Telltale Games: The Necromancy Among Us

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Thread originally titled Telltale Games: The Closing Among Us (Shutdown Discussion). Changed to reflect the current state of Telltale.​
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It's the beginning of the end, as seen late last night there had been headlines sprouting claiming that The Walking Dead: Final Season was cancelled midway through release. Following this rumor, fears were confirmed this morning via Twitter.​

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Kotaku Blurb: note that the title says 'possible closure' among similar speculatory statements, but it is essentially confirmed through later updates that TT is shutting down.​
Speculation about layoffs and the possible closure of the studio began when freelance reporter Andrea Ayres tweeted the news that a developer friend had claimed Telltale was shutting down. That was followed by a narrative designer at the company, Emily Grace Buck (see twitter embeds below), announcing that she didn’t have a job anymore and that many of her developer friends were also looking for work. The Verge reports that only 25 people are currently left at the studio, which previously employed hundreds. Kotaku’s source has also said the layoffs are widespread, but did not confirm how many people were still left.

Telltale Games was founded by former LucasArts employees in 2004. Its first game was Telltale Texas Hold’em, a poker simulator, followed by narrative-based episodic games adapted from the CSI TV show. It wasn’t until 2012, however, that the studio found its first major breakout release with The Walking Dead. The studio’s choice-based, branching narrative model was soon applied to other popular licenses like the Fables comic book series, Batman, and Game of Thrones.

This newfound success, however, was also accompanied by reports of workplace toxicity and crunch conditions at the San Rafael, California-based company. In March of 2017, Bruner, one of the original founders of the studio stepped down as CEO and was replaced by Pete Hawley, a former VP of games at Zynga. This restructuring led to 90 layoffs in October of 2017. USGamer reported the following month that these layoffs were part of an attempt by management to reorient a company that had grown beyond its means.

In June of this year, Telltale appeared to be turning a corner, announcing a new collaboration with Netflix for a series of Stranger Things games, a deal that Variety reported was two years in the making. At the same time, Bruner filed a lawsuit against the studio alleging, among other things, mishandling of his financial holdings in the company, which the studio said at the time was “meritless.”

Telltale released the first episode of The Walking Dead: The Final Season in August with the second episode scheduled to arrive next week on September 25. It’s currently unclear if the rest of that game will still release as planned, or what will happen to the studio’s other projects currently in development. Telltale did not immediately respond when asked by Kotaku for more information.

[Update - 7:45pm]: Both USGamer and Variety report that the skeleton crew being kept on at Telltale are focused solely on completing Minecraft: Story Mode, a five-part interactive narrative series produced for Netflix originally set to come to the streaming platform this fall. The Walking Dead: The Final Season, meanwhile, will remain unfinished.

According to The Verge and multiple reports on social media, laid off employees weren’t given any severance. “None of my sleepless nights or long hours on weekends trying to ship a game on time got me severance today,”Brandon Cebenka, who was a character artist at Telltale, tweeted earlier today. “Don’t work overtime unless you’re paid for it, y’all. Protect your health. Companies don’t care about you.”
Supplementary articles: Re Toxic Management & further expansion on Brandon's tweet (he was a character artist at TT)​
All but 25 employees were let go from the studio as part of a “majority studio closure following a year marked by insurmountable challenges.” The small group that remains will “fulfill the company’s obligations to its board and partners.” A total of 250 people have been laid off from their jobs at Telltale. Many without severance pay. As a result, they have chosen to talk about their experiences with the ordeal on Twitter, which resulted in an unexpected rallying of fans behind the ex-employees, and the topic became part of the app's trending list (under Gaming).​

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Official statements regarding the closure of the studio have been at most, rather ambiguous, but it's easy to surmise that the studio suffered an insurmountable level of commercial failures for any series that came after The Walking Dead Season 1:​


So what does this mean for the future of TTG projects that were ongoing in release?
  1. Sources who wish to remain anonymous explained that there is a skeleton crew (the 25 people left) at Telltale, but they will be working on the Minecraft Story Mode project for Netflix. In fact, The Walking Dead team was also laid off today and The Walking Dead Final Season will not be completed. 
  2. TWD Final Season was slated to have releases for eps 3, 4, and 5, in September, November, and December. However, the cancellation of the project means that the game will never be finished: it is unknown if preorders will be refunded partially or not, but Episode 2 is confirmed for Sept. 25. This matches with the statement issued by Telltale games where the company promised to "fulfill the company's obligations to its board and partners."
  3. The untitled Stranger Things project has been cancelled.
  4. Wolf Among Us Season 2 cancelled.
  5. Game of Thrones Season 2 cancelled.
  6. The only projects being finished are reportedly to fulfill contractual obligations.
  7. Telltale is supposedly filing for bankruptcy. So far, this is mostly rumors and is not yet confirmed.


With these changes, begs several questions that the Studio may not answer for some time, if at all. ​
  • What caused the inevitable closure of Telltale? 
  • Was it poor working conditions and treatment of the employees in terms of their labor and payments FOR said labor?
  • Why did the games sell so poorly, in spite of having plenty of fans dedicated to purchasing their games?
  • Was the 'Season'/Episodic Installment formula the best way to go in terms of selling their games?
  • What does this mean for preordering games from now on if there may not be refunds for those that get cancelled halfway through production?
  • Why are they cancelling everything but still planning to complete a fucking Minecraft Story Mode for Netflix of all things?! (actually there is a legitimate reason for this, but I'm still writing that for comedic effect)

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Since this is a general discussion thread and not about any game in specific that TT made, you may post about the gaming industry aspects of the situation itself, speculate why the games after TWD1 tanked in terms of sales despite practically glowing reviews of certain games (although this is subjective). Even the formula of click-based choicemaking adventures and how they essentially copy-pasted it to any game after TWD1 to secure sales! Basically anything about Telltale or its games and its place in the industry, you can discuss. Thread is subject to further updates regarding official response and further commentary from ex-employees.


If you ask me, in terms of tanking sales, the biggest lesson that can be learned from this is 1) pay your fucking employees if you insist on making them work overtime and 2) if your game has not completed production/development of all parts at the time of official release for the first 'episode', and results in months of delay between episodic installments, you probably should not release your game. Also, the 'Season' and 'episode' formula was a mistake.​
UPDATE: As of August 2019, Telltale reopened under new management. See the latest post for more information.​
 
Really? Fucking Minecraft Story Mode Netflix? Jesus. They had struck gold with the Batman series which told a video game Batman story that I've personally been wanting more of ever since I played the Arkham series, something that adapts Batman and turns it on it's head to fit the medium.
 
Grey Star said:
Really? Fucking Minecraft Story Mode Netflix? Jesus. They had struck gold with the Batman series which told a video game Batman story that I've personally been wanting more of ever since I played the Arkham series, something that adapts Batman and turns it on it's head to fit the medium.

The statement mentioned spmething about fulfilling contractual obligations, which is something that lines up if they were producing something for Netflix. But, the fact they prioritized finishing Minecraft over laying off tons of people from their jobs (some who began as early as last week) that they overworked to get out games as they were being made is the major source of people's ire on social media. They will have a lot to respond to tomorrow.
 
I mean, what other medium where you could have Batman and the damn Joker teaming up and people wouldn't flat out dismiss it?

Comics would call it jumping the shark.
Movies would be like "this is dumb" and "makes no sense" the cowards.
TV Show, could probably get away with it judging by the times he teamed up with Red Hook the Joker and not the Robin.
But a video game with enough time and pacing to properly set up such a thing? Blessed adaption.
 
Never knew they made Wolf Among Us (I didn't read the cover exactly nor I paid too much attention of their logos), and I was surprised they tackle DC and Marvel properties. 

Episodic releases are essentially DLC in disguise--an excuse to spread out the games, without the worry of putting everything in the game. So when the "season" is done, they will make an retailed version of all of them... even though they could've easily just did the entire game from the get-go.

Workers not being paid overtime is quite frankly disheartening and disgusting of how companies can operate under such conditions. It seems to be is that they tackle on too many games and bit more than they can chew; now they're choking on it, clingy grasping for air, but refused to cough it off because "don't worry, it'll go down, slowly."
 
Grey Star said:
I mean, what other medium where you could have Batman and the damn Joker teaming up and people wouldn't flat out dismiss it?

Comics would call it jumping the shark.
Movies would be like "this is dumb" and "makes no sense" the cowards.
TV Show, could probably get away with it judging by the times he teamed up with Red Hook the Joker and not the Robin.
But a video game with enough time and pacing to properly set up such a thing? Blessed adaption.

While I wasn't in the Batman TT adaptation gang, I feel the same about The Walking Dead. The comic is still the best story, but the TV show is either too watered down or changed too many things or there was too much wrong with it that prevents me from enjoying it. The game was a happy medium, although season 3 was rather flawed and had little to do with the main protagonist, the story overall offers a lot more to my taste than the comic does (probably because it's a different story with its own universe from the looks of it with very little tied into the TV show...). It was a great chance to present something original without relying too much on the source material other than the fact there's zombies in it. Each season had its merits and flaws of course.
ShineCero said:
Never knew they made Wolf Among Us (I didn't read the cover exactly nor I paid too much attention of their logos), and I was surprised they tackle DC and Marvel properties. 

Episodic releases are essentially DLC in disguise--an excuse to spread out the games, without the worry of putting everything in the game. So when the "season" is done, they will make an retailed version of all of them... even though they could've easily just did the entire game from the get-go.

Workers not being paid overtime is quite frankly disheartening and disgusting of how companies can operate under such conditions. It seems to be is that they tackle on too many games and bit more than they can chew; now they're choking on it, clingy grasping for air, but refused to cough it off because "don't worry, it'll go down, slowly."


The episodic marketing formula was probably one of the reasons why revenue was such a problem; they made every TT game the same in terms of gameplay (as little of it qualifies being one past a point and click adventure). For the company, it let them rush their employees to get out one episode, while not having the rest ready, or at least, spending months finishing development. And even then, you can see glitches and bugs that have never been patched out. TWD Season two took about 4 months between episode 1 and 2, the others took two months between releases with the last one being 1 month. That's a long wait time-- one that can easily entice players to pick up other games and eventually forgetting they were keeping up with the Walking Dead. The average wait time between episodes is two months-- it takes me two months to finish Nier Automata (which has 5 main endings) vs this game series that would require a total wait time of 8-10 months (depending on which WD game it is), with 1-3 hours of gameplay each episode.

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In other news, they have only decided to publicly address the state of the Walking Dead:

While they aren't making promises, it seems there is a slight possibility the Final Season will be finished. No word from other ongoing projects, so it's safe to say the others are going to stay dead.

Comic Book Resources
Despite the massive layoffs last week at Telltale Games reducing the video game studio’s staff to a mere 25 members, Netflix still intends to proceed with their planned video game adaptation of Stranger Things.

The award-winning Netflix original series had announced an interactive game developed by Telltale in June to exist within the horror series’ continuity and expand the mythos. Additionally, the game studio was developing Minecraft: Story Mode for the premium streaming service allowing viewers to engage in an interactive choose-your-own-adventure style adaptation of the popular game across five installments.

“We are saddened by news about Telltale Games,” revealed Netflix in a statement to Polygon. “They developed many great games in the past and left an indelible mark in the industry. Minecraft: Story Mode is still moving forward as planned. We are in the process of evaluating other options for bringing the Stranger Things universe to life in an interactive medium.”

The gaming industry was shocked by news last week that Telltale Games was facing potential closure after suddenly laying off hundreds of employees. The move signaled the impromptu cancellation of The Walking Dead: The Final Season after the release of its first episode with its second — and presumably final — episode scheduled to be released tomorrow.

This is an article that is rather lengthy, so I'd prefer to simply link it for those who are interested in why TT died out: [How Masterful Narrative Game Makers Telltale Suddenly Lost Everything] it seems like a more objective explanation of things that went down in financial terms.
 
So is Netflix going to seek other companies to develop the Stranger Things game, or Telltale is still behind it?
 
Telltale's done for good, but since the ST game hadn't even been assigned a release date, that probably means Telltale never worked a contract for it, so Netflix will probably just take it to another dev company.
 
Ah, okay. Strange that they are still able to continue making Minecraft story, despite being declared "bankrupt". :thinking:
 
Netflix is the only company they have a legal contract to fulfill, hence the skeleton team of 25 people remaining. Once they're done with Minecraft, they're gonna close up shop. Otherwise they'd probably get into legal trouble for not finishing their work.
 
Honestly, I don't find it very surprising that Telltale was ultimately destined to shut down. I would gander that beyond TWD, none of their games ever truly took off, with Borderlands and Minecraft probably being the closest games to do so due to being the hot shit of the time. I mean hell, even things that WERE the hot shit didn't take off with TT. Game of Thrones, anyone? Regardless, it seems like they're looking to get someone to finish the Final Season of TWD so we might see that come out still. Apart from that, don't get your hopes up for any of the other games lined up to come out. It'll probably all end up as vaporware.
 
LoopyPanda said:
Netflix is the only company they have a legal contract to fulfill, hence the skeleton team of 25 people remaining. Once they're done with Minecraft, they're gonna close up shop. Otherwise they'd probably get into legal trouble for not finishing their work.

Freak said:
Honestly, I don't find it very surprising that Telltale was ultimately destined to shut down. I would gander that beyond TWD, none of their games ever truly took off, with Borderlands and Minecraft probably being the closest games to do so due to being the hot shit of the time. I mean hell, even things that WERE the hot shit didn't take off with TT. Game of Thrones, anyone? Regardless, it seems like they're looking to get someone to finish the Final Season of TWD so we might see that come out still. Apart from that, don't get your hopes up for any of the other games lined up to come out. It'll probably all end up as vaporware.

Wait... Telltale made Borderlands? How come they didn't make another game that gander the success of that rather than pumping out episodic games? I'll be completely honest, I haven't even HEARD any games other than TWD and that one Batman game (and years later, Wolf Among Us (I didn't know they developed that game....), which I thought was so, well, fucking boring as shit). These other games? Never seen a commercial of them on TV nor the internet. 

Which begs the question, these incoming games, were they pumping these out at the same time? It is like the FF13 situation where they stupidly revealed FF13 and FF13 Versus... the latter being such a mess of production because they thought too ahead of themselves, but didn't take it slowly to well, actually developed the freaking game.

:thinking: 

And if the skeleton crew is working on the Minecraft thing, would it make more sense to give it to another company than depending on, well, 25 people? Unless they are working the living fuck out of the people to push them game to its release date.
 
They didn't Make the actual Borderlands games but they had a game called "Tales from the Borderlands" that tried to explore and expand upon Pandora and such. Needless to say, it didn't really stick (nor have most of their licensed games). Also, they are presumably pushing their jolly little skeleton crew as there are allegations that management more or less forced staff to work 50+ hour weeks, sometimes up to 70-80 hours. They did indeed work on multiple games at once AFAIR, which also resulted in the hours issue.
 
@"Freak" @"ShineCero" 

The thing about Telltale is that aside from 2 or 3 titles from the mid-2000s, none of the games they made have been truly original. They just make games based off existing IPs and try to do the bare minimum to give it some semblance of unique flavor. The amount of IPs they've nabbed to make games for is rather surprising if you give it a cursory glance from google's listing results. They even made 2 CSI titles in 2006-2007! But it doesn't seem to matter if they choose popular IPs or not, the fact that after TWD, every game following from that followed the same point and click adventure game you'd find in a Flash Game Arcade from 2008. They claimed choices are important and that certain characters "remember it" but that's not even halfway true! They really do not change the core storyline and most of the cast will die or fall off the casting page somehow anyway. Detroit Become Human actually had a more detailed choice tree that you could see based on what you unlocked, which gave it more replayability value than any of the Telltale ganes do. Telltale's games have basically 1 ending, so you play it once and never touch it again unless you want to make a "Silence only" run or just pick the dumbest choices to see what happens for a yt vid. Their games are so streamlined that Youtubers essentially negate the need to actually buy it and see what happens; this is the case for plenty of games, but people often will play it if they like the mechanics in the game or wish to see any other endings that can occur besides the one the youtuber achieved. But for telltale, I consistently made the conscious decision of not needing or wanting to buy the game myself. Why should I if I can just see people do it for me?

They had a tendency to work on multiple games at one time though.

On the news side, a few anonymous people from Telltale are saying they're looking for a different company to finish TWD and claim that the third episode is "basically finished" and only is pending rating reviews from the ESRB before release. Usually it takes at least 2 months between episodes, but suddenly the ire of twitter has forced them into ultra productivity with a team of 25? Doesn't make much sense to me, but the report doesn't mention if Telltale is giving any laid off people severance pay. Just that the company who finishes the job will get the paycheck/revenue generated from what they complete. Here's Kotaku's article: https://kotaku.com/telltale-is-looking-for-another-company-to-hire-its-sta-1829503254

Something just doesn't add up here. They supposedly closed up the studio because they said their games were financially unsustainable (which is true, everything after TWD 1 was technically a financial bomb) and could not continue tanking, are filing for bankruptcy, and yet, they claim that it's feasible to grind out the last two episodes by either re-hiring ex-TWD dev members or handing it off to another company with the 3rd episode "basically finished" barely 2 weeks after they released the second episode? If they were forcing their larger staff roll into overtime to get everything out by the shipping date at a minimum of 2 months wait between episodes, how did a 25-man skeleton crew finish the 3rd in not even less than a week? Management be trippin.
 
@"Freak"

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Are you serious...? Even after everything they just went through last month (everyone dumping information regarding their work environment), they still trying to forcing them to work to the skin of their bones (no pun intended)? It seems like Emily is tyring to put a positive view on it... but yeah, no thanks.

and that make sense regarding Borderlands. :pls: Can't say I'm surprised that it didn't stick... talk about a yikes.
 
LoopyPanda said:
@"Freak" @"ShineCero" 

The thing about Telltale is that aside from 2 or 3 titles from the mid-2000s, none of the games they made have been truly original. They just make games based off existing IPs and try to do the bare minimum to give it some semblance of unique flavor. The amount of IPs they've nabbed to make games for is rather surprising if you give it a cursory glance from google's listing results. They even made 2 CSI titles in 2006-2007! But it doesn't seem to matter if they choose popular IPs or not, the fact that after TWD, every game following from that followed the same point and click adventure game you'd find in a Flash Game Arcade from 2008. They claimed choices are important and that certain characters "remember it" but that's not even halfway true! They really do not change the core storyline and most of the cast will die or fall off the casting page somehow anyway. Detroit Become Human actually had a more detailed choice tree that you could see based on what you unlocked, which gave it more replayability value than any of the Telltale ganes do. Telltale's games have basically 1 ending, so you play it once and never touch it again unless you want to make a "Silence only" run or just pick the dumbest choices to see what happens for a yt vid. Their games are so streamlined that Youtubers essentially negate the need to actually buy it and see what happens; this is the case for plenty of games, but people often will play it if they like the mechanics in the game or wish to see any other endings that can occur besides the one the youtuber achieved. But for telltale, I consistently made the conscious decision of not needing or wanting to buy the game myself. Why should I if I can just see people do it for me?

They had a tendency to work on multiple games at one time though.

On the news side, a few anonymous people from Telltale are saying they're looking for a different company to finish TWD and claim that the third episode is "basically finished" and only is pending rating reviews from the ESRB before release. Usually it takes at least 2 months between episodes, but suddenly the ire of twitter has forced them into ultra productivity with a team of 25? Doesn't make much sense to me, but the report doesn't mention if Telltale is giving any laid off people severance pay. Just that the company who finishes the job will get the paycheck/revenue generated from what they complete. Here's Kotaku's article: https://kotaku.com/telltale-is-looking-for-another-company-to-hire-its-sta-1829503254

Something just doesn't add up here. They supposedly closed up the studio because they said their games were financially unsustainable (which is true, everything after TWD 1 was technically a financial bomb) and could not continue tanking, are filing for bankruptcy, and yet, they claim that it's feasible to grind out the last two episodes by either re-hiring ex-TWD dev members or handing it off to another company with the 3rd episode "basically finished" barely 2 weeks after they released the second episode? If they were forcing their larger staff roll into overtime to get everything out by the shipping date at a minimum of 2 months wait between episodes, how did a 25-man skeleton crew finish the 3rd in not even less than a week? Management be trippin.

Didn't see this.

Can they pursuit legal procedures if they don't received payments on a game they work on? Seems kind of bullshit that they released a game without paying those who work through blood, sweat and tears.

Furthermore, if the skeleton crew going to continue working on the Minecraft for a long time? Or after they released this, it's done and over with until they transferred to another studio?

I highly, highly doubt, considering the allegations from employees and the toxic CEO...., would they bother coming back to finished an "supposedly finished game". How could Telltale be focus on looking for another studio to finished the game? Shouldn't they worry about Minecraft, or they hope someone buys off the rights so they can be stable? :thinks:

You know what this reminds me of? It seems that they got full of themselves, a bit too much, and ride the TWD train by getting a bunch of other license games (which costs a lot). Because if TWD was such an success.... they kept using the same engine for all their games.
 
ShineCero said:
Can they pursuit legal procedures if they don't received payments on a game they work on? Seems kind of bullshit that they released a game without paying those who work through blood, sweat and tears.

Furthermore, if the skeleton crew going to continue working on the Minecraft for a long time? Or after they released this, it's done and over with until they transferred to another studio?

I highly, highly doubt, considering the allegations from employees and the toxic CEO...., would they bother coming back to finished an "supposedly finished game". How could Telltale be focus on looking for another studio to finished the game? Shouldn't they worry about Minecraft, or they hope someone buys off the rights so they can be stable? :thinks:

You know what this reminds me of? It seems that they got full of themselves, a bit too much, and ride the TWD train by getting a bunch of other license games (which costs a lot). Because if TWD was such an success.... they kept using the same engine for all their games.

The issue doesn't seem to be that they weren't paid at all for their developmental contributions (I'm on the assumption that there exists contractual payment rather than salary payrolls), but typically following the event of a sudden layoff without prior warning or notification to the employees, severance pay is a package of both pay and benefits that are given to you upon your dismissal from employment, which may include "Any additional payment based on months of service Payment for unused accrued PTO vacation time Holiday pay or sick leave." The guy who worked overtime to get shipments out in time, wasn't even given severance pay as a reward for that. No X amount of days left to find a new job, these people must have put all their energy on leaving for a better place to work/transfer-- I heard some moved literally cross-country for a new job. Moving costs and getting everything sorted out definitely took a financial toll, and even if they had the time/money to hire someone for legal service regarding this, Telltale is broke/bankrupt anyway. The costs to proceed with an attorney probably outweighs what the company could eventually pay as compensation in court.

I don't know how long it'll take to finish the Netflix Shitcraft thing, but I'm sure the left over people will immediately leave upon official closure of the studio. At least they have time to find a new job in the intermittent weeks/months.
I'm not sure what the logic is behind finding a company to finish the game, but if said babysitting company will pocket the money, then it looks like TT is doing it more as a matter of pacifying those who paid the $20-30 season pass to unlock all episodes as they are released. They do this, but no news of guaranteeing severance pay. I find it a bit scummy they prefer to acquiesce to the fans' demands over the people who they hired to work on the damn thing that simply want some cushioning for the sudden blow. I just find it strange they managed to finish the 3rd episode so fast as the insiders claimed: I get that back when they had 250ish people, the attention was split between multiple projects at one time, but I imagine there were consistent groups assigned to develop certain titles. But then the logic of the fast working skeleton crew belonging to some walking dead devs falls apart when you hear that the Walking Dead Crew already left. So how is it basically finished if no outside company has touched it? Doesn't that mean they can just finish it by themselves?

I'm pretty sure they use the same engine for most, if not all, the titles following TWD. The Wolf Among Us and TWD I am positive used the exact same assets (and likely shared voice actors), especially the model style based on the art and squiggly line look that TWD has; if you look closely between the two, the lip-syncing and facial expressions look like recycled animation assets. The games aren't actually open worlds, so there's no reason for so many glitches and visual mistakes to be so rampant, it should look the most polished it can be. The best visually looking ones are probably the Final Season and the Batman game (from the clips I saw), but the Final Season still had bad lip syncs. I do agree they bit off way more than they could chew, it felt like they just grabbed any popular IP possible to try to make money off it, and it could have worked if they bothered to do anything innovative with the gameplay to keep the titles distinct. But instead, they copy/pasted the "Talk/Quick Time Event/Talk" formula over and over. The story content barely justifies the watered-down, bland gameplay when it's often mediocre at best.

A better visual would be this video about the topic: It's a little more on the comedy side, but he's able to show the stuff better than I can describe.
 
Bumping this thread due to the recent emergence of news from a couple days ago: the final season of TWD is going to be finished by Robert Kirkman's game company Skybound (he's the chairman and co-founder).

From Kotaku:
Skybound Games will complete Season 4 of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, the company announced today. Skybound Games is part of the company behind The Walking Dead comics, which Telltale’s adaptation is based on. 



According to a statement from Skybound, the company will work with people from the original The Walking Dead team to finish the series. “Skybound will work with members of the original Telltale team to finish the story in a way the fans deserve,” it said.

Earlier this week, Kotaku reported that Telltale was in talks with potential partners on a deal that would see another company hire some of its former employees to finish episodes 3 and 4 of the game’s final season, both of which were already well into development according to two sources. This appears to be the culmination of that effort, although many of the details surrounding it remain unclear.

The second episode of Telltale’s episodic series released on September 25, but the fate of the final episodes has been up in the air since Telltale announced the closure of its studio on September 21, letting go over 200 staff members without severance.


More information came out following this publication:

Variety
Six years ago, Telltale Games performed two minor miracles with one video game: “The Walking Dead” both reinvigorated adventure games and proved that television shows, “The Walking Dead” in particular, could be meaningful inspiration for award-winning video games. The success of the game also highlighted what “Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman hoped to do with Skybound Entertainment: give creators control of their creations, no matter the medium.

Telltale Games’ business and creative partnership with Skybound seemed a match made in heaven — until it wasn’t.

Last month, struggling from months of apparent financial issues, potential investors AMC and Smilegate pulled out of deals with Telltale and the company essentially shut down. It was a surprise to everyone, including Skybound Games.

“We are plugged in with our partners, but these are businesses being run and we try not to control their business,” Dan Murray, president of Skybound Interactive, told Variety. “We knew some of the challenges Telltale was facing, but when the news hits so suddenly everyone was taken off guard. The game industry is always filled with challenges. It’s hard making games,” Murray said. “Whenever something like this comes up, our intention is to try and do the right thing, not just by the brand, but by the fans. This was our chance to do both. It’s also our intention to make sure to do right by the people we were working with. This is a business that is made by people, and when things like this happen there is a human cost. We are trying to do what we can to work with the original staff and provide a soft landing.”

Murray declined to share any of the financial information surrounding Skybound’s deal to take the game over from Telltale. He also declined to say how many people from the original team would work on the game or what sort of contract it would be — short-term or a permanent hire.

“We are doing our best to take care of the people,” he said. “Our intent is to work with the original team but there are a lot of moving parts. I don’t want to get into the specifics around the deal itself, but I will say this: We are doing everything we can to do right by the people making the game. There’s not a huge upside for the corporate entity of Telltale Games.

“This has nothing to do with Telltale Games and everything to do with the people involved with making ‘The Walking Dead’ game and trying to take care of them in the meantime the best way we can. That’s the process we are in: Save the game for the fans and provide at least a runway to the team as we finish off the game. This has everything to do with the people who are making the game, and the fans.”

While the former staff of Telltale Games continues to struggle to find new jobs and deal with the sudden closure, Skybound is trying to navigate those waters in a way that, Murray hopes, will help give those developers time to find footing and also result in a conclusion to the game. When asked if Skybound might consider building out an in-house staff to start creating more of its games inside the company, Murray said that was unlikely, at least in the short term.

“There is a challenge to that idea,” he said. “We discussed it, but our company is built around creators, doing whatever we can and working with a creator’s IP to extend it outward. Bringing on a whole team is a big initiative and something we weren’t prepared for.”

Creating an in-house development team, he said, would limit the company’s ability to experiment with such a diverse selection of IP and genre. Skybound is also still working through the details of how the game’s final episodes will be sold, he said.

While the sudden closure of Telltale Games could be interpreted as a sign that narrative-driven games aren’t profitable, Murray said that Skybound still believes in them. He also said the company continues to examine ways to tell more stories from “The Walking Dead” using the same sort of gaming approach.

“We believe in narrative games,” he said. “We believe in story games and we will continue to tell the best stories we can around ‘The Walking Dead.’”


Also, as of Oct 7/8, the Final Season is no longer for sale at the moment. According to the game’s GoG page, Telltale requested “a temporary pause of sales.” The game can’t be purchased on Steam or via console either. So who knows how they will distribute the last eps to people with season passes and those who haven't bought the game yet.
 
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