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What's on Telltale's plate - should there be concern?
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xtal
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January 14, 2014 - 11:23 am
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Telltale's game FAQ page for The Walking Dead includes the following.

There are five episodes in each season. Episodes are usually available to download between 4 and 6 weeks apart.

The Wolf Among Us' FAQ is a bit more vague, but I'd expect the philosophy to be similar.

We will periodically release one episode at a time until all 5 episodes are available and the season is complete.

It's been just about three months since the first episode of The Wolf Among Us came out and there's no word about episode two. Granted, their releases arrive somewhat quietly, evidenced by the recent TWD release, but I'm starting to wonder and here's why: since episode five of The Walking Dead season one, released in November 2012, Telltale's release output has been as follows.

  • Poker Night 2 (April)
  • The Wolf Among Us episode 1 (October)
  • The Walking Dead S2 episode 1 (December)

2013 was obviously a year where a lot would have changed behind the scenes for them as a company due to Walking Dead's success, and I'm sure after the final episode came out they took a well deserved break, but I'm still a bit skeptical. With the recent reveal that they're now working on four episodic game series (even if the Game of Thrones one is probably in early pre-development) they've got a lot to juggle. I don't know exactly how much they grew, but is it four times? Seems doubtful. I do realize they've been operating like this somewhat for years now, because I believe the Fables adaptation was actually announced before The Walking Dead one, so they probably had one of those being developed in parallel with Jurassic Park and/or Back to the Future.

Still, they had to be producing something last year, no? I just don't see them meeting their own standards set by this 4 to 6 week release cycle MO.

Giving them the benefit of the doubt, and just forgetting about Jan-Oct 2013, it was still 9 weeks between TWAU and TWD S2. Admire them as I do, I don't think the long gaps-- if they continue-- are healthy for their episodic system. They're high on a cloud now and I doubt their sales will suffer no matter how long they take, but that won't last forever.

Is anyone else concerned, or am I over thinking things too soon?

If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever

AJLange
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January 14, 2014 - 11:40 am
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This is going to sound like weird entitled gamer speak, but it's more concerning to me that will all these games be the same essentially? I enjoyed The Walking Dead a LOT, but when I started Season Two I started to feel like 'well, okay, it's more of the same.' It really needs a good story to carry it I suppose and it will be just as good.

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Dix
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January 14, 2014 - 12:02 pm
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I too noticed that A Wolf Among Us has been notably quiet.  This is the curse of episodic gaming that a lot of people point to when they claim it won't work in the long run.  I wonder if Telltale didn't jump the gun on this release.

For now, though, I'm happy to let Telltale further develop their brand as it is.  The Walking Dead was a coup to be sure, but prior to that the reception of Back to the Future and Jurassic Park was lukewarm.  I don't mind them doing more of the same mostly for now to sort of establish that it's not a fluke.  What I'm looking for is exploring different things in regards to story and writing.

"Home is not a place.  It is wherever your passion takes you."

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Toger
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January 15, 2014 - 12:46 pm
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Rest easy, xtal!

First week of February for episode 2. They don't expect a delay this long happening again.

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Steerpike
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January 15, 2014 - 2:28 pm
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How weird, I was just thinking the same thing - Wolf Among Us had gone a little quiet, then Game of Thrones and that wholly unnecessary Borderlands adventure? Echoing Amanda's sentiment, the technical similarities between the games would surely cut some development time, but not much. Most effort in games like these would be in art assets and scripts. And voice acting. They're not going to be able to re-use their Claptrap art in Casterly Rock.

But I don't really know how big they've gotten, people wise. Four concurrent projects is a lot for any studio, even if these TellTale games are a little less complicated than your CODs. 

Like everyone I loved The Walking Dead, but I don't see myself constantly revisiting that gameplay. Hopefully they're not swamping themselves with so much work they lack the time to invent something new.

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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xtal
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January 16, 2014 - 11:23 am
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Thanks Toger. Of course right after I post this... Ha.

The elephant in the room-- that being their engine's awful performance on current console hardware (how is it on PC?)-- absolutely has to be addressed. Frankly, as excited as I am to play the remaining 8 episodes of Wolf and Walking Dead, I now consciously think about how choppy they are and it does bother me. I don't think reviewers will be as forgiving this second time around.

I agree with you all that the sameness won't work especially across four series. I think where they have a chance to spice things up is with this Borderlands series which, amusingly, I don't think anyone is really interested in at this point, aside from knowing Telltale + anything has potential right now.

But Borderlands and Game of Thrones will both obviously be developed on PS4/Xbone so whichever of those releases first (it sounds like Borderlands) will have great expectations upon it and likely will foretell the company's fortune, more than I think the current seasons of Wolf and Walking Dead will.

One thing I'm curious about (that I don't believe Telltale have addressed) is save files for TWAU and TWD - assuming their respective next seasons are on the new consoles (obviously this doesn't concern PC versions) - there won't be a way to transfer those files across systems. At least I'm assuming there won't. This makes me wonder if that will influence their writing teams. That is to say, will there be some finality to these stories so there isn't anything to transfer. The other possibility is that they ship the next seasons with something akin to the Genesis interactive comic for Mass Effect 2 on PS3. These being comic inspired games, that would actually make a lot of sense.

If being wrong's a crime I'm serving forever

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Dix
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January 16, 2014 - 12:57 pm
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It might be that the saves would be facilitated by cloud saves - you can already do things like continue the same save file on your PS3 and Vita, so this shouldn't be an issue for Sony at least, I would think.  Although cloud access is a PS+ thing.  Does Microsoft have some equivalent?

I know at the moment there isn't any special way to adjust your pre-game state; it just chooses random outcomes for things if you don't have save data.  From what I've seen, connectivity between seasons is more minor than within a season, especially because many of those decisions could have sweeping effects on the story.  Obviously, as with Mass Effect 3, characters who may or may not have died, for instance, in one season, are quickly shuffled out in the next so that they aren't in much content no matter the player's decision.

As for performance - I've always heard that they perform really poorly on consoles but haven't tried.  On PC the performance has never struck me as problematic, which probably has something to do with the fact that these games are natively PC, and it always seemed to me like porting them to consoles was sort of an afterthought.  Now that it's somewhat expected, however, they will indeed need to do something about that.

"Home is not a place.  It is wherever your passion takes you."

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