What happened to Telltale Games

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/10/05/what-happened-to-telltale-game.html

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I tried the “Walking Dead”, and I gave up as soon as the first Quick Time Event came up.

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I always figured someone at the company felt it was cheaper to shut down than spend the effort to design a new game engine.

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Who is Megan Faokhmanesh? #TypoAlert

Basically Telltale adventures were a series of choose-your-own-adventure type decisions (that tended not to make much difference in the end) and Quick Time Events. I was not impressed. Yes, the story of Clementine in their Walking Dead games was touching in parts, but it was just a story, not a game. I’m old, I know, but I miss the Infocom text adventures and the LucasArts graphic adventures. They actually had puzzles that required thought.

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The big problem with Telltale was apparent from Day 1, they did a Monkey Island series before they really blew up and the engine they used was not great. I checked out their Sam & Max series and it was more of the same. Their engine and design philosophy looked dated and cheap.

Additionally they really painted themselves in a corner by only making very specific types of games, it’s just not sustainable unless they’re innovating, which they clearly weren’t.

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detailing years of nonstop crunch culture, toxic management, and frustration from developers who believed the company’s refusal to diversify gameplay had led to creative stagnation

So a typical video game development company after all…

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I think the main problem was that after bringing back Sam and Max and Monkey Island (both of which were, as Grey_Devil said, fairly cheap-looking but still enjoyable) and becoming successful, they stopped making games. I played their Back to the Future series, and I’m not sure what that was supposed to be, but a game it was not. In addition to stripping out most of the actual gameplay or puzzle elements, it still looked cheap and had bugs, which was a lot more forgivable when they were starting out than after years of sales and experience.

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Some years ago she knocked Kansas out of the tournament early with a dagger of a 3-pointer, I think.

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I recall reviews lamenting that instead of providing some interesting closure on the series, they resorted to the same old stale “you must pass three trials” puzzles.

I still hope to get around to playing it some day. Never finished SBCG4AP, either. On that note, I’ll plug once again Matt Chapman’s thoroughly entertaining hour-long live playthrough (performed for the Trogdor Boardgame kickstarter), in case you missed it.

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The Minecraft series was even worse, it was just a series of quicktime events that you couldn’t fail.

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“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed! --tear up the planks! here, here! --It is the beating of his hideous … wait, it’s stopped. Never mind.”

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I wonder if it was both the style of game that wasn’t going to draw as many fans as a first person shooter, as well as the cost of purchasing and maintaining the license for a very popular franchise. I’ve seen more than one RPG company in the past try franchise licensing as its way to gain more customers and, after producing some really good RPG’s, gone belly up because profits are marginal when you don’t own the intellectual property and your overall market base is relatively small to begin with.

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The constant panic mode to meet deadlines is a lot more common in software development in general, once a company gets too dependent on panic they start to lose developers which leads to more panic, which leads to more developers leaving…

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Yeah there was some nice writing in some of it. But the further along they went. The less interaction there was. And the less connection to the adveture game model. Basically they were making animated ancilllary stories. And even where some of it worked, it was all pretty rote and basic because everything was so short due to the episodic structure.

I dont know that what were essentially licensed mini-sodes with quicktime events were ever going to be a long term successful business. Nearly every other developer with a focus on licensed material tries to move to their own IP at some point. Telltale didn’t seem to have any interest.

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Plus, any new developers will be plugged right in with no chance to get a good overview of the software. Everyone else will be stuck nose to the screen, with no time to bring them up to speed. Under time pressure, flailing will generate a lot of stuff that’s a bad fit with the existing code. Core code that should be refactored won’t be because either no one understands it, or because the people who understand it like their job security damned fine thank you very much.

Repeat several cycles…

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Sam and max, while rough looking, had some great writing.

The election episode from season 2 was full-on belly laughs for me.

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I like the Borderlands series, and I made the mistake of buying Tales from the Borderlands without looking closely at what it was first. Sad for the people whose lives were upended, but what an awful excuse for a game that was, and if they were all like that, good riddance to the enterprise.

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I very much think that was their peak. Always loved Sam and Max.

Glad I avoided it I pretty much checked out on Telltale after the first Walking Dead. And only played that one because a friend wouldn’t shut up about it. It was good, but I never felt the urge to continue with it.

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I was introduced to them via the short lived Fox kids cartoon. But if you have not read the comic strips, you are really missing out.

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