One would expect that a game designer with the track record of Tim Schafer wouldn’t have any problem pitching his latest project, Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster, to a publishing executive. Not only does the title carry universal brand name recognition and appeals to a coveted young demographic, but also Schafer is responsible for some of gaming’s most unique titles since he began his career. During his pre-Double Fine days, he was involved in the design of successful classics such as The Secret of Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango.
Upon founding Double Fine Productions, Schafer continued developing heavily stylized games with a humorous slant and engaging gameplay mechanics. With Costume Quest (review), Stacking (review), and Trenched (review) receiving generally positive reviews within the gaming community at large, one would expect Schafer to be confident, and maybe even a little bit cocky, in pushing his next title. But even gaming legends apparently need to work hard to convince skeptical money men to fork over some cash.
Who knew Cookie Monster moonlights as a Warner Bros. Interactive executive? Or that he could be such a tough sell? Sure, Schafer brought the right amount of pep without sounding pushy. And that black buttoned-up polo shirt played well off his stylized beard and unkempt hair, thus granting him the right amount of artistic accessibility.
But at the end of the day, Schafer sunk his own chances when he violated Rule No. 1 of the successful pitching playbook: always research your interviewer before the meeting. If he only spoke with Ed Boon beforehand, Schafer would have known how to properly schmooze his prospective financier by bringing a personalized Mrs. Fields cookie cake to his pitch session. How do you think Mortal Kombat got greenlit?
In fairness to the ravenous (albeit, culturally-aware) muppet, his take on Schafer’s zombie pitch seemed right on the money. Zombies are so 2007.
Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster releases exclusively for the Kinect and Xbox 360 on October 26, 2011.