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The Wolf Among Us in Game Informer

posted by puzzlebox on - last edited - Viewed by 3.1K users

Just wanted to let y'all know that the latest issue of Game Informer has an 8-page spread on The Wolf Among Us, including an interview with lead writer Pierre Shorette and lead designer Ryan Kaufman, not to mention a whole bunch of brand new artwork and screenshots. The issue is out today digitally, and next week in print. Check it out if you can!

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    @Jennifer said: It doesn't look like they'll be removing the puzzles completely. When asked about gameplay, Telltale designer Mike Stemmle said the game was

    If Walking Dead was considered to have puzzles, then that's not really an optimistic thing to hear about the Wolf.

    That's no proper puzzle-work.

    It's all them filthy consoles and gamepad shortcomings, amongst other things.

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    @Jennifer said:
    It doesn't look like they'll be removing the puzzles completely. When asked about gameplay, Telltale designer Mike Stemmle said the game was

    [QUOTE=ttg_Stemmle;568289]Casually cinematic, with puzzles and action.

    [/QUOTE]


    That was more than 15 months ago. Long before we've had a new adventure game paradigm with TWD, in the footsteps of which TWAU pretty explicitly wants to walk now. Game informer certainly doesn't speak about puzzles, or am I wrong here? I kind of doubt that an actual 'puzzle' part still holds true. But let's see, let's see.

    @Jennifer said: A fella who literally has the word Puzzle in their username can't be too happy about this.

    I was waiting so long for someone to pull that joke. Maybe she's eventually obliged to change her name to QTE-box or something? :D :D

    I'm actually looking forward to some "real" action in Telltale's games. Let's see how directly we will control Bigby. A little beat'em'up don't hurt anyone if done right. ;)

  • @Profanity said:
    It's all them filthy consoles and gamepad shortcomings, amongst other things.

    A lot of people keep saying that, but I honestly think that isn't the case. I think Telltale would have arrived at this gameplay style (possibly not the controls, those could use improvement. With a gamepad they're fine, but they're very lacking when using a mouse+keyboard) if they stayed PC-exclusive. It's not as if the console audience is somehow scared of puzzles. I personally like Telltale's focus on characters and story over puzzles, and I say this as a massive nerdy fan of the old 90s Lucasarts games (not to mention Cyan's games, which I played religiously - and those were far more puzzle heavy than Lucasarts' games ever were).

    When looking at Back to the Future or Jurassic Park, I'd agree with you that there's too little going on on the gameplay side. The solutions to puzzles often become apparent just by looking at the environment, often before you're even entirely aware of what the puzzle is. That means that you're just not doing all that much. Story/Character/Writing-wise those games are all fine, and I enjoyed them for that, but for a large part of those games you're just going through the motions. There were two solutions to that problem: either ramp up the puzzle difficulty and obscurity, or trust in what your team does best and try to find a way to make the other elements of your game work better. Some people here seem to think that only the first solution makes sense, but I can't understand why. It makes sense for something like Sam & Max or Monkey Island, franchises that have a history in those styles and are largely comedy-focused, which means that you can get away with a lot more logic-bending than a player in a grounded universe like Walking Dead would accept. Telltale keeps saying that they try to find a gameplay-method that makes sense for each seperate franchise. They're not just saying that to ward of old AG-fans, while they're rubbing their hands with glee because they got away with not having to think of any new puzzles. It's not as if they're choosing the easy way out. And, like I said, they didn't quite hit the mark with Back to the Future and Jurassic Park. But with Walking Dead they finally found a perfect substitute - don't have the player just observe the story while they click on a couple of pre-determined action hot spots, but have them be an active element in how the story unfolds, and more importantly, how the relationships with the other characters develop. It feels like Telltale has come full circle from what they set out to do since day one - let's not forget that even Out From Boneville was extremely light on puzzles, and the most effective scene in that game was the dinner-scene, which consisted of nothing but a couple of characters enjoying dinner and the player exploring an elaborate dialogue tree. There's no puzzle to be solved, no essential path to be taken - it's just the player spending time with these characters until they're tired of doing that. Telltale's games have always been that - a focus on spending quality time in a world, in games that fall somewhere between a novel and a movie in terms of immersiveness. And yes, games like Sam & Max, Strong Bad, Puzzle Agent and Monkey Island did have that strong focus on puzzles - but Sam & Max and Monkey Island came from a strong AG-background, Strong Bad came out at a time were they didn't get a chance yet to try something else, and Puzzle Agent is very much it's own beast. And, let's be honest, one of the most-repeated criticisms against Telltale in those days was that the games (especially Sam & Max) started to feel a bit samey after a while. It wouldn't make sense from both a business and creative standpoint to keep making the same game over and over.

    Man, I do tend to ramble on. I'll stop here, because this post is turning out way too long. Anyway, all I'm saying is that I think a certain part of Telltale's fanbase might want to try to keep an open mind, even after being dissapointed by JP or BttF. Walking Dead is quite honestly a breath of fresh air, and it's the first time that Telltale managed to find it's own voice without relying too much on game design principles that are more than a decade old. And it's paid of massively for them, as this is their first mainstream success.

    Just to keep this on topic: I managed to see the Game Informer issue, and it looked pretty damn amazing. Some of those screenshots almost look like they come straight out of the comic, with my favorite being Bigby in Crane's office. That must be a massive setpiece. The pages were some of the characters from the first episode are highlighted is pretty awesome too, with Mr. Toad being my favorite. He looks bloody amazing. Was he created specifically for the game (I only read the first three story arcs of the comic)?

    The best part of the article is obviously all the information on how they expanded on the time- and choice-mechnics from Walking Dead. I love the example were the player can choose to ignore (!) a certain piece of evidence because he doesn't want Snow White to find out what he had to do to get that evidence, or the part where the player can choose to get in a fight with a character, but if they let that fight get out of hand there's a risk of being discovered by the 'normal' people in New York. Oh, and the idea of two things happening at the same time in different locations and the player only being able to be present at one of those locations is pretty damn awesome. Very Last Express.

    Again, sorry for the rambling post, just trying to keep my mind of of work. Hope to see a trailer soon!

  • @Tjibbbe said: A lot of people keep saying that, but I honestly think that isn't the case.


    I totally agree with you. I've been following Telltale since the beginning and I also thought about Out From Boneville after The Walking Dead. ;)
    Somehow I also feel readier to accept those experiments now than I was back then.
    I'm just sad for Tales of Monkey Island: it was so bold and interesting that I doubt anyone else will be able to pick up Telltale's plot twists. I would have liked a Tales 2 which could close their take on the series (something along the lines of the wonderful epilogue of The Devil's Playhouse).

    I know I'm risking my neck here: I could even accept a different Monkey Island or Sam & Max series, gameplay-wise. :eek: After all, the formula of The Walking Dead will be tweaked and improved. I can't wait to experience The Wolf Among Us. :)

  • I'm a really old-school adventure gamer, but I don't disagree with the more "casual" approach that Telltale has been taking. Storytelling is a difficult thing to pull off in a game context, and I like Telltale's decision to focus on character and plot -- and yes, I understand that puzzles as such may have to be simplified to keep them from getting in the way of pacing and storyline.

    IMO, it's a necessary compromise -- nothing pulls one out of a fictional reality more than looping dialogue or roadblock puzzles that all the other characters seem completely helpless to figure out, even though all they had to do was, say, walk next door and talk to the troll to obtain the magical horn to convince the storm god to shake the Wise Tree to reveal the Boulder of Truth below which lies the key to the door we need to open, that is, if we can aggravate the Bull of Pytheas enough to get him to fire his ray gun and obliterate the giant immovable rock. Characters in puzzle-heavy adventure games have to either recognize the absurdity of the situation (for humor's sake) or be completely single-minded and unaware of their own surroundings, and hence woefully unrealistic. That works fine in some contexts, but not in all.

    Telltale's recent games are much more cinematic and interactive than the FMV efforts of the 1990s, and that interactivity makes them more compelling (for me) than watching linear TV and movies. And these games are also much more seriously engrossing than most of the treasure-hunt text adventures of the early 1980s (which I still love and play on a regular basis.) It seems odd given the raw power of text plus imagination, but true emotional resonance was a rare thing in the text adventure era -- Infocom's Planetfall managed it, IMO -- but TWD has raised the bar and I look forward to seeing what Telltale does next.

    Experimentation and evolution are necessary to keep any art form vital -- and if these are less "adventure gamey" than what I'm in the mood for, there are still literally thousands of traditional adventure games I haven't played.

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    @Tjibbbe said: holy shit, even China is afraid to take this one.

    The most glaring thing that makes me think FILTHY HOBITSES is the lack of usable inventory. Then come the QTE's. Then comes the lack thinking of how to get over obstacles, now it's just a multiple choice test with no losers.

    Now don't get me wrong, I loved TWD too, I thought it was an unique game and I'm alright with this franchise staying that way, but I definitely don't want every other game Telltale release to be based on this principle. One of the biggest reasons what made Telltale Games stand out was that they made excellent adventure games in this day and age and now after the awkward transition phase you mentioned (BTTF, JP) they've arrived at a gold mine, which is also now another big reason why they stand out. And that's great, and I'd like them to keep this as one of their 'styles', but I also don't want them to drop their roots, because if they ain't gonna do those kind of adventure games, who will?

    Though, as much as I wanna defend old school point & clicks, I've always been fascinated the most by the kind of games Telltale is trying to pull off now and tried to pull of with The Walking Dead. Buuuuuut you know, the protagonist of The Wolf Among Us is a detective, now if this doesn't call for a mixture of both their old and new styles, then I'm really bloody disappointed. Unless they've got a real surprise cooking, some mega upgraded and mega immersing design that would actually justify making a game with a badass detective as the protagonist without having the traditional puzzle approach.

  • @Profanity said: The most glaring thing that makes me think FILTHY HOBITSES is the lack of usable inventory. Then come the QTE's. Then comes the lack thinking of how to get over obstacles, now it's just a multiple choice test with no losers.

    I guess I don't share this opinion - I don't see how a usable inventory would have made Walking Dead a better experience in any way for instance. The puzzles are easy, sure, but the whole point is that these games aren't sold as puzzle games anymore. I honestly wouldn't mind if they did away with the puzzles entirely - some of the more obvious puzzle moments in Walking Dead stood out as rather awkward and 'gamey', like the battery-puzzle in episode 1. I don't want to spend my time in that world trying to figure out what item to rub on what other item in order to get what I want when there are so many more interesting things to do in that world. Calling Walking Dead a 'multiple choice test without losers' is just purposefully misinterpreting the game - the entire point of the game is that all your actions have consequences on both the world and those characters, and you have to try and live with those consequences for the rest of the game. Bringing the game to a screeching halt because of some arbitrary puzzle would just destroy the immersion. The game isn't supposed to be a challenge in the same way that a good novel or movie isn't supposed to be a challenge. This game is much more of an emotional challenge in how it handles relationships, and that's just way more interesting to me. (However, if you apply your criticism towards BttF and JP, I would totally agree with that. There's no real point to the gameplay there apart from watching the story unfold).

    You do sort of have a point with the QTE's. I play these games with a gamepad, and they're fine that way. They're nothing more than short little action moments in a genre that doesn't really support those kind of moments. They're few and far between, which makes them okay in my book, and they fit the narrative. If they appeared in a game like Monkey Island I would be pretty pissed too though, and the keyboard-controls for those sections are indeed too awkward. For what it's worth, the article mentions that the action sequences have been greatly improved for Fables, but doesn't really go into too much detail.

    @Profanity said: Now don't get me wrong, I loved TWD too, I thought it was an unique game and I'm alright with this franchise staying that way, but I definitely don't want every other game Telltale release to be based on this principle. One of the biggest reasons what made Telltale Games stand out was that they made excellent adventure games in this day and age and now after the awkward transition phase you mentioned (BTTF, JP) they've arrived at a gold mine, which is also now another big reason why they stand out. And that's great, and I'd like them to keep this as one of their 'styles', but I also don't want them to drop their roots, because if they ain't gonna do those kind of adventure games, who will?

    Every time Telltale tries something new people get angry because they apparently will never do anything like their old games again. I have no idea where that comes from. Jake Rodkin recently mentioned that they were working on a prototype recently that was pretty much in the classic adventure style, but he didn't really elaborate on that if I recall correctly. Like I explained above, Telltale isn't a SCUMM-style adventure game company, it's a story/character based game company. They always try to find the right gameplay-style for each franchise - it's only healthy to let them spread their wings a little bit. I honestly don't know what could be achieved by forcing the development team to keep adhering to the same old design principles. Let's not forget that they already made a crazy amount of games in that old style - I count 16 S&M episodes, 5 Strong Bad episodes, 4 Wallace & Gromit episodes and 5 Tales of Monkey Island episodes. I'm sure they'll go back to that style if they ever pick up Sam & Max, Monkey Island, or another old Lucasarts/Sierra/whatever license again. Give them a chance to break new ground first though, the gaming industry sorely needs new intelligent takes on character and story.

    If you're interested in modern point & click adventures in the classical style, there are actually a lot of companies putting out quality work these days. There's Double Fine with the upcoming Broken Age, which is very much in the style of the old Lucasarts games, and they already released The Cave and Stacking, both of which are heavily puzzle focused. A lot of people from Sierra are making new games (Jane Jensen is make some games through Kickstarter, Al Lowe is remaking Leisure Suit Larry and making new games in that series, the Space Quest-guys are making a new space comedy), and the creator of Broken Sword is making a new game in that series as well. Then there are companies like Daedalic, Aminata and Wadjet Eye putting out new games regularly. There's way more than that, but I'm not that up to date on that stuff these days. Here's a good source for modern adventure games if you're interested: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=506077

    Dan Conners recently said that the Classic Adventure Game Industry doesn't really need Telltale anymore, and he received a lot of angry (because that is the way these things go nowadays) criticism on this forum for that. But, you know, kinda, in a way, he's sort of right about that.

    @Profanity said:
    Though, as much as I wanna defend old school point & clicks, I've always been fascinated the most by the kind of games Telltale is trying to pull off now and tried to pull of with The Walking Dead. Buuuuuut you know, the protagonist of The Wolf Among Us is a detective, now if this doesn't call for a mixture of both their old and new styles, then I'm really bloody disappointed. Unless they've got a real surprise cooking, some mega upgraded and mega immersing design that would actually justify making a game with a badass detective as the protagonist without having the traditional puzzle approach.

    I loved Discworld Noir back in the day (although I doubt it holds op these days), but something similair to how they handled detective work there would be awesome. The article does mention different possible approaches for each case: you can (to a certain extent) choose when, where and how to approach suspects/witnesses, and the article notes how a certain character might be lying without the player ever finding out about it in their first playthrough. They really seem to be pushing multiple playthroughs this time around, with many more different possible outcomes to each case. It all comes down to what you, as the player, find more important at a certain point in the game - do you want to chase a suspect or do you want to go after a certain fleeting piece of evidence in a different location. I hope they actually want the player to be able connect the dots, and make it possible to arrest the wrong person at the end of an episode (something that the Law & Order game sort of touched upon). All I know is what's in the article though, so we'll just have to wait on the actual game.

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    @Tjibbbe said: I guess I don't share this opinion - I don't see how a usable inventory would have made Walking Dead a better experience in any way for instance. The puzzles are easy, sure, but the whole point is that these games aren't sold as puzzle games anymore. I honestly wouldn't mind if they did away with the puzzles entirely - some of the more obvious puzzle moments in Walking Dead stood out as rather awkward and 'gamey', like the battery-puzzle in episode 1. I don't want to spend my time in that world trying to figure out what item to rub on what other item in order to get what I want when there are so many more interesting things to do in that world. Calling Walking Dead a 'multiple choice test without losers' is just purposefully misinterpreting the game - the entire point of the game is that all your actions have consequences on both the world and those characters, and you have to try and live with those consequences for the rest of the game. Bringing the game to a screeching halt because of some arbitrary puzzle would just destroy the immersion. The game isn't supposed to be a challenge in the same way that a good novel or movie isn't supposed to be a challenge. This game is much more of an emotional challenge in how it handles relationships, and that's just way more interesting to me. (However, if you apply your criticism towards BttF and JP, I would totally agree with that. There's no real point to the gameplay there apart from watching the story unfold).


    The inventory and QTE thing was more related to general consolization of games, rather than specifically TWD, but I get yer point. And yeah, you're right about the "multiple choice test with no loser" thing, I guess I shouldn't have directed it at a game like TWD, instead of the global dumbing down of loads of games. What I've said really seems to come out as an attempt to put down TWD, but I didn't intend that to be the case, I'm more doubtful about the further use of the design itself, even if it worked very well for TWD. Though, I guess we'll have to wait to see.

    What TWD was filled with puzzle wise, was exactly a bunch of arbitrary "puzzles". I'm not still not fully convinced that this kind of game couldn't work with a well thought out puzzlework.

    About the rest of the stuff you've said, well I can't really argue about that, obviously you know more on the subject than me. Not to mention that my argumentativtietveit skills are not as refined.

    EDIT: Anyway, from the way you described this game, it sounds crazy dope. Just started reading the comic series too, getting hyped to early is one of the worst feelings.

  • @Profanity said: The inventory and QTE thing was more related to general consolization of games, rather than specifically TWD, but I get yer point. And yeah, you're right about the "multiple choice test with no loser" thing, I guess I shouldn't have directed it at a game like TWD, instead of the global dumbing down of loads of games. What I've said really seems to come out as an attempt to put down TWD, but I didn't intend that to be the case, I'm more doubtful about the further use of the design itself, even if it worked very well for TWD. Though, I guess we'll have to wait to see.

    What TWD was filled with puzzle wise, was exactly a bunch of arbitrary "puzzles". I'm not still not fully convinced that this kind of game couldn't work with a well thought out puzzlework.

    About the rest of the stuff you've said, well I can't really argue about that, obviously you know more on the subject than me. Not to mention that my argumentativtietveit skills are not as refined.

    EDIT: Anyway, from the way you described this game, it sounds crazy dope. Just started reading the comic series too, getting hyped to early is one of the worst feelings.

    Heh, no worries, got a bit carried away/excited about the game while I was at work. Didn't mean to make it look like I was attacking you so much. I should try to keep my posts shorter ;).

    But yeah, crazy excited about the game. Can't wait for the screenshots to start appearing online, this looks way beyond anything Telltale released earlier.

  • @Profanity said: The most glaring thing that makes me think FILTHY HOBITSES is the lack of usable inventory. Then come the QTE's. Then comes the lack thinking of how to get over obstacles, now it's just a multiple choice test with no losers.


    Both Sean and I like the inventory in adventure games but we didn't consider it the thing which defines adventure games. Using one item on another forever is only rarely fun in my opinion, especially in a game which is more serious. In Monkey Island, or Sam & Max, you're playing a game for the story, and for the puzzles, but you're ALSO playing it as basically an interactive joke generator. "What will Sam & Max say when I try this wacky thing?" "What comes out of Sam's mouth when I press this indistinct dialog icon or try to show someone this weird thing I found 4 hours ago?" "How pissed off can I make this bald dude if I keep calling him chrome-dome and cannonball head and stuff? How long can I draw this out?"

    With The Walking Dead, we wanted players to pick up objects, but for the game to do some editorializing for them when it comes to where they can be used. So we said, sure the player has an infinite adventure game inventory, but on any given hot spot in the world, the game will only ever let them do four things. Usually that's "look" "use" and up to two inventory items you have. Admittedly, yes, we did that in part to streamline the game for pacing reasons (not to make it easier), but the real reason we did it was because it seemed like it would just break the game experience. Lee would not try to shoot every lock open because he had a gun in his pocket, and when that failed he would also not try to combine the key to a different door with a photo of his family to get through the same door.

    Does it make the game mechanically "easier"? I hope not -- I hope that our puzzles would have made so much sense as concepts that players wouldn't feel the need to start inventory spamming our hotspots to complete the game. The Walking Dead was never designed to be ABOUT inventory management, about hotspot spamming, or brute forcing. The puzzles were the means to an end, by design. From the puzzle side, Walking Dead was always going to be an "easy" game, mechanically. By the time we shipped the first episode of The Walking Dead, we hoped that the place players would find challenges was in dealing with the story content. It seems like many people did, which is cool, but I know it makes the game a very different thing than what a lot of people want to get out of an adventure game.

    Now don't get me wrong, I loved TWD too, I thought it was an unique game and I'm alright with this franchise staying that way, but I definitely don't want every other game Telltale release to be based on this principle. One of the biggest reasons what made Telltale Games stand out was that they made excellent adventure games in this day and age and now after the awkward transition phase you mentioned (BTTF, JP) they've arrived at a gold mine, which is also now another big reason why they stand out. And that's great, and I'd like them to keep this as one of their 'styles', but I also don't want them to drop their roots, because if they ain't gonna do those kind of adventure games, who will?

    Not to say what Telltale will or won't do in the future, but we're not the only ones out there. Wadjet Eye is doing a fantastic job of developing and publishing old school adventure games with new twists. Have you played Gemini Rue?

    Though, as much as I wanna defend old school point & clicks, I've always been fascinated the most by the kind of games Telltale is trying to pull off now and tried to pull of with The Walking Dead. Buuuuuut you know, the protagonist of The Wolf Among Us is a detective, now if this doesn't call for a mixture of both their old and new styles, then I'm really bloody disappointed. Unless they've got a real surprise cooking, some mega upgraded and mega immersing design that would actually justify making a game with a badass detective as the protagonist without having the traditional puzzle approach.


    For what it's worth, a detective doesn't solve a case by using everything in his pocket with everything in a room. Bigby won't either. There is, like Walking Dead, no infinitely-usable inventory in The Wolf Among Us. That said, there is a stronger focus on investigating places and people you find, on piecing together the puzzle as you go, on pursuing leads and other avenues which come up, in ways separate from The Walking Dead.

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