The road to releasing a Double Fine game is never easy. There are always twists, turns and unexpected bumps along the way. Psychonauts was dropped mid-development by Microsoft and picked up then-ambitious Majesco. Psychonauts had it easy compared to Brutal Legend, however. Psychonauts didn't have a merger force the initial transition (Activision plus Vivendi), its new potential home saying "no, thanks" and being forced to suddenly secure a new partner in Electronic Arts.
That must have taken a toll on the team, right?
It very much did, according to a postmortem in the latest issue of Game Developer magazine penned by executive producer Caroline EsmurdocIt over at Double Fine. Exerts from the postmortem have been published on Gamaustra, providing startling insight into Brutal Legend's development.
When the merger happened and it was unclear if Activision actually wanted the game...
"The merger announcement and subsequent diminution in publisher contact with Vivendi personnel, especially after such a previously harmonious relationship, caused internal unrest and morale dips among the team. Company meetings often included frustrating discussions about what little we knew about the current situation at our publisher, and what the various possible outcomes would mean for Double Fine."
The immense distractions for Double Fine leadership when Activision decided to sue...
"Most of the team was shielded from the drama ... But Double Fine’s leadership was not, and the distraction and stress took its toll on individuals and on our deliverables. ... The lawsuit took its toll on the team, on the company, on our product and on our optimism. Wrong, any way you slice it."
Maybe third time will be the charm for Double Fine. Hope I didn't jinx it.