User Avatar Image

Q&A With the Design Team

posted by Chuck on - last edited - Viewed by 2.5K users

Hello, honorary Freelance Police! Thanks for pre-ordering the game.

I'm Chuck Jordan, designer and writer of "The Penal Zone", the first episode of "The Devil's Playhouse." I'm also the guy responsible for making sure all the season's stories fit together in some semblance of order.

This thread is for your questions about the new season, as well as "Beyond Time and Space" and "Save the World," and general Sam & Max design-type stuff. I'll be starting out, and as we go on I'll try to rope in the other designers: Mike Stemmle, Andy Hartzell, Joe Pinney, and Dave Grossman.

I'll be answering your questions whenever I've got the time & know-how, with a super-bonus semi-live Q&A today (Monday Mar 15) from 2-3 PM.

So ask away!

479 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • [quote=mateo360]Do you guy ever plan to do any reference or bring back any characters from Hit the Road?[/quote]
    Nope. It's more like Hit the Road, the cartoon series, and Telltale's games all exist in their own pocket universe, each one based on the comics. Fans here on the forums have speculated that that's for legal reasons, that everything introduced in Hit the Road still belongs to LucasArts and everything in the cartoons still belongs to Nelvana or Shout! Factory. I honestly can't tell you whether that's the case or not, because I've never bothered to check. The simpler reason is that it's just more interesting to come up with new stuff instead of bringing back the old.

    [quote=Hassat Hunter]2-3PM which timezone? Because it's 9PM here.[/quote]
    Sorry, I should've said 2-3PM Pacific Daylight Time, AKA right now!

    [quote=Hassat Hunter]Is the entire storyline for the season already set in stone, or is the entire arc still up for some modification at this point?[/quote]
    Maybe not stone, but maybe like reasonably hard clay. Obviously the entire arc can't change, since we're releasing the first episode in a few weeks! But the story has stayed relatively intact for a while now, so it's unlikely to change significantly.

    [quote=Joop]Will there be a guy who's squashed between buildings in this game?[/quote]
    Well now there has to be, it sounds like.

    [quote=Joop]How much is Steve Purcell still contributing to the writing? Is he still coming up with story ideas and jokes? And what's his take on the Max' psychic powers thing?[/quote]
    Steve's got a full-time job at Pixar, so he doesn't have a lot of time to be working on an episodic game series in addition to that. We had a series of brainstorming meetings with Steve, Mike Stemmle, Dave Grossman, and me at the beginning of the project, and I went to make a season pitch that incorporated as many of Steve's ideas as we could fit in. He approved the season story and the individual episode concepts and recommended changes. He approves & gives feedback on all the character and environment designs, and we run puzzle ideas and some gags by him to make sure that they fit in with the characters.

  • EDIT: My one real question was answered :)

  • Okay, I do have a third question...What was the hardest part about designing this season...I probably will have another question later.

  • User Avatar Image
    Shauntron Telltale Staff

    [quote=huggernaut;272847]dear mr. Chuck,
    what is everyone's favorite puzzle/segment from the past seasons? Maybe there could also be a tease about their favorite puzzle from the penal zone?

    Thank you kindly,
    mr. Huggernaut[/quote]

    the huggernaut!!!

  • Oh man, I almost feel bad for asking so many questions, but I figured I'd ask one last question before going to bed. Is there any chance we'll be playing (a psychic version of) Fizzball this season? The power-granting tools are all based on forgotten childhood toys, and if they are Max's childhood toys there has to be an axe in there somewhere.

  • [quote=CannonMan]Will there be a Wii version of The Devil's Playhouse?[/quote]
    Not in the initial launch, which is for PC, Mac, and PS3 only. Our engine runs on the Wii and the Xbox 360, though, so releasing them on other platforms in the future is a definite possibility.

    [quote=Zeek]Has there ever been a puzzle where the testers couldn't figure it out on their own and needed to be taken out as a result of this, but for some storytelling element you really wanted to keep it in the game?

    The reason I ask this is because of the whole "Red Portal in Stinky's" puzzle... [/quote]
    No, we tend to cut puzzles only if they're not working for the storytelling, or if they're more complicated to produce than fun. (There was a puzzle in 202 where you had to take the babies' food orders that just wasn't that much fun). If the testers run into readability/difficulty problems with a puzzle, we try to fix it instead of cut it.

    And Will or somebody can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall any of the QA team or playtesters having an unreasonably hard time with that puzzle in Stinky's. That's the thing about adventure games: there's no real "science" to puzzle design, and what's incredibly hard or obscure for one person can be stone simple to another.

    [quote=Tjibbbe]In the GiantBomb quicklook you mention that there were several stories the team was considering, but everyone always seemed to like the Psychic Max-storyline the best. The gameplay seems to be centered around Max's powers. Did the new gameplay decisions follow the story decisions here, or did you want to do something different with the gameplay this time anyway?[/quote]
    Both, actually. I'd been wanting to experiment with more systematic puzzles for a while, especially after hearing Brendan explain the Bermuda Triangles in 202. And when we first started brainstorming season 3, Mike Stemmle mentioned "Max's latent psychic powers." The two ideas fit together well, so it seemed like a natural.

    [quote=Tjibbbe]And I know you probably can't answer this, but what are some of the different storylines you guys considered that didn't make it? Or perhaps something that was cut from one of the older seasons, like the infamous spin-the-bottle scene that was cut from 204?[/quote]
    Not a lot gets cut, actually. I can't mention anything for season 3 without spoiling it. In season 2, there was the spin-the-bottle puzzle (which was really just a horrific idea, in retrospect), and that food orders puzzle I just mentioned. I can't really think of anything else that's been cut without eventually showing up somewhere else.

    [quote=seanparkerfilms]I remember several articles at IGN, 1UP, etc., that mentioned season three coming in early 2009. The general consensus seems to be that it was delayed because of the opportunity of Monkey Island popping up for you guys. So is The Devil's Playhouse the result of a year (or more) of planning and programming?[/quote]
    Brainstorming started towards the end of Strong Bad. Monkey Island did, obviously, become a huge priority for the studio as soon as it became available, but there are always multiple things going on in the studio. Production on the new season of Sam & Max started around last September.

  • I just have 3 quick questions.

    So is it true that Bosco is not needed for this Season or is it a lie so that no one knows what's coming?

    I noticed Max's voice in this Season, did Andrew return to play Max?

    From the beginning of the teaser, I've wondered to myself "Why psychic powers?" how did this brilliant idea get formed and why wasn't it used sooner?

    -splash1

  • [quote=joseppey]Besides New York City and General Skunka'pe's ship, what other locations are there going to be in the first episode?[/quote]
    It's a surprise! If you're not afraid of spoilers, though, you can watch the Quick Look currently up at GiantBomb.com, and you'll see one of the new locations on the map.

    [quote=joseppey]We saw in several videos that there was six slots for psychic powers. Does that mean that there will be six powers in the entire series or does it mean that we will be able to hold a maximum six powers at a time and there will be more than six?[/quote]
    You'll have a maximum of six at one time. We're not saying what all the powers are yet, so it'll be a surprise as the season goes on. The first episode focuses on future vision and teleportation.

    [quote=Icedhope]What was the hardest part about designing this season...I probably will have another question later. [/quote]
    The hardest part is waiting to find out what your next question is going to be.

    [quote=Tjibbbe]Is there any chance we'll be playing (a psychic version of) Fizzball this season? The power-granting tools are all based on forgotten childhood toys, and if they are Max's childhood toys there has to be an axe in there somewhere.[/quote]
    No, no Fizzball this season. The idea comes up all the time (I think I remember Mike mentioning it coming up when they were doing Hit the Road, even), but if you're going to do it, you want to really do it justice. To do it really well, you'd want fancy physics and effects, the kind which don't really make sense in an adventure game engine.

    [quote=unknownrightnow]So is it true that Bosco is not needed for this Season or is it a lie so that no one knows what's coming?[/quote]
    It's true. Unless it's a lie, in which case I'm still lying right now.

    [quote=unknownrightnow]I noticed Max's voice in this Season, did Andrew return to play Max?[/quote]
    Andrew Chaikin is doing several voices for this season, but not Max.

    [quote=unknownrightnow]From the beginning of the teaser, I've wondered to myself "Why psychic powers?" how did this brilliant idea get formed and why wasn't it used sooner?[/quote]
    I partly answered this earlier -- Mike mentioned Max's psychic powers, and it fit really well with the kinds of puzzles we wanted to experiment with this season. As for why it wasn't used sooner, I'd guess that's because Mike hadn't started working here yet.

  • @Chuck said: Well now there has to be, it sounds like.



    Cool, can't wait! :D

    @Chuck said: I noticed Max's voice in this Season, did Andrew return to play Max?

    I've just replayed Culture Shock, and after that I checked the intro video to Season 3. You can here it's definitely not Andrew Chaikin, it's good ol' William Kasten. (I actually like his Max better.)

    EDIT: Chuck beat me to it. He's a fast one. ;)

  • My questions are mainly 'how did you get to this form' questions so

    Were you going for any other strange animals before Skun Ka'pe


    Is there any chance of an appearance by Mack Salmon?

Add Comment