Tag Archives: TellTale

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Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy

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For once, I’m not super-duper late to finish a game–the final episode of Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy just dropped a week and a half ago, and (spoiler alert?) I saved the galaxy last night.

I’ve and spoken at some length about Telltale games in the past and my mixed feelings tend toward the positive. Since these games are primarily interactive fiction, writing is key to their success, and while Telltale can’t always hit the right beats when it comes to dialogue, their plotting is usually right on and the voice acting often makes up for deficiencies in the script. The GotG game is par for the course in this regard, though some characters’ lines (eg Drax) fare much better than others’ (eg Gamora). Like every other Telltale game, you’re much more likely to enjoy this if you’re a fan of its inspiration.

Gameplay, such as it is, hasn’t changed much. Much of the story is told in cut scenes peppered with dialogue choices, most of which run on a timer. You’ll need to remember old choices and think about what other characters want to hear–or just blurt out whatever comes to mind, which can occasionally yield some lovely moments. I once had Star-Lord say something quietly humble and the game responded with a notification that read “The Guardians are mildly surprised.” Well played, writers.

The narrative is sometimes interrupted with action sequences that are essentially very simple rhythm games. When you see “A” or a left-pointing arrow (or sometimes a combo), you respond quickly and your hero does something cool–or gets shanked if you misstep. Telltale continues to improve these systems, though they can still be frustrating to folks on either end of the hand-eye coordination spectrum who can find them trivial or punishing. One recent innovation I love is scripting fight sequences to match Star-Lord’s ever-present soundtrack. Given that these scenes play like stripped-down versions of Rock Band, it’s an inspired choice and I hope they pursue it more in the future. The climactic battle, set to Heart’s “Crazy on You,” is sublime.

Replayability is a key feature of interactive fiction, and I imagine I’l come back to GotG at some point to see what happens if I choose to [REDACTED] the [REDACTED]. It’s fun, it’s (mostly) affecting, and the soundtrack is terrific. Are you Groot?

 

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The Ascent of Media

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TellTale's GoT
TellTale’s GoT

This short interview with TellTale Games CEO Kevin Bruner highlights a fascinating development in the evolution of video games and visual media. Lionsgate is investing a sizable chunk of cash money to develop hybrid interactive media they’re calling “Super Shows.*” This feels like a no-brainer; TellTale’s episodic games based on The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are highly regarded enhancements of those properties. It stands to reason that building a game and video series together from the ground up could be the start of something new and more deeply engaging.

But something about this deal is bugging me. It’s not the partners or the mystery property they’re starting out with – I expect they’ll do just fine, based on past performance. It’s that I can’t think of a single collaboration like this between indie game devs and indie filmmakers. That’s not to say it hasn’t happened before – please, please let me know if you’ve got details – but this seems like the sort of idea that big players would poach from indies rather than dream up on their own.

It could be that the resources involved in an endeavor like this are just too much for most indies. They’d have to invest fat loot in development before they ever got to shooting or coding, and since it would have to be a labor of love (at first), finding enough artists willing to submit to one shared vision may be too much to ask. I do hope that once the concept has been proven (if it is), that indies will look to each other to build their own hybrids and find new ways to keep the media evolving.

* I would be happy to help them rename (and I’m quite affordable).