Telltale and the adventure market

I wanted to pose a question towards the Telltale guys that frequent the board… or maybe it’s just Chuck that hangs out here…

As we all know, the ‘mainstream’ point and click adventure market died off years ago. Sure, there are the shovelware clones that Adventure Company craps out onto the shelves in droves, but as far as high quality adventure games go, it died.

Then we have Telltale, the exception. Extremely polished and well written adventure games, almost exactly like the classics from the Lucasarts and Sierra days… made by many of the Lucasarts alum. Personally, I’ve played about three episodes of the new Sam and Max on PC (I bought all of them, I just need to get around to the rest), and the first two episodes of Strongbad on the Wii. They were both absolutely fantastic.

I just saw that Telltale secured the Wallace and Grommit license. I can’t wait to see what they do with it.

Now, the question. How successful have you guys been? Obviously, you’re still around… but I am extremely curious about how you’ve been able to sustain this constant stream of great episodes for so long.

Is it the episodic system you adopted? As far as I’ve seen, Telltale seems to be the only company that has been able to embrace this system and make it actually work. Do you look at the sales of every episode, and decide whether it’s viable to create another? Are you contracted for a set number with the externally licensed properties?

Are you just barely squeaking by, able to pay the rent and salaries and move onto the next contract? Has there been enough profit to allow you the opportunity to do preproduction on new, original IP?

I know most of this is stuff that you probably can’t talk about in public, but even if you could give a vague answer I would love to hear it.

I doubt anyone will give details. From my observation, Telltale keeps growing and most other adventure game companies seem to be gearing up to follow their episodic model. If you look at the most sucessful adventure game company, Her Interactive, while they don’t call it episodic their Nancy Drew games are around 5 hours of game play and come out 4 times a years. Same as Telltale’s its just somehow Her interactive is able to box up each episode and charge $20 for it.

As for how they make another, I’m fairly sure they plan a season of 5 or 6 episodes before production begins. I don’t know what metric they use to decide on making additional series. The only one that doesn’t follow that is Bone which has only 2 episodes.

Bone joins SiNs as a warning to those buying episodic content. Wait for it all, then buy the pack.

I have played a lot of excellent adventure games that came out in the last few years. I feel your eulogy is a bit harsh and uncalled for. is an excellent resource for finding the good stuff. It’s just not front and centre like it used to be. Still, the best adventure games of the 90s would still play a large part in any top 20 done now.

Speaking of Wallace and Gromit

Sorry for the slight derail, but I’m loving those screenshots

Quoted for truth. They also regularly publish new reviews of the older stuff, which I haven’t seen done as well anywhere else.

Hotel Dusk for DS is easily the best adventure game I’ve played in recent years (and recently released for $20, quite a steal). I’m not worried about adventure games dying out because DS gets some great ones, albeit, on a smaller scale. The next one will probably be the remake of the first Broken Sword game.

I was also going to comment about adventure titles on the DS, of which there are some excellent choices. Most notable are the aforementioned Hotel Dusk, the Phoenix Wright series, and the wonderful (and underappreciated) Time Hollow. The latter plays out almost like a graphic novel, but it has excellent production values and an entertaining story.

Speaking of adventure games, the iPhone/iTouch seems like a good platform for point & click style games. I remember seeing a trailer several months ago for a forthcoming slick-looking detective-based (?) adventure game for the iPhone. Does anybody remember that and know what the name of it is?

Edit: I think that it might be “1112 Episode One” that I had in mind.

Did Time Hollow turn out ok? I remember it got an average score in NP a few months ago saying it started to get boring I think. I tried the Hotel Dusk demo a while back and it turned me off of the game, does the main game get any better then what was featured in the demo?

Time Hollow starts off great, but I think you have to like anime or just turn your brain off while playing because there are some really gaping plot holes. It’s also pretty linear for a game with time travel as its theme, and the main ending is one of those “Only in Japan” kinds of things.

Hotel Dusk mainly consists of solving problems for people and then running around the hotel to find other people to solve problems for, but the story is well worth the effort and the occasional fun puzzle. Honestly, a large part of the charm is the realistic way the characters speak, despite their being somewhat caricatured. Have you played Silent Hill 2? The game was shite, but the plot made it absolutely worth playing.

Also, I apologize for derailing this thread.