PAX coverage

Posted on August 2006 by TelltaleGames

Later this week we hope to bring you Dan and Kevin's first-hand impressions from the front lines at PAX, but in the meantime, here's some of the coverage that's come out of the show: Update: More PAX coverage here!

Look here! It's a Sam & Max gallery!

Posted on August 2006 by TelltaleGames

Production of Sam & Max Episode 1 is nearing completion, and we know our fans are itching for any new info we can give about the game, so now seemed like a good time to collect the images we have so far and put them together in a gallery for your viewing enjoyment. Some of these are renders made outside of the game engine, and others are in-engine screen grabs.




























If you haven't read them yet (what are you waiting for?!), check out the previews at GameSpy and Wired, where some of these images appeared for the first time over the weekend.



And for more Sam & Max goodies, visit the official page.

Sam & Max spill out onto the internet

Posted on August 2006 by TelltaleGames

Try as we may, we just can't keep these guys contained much longer. Sam's hungry for his close-up, and Max is literally climbing the walls of our office (and in some instances busting right through them). Sam & Max are ready to get out into the world, and truthfully, so are we.



That's why two new Sam & Max previews have just gone up, the first on GameSpy, and the second on Wired's blog. And if the promise of lots of words about Sam & Max isn't enough to make you to click those links, each article has three new Sam & Max renders to go with it!



For those who shun both pictures and the written word, how about a live interview with Dan Connors, courtesy of XBL Radio? Hmm?



If you're not satisfied with any of these avenues for Sam & Max news, you'll just have to head out to Poland and hunt down this preview in GameRanking magazine.



Continue to keep an eye out for the dog and the bunny, because I have the feeling that now that they're out, you'll be seeing them more and more until the first Sam & Max episode's release in October.

Safety first! 6 days since last accident...

Posted on August 2006 by TelltaleGames

One of the great things we have in our company is a wiki. Its purpose? To provide any and all information that a Telltale employee could possibly need... from a listing of employee cell phone numbers to a rarely-updated shopping list to a company accident report. That's right, an accident report.



You wouldn't even notice it if you weren't looking for it. Down at the very bottom of the main wiki page, underneath Frequently Asked Questions (sample: "Why is Jon Sgro so grumpy? Because he doesn't have a basketball hoop."), is an unassuming bullet point that reads Safety First! 6 Days Since Last Accident. Clicking on the equally unassuming link pulls up a list that reads, in its entirety, as follows:



Workplace Accident Log

    Many accidents waiting to happen.
  • 3/4/2005 - J.Sgro's chair fails to support body resulting in head contacting ground - mild concussion.

  • 3/10/2005 - H.Logas touches J.Sgro resulting in electrocution in J.Sgro's left ear.

  • 3/21/2005 - J.Sgro's chair pins pinky against desk resulting in bloody and swollen finger

  • 4/5/2005 - B.Buddy sustains puncture wound by right clavicle - suffers shortage of air, unable to perform duties for 24 hours as patch cures.

  • 4/27/2005 - G.McDermott injures left arm while enjoying crystal-clear Whole Foods brand water. The resulting effect is water spillage on desk, carpet, and personal clothing.

  • 6/8/2005 - B.Buddy #2 appears to be suffering from bad posture and a lack of motivation. Upon exam it is determined that B.Buddy #2 has sustained a tear on the back of the neck. The victim will be prepped and bandaged.

  • 6/9/2005 - While walking by G.Annable's desk, J.Sgro is cut on the right index finger by a stack of papers. Mouse-clicking will be kept to a minimum as the wound heals.

  • 08/10/2005 - J.Sgro trying to throw a Mr. Goodbar J.Crouse, hit R.Tudor in the mouth with the candy bar, causing him to stagger back. R.Tudor seems to be fine and his work will not be interrupted by the injury.

  • 03/06/2006 - J.Sgro endures unknown injury. Only symptom is the exclamation of the word 'ow' and increased surliness. A full recovery is hoped for, but not expected.

  • 06/07/2006 - At least a dozen adorable sea monkeys (give or take a few) suffered a tragic fall into the depths of the stained aquamarine carpet near Heather's desk. Their absence will be felt dearly.

We were doing well there for a while. August 2005 through June 2006 were relatively accident-free. Of course, during this timeframe Telltale came out with three games, so it could be that everyone was too busy working to get hurt (or, at least, too busy working to write up the injury). In any case, there are a few things that stand out to me about this list:



1) The majority of these injuries are in some way related to Jon Sgro. Could it have something to do with his lack of a basketball hoop?



2) The last accident was not, in fact, 6 days ago. By my count, it's been more than 70. Or could it be that time moves slower in this office than everywhere else in the world? Is this the development secret that will allow Telltale to release 6 Sam & Max episodes in just 7 months starting this October? Is the portrait of Fone Bone on our wall gradually getting older, while everyone in the office gets younger? (No wonder he's bald!)



I have to say, looking back at the accident-prone spring of 2005, I'm a little bit envious of those carefree days. Back then, Telltale must have been a fun place to work. These days it seems like all we do is sit around and play through the pilot episode of Sam & Max over and over and over. Next thing you know we'll be dropping large pieces of office equipment out of the windows onto unsuspecting passers-by... and then we'll log onto the wiki and report it. 1 Day Until Next Accident!

Magazine Madness

Posted on August 2006 by TelltaleGames

Okay, "madness" may be too strong a term, but Sam & Max articles are starting to pop up in various print magazines, which is pretty exciting. Hot on the heels of the CGW cover story (which has now been replaced on news stands by the Sam & Max-less September issue, alas), we have a preview in PC Gamer (the US edition), and a four-page story in PC Zone UK that includes an interview with Steve Purcell. The PC Gamer issue is October, and the PC Zone issue is September, and they're both available now, in August.* Go figure.



There's also supposed to be a story about Telltale in September's issue of Computer Games magazine. Has anyone seen it? The magazine wasn't available at Borders when I checked on Friday, so I'm not sure if it's out yet.



In other news, last week we received a copy of Level, a gaming magazine out of the Czech Republic, that has a Sam & Max preview/interview in it. If you want to Czech it out (har, har), it's the August issue.



We know of a few other interviews and previews that are going to be coming out in international magazines, but it's hard to keep track of them all. If you come across an article about Telltale or Sam & Max in a magazine, please let us know -- whatever the language!



*My mistake, the PC Zone UK issue is also October. So much for my cleverly worded sentence.

Kevin does PAX!

Posted on August 2006 by TelltaleGames

The Penny Arcade Expo (affectionately known as PAX) is next weekend in Seattle, and Kevin will be there speaking on a panel about what's wrong with the game industry and what Telltale's doing to help make it better. If you're going to be there, you should check it out!



The panel's called "How the Industry is Busted and What's Being Done to Fix It" and it's happening on Saturday 8/26 at 4:00 in the Satellite Theatre. The other panelists are Steve Bocska of Hothead Games and John Baez of The Behemoth, and the panel will be moderated by Christopher Erhardt of Digipen.



If you're too busy with the Mario Kart Double Dash tournament to make it to the panel, you might run into Kevin on the show floor. He'll be the guy who looks like this, probably wearing a Sam & Max shirt, and quite possibly playing with action figures.

The Green Glass Door

Posted on August 2006 by TelltaleGames

Somewhere in the midst of all the crazy expansion and wall-tearing we've been doing around here, I found a mysterious green glass door in a far-off and as-of-yet unused corner of the Telltale office. Sadly, I can't be exactly sure what's behind this door, seeing as I'm not allowed past it.


However, from all the office gossip that's been going around, I'll let you know what I HAVE discovered:



There are no computers allowed behind the green glass door, nor are there any desks or chairs. That is to say, anyone who wishes to work in the mysterious area behind the door must sit on the floor and read a book.



There is plenty of coffee behind the green glass door. Unfortunately, there is no tea, nor is there any water. However, if you look closely, it is said that you might be able to find a can of Dr. Pepper.



Dan Connors is allowed behind the green glass door, but Kevin Bruner and Troy Molander have to wait outside. Also, Dave Grossman is allowed behind the door, whereas Dave Bogan and Dave Felton are not.



We are forbidden from bringing Sam and Max behind the green glass door, and we also can't allow Fone, Phoney, or Smiley Bone in there. We can, however, let Gil Grissom and Catherine Willows poke around the area all they want.
They've got a warrant.



Finally, and most disturbingly of all, I've been hearing rumours of a pair of assassins lurking behind the green glass door. Perhaps this means I should be happy about not being allowed inside.



Now, if you think you know the secret of the green glass door, comment in this post and inquire about what you think belongs behind it and what doesn't. The catch, however, is that you are not allowed under any circumstances to come right out and say what the secret is. Not only will it spoil the game for everyone else, but it'll also bring you loads of bad luck. Much like saying "good luck" instead of "break a leg", or "Macbeth"
instead of "the Scottish play".



Which reminds me, apparently, the Scottish are allowed behind the green glass door, but Macbeth, for some odd reason, isn't. Strange...

Game development shakedown!

Posted on August 2006 by TelltaleGames

Here's August's newsletter, just for you! Lotsa Telltale news, plus Dear Max and Order Up with Dudebrough. How can you resist?

[readmore]
























































Vol II, #8ish August, 2006



















IT'S A REAL GAME!



















First Sam & Max episode taking shape, fun to play


































More Sam & Max gossip:








































Comic-Con 2006 a dazzling success




































Also check out this press coverage from the show:





































Other Stuff to Buy









CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder

Crawl inside the mind of a crime scene investigator.





$29.99











Sam & Max
Poster Prints

Set of two 18 x 24" limited prints, signed by Steve Purcell.





$29.99











Sam & Max
T-Shirt

Be the belle of the ball in our quality black tee. M/L/XL available.





$17.99











Telltale Texas
Hold'em

Do you have what it takes to become a poker superstar?





$12.99

































Bone Episodes Galore!






















Bone Act 2:
The Great Cow Race



































Download Version:

now only $12.99

Packaged Version:

now only $17.99

























Bone Acts 1 and 2
Combo Pack!


































Download Version:

now only $24.99

Packaged Version:

now only $29.99













Webcomic exclusive: Sam & Max #8 revealed!



























"This stuff is sooo good, I had to ship some out to Vegas."



2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate

4 Tbsp butter


14 oz. sweetened condensed milk

½ cup creamy peanut butter (you can leave it out, but the fudge will lack a certain peanutosity)


1. First you take a 9" x 9" pan and grease it up good. Next you wanna line the pan with two sheets of plastic wrap. Totally make a plastic wrap cross on the bottom of the pan.


2. This part is way cool... you take a double boiler, right, and you put some water in the bottom pan and put it on the stove till it boils. Then you put the butter, chocolate, and peanut butter inside the top pan. Stir it up and it will totally MELT!


3. Pour this melty stuff into that pan you fixed up earlier and stick it in the fridge for at least 4 hours.



4. Take the fudge outta the pan and cut it into nice squares. Oh yeah, and if you want it softer just leave it lying out dude.






















Dear Max: Advice from the maw of madness




















































Max: Navy, that's about water, right?
Sam: Yeah, I think so.
Max: In that case, don't bother to get in shape. Fat is more buoyant than muscle, so when you fall off the boat you can be your own rubber raft!
Sam: Plus, when sharks start to gnaw on you, they have to work through several layers of blubber before they get to the important bits. That extra gnawing time could mean the difference between life and your sinking naked skeleton!
Max: To start off right in boot camp, on day one make sure you bring pretty flowers to your drill instructor.
Sam: You can make an impression when you talk to him by grabbing his neck with both hands to show that you're passionate.
Max: There's no better way to gain his respect than with an unprovoked physical attack.
Sam: See you in the brig!























































Meet the Neighbors - Bosco's Inconvenience

Posted on August 2006 by TelltaleGames

Welcome to the first installment of "Meet the Neighbors," a new semi-regular feature in which we wander around Sam & Max's world, meet people, and look at stuff.



Today's special guest is Bosco, the proprietor of the Inconvenience Store down the street from the freelance police office. Thanks for joining us, Bosco!



Bosco's last known public appearance
outside his store, circa 1997.
So, tell us about yourself. Who is Bosco?



Who is Bosco? Who are YOU? WHO SENT YOU? You one of those Avon assassin ladies? Oh yeah, cosmetics, I'm sure. Try epidermal poison. That's how they get you. Seeps right in your pores, and boy, you're as dead as a dead man.




I understand that you run this fine establishment. What inspired you to become a shopkeeper?



For the sundries, obviously! When you got as many people after you as I do, you've got to build something to protect yourself. That means sundries, and lots of 'em. Fortunately, I got everything I need right here under one roof and a thick layer of reinforced steel.




Your set-up seems a little more... paranoid than the average convenience store's, what with the booby traps and all. Any particular reason?



Of course I got booby traps! You think I wanna bunch of boobies walkin' round my store? They'd be the death of us all![readmore]




I hear business has been slow for Sam and Max the past few years. How about your own business? Has it been rough for you, too?



Oh, it's been rough all right. Mainly 'cause I got so many people tryin' to steal me blind and deaf. But the steal-from-Bosco days are over! I just got the most advanced security system ever conceived by the human mind. I made it myself!




Now for something more intimate... what did you have for breakfast this morning?



Something more intimate? Do I look like I want intimacy? Do I have a sign on my chest that says "Feel free to ask intimate questions"�? No, I do not, so don't be asking any. But if you must know, I had some delicious Shredded Tax Documents cereal, currently on sale for $99.95.




What's your favorite color?



Why? What's your angle? What color do you represent? If you're another one of those green freaks, you can just leave now, 'cause I got no time for that.



When was the last time you took a vacation?



Which one of the 24 hours a day should I take for a vacation? I got a store to run, I can't be off in Jamaica cavortin' in the bulrushes!




What's your most vivid childhood memory?



I distinctly remember some nosy journalist asking me a bunch of questions I didn't ask for.




You know, Sybil down the street is dabbling in psychotherapy. Have you ever employed her services?



Oh, everyone thinks I'm crazy, just 'cause I try to warn people about the face-sucking aliens headed for Earth. Yeah, laugh now, have your face sucked off later. When the aliens come, I'll be the only left with a face, and I'll be using that face to laugh at all of you, even though I'll be sad.




Anything else you'd like to share with our faithful readers?



Yeah, shop at Bosco's Inconvenience, but don't try to pull nothing, or you'll get taken down faster than you can say, "Look at me, I'm a face sucking alien!"�





Thanks, Bosco, for taking the time to be interviewed for "Meet the Neighbors!"� Meet the Neighbors is a regular feature of the Telltale Blog, aiming to enlighten our community to the businesses around us. If you'd like to see your business or other semi-legitimate establishment in this section, please contact our sales and advertising department.



Bosco's Inconvence is located on the corner, across the street from Stinky's Diner. Bosco's Inconvenience declined requests to list their full business address or phone number.

Do You Hear Those Voices?

Posted on August 2006 by TelltaleGames

Question: Have you ever written a blog about voice recording sessions? Yeah, me neither. Except wait, now I'm one up on you, 'cause THIS is a blog about voice recording sessions. Specifically, the Sam & Max voice recording sessions.


Pictured: voice actor ruining his line due to picture being taken.
Yes, it's true. We've been recording Sam & Max behind your backs, which brings up another interesting question: is it possible to record something in front of a person's back? I don't think it is, so don't feel bad that we had to be so underhanded about it. It was a physical necessity.



So there I am at the voice recording for the game that industry insiders are calling the greatest Sam & Max adventure of the decade. How can I convey the emotion, the excitement, the sheer thrill of being there? Well, I always say words speak louder than actions, so why don't I just share a few choice quotes from the sessions...



"That was great, that was great, but this time do it more like you're being strangled by a one-armed marmoset."�



"I said ONE-armed marmoset."�



"I'm not hearing the 'I secretly wish I were a dictator with a lisp' come through in your read."�



"Your character is in a tough place here because he just realized his wife is actually a volleyball dressed as a chimpanzee."�



"No, the emphasis should be on the 'THAT' in 'I can't politically undermine THAT.'"�



"That kind of performance might have cut it on the Knots Landing animated special, but this is Sam & Max."�



Well, that's it for the choice quotes. I do have some more pedestrian quotes, but those I'll save for the follow-up piece in the Wall Street Journal. In any case, get excited, because in only a few short months you too will be able to hear the voices in my head!

Adventures around Comic-Con '06 - Part Three

Posted on July 2006 by TelltaleGames

With the panel and press appointments out of the way, Saturday and Sunday gave Jake, Doug, and me an opportunity to kick back and enjoy some of the entertainment Comic-Con has to offer. Early on Saturday we made a surprising discovery: the Flight booth (where Jeff Smith, Bone colorist Steve Hamaker, and a number of other talented comics whose work we admire had been spending much of their time) was right around the corner from Steve Purcell's booth. For those who don't know, Flight is a collection of comics, sort of like a short story anthology. The third volume has just been published, and is receiving a lot of critical acclaim. I tried to get Flight at Barnes and Noble last weekend but they didn't carry it (their graphic novel section was overrun with manga), so I was psyched for the opportunity to buy it and have it signed by some of the authors included in the anthology.



Several of the Flight artists, including Jeff (whose work is featured in Flight volume 2) were going to be speaking on a panel at 12:30, so we decided to mosey on up. On our way we came across Top Shelf Productions, the publisher of Owly, which is a favorite of Heather's. Owly is a very sweet comic about a friendly owl and his best friend Wormy, who go around doing nice things for others. (That comes off sounding much more simplistic and Sesame Street than it really is.) The characters speak with icons instead of words, and although they're simply drawn the expressions on their faces are spot on. Heather was too busy making sure Sam & Max stays on schedule to join us at the convention, so we got her an Owly book she doesn't have yet, and the artist Andy Runton signed it. I read it cover to cover on Saturday night, and liked it so much that Sunday I went back to get one for myself.



The Flight panel was led by Kazu Kibuishi, Flight's Editor / Art Director, and included some big names in the comics industry (such as Jeff, Scott McCloud, and Bill Plympton), as well as several emerging artists whose participation in Flight marked the first publication of their work. Kazu started the talk by saying that the graphic novel is the only segment of the book industry that's really growing right now, and it's growing at an amazing rate, but most of the new graphic novels coming onto the market are manga. This statement is certainly supported by my experience at Barnes and Noble last week. Since manga has been popular in Japan for decades, it comes out of a well-established, big-budget industry where a whole team of artists could be working on just one title. This makes it very difficult for independent comics to compete in the graphic novel space. (Funny... sounds suspiciously like the game industry.) Flight offers a solution by giving new artists a way to get their work in print without having to complete a full-length graphic novel.[readmore]



Later in the afternoon, we went by the Flight booth again because Jeff was signing copies of The Dragonslayer, the latest of Scholastic's Bone reprints, which has only just become available. I bought one (all warm and fuzzy with the knowledge that the proceeds would go to support the Flight project) and got his signature, as well as Steve Hamaker's. I also took a better picture of the future Bone covers that I mentioned in the last blog. While we were waiting in line to see Jeff, a couple walked by and paused in front of the booth. "Hey, Bone," the girl said to the guy she was with. "My cousin's making the game version of that." I caught her eye and handed her a postcard: "You mean this game?" It turned out her cousin is Daniel Herrera, one of Telltale's artists. Small world! So, Daniel, your cousin Julia says "hi"...





Having satisfied our thirst for comics, we headed over to the game section of the show floor, which was considerably louder and more crowded than the rest of the convention. We checked out Capcom's booth in hopes of seeing the new Phoenix Wright game, but the people ahead of us spent about 15 minutes playing with it and by the time it was our turn we weren't really interested anymore. (The bit that we did see appeared to be more of the same spikey-haired goodness of the last game.) Then we happened across the booth of Alien Hominid developer The Behemoth, where they were handing out headbands sporting Alien Hominid antennae. Jake and I joined two other guys to play a demo of their new multi-player platformer, Castle Crashers, which was a lot of fun.





On our way out of the show, I got my picture taken in front of an Emily the Strange poster that I'd noticed as soon as we came in Thursday morning and had been meaning to get back to ever since. Unfortunately I wasn't able to keep a straight face, but if you'd just spent the last four days of your life navigating through crowds of people dressed like Batman and Tingle from Zelda and Jedi knights with Jack in the Box heads, you probably wouldn't be able to, either.



So that's a wrap on Comic-Con '06. The first thing on my to-do list when I get in to the office on Monday (after posting this blog, of course): reserve a booth for next year!

Adventures in Comic-Con '06 - Part Two

Posted on July 2006 by TelltaleGames

With Thursday's panel out of the way, Friday promised to be a relaxing day of... running from press appointment to press appointment. Our interviews included IGN, GamesRadar, GameInformer, FanBoyPlanet, Gamasutra, and PC Gamer. (Okay, those last two were on Thursday afternoon, but who's counting?) Steve also filmed a segment for SpikeTV. As soon as the resulting interviews, podcasts, and previews are available, we'll let you know where to find them. Three cheers for coverage!



The (relative) downtime on Friday meant I got to spend a little time on the show floor. Jeff Smith did a signing at the Diamond Comics booth, where I met up with him to give him some Bone postcards to hand out. The postcard has a render of Fone Bone shaking Phoney by the neck upon their arrival in Barrelhaven. (The graphic from the Sam & Max GameTap poster is on the other side.) I can't tell you how cool it is when a Bone fan strolls by, notices the postcard, pauses, and goes, "Hey wait, there's a Bone game?!" Awareness of the Bone games is pretty high among gamers, but not as high as we'd like among comic fans, so the more people we can inform about them while we're here, the better.



[readmore]



I've seen a lot of costumes so far at Comic-Con, but none can top the Thorn / Fone Bone combo I ran into at Jeff's signing. Thorn even had Ted the Bug on her finger. Fone Bone was made with her height in mind, so he would be just the right proportion when they stand side by side. He's a marionette, and his handler (apparently Thorn's real-life boyfriend) made him do all sorts of cute things like wave and look up at Thorn adoringly. Very cool.



Jeff had the covers for Scholastic's next two Bone books on display behind him as he signed. I'll try to get a better picture, because they're gorgeous. Jeff's blog had mentioned he would have Bone One Volume posters, but he didn't bring any with him to the signing, so Steve Hamaker (the guy who colors all of Scholastic's Bone reprints) was nice enough to run back and get some. I picked up two -- one for me, and one for the office. With the demolition of The Wall and our subsequent migration to the other side (which is completely safe now that the blue "do not cross" tape has been removed), we have a lot more wall space than we once did.* Perfect for a Bone One Volume poster!



My next stop was Steve Purcell's booth, where I hung out for a few hours. Steve's selling two new pieces of merchandise: a Max skull-and-crossbones shirt (also available as girl shirts!), and a self-published Sam & Max sketchbook with lots of neat old drawings, concepts from the cancelled games and the cartoon series, lines from the cartoon that didn't make it past the censors, and more. As I flipped through, Steve explained what the various pictures were (a giant thumb wrestling machine, a spaceship in the shape of Max's head and the aliens who built it, Flint Paper, a drawing Steve did years ago to piss off his brother). I asked why he hadn't included this commentary in the book. "No one wants to read commentary," he said. "When I get a book like this, I only look at the pictures." Well, they're awesome pictures, and if you're a Sam & Max fan you'll be wise to hunt this book down. Steve said he printed 750 and he only has about 200 with him at the show, so even if you couldn't make it to Comic-Con, I'm sure there will be other opportunities to buy it.



Steve's sharing his booth with two friends, Michelle Harroll and Dan Scanlon. He knows Michelle from LucasArts, and works with Dan at Pixar. Michelle and Dan are selling a new book called The Unmentionables, about a little boy's first pair of "grown up" underwear who's tired of being dumped on, so he escapes from the laundry basket. Along with the book, Michelle and Dan have Unmentionables t-shirts and -- yes, it had to happen -- thong underwear.



Michelle mentioned to me, when Steve was away from the booth, that he'd been grousing about not selling enough girl shirts. Being a big fan of girl shirts, I tried to buy one when he came back, but he just gave it to me and wouldn't take my money, completely defeating the point. Then Michelle left the booth and someone came by to buy an Unmentionables book. I made change for a twenty, which meant Michelle would owe me $10 when she came back. Over the next few minutes I became very preoccupied with the Unmentionables thong hanging on the wall behind me. I am not a thong person. To be honest, I hate them with a passion. But this one has a cartoon thong on it that's sticking out its tongue. How could I resist? I bought one, giving Steve the great pleasure of reporting the sale to Michelle when she returned. (Apparently she'd also been grousing that she wasn't selling enough thongs.) So, day 3 of the show found me wearing my new shirt AND my new thong! (Sorry, a little too much information?)



Steve did some book signings while I was there. It was awesome to watch him work. In a matter of minutes, he went from a blank page to the dog and bunny duo we all know and love.





Oh, I almost forgot about the postal service. If you remember from yesterday's blog, there are an awful lot of postal service employees here, and we had no idea why. Friday afternoon, David Reid from GameTap stood in line to buy limited edition comic book stamps for his wife and kids. Turns out they were just released on Thursday, and there's a bevy of employees downstairs at the far end of the lobby selling certificates and envelopes with cancelled stamps on them. Dan and I admired David's stamps for a second, then looked at each other across the table and went, "Oh, the postal service." It was a true Seinfeld moment.



That's day 2 in a nutshell. Friday afternoon Dave G, Dave B, Dan, and Joel (our marketing guru) flew out, and in the wee hours of morning Jake and Doug showed up. Saturday and Sunday are all about enjoying the non-Telltale aspects of the show (all the while handing out more Bone and Sam & Max postcards to the unsuspecting masses). Enough with the work -- it's time to play!



UPDATE: You can now read part three of our Comic-Con diary here.



*Does anyone else find it ironic that the demolition of The Wall resulted in more wall space than we had before?

Adventures at Comic-Con '06 - Part One

Posted on July 2006 by TelltaleGames

You know that old saying "a day late and a dollar short"? I don't quite know what it means, but it might have something to do with why I'm posting Thursday's Comic-Con write-up at almost midnight on Friday. Except it's more like "eight dollars short," because the hotel we're staying in doesn't have wireless internet in the rooms and I had to purchase an ethernet cord out of the mini bar in order to come online.



The magic that is Comic-Con '06 started bright and early Thursday morning when, laden with a box of Bone and Sam & Max postcards, two boxes of Computer Gaming World's August issue, and a video camera and tripod, we left the hotel to hail a cab. Fortune smiled upon us, because right at that moment, a big white bus pulled up to the curb and people wearing Comic-Con badges started shuffling on in single file. Great, a shuttle to the convention center! We got in line, but as Dan tried to board, a sixty-something woman standing at the bus door (apparently in charge of the bus) put up her hand to stop him. "Postal service?" she asked, and gestured to the boxes we were carrying.



We didn't have our Comic-Con badges yet, so it's understandable that she would be confused. But even after Dan said, "We're going to Comic-Con," she shook her head. As we stepped out of line, another woman, who also looked to be about sixty, called, "There's a UPS truck back there you can ride on!" We looked sheepishly down at our packages. The woman at the door of the bus (which we now understood was not, in fact, a hotel shuttle) must have felt sorry for us, because she said we could ride with them after all. As we got on, another sixty-something lady called "Postal service!" and laughed out loud. We tried to look inconspicuous, which wasn't that easy with the boxes and camera and tripod, not to mention the fact that we were a good twenty-five years younger than everyone else on the bus. Not exactly the demographic I'd expect to see at Comic-Con, but hey, age is just a number.



On our way off the bus at the convention center, Dave G asked the woman at the door what group they were with. "Postal service," she said, with a blatant duh tone. We were utterly baffled. Then a guy walked by with a head like Jack from Jack in the Box and a robe and light saber like a Jedi, and the whole experience didn't seem quite as bizarre anymore.[readmore]



Check-in was relatively uneventful (with the exception of Dave B's badge proclaiming him the "guest of Dave Bogan" instead of just "Dave Bogan") and we headed to Steve's booth to drop off the magazines and postcards and to say hello. I'll cover his booth in more detail in the next blog, but suffice to say he had some brand new Sam & Max merchandise on display that fans are going to be fighting over on eBay five years from now.



We had about 90 minutes before our panel, so we went next door to the Marriott to get some breakfast. We got there just as the buffet was closing down. Dan convinced the hostess to let us in and we ran through the buffet, loading our plates with bacon and eggs and yogurt and granola and pineapple and cranberry muffins and all sorts of other foods we didn't need, frantic with the knowledge that it might not be available to us a few minutes later. (And it wasn't -- they took the trays away while we were eating.) Now, you're probably thinking, "Who cares what they had for breakfast?" Normally I wouldn't consider it very newsworthy myself, but then Dan went to open his chocolate milk carton and noticed Phoney Bone was printed on the back of it. It's almost as if the milk carton gods knew we were coming.





By the time we finished "breakfast" it was almost noon. Our panel was scheduled for 12:30, so we headed up there a bit early to set up. I had a grand plan to video tape the panel with the microphone plugged directly into the sound board, but the connector the convention center's A.V. guy told us to bring turned out to be the wrong kind. He was very apologetic and brought in some other equipment for me to try, but we couldn't make it work. Strike two was that with the lights down and a big bright projection screen to the side of the podium and not the best camera in the world, I wasn't able to get very good still pictures, either.



That's okay, because the panel itself was great. The large(ish) room was about half full, not bad considering that we were up against another panel about writing in games and that it was still early on the first day of the show. After a quick introduction by Dan, Dave Grossman led off, talking about the blank looks he gets when he tells people he designs games for a living, his process of getting to know characters, and design diagrams that look like the head and pigtails of Bubbles the PowerPuff Girl. Dave Bogan then showed how Bone and Sam and Max art evolves from the source material into fully-realized 3D worlds. Steve, looking dashing as always in his fedora, chimed in with several insights and sarcastic comments, then took the podium to talk a bit about his web comic. There was time for a brief Q&A before we were rushed out to make way for the next panel, which had an audience of five. As the door closed behind us, we heard the speaker's opening remark: "Gee, I sure know how to clear a room."



The panel revealed too much neat info about the game development process to cram it all into this blog (which is way too long already), but we hope to add some content derived from the panel to our website in the next few weeks.



Tune in tomorrow for a write-up of day 2, which will include the punch line to the postal service saga, the coolest Fone Bone puppet you've ever seen, and the story of how Steve Purcell sold me a thong.



UPDATE: Friday's blog is here!

The Sam & Max cover story is here!

Posted on July 2006 by TelltaleGames

Two boxes of August's Computer Gaming World arrived on our doorstep this morning -- enough for each of us to get our own copy, and also for each of us to send one home to mom and dad. Thanks, CGW!



In addition to the Sam & Max article, the magazine also has an interview with Double Fine's Tim Schafer in which the Secret of Monkey Island is finally revealed. Really!



Productivity has dropped considerably.







Also: Only one more day until Comic-Con. Woo!

Oodles of Sam & Max coverage

Posted on July 2006 by TelltaleGames

It's Friday and we have reason to celebrate!



1Up has posted a great preview of Sam & Max: Season 1, where they tout Sam & Max as "gaming's first sitcom." They've included three juicy new renders that show off some of the game's characters and environments. Go read it!



The 1Up Show, featuring footage from their visit to our office, should go up sometime between 2:00 and 3:00 Pacific time. (Not sure when that is for you? Look it up!) I'm told that they got so much good stuff they couldn't fit it all into the podcast, so they're going to make a longer video available for download from their site. We'll update with a link when it's available.



Update: The video's up!



To top it all off, Sam & Max currently has an "OMG!" ranking on 1Up's hype meter. Doesn't get any better than that.



Speaking of Sam & Max coverage, if you're dying to get your hands on the CGW article and can't wait for it to show up in stores in a few weeks, you can buy an electronic version here.



In other news, in all the Wall excitement yesterday I forgot to post that Heather was going to do a live interview for the GameSHOUT Gamer Girls radio show. So, you didn't get to hear it live, but it's archived here in all its glory. The first half of the interview is available to everyone. To hear the second half you have to sign up as a GameSHOUT VIP. Says Heather: "In the second half we get into deep issues like Superman and cashing in on nostalgia and how games are good for you. And they trick me into singing the Rainbow Brite song." How can you not tune in for that?!



Happy Friday, all!

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Posted on July 2006 by TelltaleGames

Tear down this wall!Today was a day just like any day -- busy, hot, and punctuated with people at desks going "Cool!" and other people flocking around their desks to see what they were working on. Until, at 6:00 on the dot, some guys started sawing through The Wall, sending the people sitting beside it scrambling for cover.



Tomorrow it will be nothing but a memory. It's hard not to shed a tear.



The blue tape is still there, a little worse for the wear, dutifully preventing us from crossing. Who will be the first to venture over to the other side? And what will they find waiting for them? Tune in next time to find out.



Also, having nothing to do with The Wall, check out this article on MobyGames all about episodic gaming.




Update, two hours later: After quite a lot of vacuuming, the guys taking down the wall left. As a final goodbye (well after the vacuuming but just before the leaving) they tore up the blue tape and threw it away.

Comic-Con Scandal!

Posted on July 2006 by TelltaleGames

Comic-Con info, CGW lowdown, and the debut of Dear Max.

[readmore]

























































Vol II, # 7 July, 2006





















Interesting Panel, Booth-Lurking Staff Storm San Diego

































CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder Now on Telltale's Website
































































MANY ROADS TO JUSTICE










CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder

Crawl inside the mind of a crime scene investigator.




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Sam & Max in CGW Cover-Story Tell-All





































BONE EPISODES GALORE
























Bone Act 2:
The Great Cow Race







































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Bone Acts 1 and 2
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Buy Bone, Get Telltale Texas Hold'em Free!
















Dear Max: Advice from the maw of madness


Dear Max,


I can't seem to find my mobile phone. I've looked everywhere I can think of. My friend told me to try calling it but that's just ridiculous. Any tips on who the culprit might be?

-Missing Mobility in Massachussetts


Dear Missy,
What part of the word "mobile" did you not understand? You can't take your eyes off those things for a minute, or they escape. You can chain them up or nail them to the wall, but then that kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it? Anyway, nobody took your phone; it ran away.

Fortunately, Sam did some research by throwing darts at the internet for a few minutes and has discovered that mobile phones on the loose are like homing pigeons, drawn by forces beyond our comprehension to their natural homeland: Mobile, Alabama. If you really want to find your phone, take a bus to Mobile, but be warned, it has found a new life of unlimited minutes with its wild brothers, they roam in packs, and they hunt unwary travelers like yourself. You may want to get used to writing letters instead.

- Max










































This Just In: Dank Not Dead!
Concerned Dank fans will be relieved to know that the caveman inventor has not gone the way of the dinosaurs, as proven by the recent update to the popular strip. Could an update to the Sam & Max webcomic be waiting in the wings? Only time will tell.





























The Blog with Puzzles In It

Posted on July 2006 by TelltaleGames

It's me again. Deirdra: Warrior Intern, here to fight oppression and save the world with yet another Telltale blog. And this time, I've got my own login...



Anywho, a little while ago, Heather brought in a box of free books for us Telltale employees to take, because they were taking up too much space in her place of residence. Considering that I get easily excited by both books and free stuff, I immediately dived into the box, pulling out all the good ones I could find before anyone else took them. Unfortunately, as I probably should have expected, none of the books were earth-shatteringly good, or else why would Heather be giving them away?



But since I'm willing to settle for "mildly amusing" (expecting "earth-shatteringly good" all the time does tend to make a person consistently disappointed, after all), I ended up taking a book of puzzles cleverly titled "Are You Smart or What?" and written by some dude called Pat Battaglia. My favourite puzzle in said book is as follows:



"This is an unusual paragraph. It has a trait not found in many paragraphs of this many words. Can you find out what it is? It's not as hard as you might think. Just look and study. I know you can do it. Good luck!"



(Hint: This puzzle is not extremely difficult nor can it be done with ease.)



Was that too hard? Here's a deceptively-simple one:



"Tommy's mother has three children represented by the coins below. The first child is named Penny. The second is named Nicole. What is the name of the third child?"



(Slightly misleading hint: Dave Felton insisted that the answer was "Dimitri".)



Be sure to comment if you think you know the answers. Blog writers love comments, after all. They remind us that we do, in fact, exist.

Bone One Volume Edition back in print

Posted on July 2006 by TelltaleGames


I meant to post about this on Friday but it completely slipped my mind...



The One Volume Edition of Jeff Smith's Bone, which collects all of the original black and white comics in one huge book, went out of print about a year ago and has been selling for high prices on Amazon and eBay ever since. Scholastic originally discontinued the One Volume Edition to make way for their colorized reprints (which are awesome in their own right), but due to reader demand they've decided to bring the One Volume Edition back into print as well. It will be out in September.



Heather recently leant me her One Volume Edition (which is signed by Jeff with a sketch of Smiley and a Rat Creature on the flyleaf) so I could catch up on the whole Bone saga, but I've hesitated to bring it home with me for fear of it befalling some kind of catastrophic coffee or red wine related accident. Now I can give it back to her and buy a copy of my very own. (Although, considering the recent Sea Monkey Massacre, I'm not so sure it's safe on Heather's desk, either...)



Now, if only the reprint gods would surprise us with a rerelease of Surfin' the Highway!

Sam & Max on the cover of August's Computer Gaming World!

Posted on July 2006 by TelltaleGames

God, it's hard to keep a secret.



A while back, Computer Gaming World's editor Jeff Green got in touch with Dan asking if they could write a big story about Sam & Max. We didn't have enough to show them then, but by the time E3 rolled around, we were ready. So, the first Friday in June a bunch of guys from CGW and 1UP made the trip up from San Francisco to visit Telltale Corporate Headquarters (such as they are). We brought the bagels and coffee, they brought the tape recorders and cameras, and we spent most of the day chatting about Sam & Max and showing them what we've been working on.



A few lessons learned from the visit:

  • We have barely enough chairs to squeeze eight people into the conference room.

  • It's really hard to cut bagels with plastic knives.

  • The switches for every light in our office (which the photographer wanted to access to get the lighting just right for Steve's close-up) are located on the other side of The Wall. No wonder the lights are always on in here!

  • Steve looks great in a fedora.

The issue mails out to subscribers next week, and it will hit newsstands on July 24. It's Telltale's first cover story and the first big coverage of Sam & Max: Season 1, so we're all pretty stoked. The nine page article includes snippets from interviews with Dave Bogan, Dave Grossman, Brendan, and Steve, insight into the game design process, and some never-before-seen art from the first Sam & Max episode. Not to mention a hand-painted Steve Purcell original on the cover! (Steve's initial ideas are shown below. CGW chose the one they liked best for the final cover.)



The 1UP Show will be covering Sam & Max on their Friday July 14 podcast, so be sure to check that out, too.



New toys!

Posted on June 2006 by TelltaleGames

Dan flew out to Ohio to visit Jeff Smith last week and brought back two limited edition cast statues from the Bone series. Luckily Jon Sgro, our resident Bone collector, was not in the office this morning because I opened the boxes (*gasp*) and put the figures out on display... after several people oohed and ahhed and got their grubby little fingers all over them!



The statues are very nice, quality-wise, and they're numbered on the bottom. Jeff sent us Phoney Bone in his hand-in-the-air pose from the cover of an earlier release of The Dragonslayer (the fourth book in the Bone series), and Smiley in his Mystery Cow outfit, which is of course of great significance to all of us with the recent completion of The Great Cow Race game. The coolest thing (and also the most disturbing thing) about the Smiley statue is that he's resting on his udder with his legs in a running pose, so he really looks like he's mid-stride. The Phoney statue is 728/1000 and Smiley is 2309/2500.








Now we just have to figure out where to put them! Last week, Dave Bogan accidentally knocked an entire colony of sea monkeys off Heather's desk and onto the floor, so logic says we should keep these precious statues away from both Heather's desk and Dave Bogan. I have a hunch Jon would stuff them back in their boxes if given the opportunity. And considering some of the choice phrases I've heard the programmers muttering lately as they figure out how to make Max follow Sam around without getting in his way, I don't think anything marked "fragile" is safe in their vicinity.



Oh well. Guess they'll just have to live on my desk...



Speaking of The Dragonslayer (three paragraphs ago), Scholastic's rerelease will be out August first... just a month away! Jeff recently put some never-before-seen color pictures from the book up on Boneville.com. Yummy.

San Diego Comic-Con

Posted on June 2006 by TelltaleGames

Just dropping a quick note to let people know that Telltale's going to be at Comic-Con in San Diego July 20-23. Dave Grossman, Dave Bogan, and Dan will be presenting a panel on Thursday called "Bringing Great Stories to Life." If this sounds vaguely familiar, it's because the panel will be similar to the one we did at Wonder-Con last year, except we'll be able to talk about Sam & Max as well as Bone, and Steve Purcell's joining us for real this time! (We were hoping to also have Jeff Smith join us, but unfortunately he's not arriving in San Diego until later that day. Then again, having that much awesome talent on the same panel could cause collective audience members' heads to explode, so maybe it's not all bad.)



Telltale won't have a booth this year, but Steve will, so if you're going to be at the Con, be sure to drop by and tell him how excited you are about the new Sam & Max games!



Are any of you faithful blog readers are planning to go to Comic-Con? Let us know. It'd be fun to meet up.

It's Sam & Max Brrrainstorming Time!

Posted on June 2006 by TelltaleGames

This week's blog was written by our intern, Deirdra, who's so new to the company she doesn't even have a blog log-in yet! Deirdra is a student from Canada. If you're familiar with the underground adventure gaming scene, you may know her as the author of Cubert Badbone, P.I. and The Game That Takes Place on a Cruise Ship.




Hello, Telltale blog. My name is Deirdra Kiai, and I am completely and utterly new to you. However, I do hope that during my brief sojourn here at Telltale Games working as a programming intern, we will become the best of friends. That is, of course, unless those people in charge of me catch on to the fact that I actually have time to write blogs rather than do actual work and pile ten times more work upon me as a result. But I digress.



Anyway, today, I'm going to talk about Sam & Max brainstorming sessions. "What are Sam & Max brainstorming sessions," you ask? Well, they consist of our intrepid Sam & Max co-designers, Dave Grossman and Brendan Ferguson, inviting any member of the Telltale staff (yes, including lowly interns like myself) to help them come up with ideas as to what sorts of strange and wonderful stuff to put into the new Sam & Max games that we're all eagerly waiting for. However, since most of you reading the Telltale blog are not Telltale employees (or are just too busy with actual work to come out to any of the sessions), I shall attempt to recreate the Sam & Max brainstorming experience for you in writing. Ready? Here goes...



It's somewhere around 4:00 and 5:00 Pacific Daylight Time on a randomly-generated day between Monday and Friday. You're sitting at your desk, tapping away at your computer, when all of a sudden, Brendan's deep, deadpan, Ben Stein-esque voice fills the room. "SAM & MAX BRRRAINSTORMING TIME," he announces, and immediately afterwards, you feel a sudden urge to drop everything you're doing and wander over to the Maurice Richard Memorial Conference Room. (That's right, our conference room is dedicated to Maurice Richard. Because we're all Canadians at heart. Now, all we need is a copy of The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier in the office and we'll be set.)



You enter the conference room, plunk your bottom into one of the comfortable office chairs surrounding the big rectangular table, and survey the scene. You are immediately met with the tall, lanky, bespectacled Brendan Q. Ferguson and the leprechaun-esque (well, minus a high-pitched Irish accent, of course) Dave Grossman, as well as any of your other fellow Telltale coworkers who were unable to resist the siren call. You mumble a quiet "hello," and everyone else mumbles a quiet "hello" back to you. Then, the fun begins.[readmore]



First, the designers begin by carefully explaining to you exactly what the wacky premise of the latest Sam & Max episode is going to be. You listen intently, nodding and smiling while secretly wondering if they're nuts. (The answer, of course, being "duh!") Then, ideas start to get tossed around. Some are absolutely brilliant, and others are more than a little bit mediocre, but Brendan jots them all down on his notepad regardless.



All of a sudden, a strange sensation sweeps over your entire body, and you feel the compelling urge to say something. Involuntarily, you leap from your seat, and yell "What this episode needs is an interactive musical number!"



You regret your rather odd outburst immediately afterwards, slinking back into your chair and hoping that no one noticed. But it is too late. Out of nowhere, music starts to fill the room. It sounds like it comes from some sort of show tune, but it's not one you've ever heard before. Then, Dave jumps onto the top of the table and starts singing, "Interactive musical numbers are greeeeat!" And Brendan jumps up next to him, chiming in with "We find them oh so very fun to creee-aaaate!" And then, they break out into a perfectly-choreographed dance routine, surprisingly doing so without falling off the table.



Kevin Bruner, waiting for his code to finish compiling, wanders into the conference room from his office two doors down to see what all the commotion is about. "What's going on in here?" he inquires, only, for some strange reason, it comes out in perfect time with the song. Then, he pulls an accordion out of nowhere and plays a little riff on it whilst dancing a jig. When finished, he takes a short bow and scurries away.



Dave and Brendan continue to sing and dance on the conference room table -- only now the office walls have rolled away on casters, revealing a Broadway stage -- and they are joined not only by the entire Telltale staff, but also by the Bone cousins, the CSI Las Vegas cast, the Telltale Texas Hold'Em poker players, and Sam & Max themselves. You gaze at this display in awe and disbelief until finally, the song reaches its grand finale and everything morphs back to normal.



"So, does this mean there's going to be an interactive musical number in the next Sam & Max episode?" you ask. "Of course not," replies Brendan. "That's a terrible idea." Then, you slink out of the room, dejected, and go back to your coding.



Okay, so I made most of that up, as you can probably tell. But the part about Sam & Max brainstorming sessions existing is one hundred percent true, I swear! Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to whatever I was doing before writing this blog. Ta-ta!




Sam & Max Shocker!

Posted on June 2006 by TelltaleGames

New and improved newsletter format! Check out yummy Telltale news and classy new features.

[readmore]


































The Telltale Interloper: Important News Facts























Vol II, # 6 June, 2006




















SAM & MAX SHOCKER!



















Crime-Fighting Duo Make Splashy Entrance at E3






























More juicy Sam & Max / E3 dirt inside:









































Cow Race keeps raking in the good press!

Editors' Choice, Gold Award for second act in Telltale's "Bone" series.
























































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Sam & Max
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Order Up! Cooking with Rat Creature Number Two
"In the absence of a small mammal, spinach and cheese make a lovely quiche."











1 bag chopped spinach

1 medium onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 Tbsp butter

4 eggs

¾ cup cream

1 ¼ cup milk

½ lb. pepper jack cheese

9-inch pie crust, baked

salt and pepper to taste

















1. Sautée the onion in butter.
2. Add spinach and garlic. Cook until the spinach wilts.
3. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, cream, milk, and salt and pepper. Pour mixture into pie shell.
4. Pour sautéed spinach and onions on top of egg mixture. Shred cheese and sprinkle on top.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Serves six.






























Comics!




[You should be seeing an amusing comic by Dave Grossman in this space, but you're missing out because you have images hidden.]
































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Telltale NOW

Posted on June 2006 by TelltaleGames

When we first started working with UbiSoft on CSI, they brought us a lot of presents. A few games, some CSI related materials, and some Beyond Good & Evil themed disposable cameras. Three cameras to be precise. Over the course of a year or so, we filled up these cameras with photos which were recently developed by the disposable camera fairy and placed in a spiffy album by the spiffy album fairy. It's been amusing to look back through these pictures and reminisce about the good ol days...



Once, we were a young, raw company, a handful of starry eyed and underfed developers crammed into a tiny office space like so many sardines (if sardines worked in offices). You would have to squirm your way through the slim walkway between desks to get to the single bathroom -- only to be forced to wait while the jerk who sat closer to the bathroom zipped in right before you got there. The space turned into an oven in the summer, the ceiling leaked strange colored liquids, the power would cut out if you tried to be humane and vacuum and the bullet holes in the windows were the "least of your problems"�. We were terribly creative in those days. Every time I thought we had no more space for further desks, we'd find a way to sneak in yet another one for some poor new sucker willing to cramp themselves into our sardine-can like home.



Man, those were the days.



Now, with four titles under our belts, the Sam & Max license firmly in grasp, twice as many employees and a lovely office that we almost all fit comfortably in, we're getting fat and lazy. Now most people in the office only have one job instead of four. The days of flying by the seats of our pants have been replaced with scheduling and trying to make stuff actually happen by certain dates. Things like having power consistently are now sadly predictable. People spend more time working and less time playing carpet hockey. Our tools get easier and easier to use all the time. Our office has homey things like art on the walls and plants (even though one of them looks kinda sad) and sea monkeys and mysterious stains on the rug. In fact, someone else comes to take away the trash and vacuum; we don't even have to do THAT! It's gotten downright cushy around here, and as a result life is less exciting and dramatic, people are more placid, and things are all around more dull.



But this may be changing...why just last Friday had us scrambling to find a location in which we could place a desk for our newest in-coming animator. The mysterious bulge in the carpet behind Kim's desk has created an offspring carpet bulge and the bulge army is threatening to take over that whole corner. We are starting to occasionally get into brawls over who gets to use the conference room and no one has seen any donuts in weeks. Oh yeah, and there's that plant...



Of course, we are still stuck with our rapidly improving tools and our larger selection of office supplies and interns. But soon we will have to take a sledge hammer to the wall that was built over the blue line or else risk returning to our sardine fish ways. Honestly, I ask my co-workers, would this be so bad? To go back to our roots? To exercise our resourcefulness and lose some of these extra pounds of opulence and become our leaner, meaner selves? After all, adversity has been known to breed creative genius.



Though, on the other hand, so has hot coffee, personal space and donuts.

The Blog About Blogs

Posted on June 2006 by TelltaleGames

In honor of last week's illustration of little guys sitting around a table playing games with even littler guys sitting around an even littler table, this week we are bringing you a blog about blogs. Okay, it's not quite the same, but I really like that picture.



So, blogs. Those of you who have been following Telltale from the beginning are already aware of the rich storytelling tradition that spawned in the annals of the Telltale Blog. For those who have joined us more recently, let's just say that starting about seventeen minutes after the company's birth, the fine writers here have been taking time out each week (err... usually) to dish the dirt about what's going on behind the scenes and between the walls of this fine establishment. Starting with such gems as I Kidnapped Brendan Q. Ferguson and the equally riveting I Kidnapped Brendan Q. Ferguson's Kidnapper and continuing through more recent ponderings about developing CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder, The Great Cow Race, and now Sam & Max, the Telltale Blog has gone through a bit of an evolution. In a short year and a half, we've gone from a few guys working in a closet to a real live video game developer, complete with four games under our belt, a 401(k) program, and an Xbox 360 in the lobby.




In spite of our semi-regular rollout of Telltale Blog content, coming up with a good entry isn't as easy as we make it look. (And this being only my third attempt, I'm perfectly qualified to talk about it...) Hence the recent inception of the Blog Bucket, which Heather put out in the middle of the office about a week ago. The premise behind the Blog Bucket is so staggeringly brilliant, I can't believe it's taken this long for someone to come up with it. Basically, whenever anyone has an idea that would make a good blog entry, rather than saying, "Hey, that's a great idea!" and promptly forgetting about it, we now write the idea down on a piece of paper and drop it into the bucket. Current topics swimming around in the Blog Bucket include: naming the sea monkeys, dying plants, jojoba (how come you never see it in shampoo anymore?), the "tangy orange" air freshener in the restroom, and my personal favorite, the Blog Bucket. That's right, I didn't come up with the idea for this blog myself, and it certainly wasn't inspired by last week's illustration. Had you fooled for a minute there, eh?



The bucket isn't the only exciting development in Telltale Blog-land. When Jake and I started working here (effectively tripling the size of the Telltale marketing department), we were asked to try to figure out how far of a reach our dear Telltale Blog has. Sure, we know the die-hard Telltale fans read each and every entry the day it comes out (right? right?!), but how many casual Telltale Gamers are out there, glancing at the blog now and then, maybe even viewing it through one of those new-fangled RSS readers you keep hearing about? As it turns out, not as many as we'd like. And that's mainly our fault. For a long time now, the Telltale Blog has been very tightly focused on the company. This has been fine, but as the company grows, and our games start to reach more and more people, the scope of the blog is changing, too. What better way to celebrate this than by reaching out to the masses?



To do this, we set out to make reading the Telltale Blog as easy as... well, so easy you don't even have to think about it. We've added a bunch of handy buttons to the side of the page that let you add the blog to your homepage (Yahoo, Google, etc.) or to an RSS reader. We're also getting the blog in more places, like LiveJournal, where you're more than welcome to add us to your friends list if you have one. (We try not to think about it too much, but having only two friends is sort of a downer.) And if you really like a particular blog, we'd love for you to vote for it by clicking the Digg this story! button at the bottom of the entry. We can't use this feature ourselves, because a few too many of us voted for a story one day and got Telltale's IP address banned. Come on guys, we're counting on you!



One last thing about blogs. Bone creator Jeff Smith recently started a blog of his own on the new-and-improved Boneville.com website. One of his first entries is about Telltale, complete with a few photos of our office and the folks inside. So go check out what Jeff has to say about us, and about Bone, and about a bunch of other things that are sort-of-but-not-quite related to Bone. Ahh, the beauty of blogs.

The Khan of Cons

Posted on May 2006 by TelltaleGames

I spent this past weekend at KublaCon, also known as the "Khan of Cons" (isn't that adorable?) You may be surprised to learn that KublaCon is not actually a convention organized around discussions of early 19th century opium-inspired poetry. It is, in fact, a gathering of those devoted to the consumption of multiplayer, rule inscribed, goal-oriented entertainment. Games, in other words.



No, these games were not on a computer. They did not require the use of a console or a television. No digitalness or electronicness was present. Yes, you can actually play games in this manner, without electricity or batteries. No, this does not limit one to the realms of Monopoly and Risk (either of which might induce one to ingest opium and write fantastical poetry rather than complete a full game).



As a longtime and prolific gamer, I find the assumption that all games worth playing must be digital in nature to be flawed and irritating in the extreme. This assumption is so widespread that I'm not even able to refer to non-digital games as "games" and use "digital" as a qualifier (i.e. "digital games"). Instead, I must specify that I am referring to games of a non-digital nature. The "gaming industry" refers to the "digital gaming industry". When those in the "gaming industry" want to talk about games that are played on a board or with cards or dice, they will call them "pen and paper" games, which is a ridiculously deceptive term, and not inclusive of the variety of games played off the computer. There isn't even a word that means "the collection of all game types, including board games, card games, role-playing games, dice games, and miniature games that are played independently of any electronic device." At least, not one I can seem to find or invent. Even Greg Costikyan, in one of my favorite pieces of game writing Don't be a Vidiot, refers to this grab-bag as "non-electronic games".



At the above-mentioned convention, I participated in board games such as Puerto Rico and Shadows over Camelot, a very fun card game about goblins blowing each other up called Badaboom and a live action role-playing game based in a Beowolf/Arthurian legends setting. I saw friends and associates I hadn't laid eyes on for years. I paid too much money for hotel restaurant food. All in all, an excellent time.



I will complete this blog entry with a bit of friendly and well-intentioned advice: turning blue from holding your breath, twitching uncontrollably or hitting "refresh" on the forums page every two minutes is not the best use of your Sam & Max anticipation time. There will be plenty of time for these activities once you can actually get your hands on the game. Instead, warm up your brain and social networking skills by finding some exciting "non-digital" games to indulge in until the second coming has arrived. Trust my assurances that between now and Sam & Max's arrival, you and your loved ones will all be far more satisfied with these, more constructive, activities.

People are talking...

Posted on May 2006 by TelltaleGames

I have a confession to make: I haven't played Sam & Max Hit the Road.



That's not even the worst of it. I have a copy of Surfin' the Highway at home, almost untouched. It was given to me by my (now ex) boyfriend in 1998. He and I read through part of it together, and then we broke up and the book went into the closet with everything else he gave me. At one point I almost sold it on eBay. Almost. For some reason I couldn't bring myself to part with it.



I've been telling this story a lot lately. I just can't get over the fact that fate has plunked me down in this crowded office in San Rafael in the midst of the little-project-that-could otherwise known as "Sam & Max: Season 1." My first few weeks with Telltale went by like a speeding train. We were closing in on the big GameTap announcement, and there just wasn't enough time in the day to get everything done--the trailer, the website, the comic generator. Several of us found ourselves at the office until the wee hours of morning putting together the many pieces of the debut that would finally come together at E3. We wanted everyone's first glimpse of the new Sam & Max to make a big splash. More than that, we wanted to give you guys some really cool content to chew on.



Then E3 was upon us. The show only lasts three days, barely half a week. So why did it feel longer and even more draining than the prep work? Could it be because there's never anything to eat at the LA convention center? Because we were overstimulated by all the noise and free t-shirts? These things could have something to do with it, sure, but I think part of the reason those three days felt so long is that suddenly thousands of people were talking about Sam & Max. The work we've been keeping secret, everything that's been happening at Telltale behind the scenes, was finally out in the open. We were able to share the news about our partnership with GameTap. We gave you a date to hold on to for the first Sam & Max episode: Fall, 2006. We got to hear your reactions to the characters, the voices, the direction we're taking. Most of what we're hearing is positive, and that's encouraging, but even the criticisms are good to hear because they're real. People are talking about Sam & Max again, and not just in a bitter "I can't believe Freelance Police was cancelled" way.






A lot of the traffic to our website this past week has been from international sites. Gamers in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Belgium, and Brazil are excited. I thought everyone who cared about Sam & Max already knew about Telltale's plans, but I keep seeing forum posts and blog entries from people going, "Oh my God! There's going to be a new Sam & Max game!" I can't help but wonder how many more of you are out there, going about your daily routines with no idea what we're cooking up. We want to reach all of you, each and every person who ever laughed at a Sam & Max comic, or watched the Saturday morning cartoon, or played Hit the Road as a kid. We'll keep doing what we can to find you guys, because there's nothing greater than the excitement of someone who's just rediscovered Sam & Max.



I'm pretty sure that the only reason I never played the first Sam & Max game when it came out is because no one told me about this awesome game I had to try. Word of mouth is an amazing thing. So, that friend you played Hit the Road with back in 1993? That (now ex) boyfriend who introduced you to Surfin' the Highway? Drop them a line and share the news. It'll make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.



But wait--before you go, any chance you could give me a hint for what I'm supposed to be doing at The World's Largest Ball of Twine?

On Location a Few Hundred Miles from E3

Posted on May 2006 by TelltaleGames

So I was standing on a street corner the other day, shuffling my feet and casting aspersions at passers-by, when a bus drove past with a huge ad on the side, boldly announcing MI3. Or actually it was "M:i:III," but despite the leering face of excitable new parent Tom Cruise next to the lettering, it took me a second or two to convince my brain that MI in this case did not refer to a great new Monkey Island game, but rather to some sort of kinetoscopic peep show which will be projected at the walls of a darkened room in a linear fashion and only at specified times. Go figure.




Sam & Max on the big screen
Speaking of acronyms, the enormous entertainment expo "E3" is going on this week. E3 is actually an abbreviation for EEE -- a savings of one whole character, which just goes to show you how compression-obsessed this industry really is. "EEE," in turn, does not stand for anything at all, but is the sound made by the unprepared upon strolling through the front gates of this extravaganza for the first time. It's a fearsome onslaught of noise and flashing lights not unlike sticking your head inside a slot machine. A dense nugget of Las Vegas, transported from the deserts of Nevada to the deserts of Los Angeles. And instead of free drinks and the chance to win millions of dollars worth of nickels, E3 boasts T-shirts galore, emblazoned with the names of chip companies and peripherals manufacturers.




Here's a telling story from last year. I'm walking around on the main floor in a cathode-ray induced stupor, and I come across a long, unmoving line of young men, waiting in front of one of the booths. There's nothing visible going on at the booth, no game to try out, no amazing new hardware platform being demonstrated. I can't figure out what these guys are waiting for, so I ask somebody. "Oh," she says, "the Playboy bunnies are going to come out and sign autographs." Aha! Now I get it. Satisfied, I keep walking around. Midway down another aisle, I come across another long, stagnant line of young men, easily three times longer than the first one. This must be something really great! I ask again. THESE guys are waiting for a free T-shirt with the name of a graphics card manufacturer on it. Sexy tech beats out plain old sex by a margin of three to one at E3.




Wait, have I told you that story before?




I myself am not at E3 this year, I've stayed home to write blogs and design games and otherwise behave productively. Also, the E3 Powers That Be denied my application for a free pass this time, even though I sent in exactly the same documents as last year. The email said that E3 was for industry professionals -- apparently I haven't been wearing the requisite number of nVidia T-shirts.




Sam & Max E3 posters
Some friends of mine are there, though -- a big dog and a sociopathic bunny, announcing a few particulars about their new episodic game series and partying crazily into the wee hours with graphics card manufacturers, who tend to be a pretty rowdy bunch. I'm speaking of course of Sam & Max - and there's an acronym I can't wait to see on the side of a bus -- a pair of walking arguments for gun control whom you may already have seen tracking their special breed of euphoric madness all over other portions of our web site.




While they're down in LA having a good time, Brendan and I are confined to the conference room until the designs are done for all of the episodes, and probably a bit longer for quarantine purposes. The conference room at Telltale is at least fifteen degrees colder than the rest of the building, which is why it's normally referred to as the c-c-conference room, and why we're working as fast as we can.




Meanwhile, Sam & Max have been calling us up from the expo at all hours, asking for somebody called "I.P. Frilly" and making wild suggestions about the games. Sam wants to be able to project a force beam from his ears and thinks we should get Kurosawa to direct. Max is obsessed with the idea of including a collectible switchblade along with each episode. Every time I try to explain that the games are downloadable, he sarcastically calls me "commissioner" and then giggles uncontrollably.




Man, I can't wait for E3 to be over.


DEATH by POISONS

Posted on May 2006 by TelltaleGames

When I came into work today, I noticed a binder on Greg's chair with the words "DEATH by POISONS"� written in large, unfriendly letters on the cover.



I screamed.



I always thought I would be the only one in the office with a DEATH by POISONS binder, but now I realize it's commonplace. Nevertheless, the title DEATH by POISONS gave me an idea for one of the most improbable segues in recent memory. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm pleased to announce the newest RPG I just made up, The Blades of Stenchtar IV: DEATH by POISONS!



For years, the ending of The Blades of Stenchtar II was the most universally despised game conclusion ever conceived, but it has since been worsted by the ending of its own sequel, The Blades of Stenchtar III. Letters have been pouring in from incensed fans around the globe who refuse to accept that Oinktoast the Meticulous could have been killed at the conclusion of TBOSIII.



"I've got a message for whoever came up with that ending: I'm going to bury you with a shovel, then bury the shovel, then bury the guy that buried the shovel."�



Stuff like that.



Well you know it's funny, really, because all this uproar is over nothing. Oinktoast never died at the end of TBOSIII! That was just a translation error from the original Esperanto. The word for 'die' was confused with the word for 'take a very long nap that lasts until the sequel.' Oinktoast Lives!



But as much as its ending was criticized, it was the gameplay in TBOSIII that really steamed our fans' rice. Reviews were scathing.



"I used to be against nuclear weapons, but after playing the mini-games in TBOSIII, now I'm not so sure."�



Stuff like that.



It's clear to me that fans don't want something new. They don't want something different. They want the Same, Same, Same every Game, Game, Game. Hey, that's fine by me. I'm just doing this for the money. TBOSIV is all about getting back to basics, back to the funner, simpler games of yesteryear (aka 2004).



So I studied all the great games of the past for inspiration. What do all the most beloved role-playing games have in common? Game designers the world over have racked their respective brains for the single most fantastic, compelling event that could ever be experienced in a fantasy world, and the response has been near unanimous: rat attacks.



Nothing can be so certain to leave an indelible impression on the player's consciousness as bloodthirsty rats. As such, TBOSIV consists of an ever increasing series of epic rat battles. They will come at you in waves of 2, 5, 10... until eventually you're fighting more rats in a single battle than have ever existed in the universe combined.



All this is done with the tried-and-true fight-or-flee turn-based-combat system. Each turn you have two choices, fight or flee. If you fight, you will attack the nearest rat. If you flee, you will lose. This cuts down on the huge numbers of menus that you must navigate to complete even the simplest encounter.



Like I said, simple and fun.



Oh, and did I mention... these are POISONOUS rats? Five out of five game designers agree: nothing is more exhilarating than watching your character lose a few hit points every single turn because you've been POISONED. It's just plain fun!



So play TBOSIV and die... by POISONS!