This is e-mail interview with Emily Morganty, who is doing Web Marketing of Telltale Games. Telltale Games is famous for [Sam & Max : Season 1].

Korean version of this Interview.
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Sam & Max.

1. Telltale Games is made up with 2 Founders, who worked with LucasArts & made several games including older Adventure games. Could you let me know what games they were involved?

Kevin Bruner and Dan Connors are the two founders who were heavily involved in game development. Kevin, who serves as Telltale's Chief Technology Officer, worked on Grim Fandango, Escape from Monkey Island, and Star Wars: Obi-Wan. Dan (Telltale's CEO) started at LucasArts in the QA department and then moved into a producer role. His credits include a lot of well-known LucasArts adventure games, including Sam & Max Hit the Road, The Dig, and Sam & Max: Freelance Police (the game that was canceled).

2. How come to establish Telltale Games? Even if you made a lot of adventures in the past, it's not easy decision to make a company dedicated to Adventure games, because many people consider 'Adventure Game is dead' now. Please share your experience at then.

Dan and Kevin saw that there weren't very many creative, story-driven games coming out, and they saw an opportunity to fill that void by changing the way games are made and delivered. In the traditional retail model, a game is kind of like a blockbuster movie?it has a multi-million dollar budget, it takes several years to produce, and then it has a fairly short lifespan on a retail shelf and disappears forever. This model makes it really difficult to take chances and make games that are really unique.

Dan and Kevin were especially excited by the idea of delivering games digitally and episodically, more like a TV show than a movie, because they saw these as two ways to overcome some of the obstacles that were preventing good story-driven games from getting made. They started Telltale to take advantage of this opportunity. It turned out to be a great thing for the adventure gaming community, but they weren't on a crusade to save the adventure genre or anything like that. They just wanted to make good games and get them out to people in new ways (and so far, it's working!)

3. Telltale Game is famous for [Sam & Max season 1] series at now, but it's not the start of 'Sitcom-like series game'. You did 2 episodes for [Bones] before, even if it's stopped at now. How come to make games as 'Sitcom-like series'?

Since Telltale makes games that are story-driven, a TV sitcom-like schedule makes a lot of sense because it gives us freedom to tell stories in different ways. We can have recurring characters that show up in multiple episodes, and also test out new characters and scenarios and see what people like. If we hear that players really liked a certain story point, we can expand on that in future episodes. Also, people get invested in the story and talk on the forums about what's going to happen next time, just like when people gather around the water cooler and talk about what happened the night before on their favorite TV show.

There are also a lot of benefits to producing games episodically. For starters, it's not as risky. You don't start with the big budget that longer form games have, so if the game doesn't sell, you haven't lost a huge investment. The episodic schedule also means you start making money off the series sooner because you don't have to go through years of production before you start to see a profit. And the sales curve is longer, because every time a new episode comes out, the episodes that came out before that one get a boost, too.

4. 6 games for 6 months is not very easy thing to do, even if they are shorter ones. You might have tight production schedule, and made a lot before you release Episode 1 of [Sam & Max]. Please let us know about that.

We started working on Season One in May, and the first episode launched in October. There was a little extra time in the episode 1 schedule than for the other episodes, because we were creating assets we would go on to reuse throughout the season (such as the office, the street, Sybil's and Bosco's, and the models for the recurring characters). But we weren't completely finished with episode 1 until a few weeks before it came out, so it wasn't that much of a head start.

The schedule is staggered, and on any given week we're working on various parts of two or three different episodes. When episode 1 came out, we were partway through production of episode 2 and had already designed episode 3.

5. Association with Gametap was great idea, for [Sam & Max season 1]. Gametap might need 'Newer Game', and Telltale Games might need 'Better & Easier distribution way'. Please let us know how come to do that, and how you get income from Gametap when they only accepts 'Monthly Payment' for whole Gametap service.

I can't talk about the terms of our deal with GameTap, but I can say it's a good deal that both of our companies are happy with! GameTap gives us access to an audience we wouldn't be able to reach on our own, and they get an original game for their service (which, up until Sam & Max came out, had only included older games?"reruns," if you continue with the TV analogy). Also since GameTap is associated with Turner Broadcasting, they can promote the game in ways we never could, like with TV ads on the Turner cable channels. This has really gotten the word out about Sam & Max, which is great for everyone involved.

6. Technical Question :
- What kind of tool did you use to make game, as compiler - library - editor?
- If you used library of GNU license, what are they?
- Do you have some special algorithm for game inside?
- How big was size of the project of [Sam & Max], as Budget - Workers?

We use Maya for animation, and we program the games using a proprietary engine that we designed specifically for making episodic games. It's optimized to let multiple people work on the project without getting into each other's way, and to streamline production. The Sam & Max team is approximately 14 employees, and we outsource some of our art and animation. I can't talk about the budget, sorry!

7. What are the most important things, when you make Adventure games?

It's very important to us to tell a good story, and also to create a fun experience for the player. We really don't want players to be frustrated or to be stuck for a long time because it makes the game less enjoyable. Also we want to make sure our games are accessible to anyone who's interested in them, whether that's an adventure game aficionado or a "casual" gamer who's never played an adventure game before.

8. Have you played some Korean game, or experienced or even heard about Korean Gaming Scene & Market? If so, please share your opinion about that.

Nope, I haven't played any Korean games and don't know too much about the Korean market. Sorry! Maybe your readers could suggest some good story-driven Korean games for us to check out?

9. Please pick other games to recommend, and brief reason why.

Sam & Max: Season One, Bone, Telltale Texas Hold'em, CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder… oh wait, you meant other companies' games, huh? <grin>

I think everyone at Telltale would answer this question a little differently, although of course there would be a lot of adventure games on the list! We're all big Nintendo DS and Wii fans. Phoenix Wright, Zelda Twilight Princess, and Super Paper Mario are some of the games many Telltale employees are currently embroiled in.

Kevin recently talked to Gamasutra about the five games he would take with him to a desert island, and answered this question far more eloquently than I am right now. You can find that here:

10. Please leave some message for Pig-Min Readers.

Thanks for your interest in Sam & Max and Telltale! We hope your readers enjoyed Season One and that you'll stick with us to see what we come up with next.

Korean version of this Interview.
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