"Our CEO, Dan Connors, pitched this game idea to us, and then we went out and pitched it to the four license holders," adds Jake Rodkin, graphic designer and community coordinator at Telltale. "We contacted these creative people that we all really respect, and fortunately they like us back. But now the onus is on us to not ruin four other people's very personal creations."
"We're fans of all these franchises," notes Vanaman, citing the difficulties inherent to breathing life into such established characters. "We ran into Valve's Robin Walker here at PAX, and we were like 'Robin! Oh man, we won't mess it up!' He's really excited, but it's daunting -- when I'm sitting there writing dialogue for the Heavy, I have hundreds upon hundreds of chances to sell this character out, if I take it the amount of in-game dialogue into consideration."
"There's more speech among these four characters than the entire cast of a typical Sam & Max episode," explains Rodkin. "But all of the characters' creators have taken a pass at the script and signed off on things every step of the way."
While Poker Night's extensive script was written in-house at Telltale, the designers are quick to note the brand of back-and-forth required with the creators of the game's cast.
"It's all about trust -- there's a lot of trust," explains Vanaman about the game's production process. "The most hands-on the license holders have gotten, though, has been two very different experiences. One is Matt Chapman, who's the voice and co-creator of Strong Bad, and with him, you write the script -- and we knew this working with him on Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People -- you write the script, and then he goes into the studio and becomes Strong Bad, and it comes out different... but still the same."
"Funnier, maybe," quips Rodkin.
"Funnier, and you learn words," says Vanaman. "I didn't know that 'ample hind-bosom' was a funny thing to say, but it is, and Strong Bad knows it's a funny thing to say."
There's more at the link. Including the inferrence that only Texas Hold'em is available, which is a bit of a bummer if true.
PS: Also, Jason, if you're reading this feel free to post it at Mojo, I'm heading out in a moment, but will attend to it later if nobody else has already. :p