Concerns for new Telltale

So after the reveal of a new IP with the subtitle ‘A Telltale Series’ making way it appears new Telltale is beginning to take it’s first steps to carrying on the company’s legacy, and I for one am both excited and curious to see where they take it. With that anticipation comes some concerns however, and I’m worried if the right decisions aren’t taken we will be forced to see this company die out a second time.

What do I mean by this? If I remember right, a lot of Telltale’s past titles were commercial failures or disappointments aside from the Walking Dead and Minecraft, which is especially profound given the high profile of many of the IPs they secured. Something went wrong in either how Telltale marketed their games, developed their games or both, and given the old Telltale’s fall into bankruptcy, something has to change in order for the new team to keep from repeating the company’s history.

Another issue I feel will need to be overcome is the brand’s reputation itself. The name Telltale is unfortunately tainted by bad press of it’s old fallen state in more ways than one. From horrendous management decisions, to glitches, to the illusion of choice turning many away, there is a number of people in the gaming community that view old Telltale with scorn. New Telltale needs to turn heads if they want to break away from this stigma of it’s past management.

From my view in order for new Telltale to survive the company has to be truly committed to constantly breaking new ground in interactive storytelling. Choices are going to have to matter more and more in these new games. To me that’s the failure that killed Telltale on top of poor management. You can’t base your whole model on a smoke and mirrors trick. If Telltale is going to put all it’s eggs into this basket again it needs to break it’s formula down to a science, and be willing to adapt to what the players want to the best of their ability.

Another important factor that I feel is necessary to regain Telltales reputation is cinematography (or the video game equivalent anyways). If Telltale wants to be taken seriously as a driver in cinematic storytelling then these games need to look the part. Animation must be as smooth as possible. Obviously we can’t reach Pixar level heights, but at the very least the execution can’t distract from the story. There will be people who can look past it, but if you want to pull back in the people who grew disaffected with old telltale then you have to seek to impress, and that includes the presentation.

Finally to reiterate a point I already made: adapt. Keep adapting. Never stop pushing the envelope in what you can do. Take risks. Don’t stagnate the formula. Seek to blow away expectations in any way that you can. Once upon a time Telltale was known as a pioneer in video game storytelling. To be a pioneer you have to break the mold, and if new Telltale wants to regain that glory that is exactly what they have to do.

What about you? What do you think should and should not do to carry on this legacy?

Thank you for reading and take care 🙂

Comments

  • edited December 2021

    As long as new telltale takes good care of its staff and tell a good story with that same cinematic story telling goodness I'll be happy. They don't need to be next level in animation as long as it stands out stylistically. Its too early to throw my chips all in on 2.0 but after what I've seen tonight I'm more confident on how they're operating and what they'll have to show in the near future.

  • Not as worried as I was now that Telltale offered an update on Wolf 2 and where The Expanse is currently at. When this was first revealed I'd be lying if I didn't feel like Telltale was repeating history by making 2 games at the same time again. However, it now seems Wolf 2 will probably release next year and is at a state they will show it off early next year and Expanse has apparently just started. Plus it is split between 2 studios, so even though Telltale is involved with both, at least it isn't what old Telltale was doing, as at least now it can basically be seen as Team AdHoc and Team Deck 9, instead of "Hey bro can you just like swap over to this game now thanks."

    I will say I think it was a mistake not to do a Wolf 2 tease right after. A lot of people are not going to come across that blog post saying "Hey minor Wolf 2 update next month and much more details early 2022." All they truly needed was a really (and I mean super short teaser) of just Bigby walking in the snowy streets or something showing off trench coat Bigby and that is it. 10 seconds of it slowly panning up to reveal it is Bigby and then cut to "Full Reveal Spring 2022" and now everyone is on the same page. Expanse announced and Wolf 2 info in a few months. Seems a lot easier than doing 1 trailer, having people be confused about what happened to the other game, and then making a blog post about it not as many people will see. So I really think that'd be a smarter game plan seeing how people are still confused about what is happening with Telltale, so I think being as crystal clear is what you really want to focus on.

    And I agree with Telltale really needs to market their games. Telltale died for a ton of reasons. Game quality pretty clearly was dropping and I am sure that is hand in hand with bad management, but due to the quality drops, more and more people just dropped off. And a focus on either choices having way more impact or adding much more gameplay options is honestly super needed. You gotta give people a reason to actually buy your game because why would someone pay 40+ bucks for a game where they can just watch a no commentary on YouTube for free.

  • Also, I do hope Telltale does steadily sway away from big IPs. I'd still really like to see an original Telltale IP one day, and for license IPs I would really like to see more lesser known IPs be given this treatment like what happened with Fables and Wolf Among Us, or take an IP that you wouldn't normally associate with a Telltale Game like what happened with Borderlands.

  • edited December 2021

    Exactly. And Telltale needs to tell this in their marketing, not just adding it. Make this a big deal and say something like "Telltale games with a bigger story branch or/and gameplay that you have ever seen". Or show a lot of gameplays if it will really be innovative.

    Poogers555 posted: »

    Not as worried as I was now that Telltale offered an update on Wolf 2 and where The Expanse is currently at. When this was first revealed I'

  • Yup, I agree. Bit hard to "prove" it quickly with how much a story can branch, but they really need to make it clear as day for why you should play it yourself. Just going "YOUR CHOICES MATTER...for real this time I swear" won't cut it. Gonna need like dedicated marketing going in depth on changes so people know it isn't binary choice 1 or 2 and then redirected to main path.

    Box Tv posted: »

    Exactly. And Telltale needs to tell this in their marketing, not just adding it. Make this a big deal and say something like "Telltale games

  • This is what I was thinking. One way or the other Telltale really needs to impress if they want to avoid fading away a second time. One of the biggest threat to the company is potential players just watching a playthrough online, and to avoid that the experience has to be truly personalized to each player.

    The sales of Detroit: Become Human show that there is still a market for this kind of game, what made it successful just needs to be tapped into.

    Poogers555 posted: »

    Yup, I agree. Bit hard to "prove" it quickly with how much a story can branch, but they really need to make it clear as day for why you shou

  • edited December 2021

    If they bring back Guardians and Batman I'm going to send them a very happy letter but, honestly I wish could do more though.

  • It's not gonna be easy for them to win my respect back. Ever since I played A New Frontier, I finally got to realize how many mistakes they have made, thus dropping my fan card for it. Tales from the Borderlands was the real last game I enjoyed from them. Game of Thrones had potential but it's obvious that this only existed because of the TV show which ended on a terrible note. Minecraft Story Mode...I regret every single time I defended this game because it is worse than I remember. Definitely a cash grab. I never played the Batman games and I have no regrets. Guardians of the Galaxy? Why does it exist? Minecraft Story Mode 2 can just go to hell (I couldn't even finish watching someone else play it).

    The Wolf Among Us 2 will be the last Telltale game I'm going to play. I hope they don't end it on a cliffhanger. Not everything deserves a trilogy.

  • edited December 2021

    Yes, but what if they do make a Wolf Among Us 3? Would you play that? (No cliffhanger carry over or nothing)

    AronDracula posted: »

    It's not gonna be easy for them to win my respect back. Ever since I played A New Frontier, I finally got to realize how many mistakes they

  • Telltale has not announced any plans for Batman S3, but Batman was one of the game series they got the rights back to when Telltale reopened.

    Joshua024 posted: »

    If they bring back Guardians and Batman I'm going to send them a very happy letter but, honestly I wish could do more though.

  • I'm not sure. If the second season ends with all important questions answered, then I don't think I have to worry about what's gonna happen next.

    Poogers555 posted: »

    Yes, but what if they do make a Wolf Among Us 3? Would you play that? (No cliffhanger carry over or nothing)

  • You should try the Batman games, they're very good. And, I think it's a bit silly to try and definitively say X Will Be The Last Thing for you, especially when it's pretty clear here that the two company cultures of the time are very different.

    AronDracula posted: »

    It's not gonna be easy for them to win my respect back. Ever since I played A New Frontier, I finally got to realize how many mistakes they

  • Honestly, even though I don’t know what was going on at Telltale at the time, from what I read I’d blame a lot of Telltale’s faults on the poor upper management. With Bruner going to his own development studio and the new Telltale’s seeming enthusiasm to revive the company, I’d like to say things are steering in a new direction (even though we can’t say where it’ll go yet).

    Also Batman: The Enemy Within is really good and I’d recommend playing through them if just to get to season 2. Season 1 is okay but Enemy Within is where it starts picking up.

    AronDracula posted: »

    It's not gonna be easy for them to win my respect back. Ever since I played A New Frontier, I finally got to realize how many mistakes they

  • edited December 2021

    @dojo32161 @Cocoa2736 I have already seen playthroughs of both games on youtube and I don't have interest to play those games.

    I think it's a bit silly to try and definitively say X Will Be The Last Thing for you, especially when it's pretty clear here that the two company cultures of the time are very different.

    I already mentioned somewhere else that the new Expanse game is not my thing because I know absolutely nothing about the franchise (Never even heard of it before) and I'm just not in mood for a sci-fi franchise. I don't know what licenses are they going to adapt in the future but I don't want them to work on multiple projects same as last time.

  • I don't know what licenses are they going to adapt in the future but I don't want them to work on multiple projects same as last time.

    That's fair to think on a surface level, but they have also explained how their process is working by partnering with other studios to avoid crunch and creative burnout, fair to be cautious, but not fair to declare it the same thing.

    AronDracula posted: »

    @dojo32161 @Cocoa2736 I have already seen playthroughs of both games on youtube and I don't have interest to play those games. I think

  • What if it does and it leads to The Wolf Among Us 4? Would you play TWAU4 if you liked 2 and 3?

    AronDracula posted: »

    I'm not sure. If the second season ends with all important questions answered, then I don't think I have to worry about what's gonna happen next.

  • This new Telltale is not the same as the old one though. So what the old Telltale did wrong does not carry to this one.

    AronDracula posted: »

    It's not gonna be easy for them to win my respect back. Ever since I played A New Frontier, I finally got to realize how many mistakes they

  • Don't make them lead the franchise up to The Wolf Among Us 76. Otherwise, it would have a bug as a feature.

    Poogers555 posted: »

    What if it does and it leads to The Wolf Among Us 4? Would you play TWAU4 if you liked 2 and 3?

  • What about...The Wolf Among Us... 100?

    AronDracula posted: »

    Don't make them lead the franchise up to The Wolf Among Us 76. Otherwise, it would have a bug as a feature.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy? Why does it exist?

    For me to enjoy it. Because I do. A lot.


    But uh, yeah. I do have some concern with the announcement of two projects on the docket, but if they can balance it out with other dev partnerships I guess it should be ok, though we have yet to see it come to fruition yet.

    I agree that A LOT more needs to be done before Wolf 2 comes out to showcase qhat makes this entry more ambitious and choice-dependant than the other one.
    I say just do what Detroit Become Human did. Show off all your choice branches, maybe release a demo with multiple endings like Detroit did.
    The lure of that game is seeing exactly what your choice did compared to someone else, or a hypothetical situation where you chose the letter B instead of A.

  • edited December 2021

    Honestly. I'll take a well told narrative with branching as strong as something like enemy within. Detroit was a AAA game. Better to set their cards out early and let people know that their getting a more time in the oven season of wolf and not a revelation of choice/game design.
    Bring back time being a factor in the narrative and i'll clap. I loved how in "Faith" and a "A Crooked Mile" there were mechanics about racing the clock. Sad it was hardly used. if they were to bring that back but amplify things that be pretty dope.

    Also telltale Guardians fan represent!

    AChicken posted: »

    Guardians of the Galaxy? Why does it exist? For me to enjoy it. Because I do. A lot. But uh, yeah. I do have some concern with

  • edited December 2021

    I agree, I think time is a really great factor and I liked how Wolf used it a lot. Episode 3 def focuses the most on running low on time and I'd really like to see that taken to the next level. (Like maybe based on choices you actually could find out what you need in time for a different outcome, unlike how in the episode itself you always reach the same scene at the same time.) And like you mentioned Episode 1 does it well to with how long it takes you to help Lawrence. I also think in general I liked the details of how time passed in Wolf 1, I think the game really only takes place over like 3 days. Ep 1 is from like 12 am to 12 am the next day, episode 2 is that day's morning which leads to that night which ep 3 focuses on, then ep 4 is the next day and that night you stop the Crooked Man and then its the next morning.

    Bigby and the terrible awful no good weekend

    Honestly. I'll take a well told narrative with branching as strong as something like enemy within. Detroit was a AAA game. Better to set the

  • Something else I wanted to add from the Game Informer article is how Telltale plans to make games now. When you really think of it I think they hit the nail on the head for why Telltale was always sinking. You can't have 100s of employees working on something that is so dedicated to story. Doing it live isn't feasible as now you are wasting money and assets making things that may need to then be cut, you also can't sit around until a script is finished because now you have 100s of people not doing anything. So hearing their new approach is more so to stay small and only really dig into developing a game once a script is finished is actually is a really smart idea. However, that does mean I think truly ever Telltale game going forward is going to be more so Telltale partnering with a studio rather than ever being 100% made by Telltale, but that can easily be a good thing.

    Wonder if there will ever be more common partnerships. It would be really cool to see things like AdHoc or Deck Nine being a more common Telltale partner in the future rather than one in done partnerships.

  • Pardon my very late reply, I was just scrolling through seeing what people's concerns were, and came across your comment, I do agree with your statement that Telltale having hundreds of staff working live to develop a game that is at its very core, purely story based. You went on to explain how the live approach furthers the possibility that developed assets are thrown out, and your point on how they couldn't really sit on a finished script with hundreds of people not actively doing anything because there may be enough hands on deck to put the game together.

    To get to the point of my comment, I came across an article that was published around the time of Old Telltale's announcement of its founding all the way back in 2004, which went over their goals short term and long term, I'll share the segment of the interview I'm talking about and I'll link the full article at the end as I found it to be quite informative:

    the ultimate goal for Telltale: to be producing multiple "shows" and bringing out regular "episodes" that carry a lower price point and a shorter playing time. Specifics of the pricing and method of distribution are obviously to be worked out in the future, but estimated playing time would be 4 to 6 hours for each episode of each show. This shorter playing time, combined with the fact that the games will be built on essentially the same engine framework (a la Sierra's SCI days), will allow them to come out with much more frequency--in fact, Connors told me that the goal will be a period as short as four months between episodes of any given series, and the eventual goal will be a new Telltale adventure every five to six weeks!

    Sounds very familiar to the Telltale that Bruner led during his two year tenure, especially when you look back to Telltale in 2017. In reading the interview, it leads me to believe that Bruner era Telltale was the end goal from the beginning, probably on a far smaller scale as nobody thinks that they're going to eventually release a game that'll win hundreds of game awards, in turn putting the company on the map and attracting hundreds of talented devs to the studio to be a part of that award winning studio, so when The Walking Dead did what it did, I believe it left Old Telltale higher-ups thinking they can fulfill their end goal and more, but completely overlooked, or didn't take into consideration, where the industry was going with the intensity of game development and the human cost of it. To me, as much as I love Old Telltale, I think the vision at the start was flawed, and perhaps wasn't adjusted to meet the demands and realities of modern game development and the wider industry.

    Maybe I'm waffling here, or being totally wrong with the parallel I drew from Old Telltale's vision and Bruner era Telltale, but I'd like to hear your thoughts on it.

    To touch on your point of Telltale keeping themselves small, I agree wholeheartedly, for the reasons you mentioned, and I think it could do Telltale a bit of good to work with partners to develop games, especially now at this current point as they aren't exactly the market leader, Deck Nine or DontNod would be, so building a good public image to push back against the negative press surrounding the Telltale brand, by working with one of the Episodic adventure genre's biggest names, for me I feel it develops a good public image, and lifts them up to a decent position in the market within the genre so if they ever got to that stage, they could sustain themselves and develop games and cover all areas by themselves. Even if Telltale relied on partnering with other studios going forward, that would be good as it would ease the pressures of developing a game, the burdening weight of developing a game would be less when they've got a partner to carry some of that weight, and of course, allows each side to work and perfect the specific areas of the game they are developing, be it the gameplay on Telltale's side, the story on Deck Nine's and vice versa.

    Sorry for the long comment, got carried away, a lot of what I said is probably waffle but if you are able to find a decent point in it, or even a bit of sense, then I'd be glad :joy:

    Anyways, here's the link for that interview in its entirety if you want to read it:
    https://adventuregamers.com/articles/view/17751

    Poogers555 posted: »

    Something else I wanted to add from the Game Informer article is how Telltale plans to make games now. When you really think of it I think t

  • I think that is an overall good point. I mean theoretically being able to release a game every 5-6 weeks and basically have a steady stream of content like you were a TV station isn't bad, but it just isn't realistic. Mainly because to do this it will keep falling into the same formula which is what happened. People just got tired of Telltale games because they were always the same and becoming more and more linear. Plus how rushed they were becoming overall quality was just going to keep dropping despite best efforts.

    This is probably why it is best they keep this partner thing going. Like I was saying earlier, if a game is so focused on story, it makes 0 sense to have 100s of employees basically waiting for a script to be written in 2 months. Big reason why there is so much cut stuff in Telltale games is because these teams had to be doing something, they can't just sit there. But then this leads to doing more work than needed because then once a script is finalized, now you have to use those teams again and create the stuff actually needed. So New Telltale's focus on getting the main story finished to a point the writers are confident it will have very minimal change, is way smarter than working on a first draft as if it was the final and then keep production going as you decide to turn it into a final draft. Plus New Telltale CEO did say in the GI article that Telltale releases will be less frequent, which he hopes makes more special, also a good sign because the constant Telltale releases made them less and less special.

    So I think that original goal of constant releases was simply never realistic, as it would only ever work if nothing ever changed during development and everything was always 100% to plan, which simply just would never happen with the time frame they gave themselves for projects. The GI article is already really exciting hearing the devs say how exciting it is to actually have proper dev time. It seems most Telltale game production would be 1 full year to get everything ready plus making episode 1, and then a focus on 2 months of dev per episode, which is not smart at all. Seems Wolf 2 has been 2 full years of dev time, with year 1 being dedicated to preproduction and script writing, and last year seemingly focusing on making it in engine, and now year 3 looks like they are deep in development. Hopefully like the director said in the article the longest dev time shines through.

    Pardon my very late reply, I was just scrolling through seeing what people's concerns were, and came across your comment, I do agree with yo

  • I mean theoretically being able to release a game every 5-6 weeks and basically have a steady stream of content like you were a TV station isn't bad, but it just isn't realistic. Mainly because to do this it will keep falling into the same formula which is what happened. People just got tired of Telltale games because they were always the same and becoming more and more linear. Plus how rushed they were becoming overall quality was just going to keep dropping despite best efforts.

    True, I think if there were a developer that could afford to do exactly that, it would be a Ubisoft with thousands of employees, despite that I think they'd have to just work for a number of years to put together enough content that can release during that monthly timeframe and shelve everything made for that year or two of consistent episodic releases, then as you mentioned, they'd have to probably keep the gameplay or formula more of the same so to meet deadlines, I'm sure something would become a bump in the road and make that end goal difficult to accomplish or sustain. With Telltale though, I think you and I can agree that was an overly ambitious vision on their end, given their size, that people would never really catch a break or endure a period of weeks with less demand. You mentioned that they pretty much had to give them something to do so a lot of the time, the interesting assets or narrative ideas that could or couldn't have worked on screen was cut, practically burning money just so there was something to keep people occupied and restrict the Devs to the formula that became gospel and was at the core of every Telltale game post 2012. Then as the Industry grew, and the need to pump content out regularly became more prominent, and Telltale landing these big deals with Marvel, HBO, DC, deadlines became tighter as everyone wants a piece of that pie especially when the industry is rapidly growing and performing better than Hollywood financially.

    New Telltale's stance on having their releases be more of a special event is what I think Old Telltale should've done, maybe after The Walking Dead, or maybe after Tales From The Borderlands, because even though Tales didn't sell all that well, I would like to be optimistic and think that taking a breather after Tales and let the Telltale catalogue at that time stand and speak for itself instead of being surrounded by Minecraft: Story Mode, Batman, Game of Thrones, where there's too many options that all play the same and potentially lead the player to assume all are of the same quality, when Tales is in a different league to Game of Thrones or Batman, would leave players going to the premium Telltale titles that are critically acclaimed and not existing in a market that Telltale kinda polluted with their output post 2015 and result in better sales numbers over time.

    I agree with the original vision never being realistic, it just wasn't given Telltale's size, and the reasons you provided I'm in agreement with. I have faith that The Wolf Among Us 2 will pan out great, I think the extra development time will shine through once it releases.

    Sorry for waffling again, like I do agree with what you are saying, I'm trying to add my own thoughts to the discussion and I think it's not translating well on screen

    Poogers555 posted: »

    I think that is an overall good point. I mean theoretically being able to release a game every 5-6 weeks and basically have a steady stream

  • edited January 12

    (No need to apologies for having a discussion :smile: )

    I agree about how Telltale should've taken more breaks. I mean just in general, taking some time to basically regroup and plan what to do next is a good thing for everyone. But Telltale kept getting into new partnerships that had more and more demands. Another issue with that is Telltale keeps making new games in new series, which just keeps making different fans of different series. It makes their userbase a mixed bag as well, and having to keep finishing those IPs which may slow down a project they may feel would make more sense to do now, but can't because they are busy.

    Telltale really should've focused a lot more on TWD, Tales, and Wolf I feel. Easily their most acclaimed and best sellers. (Even though Tales didn't sell as well, we know it wasn't losing money like later projects, but I am sure if the development wasn't rushed it would've avoided big reasons for why it was costing so much.) If they focused on making more seasons of those games alone before moving on to other IPs, I think it may have worked better. Like 2012 - TWD1 2013 - Wolf1 2014 - TWD2 2015 - TFTBL 2016 - Wolf2 2017 - TWD3 2018 - TFTBL2

    Just creatively focus on what was doing well critically and financially, keep an established player base, give each game better dev time and have the studio focus on that one game, and once you feel each series has reached a creative close, then move on to a new IP.

    I mean theoretically being able to release a game every 5-6 weeks and basically have a steady stream of content like you were a TV station i

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