Tim Schafer and Lee Petty on Stacking


When Double Fine Project Lead Lee Petty and studio head Tim Schafer were flown into New York at the last minute to help promote their upcoming title Stacking at THQ’s Gamers Week, GamerNode’s Mike Murphy did not pass up the opportunity to get a quick interview with the duo behind the game. Find out what the two have to say about this innovative game that focuses on Russian stacking dolls.

[Audio at the bottom of the page]

Mike Murphy, GamerNode: This is Mike Murphy, News Director for GamerNode.com, and I’m here with Lee Petty, [Project Lead] for Stacking, and the one and only Tim Schafer. Guys, thanks for being here.

Lee Petty: Yeah, our pleasure.

Tim Schafer: Pleasure to be here.

GN: So first off for anyone who doesn’t know, what exactly is Stacking?

LP: Well Stacking is a game about Russian stacking dolls. A whole world of living Russian stacking dolls and the player gets to control the world’s smallest Russian stacking doll. And because of that he can stack into other larger dolls and each doll you stack into has unique special abilities that the player uses to solve what we call gameplay challenges, which are sort of adventure-style game puzzles.

GN: I know that every single doll has their own special ability. Do you guys have a ballpark number of exactly how many different abilities there are in the game?

LP: Well there are two types of dolls. There are unique dolls and non-unique dolls. And we have over one hundred unique dolls. But even the non-unique dolls have abilities. So there’s well over a hundred-

TS: Millions. Millions and billions.

LP: Millions, yeah. I mean there’s well over a hundred unique dolls and probably pretty close to two hundred types of different dolls. So somewhere in that neighborhood for abilities.

GN: You guys may get this question a lot, but it’s a brilliant concept but kind of bizarre when you think about it. Why Russian stacking dolls?

LP: *Chuckles*

TS: What do you have against Russian stacking dolls?

LP: Yeah! Geeze, you just hurt their feelings.

TS: I think obviously when you see this game the question is why has this not been done before? Russian stacking dolls.

LP: Well I think from a mechanic, from a gameplay design standpoint…What we wanted to do is sort of take a lot of things about adventure games that we liked. Like being able to play them at your own pace, storytelling, humor. But simplify it down so that maybe it would be a little more immediate for players. And the Russian dolls actually in a strange sort of way are really appropriate for that because the dolls themselves are you inventory. They are the objects…But they are also the characters so instead of having all these layers of things you look for you know that each puzzle is going to be solved with one or more combinations of dolls. So they really naturally lent themselves to that in a bizarre sort of way.

GN: So the cutscenes are stylized to be silent film era type stuff. Based on the environments from what I’ve seen of the design of the game it kind of seems like it’s more late 1800’s-early 1900’s Russia. Is that specifically why you went with that cinematic style for the game?

LP: Yeah. We sort of drew inspirations from the late Victorian Era all the way up through early Hollywood, silent film era. And so we sort of combined the silent film aesthetic with a stage plate theatrical aesthetic. And I think because the dolls in some weird way it’s like hearing them talk is even more strange. So in some ways seeing them pantomime silent film kind of vaudevillian actions kind of makes sense a bit more. And it felt right for the game to kind of keep them in that sort of space. And that’s sort of why we went with that direction.

GN: Okay. So after Stacking comes out, which is soon, what exactly is next for Double Fine Productions?

TS: When we started this whole process of making smaller games we picked out four titles at once. And two are not announced yet. And so we’re working on those and we have some new secret stuff that we’re cooking up. A mix of things. Many ideas at once. All original cool things, I hope.

GN: Alright. Tim Schafer, Lee Petty, thank you very much.

LP: Yeah, thanks.

TS: Thanks.


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Author: Mike Murphy View all posts by
Mike has been playing games for over two decades. His earliest memories are of shooting ducks and stomping goombas on NES, and over the years, the hobby became one of his biggest passions. Mike has worked with GamerNode as a writer and editor since 2009, giving you news, reviews, previews, a voice on the VS Node Podcast, and much more.

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