Sam & Max to walk the red carpet

Posted on February 2007 by TelltaleGames

Figuratively speaking, anyway.



The nominees for this year's Game Developer's Choice awards have been announced, and Sam & Max: Culture Shock is up for Best Writing, along with Dreamfall, Bully, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. For those who aren't familiar, the Game Developer's Choice awards are one of the highlights of GDC, which takes place in San Francisco in March.



Speaking of GDC, Kevin and Dave Grossman will be giving a presentation about episodic gaming for indie developers, and Dan is participating in a talk about digital distribution. We'll also be showing off The Great Cow Race since it's up for an IGF award for best audio, so if you're going to be at the show, stop by the IGF Pavilion and come say hi!



And hey... only one more day until Sam & Max episode 3 comes out on this very website. Woo!

Sam & Max in: A bunch of short videos you missed

Posted on February 2007 by TelltaleGames

The big day is almost here again! Sam & Max episode 3: The Mole, The Mob, and The Meatball is set to land on Telltale's site in just three days (that's February 8th for those counting down at home). To pass the time while we wait, I figured I'd let you know what's up in the world of Telltale's short time-wasting web videos.


A new Sam & Max episode a month may seem like blindingly fast to many (it does to us!), but some of you out there need something to keep you occupied at all hours of the day lest you make the lives of those around you a living hell. Well, here at Telltale we say "let the baby have his bottle!"


To placate the rambunctious masses, and to give us something to do in our copious time off, we've been releasing heaps and heaps of videos on our Sam & Max page. Have you missed any? They come in two flavors:

1. Machinima Shorts: The Sam & Max machinima shorts are a series of quick minute-long movies starring Sam and Max, built entirely in the Telltale Tool! Machinima shorts come out once a week in 3-week bursts, starting right around when we release a new Sam & Max episode on our site. Though the writer varies from short to short, this week's, titled "Interrogation," was penned by Steve Purcell!


2. Interim Theater: For those times when the Machinima Shorts - and the games themselves - still aren't enough, there's the Interim Theater. Interim Theater is a loose collection of clips, from short near-pointless footage of Sam & Max standing around their office with nothing to do, to age-old Flash cartoons that time forgot, to some footage of Steve Purcell drawing Max in people's books at Comic-Con while casually contemplating holding a razor blade to his eye. Basically if we find anything of note crammed between the cushions of the Telltale virtual couch, up it goes!


New Interim Theaters usually appear in the two weeks between GameTap's premiere and Telltale's international release of a new Sam & Max episode, and new Machinima Shorts are posted almost weekly, on Mondays or Tuesdays, all available on the Sam & Max page.

If you want to catch up on videos, you can browse the archives on the Sam & Max page, too. Enjoy!

A contest that has nothing to do with Sam & Max

Posted on February 2007 by TelltaleGames

Okay, here's an embarrassing story... we had this great idea for a contest and no one entered.



Well, that's not quite true. One person entered, and therefore he wins! We love you, Daniel Løke!



So, we still have two signed (and incredibly rare) Grickle books to give away. All you have to do is send us your witty, ~500 word story about something awkward or lame that happened to you. Send you story to contest@telltalegames.com by February 15 and you just might win a prize!




And here's the winning story from round one...

Grickle Contest Winner #1

The Wrong Side of the Bed

by Daniel Løke



I woke up by the sound and excruciating pain of myself falling to the ground, and as I attempted to climb back up on my feet, I noticed that time was way later than it should have been. I pulled on some pants in a hurry, and ran for the kitchen to acquire some digestible substances to go. Opening the refrigerator, two options unfolded themselves before my eyes: Expired milk or a brown banana. First I went for the banana, and shoved it into my mouth so fast I couldn’t even taste the foulness of its atrocious taste, and then I drank the milk without giving it a second thought. I grabbed a couple of socks, pulled them on, and leapt into my saggy shoes so fast even Lucky Luke would envy me my speed. [readmore]



As I left through the door and headed for my bicycle, I could feel raindrops falling onto my much exposed skin. Wearing only a t-shirt in a situation where time was clearly of the essence, I surrendered myself to the nakedness, and jumped onto the bike. A little too late to do anything about it, I noticed that the rear tire was flat, but continued to bike whilst being shaken like Bond's martini, and the expired milk going through my digestive system evolved into milkshake.



As I approached my destination – the school which I attended on a semi-regular basis – I noticed that it seemed too quiet, and sensed some uneasiness in the air. I stopped the bike outside the main entrance, and stared into the dark, empty halls through the thick glass of the door. I threw the bike, or what was left of it, to the ground, and begun hammering my head against the concrete wall.



After a few minutes of contemplating the mere silliness of the situation, I turned around, only to be looking into the eyes of the girl of my dreams – the girl I had had a crush on for God knows how long.



"Hi there. Are you okay?" she asked. I stuttered and uttered strange sounds, mostly because my brain was too exhausted to figure out something to say.



"Hi... I'm nokay," was the brilliance that I allowed to escape from my mouth. The girl smiled, nodded, and slightly intimidated as she must have been, she moved off. I don't know what scared her off the most – the odour, the crazy look in my eyes, or the fact that I was standing outside school on what appeared to be a Saturday, knocking my head against the wall. She walked off, and never looked back.



As I walked home, having dumped my piece of crap-bicycle, I was followed by a dark cloud on the sky, pouring acid rain down on me. Entering my good, literally old apartment, I slowly paced towards the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth now that time was suddenly abundant. I turned on the faucet, and threw cold water in my face. Now that my heart rate had dropped from above average to below, I stared into the mirror, and sighed at the sight of my own appearance. My hair was a bush, I had a moustache of expired milk, and looking down on my feet, I realized one of my socks was a pinkish colour, while the other appeared to be black.



I walked into my bedroom, stared at my bed, and marvelled at its beauty. Thinking how I had met the girl of my dreams at my most beautiful, I threw myself into bed, and couldn't help but think, before I fell into a sweet comatose of sleep, "who gives a damn?"

The Mole, The Mob, and The Meatball review round-up #1

Posted on January 2007 by TelltaleGames

Another month, another episode, and so far The Mole, The Mob, and The Meatball is holding its own in the polls. Here are the reviews that have come out so far:





English Foreign Language More to come, I'm sure...



Also, since you're here, why not check out the latest installment of interim theater? Hmm?

Telltale week in review: Episode 3, Music galore, Return of Dank, and more!

Posted on January 2007 by TelltaleGames

Happy Friday! Geez, happy Friday evening even! (Where did the day go?) I know some of you don't visit every single page on Telltale's site every single day, so here's a handy update covering what's gone on in the world of the Telltale Web this week. There's some good stuff in here, so pay attention:

  1. Sam & Max episode 3 is out on GameTap! Everyone who is currently enjoying Sam & Max via GameTap should be up to their knees in The Mole, The Mob, and The Meatball. The episode launched on the GameTap network yesterday to much fanfare, and probably a little prancing. So, if you're on GameTap and you haven't played it yet, get on it! (A review roundup will be appearing shortly, because Emily loves those.)


  2. The Sam & Max Interim Theater is back! With Sam & Max: The Mole, The Mob, and The Meatball now up and running on GameTap, that means it's only two weeks until the episode shows up on our site! We realize that for some, this two week wait can be painful, boring, depressing even. To remedy this, we've dug down deep into the sticky, disgusting crevices of the Telltale Virtual Couch to find anything remotely bright and colorful we can wave at you in the meantime, hopefully bringing a smile to your dour face.

    First up, we have a short piece of animation by Telltale friend, Creative Director emeritus, and creator of Dank, Graham Annable. Look for more Graham, and more Interim Theater in the coming days! Check it out on the Sam & Max page.




  3. A new page of Dank went up! Speaking of Graham... his comic's back! After six months of wallowing in webcomic obscurity, everyone's favorite caveman inventor has returned, and lo and behold, he's brought continuity! Join Dank in the search for his pal Gok, who disappeared sometime in the six months Dank was away dreaming of skeletons. Catch up on the last three pages, and keep your eyes peeled for more Dank very soon!







  4. New Sam & Max soundtrack MP3s are here! The onslaught of audio goodies just doesn't let up. This week we put up three new tracks from Situation: Comedy, and as a bonus gift, you'll also find a track - the Ted E. Bear Waltz - from the upcoming third episode, "The Mole, The Mob, and The Meatball." Check them out on the newly opened Sam & Max Season One soundtrack page!




  5. Fan wallpapers galore! Let me level with you here: your desktop's been looking a little, how do I say, totally lame, lately. Perhaps you should remedy this by downloading one of two excellent new fan-created wallpapers from Telltale? On the Sam & Max wallpapers page you can find a nicely drawn wallpaper by Alan Graham. Or, on the Bone wallpapers page, you can find one by wallpaper designer Brad Custer commemorating the Mac release of Out From Boneville from a few months back.



  6. Telltale is hiring! Yes, it's hiring time, and we have four positions available. We're looking for a Senior Software Engineer, a Character Rigger/Animator, a QA/Game Tester, and (gasp!) a Wii Systems Programmer. If any of those sound like you, please drop us an email, or check out our jobs page for more information.
That's about it for this week! Next week ushers in the full-force return of Interim Theater, the promised review roundup, and probably some screenshots or something! If you think I missed anything from this week, let me know in the comments.

Situation: Comedy review round-up #2

Posted on January 2007 by TelltaleGames

Part of the beauty of this episodic thing is that with games coming out monthly -- and shorts coming out weekly in between -- there's always something Sam & Max-y going on. (Well, it's beautiful in theory. In practice it can be a little overwhelming...) In the true spirit of episodic content, today we bring you another list of episode 2 reviews... on the very day that episode 3 launched on GameTap! Of course this means that episode 3 reviews are starting to trickle out. (So far, so good.) We'll have some links to those post haste.



Till then, bask in this Situation: Comedy goodness:


English Foreign Language As always, if I missed anyone, my humblest apologies. Coming tomorrow: episode 3 reviews!

Telltale website explodes... with content!

Posted on January 2007 by TelltaleGames

Hey guys! I realized this evening that a zillion things went up all across the website in the second half of this week, and if anyone blinked at any point, they might have missed some of it. So, without delay, in no particular order, here is a quick rundown of what's new:
  1. The episode 3 trailer is here! It seems like just a couple weeks ago a Sam & Max episode came out, and already we're putting up the trailer for the next one? Crazy, but true. Sam & Max episode 3: The Mole, The Mob, and The Meatball is barreling towards us at an alarming speed, aiming to land on GameTap on January 25th, and right here on Telltale's site on February 8th, and we're celebrating that amazing fact with part three in an ongoing video series we like to call "Next Time on Sam & Max." (Click the thumbnail marked "gameplay videos" to watch the trailer.)


  2. The Sam & Max "Western" poster print is back in the store. We used to sell two poster prints - one of Sam & Max in their office, only crazy, and the other a blown up one-page comic about the duo getting a seat in an old west saloon - in an attractively priced combo deal. Unfortunately for some of you, the prints were too awesome, and we ran out a little while back.

    But, fortunately for that same group of some, Steve Purcell recently revealed that all along he's been sitting on a secret cache of just the Western prints, and gave us the go ahead to take them off his hands. So, if you missed the combo deal but still want some classy (and entertaining) Sam & Max art to grace your walls, we still allow it.

    And yes, before you ask, the Sam & Max Sketchbook will be returning, too! A reprint is in the works as you read this.


  3. Bone: The Great Cow Race soundtrack now has Composer's Notes! At long last, Jared managed to find some time between Sam & Max episodes 3 and 4 to sit down and share his thoughts behind the excellent music in Bone: The Great Cow Race. Go give them a read on the all new Bone soundtracks page. If you haven't heard the Bone soundtracks before (or read his Composer's Notes for the first game), now's as good a chance as any.


  4. Sam & Max Machinima #5 is up... and more! The fifth Sam & Max machinima short, "Egregious Philosophy Platter," is up and hungrily awaiting your eyeballs on the Sam & Max page.

    As a bonus, we've added archives for all our old Sam & Max videos. Yes, you can now view all previous machinima shorts, and even Interim Theater (it will rise again!) by clicking on the appropriate tape reel above the Machinima player window. Check it out, you'll know what I mean.
That's it for now in the world of the web. I'll probably be back to bug you again in the near future, because there are always a million things right around the corner these days! Have a good weekend!

Situation: Comedy review round-up

Posted on January 2007 by TelltaleGames

Okay, so I've been a little slack in getting a review round-up for Sam & Max episode 2, but the good news is there's now a HUGE list of reviews for you. (As always, these may contain spoilers, so if you haven't played Situation: Comedy, read at your own risk!)




English
Foreign Language I'm sorry if I missed your review. (If I did, send me the link and I'll add it!)

Moles, mobs, meatballs...

Posted on January 2007 by TelltaleGames

If you're not the type who sits around hitting the refresh button obsessively, you might not have noticed that we slipped up some episode 3 screens and a video about twenty minutes ago. Go look!



And if you are that obsessive type... well, what are you doing reading this blog? It's old news. Go tell all your friends!



For the record, episode 3 -- The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball -- hits GameTap on January 25 and will be on Telltale's site soon after.

An episode by any other name...

Posted on January 2007 by TelltaleGames

Just in case you didn't notice them in the lower left corner of the homepage yesterday, we have released the titles of the next three Sam & Max episodes. Drum roll please...



Episode 3: The Mole, The Mob, and the Meatball

Episode 4: Abe Lincoln Must Die!

Episode 5: Reality 2.0



As for episode 6... well, you'll have to wait for that one. Good things come to those who wait!



Watch for more info on episode 3 in the near future. Go play episode 2 (again) while you're waiting. (And if you haven't played episode 2 yet, well, what are you waiting for?)

Telltale beats itself silly

Posted on January 2007 by TelltaleGames

So the new year has come and gone, and this blog page has become pretty neglected. Hi there! How's it going?



Anyway, every new year all the big gaming sites like to look around their office, dig through their old reviews and game databases, dust off their favorites, and give them awards. The games of the year, the best of a particular genre, and classics like the game with the most long-winded title* all get their day in the sun.



* Fortunately CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: 3 Dimensions of Murder dodged this particular bullet.



How is Telltale itself stacking up? Pretty well! Sam & Max: Culture Shock took home GameSpot's "Funniest Game of 2006," and IGN's "Best Adventure Game of 2006," narrowly beating out our own CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder for that one! It's a good day when you lose an award to yourself. In addition to CSI's nomination for best adventure game, Telltale itself was also a finalist for IGN's Best Developer award. Culture Shock also made the New York Times' best games of '06 list, and is appearing in top games of 2006 lists in many magazines around the world (most of which I can't read). So, a good year for lauding.



Want to help the laud-fest march right through Q1 2007? Telltale titles are also up for nominations for Best of 2006 Readers Choice awards at IGN, Gamespot, and 1up. Look around for Sam & Max and CSI 3 and get voting!



Now, though, it's time for the awards that really matter: the ones we give ourselves. Yes, that's right, it's time for...







An email went around the office asking what items or events in 2006 were most deserving a textual pat on the back. Strangely, most of the suggestions were about our trusty office (set to be demolished - hopefully via huge white-hot fireball - this Summer). Let's take a look...[readmore]




Best Productivity Enhancement: John Drake and Kris Kilayko for bringing in new coffee-making equipment on their own initiatives.




Best Moment of Gallantry: When Randy Tudor went out to help the woman who couldn't turn off her car alarm because her fingernails were too long. [This may have happened in 2005]




Best Kitchen: The old server closet, beating out the former best kitchen, "the space between the walls behind Graham's desk," by a wide margin.




Best Emergency Burrito: Mi Familia, a traditional place where you can order ahead and you can order a head.




Best Dave: Dave. Runners up: Dave, Dave.





Best Telltale speaking engagement wherein the existence of CSI 4 was leaked months in advance but nobody caught on: Dan Connors, Greg Land, and Ubisoft's CSI presentation at the IGDA Bay Area Chapter meeting. [video forthcoming]





Best scary rendition of Frosty the Snowman at the Telltale Christmas party: Dan Connors. [video forthcoming]






If there was an award for Most Awards Submitted, Daniel would win it. In fact, he has. Congratulations!




Best Climate: Tropical Office Entrance. Loser: Siberian Tundra, AKA Maurice Richard Memorial Conference Room.




Best Milkshake: Theresa and Johnny's Lemon Curd




Best use of office space: The Romper Room




Least Referenced Book in Bookshelf: Using Turbo Prolog by Phillip R. Robinson.




Best Office Acquisition: Tie between Crazy red Blob piñata and Order Up drive-thru window in office expansion.





Well, that finally wraps it up for 2006! An excellent year for Telltale, and, hopefully, for all who enjoy video games.



So, what are your Best of 2006?

Holiday contest winners

Posted on January 2007 by TelltaleGames

Remember that contest we announced a few weeks ago, with the holiday Christmas panels? Here are the winning entries...
[readmore]













These lucky folks will be receiving a coupon for a free Situation: Comedy download when it comes out tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who entered!



And hey, if you're looking for another contest to enter, check out this one...

Our December Newsletter

Posted on December 2006 by TelltaleGames

It's our last Interloper of the year! Consider it a cheat sheet for everything that's happened around here in the past month.



If you want to receive the Interloper every month(ish) in your very own email inbox, head over to your account settings and sign up.
[readmore]























































Vol II, # 12 Dec, 2006


























New Year's resolution: Play Sam & Max!
Episode 2, Situation: Comedy, comes to Telltale's website January 5































What you'll find on our website:
















































Bone Director's Cuts now available






















Related blog posts:




















NEW IN THE TELLTALE STORE










Bone Download Bundle

Both Director's Cuts for one great price.





$19.99












Max and Crossbones Tees

Available in guy and girl styles!






$18.99












Further Grickle

A whole book full of Graham Annable's awesome stick guys.






$14.95














Stickleback

A novella about a guy, his cat, and men made out of toilet paper.






$6.95














Telltale Texas Hold'em

You'll die laughing, or die trying.






$12.99


































CHECK OUT TELLTALE'S NEWEST GAMES















$8.95
Episode 1:
Culture Shock


















$34.95
Season 1:
Complete Set














CSI: Hard Evidence announced












Grickle and Dank return

To celebrate, we're giving away free stuff!














































If you were a stick figure...

Posted on December 2006 by TelltaleGames

A few weeks ago when we were working on getting Graham's Further Grickle and Stickleback into the store, it came to light that there are only a handful of copies of the first Grickle book left for sale, and then they'll be out of print. Around here (and by "here" I mean my desk), whenever someone says something like "only a few left in the whole entire world," it sounds an awful lot like "hey, let's hold a contest." So, hold a contest we shall!



Much of Grickle's charm lies in the way Graham uses the characters to illustrate the funny aspects of mundane, everyday life. With that in mind, all you have to do to win one of these few remaining books is write up in a little story about an embarassing, lame, or sad thing that happened to you. You know, one of those stories that makes you cringe every time you think about it.












The books, sitting on my messy desk awaiting their new homes.

Graham will help us choose the three best stories. Not only will you win a copy of his award-winning Grickle book -- signed with a personal note! -- but he'll also illustrate your story in that special Grickle way. Sort of like how he illustrated that Post-It note to the left, which I am never ever throwing away.



Just send your story (about 500 words) to us at contest@telltalegames.com by January 10. Include your real name and address so we know where to send your book if you win! We'll announce the winners on this very blog January 17, or thereabouts.



Oh, and then we'll put your story up here on the blog for everyone to laugh at. Because that's the best thing about embarrassing stories!






Bathroom break

Posted on December 2006 by TelltaleGames

Both the toilets in the mens room have started exploding when you flush them. Nearly every joint in their pipes spews water (don't worry, it's clean-looking water) if you try. Fortunately this coincides almost exactly with the beginning of Telltale's self imposed week of not working, where we go outside, and maybe spend more than a few hours a day in our homes and/or with our loved ones. Some people will still secretly come in and work, but they won't be using the toilet.

Sam & Max - funny AND tasty!

Posted on December 2006 by TelltaleGames

In the "creative gift department," we got an email from a community member whose friend made him a batch of Sam & Max cookies. She made the cookie cutters herself out of copper and then baked and iced a whole batch.




In addition to being pretty cool, this is also somewhat ironic because I tried to make my own Max cookies out of gingerbread this weekend. Unfortunately the ears kept pulling off and I never got around to frosting them...





There are more pictures and instructions for making those cookies (the cool ones, not my lame ones) here.

Does Telltale Listen? Answers Within.

Posted on December 2006 by TelltaleGames

The question has been posed on our forums in no uncertain terms. Does Telltale listen to its fans? Well the answer is simple: Quite possibly. [readmore]




Okay, the answer is yes, I just wanted to drag on the suspense for a bit longer.




Yes, we listen very carefully to every review, forum post, MySpace comment, and fortune cookie written about our games. Why? Because we want to make the best games conceivable by the human mind, and we know you can help.




Just this moment, for example, a flaming pigeon came flying through my window, gripping in its talons a lightly crisped scroll of parchment on which was inscribed the enigmatic phrase, "TOO EASY". Now, sure, I could have ignored this, and in my personal life I certainly would have, but this is my job, and I obviously take it very seriously, excessive comma usage notwithstanding.




Speaking specifically for the Sam & Max team, I can say that we have indeed been listening to the critiques of our first episode (Culture Shock, available at a company store near you), and we very much appreciate the suggestions for improvement. In particular, we have heard the pleas from many adventure game fans to increase the difficulty level, and I assure you that we're giving them due consideration.




In fact, many of you have already correctly guessed that we aim to gradually increase the difficulty over time, so be patient. As it happens, we just finished the design of Episode 5 the other day, and when I played it in my mind, I thought to myself, "Pretty challenging." (I also thought, "Great graphics and stunning sound," but then my mind has a killer rig running the game.) I expect even the experienced gamers will have to pull out their sweat-stained thinking caps before we're through.




We do have a vision at Telltale, though. Not like a vision of the Virgin Mary appearing in a side of cole slaw, more like a dream. Our dream is to make games that give everyone the chance to become the stars of fun, engaging stories. We're working hard to give the more experienced players food for thought, but we must give newcomers a chance to get in the swing of things too. We can't have people giving up in the first episode, or they won't ever want to play any more, we'll go bankrupt, all games of interest will vanish from the Earth, and a second Dark Age will descend upon us.




Surely you can see why Sam & Max can't be forced to prove Fermat's last theorem in their first case. The fate of civilization hangs in the balance.




Our dream, too, is to make games that bring to life beloved characters and worlds in the truest way possible. The Sam & Max comics are brief, punchy adventures, and we're hoping to design games that make you feel as though you're in the midst of one of those comics. Sam & Max find creative solutions to problems, to be sure, but they're not exactly Thomas Alvae Edisons either. We want you to keep moving, keep laughing, and have a blast from beginning to end. Hey, kinda like Sam & Max themselves!




So let me warn you now, when you play the next episode of Sam & Max (Situation: Comedy, available soon in a company store near you), be prepared for a gentle introduction. It will get more challenging, and we're just making sure everyone's on board before the wild ride to come! So go play it and save civilization as we know it!

Telltale goodies up for auction at Joystiq

Posted on December 2006 by TelltaleGames

We just can't get enough of that holiday spirit.



You may remember me waxing poetic about the Child's Play Charity a few weeks ago. Well, when Christopher Grant at Joystiq wrote in last week asking if we could cough up a few more goodies for charity, we couldn't resist, so we've tossed some items into the pot for their Child's Play auction. Up for grabs right now are a Max & Crossbones t-shirt and one of the few remaining sketchbooks from Steve Purcell's original print run, signed by the artist himself. GameTap chipped in some free three-month subscriptions which are included in the same lot. It's a Sam & Max fan's dream come true! Go here to bid on the lot.



There's another set of goodies coming up soon, too, this time of the Bone persuasion. We're donating a Cow Race CD version signed by key members of the development team, and a coupon to get downloads of both director's cuts for free. Bone creator Jeff Smith is adding to the love by donating signed, hardcover copies of Out from Boneville and The Great Cow Race. This lot should be up soon. I'll link to it when it is.



So, happy holidays to all... especially those kids in the hospital. What are you waiting for? Go bid!

Sam & Max season upgrade now available

Posted on December 2006 by TelltaleGames

So, you bought Culture Shock for $8.95 and now you're kicking yourself because you loved it and want the whole season? You're in luck! We have just unveiled a new upgrade offer that will allow you to do just this. Simply head over to this page, with your order number handy, and follow the instructions. You'll pay just $26, and get episodes 2-6 as they come out, plus the opportunity to get the CD version in the spring for the price of shipping if you want it.



Also, a lot of people out there will be happy to know that PayPal now works for the Season 1 set, and it works for this upgrade deal. So if you bought episode 1 by itself because you didn't have the option to buy the whole thing with PayPal, now's your chance!

Happy holidays from Sam & Max!

Posted on December 2006 by TelltaleGames

In anticipation of every retailer's favorite holiday, we've just added some Christmas-themed comic panels to the Sam & Max comic generator. Check them out! Hopefully you'll be able to come up with something funnier than the one I just made. (It wouldn't take much.)

To help spread the holiday cheer, we're going to give away three free Situation: Comedy downloads as a reward for the three best holiday-themed comics. Just send the URL(s) for your comic(s) to us at contest@telltalegames.com. You can send in as many as you want, but you can only win once. The deadline is Christmas Eve at midnight (Pacific time), and we'll announce the winners on Wednesday, January 3.





Merry Christmas, fools!

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Posted on December 2006 by TelltaleGames

WHAT?! You're LEAVING?!



Sadly yes, I'm afraid. Don't get me wrong, I don't particularly want to leave; however, current marketplace realities and the need for me to return to the Great White North to complete my computer science degree force me otherwise. That's just the way life goes.[readmore]



Today, dear blog readers, is my last day as the Telltale intern extraordinaire. That's right, seven short months ago, I was but a kid with a dream, wandering into this office with the stained aquamarine carpet for the very first time, the office that would soon become my temporary home. I remember meeting and shaking hands with people whose names I'd only previously seen in pleasantly understated credit sequences. It was a surreal thing to witness – much like internet dating, only perhaps with more of a professional air to it.



And in those months, when I wasn't being shuttled between CSI, Sam & Max, and the Bone Director's Cuts tightening up the graphics, writing code, and making repeated suggestions for interactive musical numbers, I found some time to befriend these wonderful folks we call the Telltale staff. They're a really special bunch, these guys and gals, and I, for one, am glad I had a chance to work with such talented, funny people. It's certainly an experience I'm going to treasure for the rest of... oh look, I think there's something in my eye. Excuse me.



Awkward silence punctuated by sniffling ensues for a little while.



Erm, sorry, where was I? Oh yes. I suppose this is goodbye, though hopefully not forever. If you'd like to keep in touch and see what I'm up to post-Telltale internship, you can do worse than visit my humble internet home at Deirdra Kiai Productions. And with that, dear Telltale blog, I bid you adieu, complete with pirouettes, jazz hands, and more poetic flourish than you can shake a midsummer night's dream at. Ta-ta!

Myst Online has opened its doors...

Posted on December 2006 by TelltaleGames



GameTap has just opened the beta for Myst Online: URU Live, which means that anyone who has an account can now check it out. They stress that this is still an early look at the game and certain things don't work, but it's still incredibly cool to be able to finally walk around this world that's taken so many years to get to this point (and for a while didn't look like it would ever get to this point at all... sound familiar, Sam & Max fans?) I just logged on and poked around a bit, but couldn't find anyone to hang out with. If you're a GameTap member, why not sign on and play with me? I'm the blond wearing the Sam & Max shirt! (It seems the current profiles will be wiped out on December 18 when this phase of the beta ends, but for now my Ki number is 403470 if you want to go looking for me.)





If you're not a GameTap member, now's as good a time to check out their service as any. In addition to the URU beta, which they told me is going to become even more robust and closer to the finished product in the coming weeks, they're also airing the first three Sam & Max machinima shorts, and episode 2, Situation: Comedy, will be added to the service next week.





If you do decide to try out GameTap, please head over there through one of the links on our site (like this one) so they know Telltale sent you.


Adventure Legends - Dave Grossman

Posted on December 2006 by TelltaleGames

This deliciously detailed interview with our very own senior designer Dave Grossman originally appeared in the November issue of Belgian magazine PC Gameplay Benelux. The magazine gave us permission to reprint the English version here. (They also reviewed Culture Shock in the same issue and gave it an 84% - thanks guys!)





How open were the guys at LucasArts when you approached them with a new idea? Didn't you get a blank stare when you proposed them the idea for a game where a dictatorial tentacle takes over the world?



Do power mad tentacles seem like a strange idea? Actually, it was pretty easy to get the go-ahead for Day of the Tentacle. As I recall, the way it happened was that Tim Schafer and I were fresh off of Monkey Island 2 and ready to lead our own project – or as ready as we were going to be, anyway – and Kelly Flock, who was in charge at the time, asked us specifically if we'd like to do a sequel to Maniac Mansion. The license fit reasonably well with our collective sense of humor, and I think there was the feeling that having it nominally be a sequel would keep us from going too far off the deep end. So we worked on the design for a while and then presented it to the rest of the all-powerful project leader group, who recognized its merits. We were advised to cut five characters and three locations, which was a fairly standard thing to be told and we were ready for it. I think it took under a half hour to make the cuts to the design, and then we went ahead and built it.


[readmore]
How did the process of starting new adventures work? Did you brainstorm until you had an idea for a whacky tentacle or pirate game, or did the LucasArts staff instruct you to come up with unique ideas?



The initial idea, like, we're going to make a game about pirates or Indiana Jones or a place where music is magic, might come from anywhere, be it marketing research or an amusement park ride or just something you were thinking about in the shower one day. From the initial seed we'd think about characters and story and brainstorm incessantly, usually starting from big ideas like "first you try to be a pirate, and then the governor gets kidnapped," and working our way towards smaller ones like "put a sweater in the dryer for 200 years and it will be the right size for a hamster." Oops, did I just give something away?



How was the cooperation with Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert? You all had a unique creative vision - did you often clash on ideas, or did you complement each other?



Things were always very smooth with those two guys in particular. We have similar senses of humor, and I think we all trust each other's design sensibilities quite a bit. We didn't tend to clash much, and when we did disagree it always seemed to be very easy to figure out which way to go just by talking about it. Clear articulation of thought processes and willingness to entertain other ideas are things I think of as characteristic of Ron's leadership style, which I've always tried to emulate. Over the years I've designed with a couple of other people where things went that smoothly - but not many.



Did you have to change the way you present humor in games when voices were added? Some games (like Monkey Island) had terrific comedic timing without the voices.



Definitely, writing dialog that will be heard is different from writing dialog that will be read. You have to keep it shorter, for one thing. Which is probably a good exercise anyway. Also, it's surprisingly easy to accidentally write tongue-twisters that will make voice actors want to hunt you down and flail you with the microphone cables they've chewed through. You have to be careful.



How much influence did George Lucas (and Steven Spielberg) have over the games LucasArts made? Did they help you in the design process, or were they too focused on their own movie projects?



They had other things to think about and mainly left us blissfully alone to do what we're good at. I can count the number of times I met with either of them on the fingers of one hand.



How was it working at LucasArts: did you get much creative freedom, or was it thightly managed from above? How did this evolve over the years?



I had quite a lot of freedom, particularly on Day of the Tentacle of course, but also on the games where I was working under someone else. As the company grew, it needed to have more infrastructure and predictability, but that didn't really extend so much to creative matters, at least not while I was still working there.




How does working at Telltale compare to working at LucasArts (at the time you made Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle)?



There are some notable similarities. Telltale is still pleasingly small, as LucasFilm Games was in 1989. People tend to wear quite a few hats, and you know everybody's first name. Everybody is enthusiastic about what they're doing, and it all feels very exciting. What we don't have is a film-industry behemoth shielding us from economic realities, or an exotic hidden hillside locale, but I don't really miss either of those things too much.



How was the relationship between LucasArts and Sierra? Were you closely following what the other was doing? Did you get any feedback from Sierra on the 'rubber tree' joke in Monkey Island?



Sierra was our main competition in the adventure game arena, so you'd better believe we were paying attention to what they were doing, and vice versa. I didn't know any of the designers there personally at the time, but I've met some of them since and can't remember any of them ever bringing up the rubber tree.



Do you have any idea why LucasArts cancelled Sam & Max: Freelance Police (and Full Throttle 2)? Don't you think they missed an opportunity here to try something different/new with the Adventure genre?



All I know about that is what I hear third-hand through the grapevine, which is that it was mainly a financial decision. Aren't they all? As to whether it was a good call or a bad one, I know enough not to try to second-guess a decision made by somebody who has way more information than I have.




Chip Morningstar, who worked on Lucasfilm's Habitat, has stated that in the early years of LucasArts, the movie licences (Star Wars, Indiana Jones) were treated as 'money in the bank' – they weren't used, unless a third-party publisher wanted to pay for the licence. Now, it's quite the opposite. Don't you think it's a shame LucasArts doesn't want to push the envelope anymore on creating original titles (like Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, etc.)?



I suppose so, but that's been kind of a problem with the industry as a whole rather than just one company, hasn't it? Actually, I'm hoping that digital distribution will make the blockbuster business model unnecessary and encourage innovation everywhere.



What LucasArts adventure is your personal favorite, and which one was the most fun to make?



I'd have to go with Day of the Tentacle as my favorite - everything just seems to fit nicely with that one, art and music and characters and puzzles all working together to get the player to think like a cartoon character. It feels rounded and complete. As for which was the most fun to make, Tentacle would be in the running, but I'm tempted to pick The Secret of Monkey Island. Everything was totally fresh and new then - they say you never forget your first love.



Any chance Ron, Tim and you will team up again to make a new game?



Ron and I have collaborated on quite a few games over the years (mainly for kids), but I think Tim is a bit busy running Double-Fine these days, so I'm not exactly sure how you'd logistically get all three of us together. Also, it would be pretty expensive. But hey, anything can happen.




Do you approach the puzzles in Sam & Max differently than in the days of Day of the Tentacle? Is a little bit of frustration mandatory for puzzles, to give the player a sense of accomplishment afterwards?



Ideally, I want a puzzle to be just challenging enough that you feel clever when you solve it, but not so difficult that it crosses the line into frustrating. Frustration is not fun for most people. Mainly I find that the way a designer gets to the sweet spot isn't by making the necessary mental leap any simpler, but rather by getting the game to articulate the nature of the problem with a useful level of clarity.




In the Bone games, the puzzles were relatively easy to solve as the gameworld, and the number of items you find in them, is rather limited due to the episodic nature of the game. Is this a disadvantage of episodic games, or does this fit in Telltale's strategy to not make the game too complicated?



Building the games smaller does reduce a certain inherent finding-needles-in-haystacks type of difficulty, and also makes the games less overwhelming for the inexperienced player. The Bone titles, the first one in particular, are aimed at beginners, so that was quite helpful on both points. But size is really just one of many factors to be balanced together to make a game with a challenge level appropriate to the intended audience.



With Sam & Max, you're aiming for casual gamers. How are you planning to reach them and tell them about your game? These are the people that don't read game magazines, so you probably should need commercials on television or movie theaters. Continuing on that thought, don't you think the adventure developers have a fundamental marketing problem, as the audience they're trying to reach (people who like story & characters and don't need senseless violence) isn't hardcore and doesn't follow the gaming news on websites or in magazines?



TV and movie commercials are a bit outside of our marketing budget. Fortunately, casual gamers and other people of good taste who might like our game can be found all over the internet, which, not coincidentally, is a place where they'll be able to purchase our games.



Adventures are still fairly popular in Europe. Do you have any idea why? Do you think American adventure developers should adapt to the European market?



Europeans obviously have staggeringly good taste, which is why they like adventure games. And I think any adventure game developer anywhere has to consider the European market, though hopefully not at the expense of losing the American one.



Do you think gamers lost interest for adventures at the end of the 90s because adventure developers stopped innovating and didn't embrace new technologies and new ways to present challenges to the player?



Personally, I think the adventure game market floundered because it's easy to design a bad adventure game and lots of developers did. I don't think it had anything to do with lack of technology or innovation.



Some people claim adventures should have 2D graphics. What's your opinion on this? Do you think that by stating this, these people deny the adventure genre to evolve? The same could have been said of real-time strategy games.



I think it's kind of silly to say that adventures should have any particular type of graphics. It's like saying all paintings should be done in a Renaissance style. I love 2D graphics, but right now I'm working at a 3D studio and there are certain things I really like about it. For one thing it makes it outrageously easy to set up effective camera angles for cinematic presentation. On the other hand, it sometimes gets in the way of what I'd like to do for animation. There are various trade-offs, but I've never seen anything that would convince me to limit myself to any specific number of dimensions.



While games like Quake look very dated by todays standards, games like Day of the Tentacle or Grim Fandango still look modern thanks to their stylised graphics. As the cost of producing state-of-the-art graphics engines increase, don't you think the industry will have to come back from hyperrealism and return to a more stylised approach?



I'm not sure the industry will get over its fascination with realism until it achieves perfection, which is to say, not for a long time. But I wish it would. I've never thought much of realism in games, mainly because it seems like a wasted opportunity. You can make the game look any amazing way you can imagine, so why emulate the same old reality you see every morning over sausage and eggs? There must be a lot of bored art directors out there.



Some people claim a good adventure should have brain-teasing puzzles. Others say the adventures should evolve: the core of adventures is story & characters, and puzzle-solving is just a means of interaction and challenge. What are your thoughts on this, and how do approach this in Sam & Max?



I guess I'd come down somewhere between those two camps. I like the puzzles, but I don't think their primary attraction is to be something that boggles your brain - I can get that in any book of brain-teasers anywhere. I do think they provide a terrific way for the designer to structure and balance the experience and to let the player drive the action of the story by following the natural dictates of curiosity. So you'll find plenty of puzzles in the Sam & Max series, intended to make you think, but hopefully not to completely stymie you and keep you from reaching the end.



Adventures were absorbed by other genres - games like Beyond Good & Evil and Knights of the Old Republic have good stories, strong characters and some puzzle-like challenges (Knights of the Old Republic even had the make-4-gallons-with-3- and-5-gallon-containers puzzle). Do you think the adventure genre has to take over elements from other genres?



I certainly think adventure games can learn things from other genres. Games have figured out effective ways to present all kinds of dramatic experiences - car chases, shoot-outs... minesweeping, even. If my story has a car chase in it, I'll be looking to driving games for inspiration. (Did I mention that Sam & Max does have a car chase in it?)



Bone: Out from Boneville & Bone: The Great Cow Race are two of the few recent games that make you laugh. Do you have any idea why games have become so serious?



I don't know - I suppose some people think funny implies frivolous, so maybe developers think serious is the only way to be taken seriously? Naturally, I would disagree. I think comedy is probably the only way to take a close look at the world and remain sane afterwards.



David Cage from Quantic Dream (Indigo Prophecy) has stated that storytelling, characterisations and innovation will be the defining elements to broaden the market. In that respect, do you think this will herald the return of adventures, IF they embrace innovation?



Those things are all important to adventure games and they certainly will improve the medium, but at the same time they don't address what I see as the fundamental problem with the average adventure: weak gameplay. Too often players are asked to do things that are too hard, too easy, too arbitrary, completely nonsensical, boring, or frustrating, and no amount of storytelling will turn that into an enjoyable experience. Adventures won't be viable unless their working parts are as well designed as those of other kinds of games.



While Hollywood has big budget blockbusters and smaller films that don't make that much money but are also cheaper to make, the big game publishers seem to focus only on blockbusters. Do you think the industry has to return to smaller games? Al Lowe thinks Telltale has an excellent idea with episodic games, because it's a return to the old approach of making games, in that the development-process only takes about 6 months.



I think the games industry has developed a blockbuster business model for the same reason that the movie industry did - a bottleneck in distribution. For movies it's the limited capacity of theaters, for games it's limited shelf space in retail outlets. Game stores only have room for a certain number of games, so you have to be one of the top sellers to even stay on the shelves. Making games smaller won't help this by itself (in fact, it's harder to keep smaller games in stores since they're also theoretically cheaper, which means the store makes less money per square inch of shelf and they don't like that), but digital distribution will - and already is, as evidenced by the emergence of the casual games market. Hooray for the internet and its infinite shelf space!



What do you think of the current state of the industry? Do you think there's change looming around the corner, with indie games getting a platform via digital distribution services like STEAM? What signals do you think are most hopeful for the future of gaming?



I do think digital distribution is starting to mean we get a wider variety of things to play with, now on consoles as well as PCs, and that excites me. Selling small games that are popular with a niche audience is becoming a viable business model, which should mean all sorts of peculiar things will get made. I can't wait for the first game aimed at left-handed people who love wombats.



Would games like Bone and Sam & Max be a success when they're only distributed in brick & mortar stores? If not, do you think digital distribution is the future to produce games that break the mold?



A small game like a Bone or Sam & Max episode would make a great low-cost impulse buy in a store, but the obvious brick-and-mortar thing to do with an episodic game series is to treat it like a television series – package them together when the season is finished and sell them as a set. A standalone game of small size would have a harder time competing, but I do think digital distribution is going to be very, very helpful on that point.



Games like Psychonauts and Beyond Good & Evil, which have interesting stories & characters and build upon the Adventure genre, weren't commercial hits. Do you have any idea why this is? Would they have benefitted from digital distribution?



I think those games are just too large to benefit from digital distribution as it stands today. Even with current broadband, the pipe into people's homes isn't wide or fast enough for a painless download of something that size. We humans are not a patient species.



In the old days, games were able to become a hit during many months, but now titles that aren't selling well are taken quickly out of the stores (like Psychonauts). In that respect, do you think digital distribution is helpful? Al Lowe thinks that many gamers don't want to look up slightly older titles (e.g. a year ago) anymore because they don't have an interesting story (while older films do get picked up, because they have a good story).



With infinite digital shelf space, being taken out of the store won't be a problem any more, but having people find your game will actually be harder. They won't just see it sitting there physically in the store and pick it up, they'll have to be pointed to it by something or someone, be it reviews or word of mouth or online ads or what have you. Games will still disappear if you don't market them.



Say, some rich guy bought the Monkey Island/Maniac Mansion properties from LucasArts and offered you a limitlesss budget to make a new game in the series. Would you take the opportunity, and if so, how would such a successor look like – a traditional adventure, or something new?



A limitless budget? How can I turn that down? OK, the first thing we need is to build a recreational spa to keep the development team happy. After I'm relaxing in the hot tub, I think my approach would differ depending on which series it was. The two Maniac Mansion games are pretty different from one another, so I would be inclined to do what we did with Day of the Tentacle, which is pretend it wasn't a sequel and do something new, still focusing on characters, story, and puzzles. With Monkey Island I'd just bring in Ron Gilbert and let him do whatever he wanted so long as he promised to let me write the dialog.



Hollywood is announcing movies from games at a very steady rate. A recent rumor was that Tim Burton was going to direct a Grim Fandango movie. Would you like to see a Day of the Tentacle or Monkey Island movie (other than Pirates of the Caribbean) getting made? Or are you too afraid a director like Uwe Boll would produce a film that makes you gouge out your eyeballs with a spoon?



Somebody did a high school play of Monkey Island that you can watch on the internet, and that was fun to see, so I guess I'd think it was cool if somebody made movies based on those games. Though I do think Pirates of the Caribbean WAS the Monkey Island movie I'd have wanted to see, and I'm not sure what anybody could do to top it. As for somebody making something I don't like, well, so what if they did? It wouldn't spoil the original. The Howard the Duck movie, for example, was a notorious stinker, but I was and still am a fan of the original comic book series.




Thanks again to PC Gameplay for allowing us to reprint this interview.

New Dank and Grickle?! Annable? What?!

Posted on December 2006 by TelltaleGames

I've experienced it so often these days. Standing at a bus stop or sitting in a board meeting, I'll overhear it time and time again.





"Gosh, Sam and Max is astounding isn't it?"





"Dude, my sleepless nights for the last 15 years are finally over."





"I know it. Although Telltale's done such an impressive job I'm crying tears of joy constantly and it's really begun to affect my driving. Taking the bus to work again today."





"Dude, sorry to hear that. But, oh man, that game! That company!"





"Can't wait for Ep 2. I just hope I can see it through the tears."




"Dude."



Then there'll be a long pause. Sometimes uncomfortable. Sometimes not. On occasion it's actually been quite pleasant and prolonged. Then inevitably I hear it.[readmore]



"One thing that's weird though. Despite the unbelievably good track Telltale's been on."



"What, dude?"



"Well, like, what happened to Graham Annable? I mean is he still there or what?"



"Dude, yeah, that Annable guy. What's he been up to anyway? There hasn't been a new Dank strip in, like, a century or something."



At that point a slow, knowing, smile will creep across my face as I shake my head lightly, careful not to reveal my hiding spot in the nearby shrubbery. My God, if only they knew. If only they knew.



Well, for all of those not in the know, I've actually relocated to the Pacific NorthWest this past year. Portland, Oregon, to be exact. Yep, it's true. I brazenly traded in the manicured, golden, hills of California for the jaggedy, wet, treelines of Oregon. Since making the move I've been doodling out storyboards for a feature film, freelancing SpongeBob comics for Nickelodeon, creating comic stories for the Flight 4 and Tugboat Press's Papercutter anthologies, generating animated shorts of my own, and continued to contribute Telltale animation and illustration pieces on a semi-irregular basis. It's been a rather busy year to say the least! In the wake of that mish-mashy mountain of work certain things have fallen to the wayside. More specifically, Dank has fallen to the wayside. Maybe some folks noticed and maybe some didn't, but my apologies to all who've been wondering what's been up with the strip. That poor fella and Gok have been left hanging for quite some time. I'm pleased to announce that Dank is back and the world can hopefully resume turning again.



Besides the fresh new Dank strip you may have noticed an addition to Telltale's Store today. The graphic novels "Further Grickle" and "Stickleback" are now available for purchase under Printed Things!

If you're scratching your head wondering "Huh? Weird...what's that all about?" Further Grickle and Stickleback are two books I created outside of the magical offices of Telltale. Within their pages you'll find stories that have been described as "life and death with googly eyes," "tales of amusing woe" and "melancholic to hilarious." It's kinda like a mixture of happy and sad. And strange. Maybe a pinch of David Lynch thrown in there too. Maybe? Jeez, I'm not entirely certain. Here, have a read at what other folks have been saying, they can articulate it better I think:




"Annable draws characters in a drastically simplified, cartoony style with bug eyes and big noses, occasionally reducing arms and legs to sticks. But his animation experience reveals itself in the body language and movement of these black and white doodles. "Decency" has an obstinate frog taking blow after blow from a couple of rock-throwing jerks. Annable focuses on the frog for wincing effect each time a rock connects. But it's a Simpsons-like frog, laughably goofy-looking and stupid. The mix typifies the comedic irony of the whole book." -TIME.com



"Annable's writing is funny and well-paced, and his art fits this story(Stickleback.) Even the simple style - six same-size panels per page - goes against today's comic-book norm, but it, too, fits the presentation." -Comics Buyer's Guide




"Annable's illustration style, more in tune with animation or gag-cartooning than with traditional comics art, has a pliability that allows the stories it carries to veer from wild exaggeration to understated pathos at the whim of the artist. There's a lot of range on display here, and, one suspects, plenty of room for more Grickle down the road. Here's hoping, anyway." -The Comics Journal



"Stickleback is a quirky meeting of influences with its protagonist, George Stickleback, seeming to live, figuratively speaking, about two doors down from Harvey Pekar's autobiographical avatar American Spendor and one block over from The Twilight Zone. Stickleback is a mix of the kind of ultra-real, slice of life mundaneness favored by many independent comics creators, while also flirting with a weirdly amusing surrealism." -UGO (UnderGroundOnline)



"When animators have learned the trade and then take their knowledge to comics, it shows. For instance, most of Annable's panel-to-panel transitions are drawn so, in my opinion, that they suggest animation. And when the cartoonist manages to pull that off, you know he's doing something right." -TheComicStore.com



Along with the comic work I've also been tinkering with some animated shorts. Created with iMovie and just using the standard sound effects in its library I've been pleasantly surprised by the results. I believe Apple created iMovie primarily for people to dress up their family vacation photos with a little sound and music, right? Well, man, I'd sure like to see the family trip that used the same sounds I selected from the iMovie library. Here's a little taste:



wmode="transparent" data="/images/flash/flvplayer.swf?file=http://files.telltalegames.com/grickle/videos/deathdefying.flv&clicktext= &image=http://files.telltalegames.com/grickle/videos/deathdefying_title.jpg">





And there you have it folks! The world can breathe a collective sigh of relief while they patiently wait for the next installment of Sam and Max. People on the street no longer have to wonder and worry about what happened to that Annable guy. I'm safe and sound, enjoying life in Portland, and continuing to support Telltale.



"Dude, I feel so much better."



"Yeah, except those cartoons are kinda freaking me out."



"Dude, totally."

Secret CSI project revealed!

Posted on December 2006 by TelltaleGames

Okay, after the success of CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder and the relative quiet about what's been going on in the other half of the office (you know, the half that isn't working on Sam & Max), it's not such a stretch to think that we have been developing a new CSI game for the last several months. But now that it's been announced, we can shout it to the world. We're making a new CSI game! (And aren't you impressed by our collective ability to keep a secret?)



The new game follows the same format as the earlier CSI games—five cases, first-person perspective, lots of forensic tools to use in the field and analysis to do in the lab, and of course, appearances by your favorite members of the CSI Las Vegas cast. We've continued to improve the engine and as a result this game looks pretty amazing, as you can see with your very own eyes in these just-released graphics:























CSI: Hard Evidence will be in stores in spring 2007. That's only a few months away. And considering that time has been barreling by at an alarmingly fast pace, that's really only like fifteen minutes from now.

Cow Race in the Independent Games Festival

Posted on December 2006 by TelltaleGames

I don't know how many of you get to go to the Game Developers Conference each year, but I suspect that those who have had the pleasure will agree with me that one of the coolest parts of the event is the Independent Games Festival.



The Independent Games Festival (known by day as the IGF) is a sort of convention-within-a-convention at GDC, occuping a small but ever-growing corner of the show, wholly dedicated to games made by developers working on their own outside the traditional publisher system. The IGF features rows and rows of the current year's crop of independently developed games, all of which are demoed by their respective, eager-to-chat (or, in the later days of the conference, eager-to-feign-sleep) developers. Walking around the booths each year fills me with an infectious, unshakable, and slightly unsettling feeling of happiness, and, you know, reminds me why I like games.



I lost where I was going with this, but long story short, the finalists for the 2007 Independent Games Festival were announced, and our very own Bone: The Great Cow Race is a contender for the "Excellence in Audio" category. Woo![readmore] Also up for an award is fellow Telltale Now game, Amanita Design's Samorost 2, for best web browser game.



What does that mean for us? For you? Well, if you're at GDC this year and head by the IGF area, you'll be able to play a bit of The Great Cow Race, and chat it up with a randomly-selected (and possibly randomly-generated) Telltale staffer. Also, Cow Race will be going up against four other great looking independent games for the Excellence in Audio award at IGF's award ceremony, which is part of the conventions annual Game Developers' Choice Awards.



A big old congratulations is in order for the Cow Race team, and especially for Jared Emerson-Johnson and Julian Kwasneski at Bay Area Sound, who did the music and sound design for both Bone games (and for Sam & Max).



Also, if you haven't had a chance to check them out yet, we've posted Jared's entire musical scores to both Bone games right here. (Out From Boneville is on the left, The Great Cow Race is on the right.) Or, if you're in the mood to download, you can always check out the sound in the game itself, by downloading the free Great Cow Race demo.

Oodles of Sam & Max video

Posted on December 2006 by TelltaleGames

If you've blinked lately, you may have missed all the new Sam & Max-related video that went up on our website this week. You can see it all on the Sam & Max page. Here's the new video you'll find there: And hey, if a gameplay video, a trailer, and three whole machinima shorts aren't enough to tide you over, interim theater will be back later this month...

Welcome to the Bone Director's Cuts

Posted on December 2006 by TelltaleGames







This is Heather Logas, Telltale's resident curmudgeonly game designer/whatever else I happen to be doing that day and future ruler of everything important. Yes, I am still here. While you have been floating about in a Sam & Max induced haze, some of you may have been able to clear your heads from the fog just long enough to wonder what in heck ever happened to those charming Bone cousins and their mysterious valley. In fact, we have not abandoned Jeff Smith's curious world. In these past several months while some have been obsessing over certain canines and lagomorphs, others of the stalwart Telltale team have been re-visiting our treasured Bone games and gently massaging them with renewed care and affection.





"Hey Fone Bone, is it me, or is there something different about Thorn?"
You see, although Jeff holds our telling of his tale in high regard, in hindsight there were just a few things he wished had been included in the first two Bone games. There were some updates we wanted on our end as well, and so we decided to work together to produce new, shinier versions of Out from Boneville and The Great Cow Race. Most of these changes are not too drastic, although you may find yourself enraptured by the new opening cutscene in Out from Boneville and startled by how much better our dear Thorn looks and sounds. The other little changes may be harder to catch, but definitely make an impact on how the story feels throughout both games.

[readmore]


Oh how silly of me! I almost forgot to mention that you can now play both games in multiple resolutions. Hoorah!





Storyboards for Out from Boneville's new opening cutscene.

The best part of course is that if you are already proud owners of Out from Boneville and The Great Cow Race (congratulations on your excellent taste), you are entitled to a perfectly free update to the Director's Cuts. (I attempted to convince Emily that you should at least have to mail in donuts or caffeinated beverages, but unfortunately she wasn't convinced.) So enjoy the Director's Cuts while they last. Which, actually, will be a very long time as they are replacing the previous versions of the game on our site.



Curse our endless generosity!



To mark this grand occasion, our own Emily M. (known in some circles as simply "E.M." or "EM" or possibly even "M") threw some questions by Jeff Smith (known in some circles as simply "Jeff" or "Mr. Smith" or "The creator of that wonderful and charming Bone comic"), and he threw some answers back.








EM: What was your reaction when the idea of a "director's cut" came up?




Jeff: I thought "Great, let's do it!"




EM: What sorts of changes did you suggest?




Jeff: Two basic types of changes. The first type was to clean up some places we were rushed in the story scenes back when we first launched. For example, I thought the ending of Out from Boneville was a little jumpy and confusing; so I carefully tracked the scenes and wrote new material to explain where everybody was going and why. The second type of change was to start setting up the larger BONE story that will take place over the course of all our games. To do that, we've created a very atmospheric beginning called "The Prophecy" that tells the story of MIm, Queen of the Dragons, and her battle with the Lord of the Locust, setting the stage for the Bone cousins' arrival. Things we see in the Prophecy will reverberate throughout the series. I didn't make any changes to the actual games or puzzles.




EM: Can you describe your process of working on the director's cut? How did you evaluate the original games and decide what changes to make in the new version?




Jeff: Heather had a "movie" version of the game made for me to watch straight through. I was able to watch the game as a film and figure out where the weak spots in the story are.




[EM's Note – to do this we had our summer intern play through both games and video capture the whole thing. The files were very big!]




EM: Of the changes that have been made for the director's cut, which is the one you felt most strongly about?





Jeff: I think cleaning up the ending of the first game was most important to me, but in the long run, I bet the new Prophecy beginning will be the favorite among players. It gives the story depth, and sets the stage for the newer installments and will tie them all together.




EM: Do you have a favorite part in either of the original of the original games, something you wouldn't change no matter what?




Jeff: Hands down, my favorite part of the first Bone game is early on, when Bone is lost in the mountains, inching through the dark standing stones and as he makes his way forward, the sun comes up, and we see the Valley for the first time. Not only is it a stunningly beautiful picture, it's a really clever piece of game programming. I think it's better than the same scene in the comics!







So there you have it. What are you waiting for? That download button won't click itself you know!