Tim Schafer and the team behind Double Fine’s latest adventure game, Broken Age, visited the April version of SpilBar in Viborg, Denmark.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are in the presence of giants.” The words are Danish gaming journalist Morten Skovgaard‘s. He is the moderator of a roundtable developers talk at The Animation Workshop in Viborg, Denmark, and the giants in our presence in the packed auditorium are four guys from San Francisco, USA. Tim Schafer, Greg Rice, Ray Crooke and Peter Chan, all representing heavyweight game developer Double Fine.
Tim Schafer and co. are visiting The Animation Workshop in Viborg, a school that educates animators and graphic artists – and try to help them get their footing in the real world.
“We try to help our students and guide them after they leave the school. It’s not just a case of educating them and letting them go,” says project coordinator Emil Kjæhr from The Animation Workshop. Along with director Morten Thorning, he is hosting April’s SpilBar.
The auditorium is packed on this grey and rainy Wednesday afternoon. The 256 seats available are all filled and shortly before the first talk, which is a thorough introduction to the animation workflow in Double Fine’s latest release Broken Age, a couple of participants are sent into the adjacent canteen to get more chairs. And then, after a delightfully Danglish introduction to the school by Morten Thorning, Ray Crooke, lead animator on Broken Age takes the stage.
“We want to create awareness about the environment for game development in Viborg and having big names like the Double Fine Guys visit us is our way of doing that,” Emil Kjæhr says, “it is a good example of what we are trying to build here at the Animation Workshop.” Other big names include Braid-concept artist David Hellman.
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Along with having big names visiting their SpilBars, The Animation Workshop encourages its students to go abroad when looking for work and internships. That has resulted in Double Fine having six interns from the Viborg school, and Double Fine concept artist Peter Chan is also a recurring guest lecturer.
Back in the auditorium, the giants are now talking. Most of the talking is – of course, you might say – being done by Tim Schafer. There is no doubt that the Double Fine CEO is still as passionate about games as ever.
“To me, that is like saying ‘well, that’s a really nice sculpture, why don’t you take a picture of it?’,” he responds to a question about why he is not doing movies. And as the night comes to an end, he shares a story about the time he first started out in the gaming industry.
“I went for an interview with Lucas Arts, who asked me which of their games I liked. I told them that I really liked Ballblaster, which of course was the name of the pirated version of Ballblazer. But it turned out okay. I wrote a story board for them, which they really liked and ended up giving me a job!”
The talks end with a loud applause from the audience, who then lined up to talk to Chan, Schafer, Crooke and Rice before heading off for the last entry on the agenda: beer and retro console playing at a nearby bar.