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Publisher Spotlight: Telltale Games

Posted Jun 29, 2018

If you’ve chosen who lives and who dies in The Walking Dead, examined crime scenes as Batman, or delved into multiple stories of intrigue in Game of Thrones, then you’ve definitely heard of Telltale Games. Telltale is a hugely successful video game developing and publishing company based in San Rafael, California and is best known for its wide selection of adventurous video games based on film, comics, and TV shows, often using licensed properties, putting their own spin on well-known worlds and letting players engage in stories they’ve previously just consumed via shows and books.

Founded in 2004, the company uses a proprietary gaming engine, called the Telltale Tool, to weave its 21st-Century Choose-Your-Own-Adventure stories, which was completely developed in-house and has been in use since day one!

The Telltale Founding
Founded by Kevin Bruner, Dan Connors, and Troy Molander, Telltale Games in 2004. The Telltale founding team brought a lot of experience to the table, having previously worked on LucasArts’ classics themselves. Their episodic video game technology made them different than other companies, frequently releasing games as installments to larger, continuous series.

Telltale released their first game, Telltale Texas Hold-em, a poker card game, on February 11, 2005. Games based on Jeff Smith’s Bone comic books and CSI followed the initial launch, until their first episodic series, Sam & Max: Season One, was published in collaboration with GameTap. Sam & Max proved to be a huge success, with Telltale producing two additional seasons thereafter.

Sam & Max, originally a LucasArts title, was adopted by Telltale in 2005. It featured a private-investigating dog and rabbit in New York City which attracted a huge fan base and led Telltale to develop several successful series of video games based on the story. The company’s first ever mobile game was actually Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space, which was released in November of 2007! The character Max even made some appearances in other Telltale titles like Poker Night at the Inventory and Poker Night 2.

Originally creating adventure games with puzzles for players to complete in order to progress, Telltale now makes its games with a choice-driven approach, where players personalize the storyline based on the decisions they make in the game. One of Telltale’s most successful series to date has been the Tales of Monkey Island, based on the classic LucasArts series. Today, Telltale continues to produce successful adventure video games and releases them monthly, and even some bi-monthly.

Telltale Today
Telltale’s games are produced, developed, and self-published across over 6,000 different devices including PC, Xbox, PlayStation, iOS, and Android. The company was named the “Most Innovative Company in Gaming” by Fast Company and recognized by Metacritic as the Number 1 Overall Publisher for Quality Content in 2014. Before working at Telltale, the current CEO, Pete Hawley, worked for Zynga, Red Robot Labs, Electronic Arts, CrowdStar, and Lionhead Studios. He brings to the table several years of experience in business, gaming, augmented reality, and technology to lead Telltale towards even more creative and successful path.

Leah Hoyer, Telltale’s Vice President of Creative, works with and oversees the studio’s creative teams, including writers and designers, to ensure smooth workflow and proper protocol. Hoyer previously worked on projects including the popular Guild Wars franchise, Sunset Overdrive, Killer Instinct, Quantum Break, as well as Disney TV animations including Phineas & Ferb, Recess, and Kim Possible.

Talk about one talented team!

Telltale Tool
The Telltale Tool is a proprietary game engine that was developed by the Telltale team and has been used for every single game released by the company. It was originally referred to as the “Telltale Engine and Toolset” before the name was shortened to the snappier branded version it is today.

The engine is one of continuous improvement, with newer versions being made in order to be compatible with new systems and deliver even more vivid graphics. The company’s first game, Texas Hold-em, was actually created to test the Telltale Tool for bugs, before releasing the first adventure game that would lead the way to Telltale’s success.

The Start of Something New
Like every company, Telltale hasn’t perfected everything, including its engine. Although this tool has a lot of unique features, including physics-based models, texture mapping and blending, dynamic lighting and shadowing capabilities, there’s been some issues with functionality, efficiency, and glitches in the past. That’s why the company has decided to adopt a new cross-platform 3D game engine, Unity.

This decision wasn’t easy, considering the company has been using the Telltale Tool since it first started. Telltale’s point-and-click style games proved to be a good fit for Unity, rather than Epic’s front-loaded Unreal Engine 4, which has a lot of the first-person shooter assets that Telltale doesn’t need.

What’s Next
With a new game engine on its way, Telltale Stranger Things may be the first game that the company will release with the new tech, although there’s no definite release date yet. Keep up with Telltale’s recent announcements here!

Telltale Community
Visit the Telltale Community and join in on everything from general chats to discussions on your favorite Telltale titles with your fellow gaming enthusiasts!

Join Telltale Games
Want to make great games with fun people? Telltale is redefining the way the games industry works, and they’re looking for new team members to help forge the way. If you’re looking for a fast-paced, creative environment where the work you do will make a difference, you should consider joining the Telltale team! Check out the positions they’re hiring now.

Keep in Touch with Telltale
Stay up to date with all things Telltale via their Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube accounts. Interested in learning more about the company? Visit the official Telltale website here!

About Publisher Spotlight
The AdColony Publisher Spotlight series showcases the finest publishers and developers in mobile gaming. To nominate a publisher to be featured, tweet to @AdColony. To feature your studio, just fill out the Publisher Spotlight Questionnaire.

Join the Conversation
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