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Opinion – Where I Think Telltale Has Room To Grow

by Ben Reeves on Dec 11, 2013 at 12:00 PM

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Telltale reminds me of my family: I care about them, but sometimes they really annoy me. This weekend was the perfect example.

Telltale has quickly become an industry darling. After releasing The Walking Dead last year they received numerous awards and Game Of The Year nods. Personally, I thought the game was pretty good. I was a little worried that the company might become a one hit wonder; that they had struck gold with The Walking Dead, but might not be able to follow it up. After all, some of the company's past titles have been steaming piles of dinosaur manure. Even so, when the first episode of The Wolf Among Us came out earlier this year, I thought it was stellar. I'm tempted to say it was even better than The Walking Dead, but I'll reserve judgement until after I play the whole series. How long will I have to wait to do that, exactly? 

Episode One of The Wolf Among Us released in the middle of October. Here we are almost two months later and we still don't have a solid release date for episode two – Telltale has said that the game should be out sometime after the holidays. That's not how episodic games should work. Honestly that doesn't feel fair to the fans who bought the first episode and are looking forward to playing the rest of the series. We may be getting season two of The Walking Dead sometime next week, but why do we have to split our time between The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us – what if you only care about one or the other? Wouldn't it be better to make sure one game has a stable release schedule before you start putting out a second game? I'm sure fans are eager to get their hands on more Walking Dead, but won't the development of Wolf cut into the time it takes to release Episode Two of The Walking Dead, and vice versa?

When I watch a TV show, I know that the next episode is only a week away. When I buy a comic book, I know its story will continue in the issues next month. I love serialized storytelling, but I hate not knowing when I'll be able to pick up a story again. Episodic gaming could be really cool, but it needs a schedule. Don't start a series and then leave us hanging. Anticipation is only fun when you have something to count down to. When people don't have a specific date to look forward to, they start to grow less enthusiastic about a project – it doesn't feel real until you have a date you can look at. Can you imagine if Peter Jackson hadn't told us that there would be a new Hobbit film before Christmas, and had instead waited two and a half years to release the movie? And then only announced the movie's release thirteen hours before it hit theaters? How would you keep people interested in the property? How would you build excitement over the release? That's basically how episodic gaming works right now.

My excitement over The Wolf Among Us took another hit this weekend when Telltale announced that it was working on two more franchises: Game of Thrones, and Tales from the Borderlands. Now, I like both of those franchises, but why does Telltale need to tall us about two new games before we've finished Wolf and Walking Dead? I worry that the company has bitten off more than it can chew. Are any of the companies series really getting the time and development that they deserve when the studio is working on at least three other properties? A lot of studios that are bigger than Telltale work on only one game at a time. Why is Telltale chewing on so many all at once? The Wolf Among Us originally got announced back in the summer of 2011. Why do we need to know about a game so early? Don't let us get hyped up for a game that's still years away; get us hyped up for the games we can play this year.

I'm sure Borderlands and Game of Thrones will be good for Telltale's future, but I'm worried about the company's present. So, Telltale, unless you're working on Star Wars: Tales From the Empire, I'd rather not hear anything more about your future projects until you finish the series you already started. Now hurry up and finish The Wolf Among Us; that cliffhanger is killing me!