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Telltale Games (A Retrospective Blog)

posted by Mike Haley on - Viewed by 210 users

The blog formerly known as Boned: Out from Lucasville...

March 3rd, 2004 is a day that will live in infamy, for on that day, LucasArts canceled Sam & Max: Freelance Police, and thousands of rabid fans weeped openly. The announcement came in the form of the following sentence: "After careful evaluation of current market place realities and underlying economic considerations, [LucasArts] decided that this was not the appropriate time to launch a graphic adventure on the PC." For many fans, this signaled a death blow to the already declining adventure game genre.

snmfp.jpgWhat could have been.

However, as it turns out, the cancellation of Sam & Max: Freelance Police was actually a blessing in disguise. The development team went on to form their own company. A company free of the restrictions imposed by LucasArts, which usually resulted in countless Star Wars games being green-lit over more original projects. The name of this new company was Telltale Games.

ttth.jpgYou'll die laughing, or die trying.

Due to the rising costs of game design, Telltale Games set out to change the way that games were designed and distributed. They were one of the first companies to create a digital distribution channel. Their first game was Telltale Texas Hold'em; a poker game with spunk. It was essentially a tech demo that they would use to test out their marketing strategy.

bone1.jpgThis is the story of three lost cousins.

Telltale Games soon began a process of securing rights to established licenses. The first was Bone; a popular comic during the 1990s. They released two adventure games in that series: Out from Boneville and The Great Cow Race. The second was CSI; a popular TV crime drama. To date, two adventure games have been released in that series (with a third still on the way): 3 Dimensions of Murder and Hard Evidence.

bone1end.jpgReunited, and it feels so good.

Then, Telltale Games made their first groundbreaking announcement. The rights to Sam & Max reverted back to Steve Purcell in 2005, and thus, opened the door for new Sam & Max adventure games under the Telltale Games brand. It was around this time that I first became active in the Telltale Games community. I purchased Out from Boneville and Telltale Texas Hold'em on December 24th, 2005. Thanks to the digital distribution method, it is easy to keep track of past purchases in your My Telltale account.

snms1.jpgThe real question is: Will the rat bounce when it hits the ground?

Sam & Max Season One would be Telltale Games' first foray into episodic gaming. Each episode would consist of roughly two to four hours of gameplay, and be released on a monthly basis. Six episodes were released, beginning with Culture Shock and concluding with Bright Side of the Moon. It was not long before Sam & Max Season Two was announced, and with it, another five episodic games. I happened to stumble upon the name of the first episode by mistake, and nearly gave Doug Tabacco a heart attack. Sorry, Doug!

snms2.jpgSanta has a gun, and he does not look too happy.

On October 20th, 2007, I attended E For All Expo, and got my grubby little hands on Ice Station Santa for the first time. I also mingled with a few actual Telltale Games employees, such as Emily Morganti and Will Armstrong. I tried to set a few things straight about my activity in the community. I think that I presented myself well enough, but shortly afterward, there came a period of downtime on the Telltale Games web site, and I foolishly sent an e-mail to Jake Rodkin that would forever be my undoing. According to him, it is still posted somewhere in the office.

sbcg4ap.jpgYou are really cramping my style, man.

Sam & Max Season Two wrapped up with What's New, Beelzebub?, and by then, Telltale Games had already begun work on their next episodic game series, Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, which was based on the Homestar Runner web series. It too featured five episodic games, beginning with Homestar Ruiner and concluding with 8-Bit is Enough.

In July 2008, I attended Comic-Con for the first time, and once again met up with Telltale Games. This time, I was lucky enough to meet the creator of Sam & Max himself, Steve Purcell. I also met Chuck Jordan, Mark Darin, and of course, Jake Rodkin. I was convinced that he was going to turn into The Incredible Hulk, and then tear me limb from limb for sending the aforementioned e-mail (and for that situation with Ice Station Santa).

wngga.jpgHarvesting honey from bees? What is the worst that could happen?

During that same Comic-Con, Telltale Games announced yet another episodic game series, Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures, which was based on the British stop-motion animation series. It would consist of four episodes, beginning with Fright of the Bumblebees and concluding with The Bogey Man. It was Telltale Games' first adventure game to use direct control; a control method that many fans quickly criticized.

tmi.jpgIt all comes down to this.

On June 1st, 2009, Telltale Games made their biggest announcement to date. They had secured the rights to Monkey Island from LucasArts. It would arrive in the form of Tales of Monkey Island, and be delivered episodically for five months. The first episode was Launch of the Screaming Narwhal. As of this writing, only the first two episodes have been released. The series is expected to wrap up in November with Rise of the Pirate God.

Telltale Games has come a long way from Telltale Texas Hold'em, and five years later, they continue to amaze me. What could their next big surprise be? Doctor Who, Lost, Star Wars: The Adventure Game? Whatever it may be, I know that Telltale Games will deliver another great gaming experience.

Also, yes, I own EVERY game that Telltale Games has released thus far... but you probably already knew that.

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