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Darth Marsden

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I finally played episode 2 and overall it was pretty good...

You know who is already on fine form and it looks like he will be as 'nice' as he was in season 1...

On the bright side at least I got to call him a Jerk behind his back and ate food at the other table to make him annoyed...

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From the few minutes i've watched of twd s2e2 i was kind of surprised how burned out it felt already. It would be nice if ttg at least could sustain some drive and quality for the rest of the twau season. Contrary to their other new franchises twau deserves some real dedication. Kind of sad when you consider what kind of games f.e. Stemmle started his career with and looking at what crappy franchises he needs to work on today. Adventures/these story things really haven't evolved the best possible ways.

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I wouldn't say the length of TWAU Episode 2 shows that it's second rate. The Walking Dead Season Two Episode 2 was just as short.

I actually like their cinematic story games, even at their short length (and honestly think $5 per episode is a reasonable price for them. I think Telltale hit the sweet spot there. Their early games like Telltale Texas Hold'Em and Bone were originally twice the price, for as much playtime).

I do agree though that it would be nice if they'd keep up some variety in their offerings. Poker Night 2 has me optimistic that they will. It would be great to see something like Hector too. An outside developer that was published by Telltale would be able to do things Telltale themselves might not want to do. I think those things are likely to still happen, even at post-TWD Telltale.

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An outside developer that was published by Telltale would be able to do things Telltale themselves might not want to do. I think those things are likely to still happen, even at post-TWD Telltale.
I certainly hope so - Hector: Badge of Courage was one of my favourite 'Telltale games', so to speak.

I... really don't know how I feel about Telltale these days. Before their announcement of Borderlands I was pretty much ready to write them off, but since then... they're making two games I'm actually pretty interested in (TWAU being the other) and while they've made a LOT of mistakes, I still want them to get better at what they're doing.

Maybe they could alternate between a more light-hearted series and a darker, more serious one, like what they're doing with GoT and TftB, a sort of 'best of both worlds' thing. Don't like one? You'll probably like the other!

I dunno. We'll have to see.

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I'm not a big fan of the lesser play time we have been getting since TWD season 1. My main problem with it is that we've seen TTG stick to monthly episode games and we have seen them pull it off plenty of times with maybe a delay between Episode 1 & 2 which usually 2 months instead of 1 month. So how come even now when they took around 4-5 months just to get one episode finished and yet they offer less gameplay, and less playtime?

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Coming from a programming background, I can see why the new choice based gameplay would take longer to develop than their adventure game series.

Their adventure games were quite linear, so you'd have instances like "if this dialog tree option is chosen, then do this action" or "if inventory item is used on this item then go to this area", etc. But, their story based games are not as linear (especially not dialog-wise). So, now you have "if this dialog tree option is chosen then store it, if not then store the other dialog option, etc." then a scene would change based on the stored dialog choice, and on top of that the next time the dialog tree comes up you have "read the stored data, and if this dialog tree option was chosen, display this dialog tree option, if not then display this dialog tree option", etc. Plus, on top of dialog tree options, you sometimes have choices like who to save or what object to use in a situation (like the watch from episode 1 in TWD Season 2 for example). This just adds more things to store and access and branch off later.

You might not see as much as a gamer, but there's definitely a lot more going on under the hood.

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While I can respect all that Jenni, there are still things I disagree with. For example I don't think I'd called the other TTG games linear. Yes it follows puzzles that require certain answers but you are given a lot of freedom. You are given freedom to decide which puzzles you want to tackle, and if or when you want to tackle them. You didn't need to go right away and do something. You could just explore and search everything to see if you can find jokes, Easter eggs and more. Even then if anything, the latest TTG games are even more linear. You are usually brought to the same place and must follow the order of the story. Even then the choices for example in TWD Season 1 didn't really matter much. I can save

Ben in Episode 4 or Carly in Episode 1 but still in a later episode they still end up with the same consequences. That they are killed either by zombies or something else but still at the end of Season 1. We are still at the same place despite any choices made. With Lee and his whole group not surviving except for Omid,Clem, and Christa and Kenny believed to be dead. Even then while I have not played Season 2 of TWD, I hear that both Omid and Christa die in Season 2 Ep 1. [\spoiler]

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I really should have known that myself. Trust you to figure out a way of phrasing it, Jenni.

But I can do one better! I can use pictures.

So before, when Telltale was doing standard adventure games, there was only one path to take.

Straight_line.jpg

Now though, they've got all these decisions to put in that affect the story, meaning that they have multiple branching paths that they need to make work.

storybranching.jpg

You can see how the latter would be a lot more work than the former.

Ryan:

Yes, Omid dies in the first episode - that's completely unavoidable - but it's never confirmed what happens to Christa. If people rooting around in the game files are anything to believe though, then we WILL be seeing her again at some point.

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If Christa stays alive, why do I have a feeling she's going to play the surprise villain of this season? I mean like the Guy with the Walkie talkie from Season 1. She could try to attack Clem's group, believing Clem to blame for Omid's death or she abandoned Christa or something like that :/

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While I can respect all that Jenni, there are still things I disagree with. For example I don't think I'd called the other TTG games linear. Yes it follows puzzles that require certain answers but you are given a lot of freedom. You are given freedom to decide which puzzles you want to tackle, and if or when you want to tackle them. You didn't need to go right away and do something. You could just explore and search everything to see if you can find jokes, Easter eggs and more.

I was speaking from a coding perspective more than a gamer's persepective (hence I said you don't see as much as a gamer) to explain why it takes longer to develop these choice based games. A better word then linear, I guess, would be non-branching.

Even the examples you cited for the Telltale's adventures are still very linear (or non-branching) from a coder's point of view (if not as much to the player).

Coding wise, you create a room. You create code to interact with the objects in the room with responses (you can even do mutliple responses, leading to if/then branches but coding wise, it's still pretty linear since it's all related to one item).

As Darth Marsden illustrated, choice based gameplay isn't as linear (coding wise), so it needs a lot more if/then branches in the code, which means much more lines of code (so, more time needed to create the code).

Although I disagree with the choices don't matter text (since the conversations change the way you react to the characters and the characters react to you, something I've wanted in games since wishing I could change Ryo's treatment of Nozomi in Shenmue), Taumel's illustration works as a flowchart showing somewhat how the code works (better illustrating what I was trying to convey) in that Telltale's choice based games aren't linear path-wise (since all paths lead to the same point), but they are non-linear conversation wise (and sometimes object wise), which leads to a lot more code that is needed than the straight-forward mostly non-branching code needed for Telltale's adventure games.

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Choices only don't matter if you approach the story with the grim detachment of a robot picking over historical remains. It seems to me to be such a reductive way of looking at it.

Choices matter in this style of game because I am made to care about the characters one way or another - that makes me care about how I treat them and choices I make concerning them, even if ultimately they lead to the same, or at least very similar roads.

Games aren't maths, they're ultimately human experiences, that can't or at least shouldn't just be boiled down in such a simplistic way. If I only enjoyed doing things in a game when they lead to a different end-outcome, I think my experience of playing most games would be very dry indeed.

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Somehow funny, especially when you compare the choices and situations in ttg's products with those in your real life then it gets shocking obvious how thin and restricted their layer of illusion really is.

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I think that's true for all games at this point. I don't think there's yet a game out there that adequately emulates a real life experience (we're definitely not at the point of playing out real life holonovels on the holodeck yet). But, games don't have to be like real life to be enjoyable.

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Obviously the difference is that one is a comical world with it's own rules and restrictions which doesn't try to be more than just that whilst the other one is trying to come closer to reality (emotions, choices, characters, blabla, ...). Seriously you don't play or watch these kind of games for the choices as they just don't matter (which you should be able to notice after you've watched/played a couple of their episodes and tried different routes), it's the story you mainly want, nothing else. Maybe some people play it for the awesome actions parts as well but i don't know such strange fellows (luckily?).

You could go quite into depth with this like those old but more abstract games could get away with a lot more and offered a platform for projection and so on than up to date games where taking every step closer to realty involves a lot more work on a number of fields otherwise something feels wrong and completely strange. Thinking of depth and coming closer, quantum physics can feel weird too.

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An outside developer that was published by Telltale would be able to do things Telltale themselves might not want to do. I think those things are likely to still happen, even at post-TWD Telltale.
I certainly hope so - Hector: Badge of Courage was one of my favourite 'Telltale games', so to speak.

Mine too. Although it wasn't developed by Telltale, it certainly felt like Telltale helped a bit in the games they directly oversaw too (they had a Telltale style introduction to the control system puzzle and a lot of the puzzle design felt more LucasArtsy, so it was a perfect match. I don't remember if they ever specified that anyone at Telltale was working on Hector outside of Telltale programmers working on adapting it to the Telltale tool, but it was later revealed that they were thinking about going with an external developer with King's Quest (before Activision pulled the license) that would have Dave Grossman overseeing it on Telltale's end, so it's possible he helped (a lot of the puzzles did feel like Dave Grossman puzzles, especially at the scenes at the fairground).

I'm still disappointed they never did a DVD release for Hector: Badge of Carnage. I would have loved to have the awesome cover art on my shelf, or at the very least the possibility of buying a poster of it.

hector.png

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Hector is one of my favourite "TTG Games" as well. It's a bit disappointing that it never got a DVD like the other games or never got ported to PSN/Xbox Live even though it said was going getting a port on the Hector trailers. Now there's not even a chance for Hector to get a DVD through TTG since they removed all their DVD's and only offering them with TWD Season 2 and TWAU.

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New TMM chapter either tomorrow or the following weekend. Hell, at the pace I'm writing at, you may have it by tonight.

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Telltale have never bothered to make the extra assets for different endings.

Infact, if anything that extends to most modern games, where actual choices are pointless, and all designers ever seem to do is just create the illusion that choice is there.

If you did a logic map of the Mass Effects series choices, you'd find that its a lot more simple than you might expect when it comes to the actual STORY outcome, its probably quite lemon shaped! (arguably gameplay wise it had variety, but for a story driven game, the lack of even 2 or 3 actual properly different storylines near the end of a "choice-based RPG" just seems like a total cop-out, given how successful the series had been)

Because they want to have their cake, AND eat it, developers will make that one big flashy ending, make some small alterations to it based on a couple of variables, and then call it a day; there you go people, "Interactive Story-telling experience".

But the thing is though, choice based games are not a new thing, there are several examples out there that have already done it better in a way. The Silent Hill series for example, had been doing the multiple endings based on gameplay actions for a long time, and for the most part, those endings were significantly different and felt satisfying to some degree. (because you had input into that ending. Ultimately YOU decided the Hero's destiny because YOU did things in the gameplay that caused said ending)

This is why I'd argue its important for these types of experiences to have BOTH Gameplay AND Story Variety.

And I think the best way to do this is to have the story ACTUALLY be told THROUGH the Gameplay more. (I feel many games, even say Mass Effect, are incredibly disjointed when it comes to Gameplay and Story. It feel like they made the game first, THEN tacked the story onto it, or maybe its the other way round, the story came first and some gameplay was tacked onto make it a game)

This is why I'd look to Tournament-Style movies for inspiration to start with. The story of those films, are tied deeply into the plot of the movie, everything say Van Damme does in these movies made sense to the plot of the movie. He did X, to achieve Y, which then causes Z. But videogames are in the unique position now to take that concept further. To explore the possibilties, like "what if guy X beat guy Y instead?" or "What if Van Damme lost to Z? What would have happened then?"

One of the games I really enjoyed playing as of late was Virtue's Last Reward. its a Visual Novel Game with some decent puzzles in there, but I'd argue that the puzzles in themselves aren't the gameplay (just an element of it). They are a challenge, yes, but the story itself is the overall meta-game to play. In a way the plot is self-aware, and it gives you enough information for you to try to figure out how to play it along with the puzzles to solve the ultimate puzzle the game reveals to you.

I think videogames are a unique format that can do more of this. We have the technology now to make open worlds that can act independantly and react, we could make a story that can change direction depending on a multitude of variables, we just need to take the time to DESIGN it in the first place.

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ttg currently are making more films than games. Their content works as well, even better, once you take the interactive part away. This is successful as long as there is a big young/easy to please/dumb enough audience out there but it's certainly not what the medium games is able to offer but then again ttg always was pleased with being good enough already, they never wanted to be great, that's what some of us were hoping from DF with the DFA for a change. Oh, well ... most video games aren't made for clever people, maybe even with some life/game experience, a reason why they turn away from many video games.

Saying so, a game where choices really matter and lead to different storylines could be great but it either needs brute force, a clever design, a different focus and/or more advanced techniques but currently i don't see ttg in a phalanx to invent such things. They are more taking step by step and learning with each move, like their animations skills. It was kind of hilarious the way clementine was overacting with her eyes, like, "Look Naughty Dog, we can do this too!" whilst demonstrating how big the differences are in real. Anyway ttg was clever enough to start with a comical zombie franchise instead of got directly.

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Most games that have branching paths are lemon shaped now. It provides a more cohesive story that way and even the ones that do provide you with unique and totally different endings, only give you the illusion of choice after 1 or 2 critical decisions have been made that cross the branches. Giving the player full choices to jump branches at multiple times until the ending would fully depend upon the player keeping a set personality throughout the game to experience a hopefully satisfying story that makes sense. Advertising a game as "if the story doesn't make sense, that's your own fault" isn't the best strategy.

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Most games that have branching paths are lemon shaped now. It provides a more cohesive story that way and even the ones that do provide you with unique and totally different endings, only give you the illusion of choice after 1 or 2 critical decisions have been made that cross the branches. Giving the player full choices to jump branches at multiple times until the ending would fully depend upon the player keeping a set personality throughout the game to experience a hopefully satisfying story that makes sense. Advertising a game as "if the story doesn't make sense, that's your own fault" isn't the best strategy.

I'm not sure a choice based game with full choices and multiple branches would require anything on the player's part, other than picking the choices of course. It would require a huge design document with a flowchart to keep up with all of the choices, and a lot of programming for all of the branches, plus it would require a lot on the writer's side to take each of the choices on the flowchart and logically make them fit into the story, but I think it would be possible (but of course, very difficult) to do, even if the player flips back and forth on their character's morality and personality throughout the game.

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...but then console owners would probably be looking at a 3-5hr game with everything considered. That's death for sales these days.

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Most games that have branching paths are lemon shaped now. It provides a more cohesive story that way and even the ones that do provide you with unique and totally different endings, only give you the illusion of choice after 1 or 2 critical decisions have been made that cross the branches. Giving the player full choices to jump branches at multiple times until the ending would fully depend upon the player keeping a set personality throughout the game to experience a hopefully satisfying story that makes sense. Advertising a game as "if the story doesn't make sense, that's your own fault" isn't the best strategy.

I'm not sure a choice based game with full choices and multiple branches would require anything on the player's part, other than picking the choices of course. It would require a huge design document with a flowchart to keep up with all of the choices, and a lot of programming for all of the branches, plus it would require a lot on the writer's side to take each of the choices on the flowchart and logically make them fit into the story, but I think it would be possible (but of course, very difficult) to do, even if the player flips back and forth on their character's morality and personality throughout the game.

Thats why, I'd say, for story purposes we take morality out of the equation, or at least the black and white extreme of it.

(I feel Virtue's last reward did this well, with the idea that ultimately said situation is every man for themselves)

I'm going to go into some problem solving theory here. Essentially when a problem-solving consultant enters the situation, a situation which usually has no clear definition of the problem at hand, or the method/outcome to take, they go in on neutral ground in a sense. And these situations are messy and complicated, and each stakeholder has a different specialisation/expertise, and perspective, and idea on what the problem is, and its the task of the consultant to go around and investigate these stakeholders, gathering as much info on the business and the people within said business, (hard data involving things like statistics ect. and soft data involving opinions, relationships, power structures ect.), and then, once a holistic picture is created from all of this data, with the interactions of the stakeholder with the consultant and each other, a suitable outcome, (usually a compromise, and not necessarily an activity related to the one the consultant was called in for in the first place), is agreed upon and then acted on.

Does that not in itself, sound similar to what videogames are like? You, the gamer learn the systems and characters and data in the game, and you co-ordinate with the characters to achieve the ultimate goal, or route situation.

So imagine if you adapted said living situation into a videogame? It doesn't necessarily HAVE to be massive, just dynamic and rewarding, and it doesn't need to be as complicated as a real life situation.

But its that vein of design and interaction I think could be the way forward for Adventure games.

The best part is that there is already a game out there that has this style of design

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Express

And that game was released in 1997!

With today's technology and resources you could take this design and evolve it. Really push it to a whole new level.

(Sadly, a lot of designers, developers, and publishers simply prefer to stick to conventional ideas... (speed and cost reasons most likely))

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I don't know why, but something compelled me to hunt down the exact page and date on TTG where I first announced TMM.

http://www.telltalegames.com/community/discussion/16929/the-whatevers-on-your-mind-thread/p3400

Ooh, digging up old posts we made on the Telltale forums. This should be fun, and probably somewhat embarrassing (although I'll have to search through Google, since searching through Telltale's site on the new forum isn't very easy).

I found this post of mine from just one month after the Telltale forums said I registered (it's fun and embarrassing, score!). I tried to look up some posts from before my supposed join date that are now marked as Guest for some reason (as I remember seeing them in the old forum), but I couldn't find any (I'll keep digging).

Oh, now I know why I couldn't find them. The new forum marks the posts as Anonymous, where as the old forum used to mark them as Name (Guest). Well, that's a bummer. :(

I found one from 2006 (although you'll just have to take my word for it, since it's now marked as Anonymous :(, although the post does have my style of writing, so you should be able to tell it's me) here (just in case the forum doesn't take you directly to the post, it's the post where I call myself a knucklehead).

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Ooh, digging up old posts we made on the Telltale forums. This should be fun, and probably somewhat embarrassing (although I'll have to search through Google, since searching through Telltale's site on the new forum isn't very easy).

It took me 30 minutes just to hunt down that one page. It's not easy at all.

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My soon-to-be wife asked me to flight out with her to Elmira, New York to meet her mom and dad. There goes my weekend fishing trip.

But who knows? It might be fun.

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