located at Skywalker Ranch). During his application process for the job, he had a somewhat disastrous phone interview in which he mentioned he was a fan of Ballblaster - at which point the interviewer, David Fox, informed him that this was the pirated version of Ballblazer.[1] He was still permitted to send in his resume and a cover letter, so to make up for the phone interview, he sent in a comic of himself applying for and getting the job at Lucasfilm Games, drawn as a text adventure[2][3].

After play testing the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade action game and assisting with the Nintendo Entertainment System version of Maniac Mansion, Schafer was assigned as a writer and programmer to the production of the pirate-themed adventure game The Secret of Monkey Island.

According to series creator Ron Gilbert, Schafer and fellow writer-programmer Dave Grossman were responsible for about two thirds of the game's dialogue. [4] Monkey Island is noted for its humorous story, though was originally conceived as having a more serious tone; Schafer and Grossman wrote much more humorous placeholder dialog, which persuaded Gilbert to turn it into a comedy. The Secret of Monkey Island became one of the most acclaimed games of its kind. The same team created the sequel, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge.

In his first lead role on a game project, Schafer co-designed (with Dave Grossman) Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle, a time-travel comedy adventure and the sequel of Ron Gilbert's Maniac Mansion. Schafer's first solo project, the biker adventure Full Throttle, was released in 1995. He went on to design the highly acclaimed Grim Fandango, a noir adventure game set in the Aztec afterlife featuring characters similar to the papier-mâché skeleton decorations from the Mexican holiday Dia De Los Muertos. Grim Fandango won many awards, including GameSpot's Game of the Year award of 1998.[5]

Schafer worked on an unannounced PlayStation 2 action-adventure game at LucasArts, but it never entered production. He left the company in January 2000 to found Double Fine Productions, where he created the platform game Psychonauts. The game was first released on Xbox in North America on April 19, 2005. It won much critical acclaim, including a Game of the Year award from Eurogamer.

On March 7, 2007, he hosted the annual Game Developers Choice Awards. He later hosted it again in 2009. To coincide, Double Fine released a free Flash minigame entitled Host Master and the Conquest of Humor, a pastiche of Schafer's LucasArts games in which the player takes on the role of Schafer backstage at the GDC Awards.

In fall 2009, Schafer completed a new game called Brütal Legend. The game was released on October 13, 2009, on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles.[6] In an April 2009 interview on The Jace Hall Show, Schafer had this to say about Brütal Legend: "For Brütal Legend, I've always seen this overlap between medieval warfare and heavy metal. You see heavy metal singers and they'll have like a brace around their arm and they'll be singing about Orcs. So let's just make a world where that all happens. That all gets put together, the heavy metal, and the rock, and the battling, actually does happen. Let's not flirt around with this; let's just do it."[7]

Schafer announced in July 2010 that EA had cancelled the sequel to Brütal Legend. Instead of Brütal Legend 2, Schafer will make four smaller "indie" games.


  • The press first previewed Psychonauts at the Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show of 2002, where it won the Game Critics Award for Best Original Game.[8]
  • An hour-long episode of the TV series Icons on the G4 Network documented the last week of Psychonauts' production and explored Tim Schafer's career. (Original airdate: April 28, 2005).[9]
  • At the 2006 Game Developers Choice Awards, Tim Schafer and Erik Wolpaw won the award for Best Writing for Psychonauts. Tim Schafer and Double Fine Executive Producer & COO Caroline Esmurdoc also won the award for Best New Studio.
  • In October 2006, Tim Schafer received a British Academy of Film and Television Arts video game Best Screenplay award for Psychonauts.[10]
  • In July 2010, Schafer lashed out at Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, calling him a "total prick."[11]



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