Episodic Adventure Newness

By John Walker on July 29th, 2008 at 10:38 am.

Ha ha, he said

Two new episodic adventures are in our futures. American McGee’s Grimm is almost with us (July 31st), and Telltale have announced yet another series in the form of Wallace & Gromit. Trailers and comments below.

American McGee’s Grimm
The Bishop of Wrongshire.

I’m intrigued by this. McGee got his reputation with Alice, but hasn’t really done anything with it since. I hope this is as dark as it promises to be. They might have wanted to go over that trailer script maybe a couple more times, so that they don’t have the same line twice in a row. Episode 1, which I believe has something to do with a boy learning what fear is, is out on 31st July, and then weekly episodes after that. Weekly is a big gamble, and it’ll be fascinating to see if it works.

Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures
He rolls his eyes sometimes!

So joining Sam & Max, Strong Bad, and (they still appear to claim) Bone, is a fourth episodic series from Telltale, based on Aardman’s most popular characters, Wallace and Gromit. What we know so far is that it won’t be using exactly the same engine as the other games, instead creating what so far looks to be an impressive rendition of claymation. If the teaser is representative of in-game (and the artwork on the site suggests it might be) it could look rather lovely.

There are no release dates or details about episodes yet, but Telltale promise the games will be written with Aardman involved, and stay true to the animations’ humour. (Which, I shall say for the sake of being despised, I just don’t get. It’s slapstick in slow motion. Why does everyone love it so much?)

What I more practically would offer is the hope that this will see Telltale upping the file size of their downloads, so they can fix the dreadful audio in all their games. It’s probably noble to keep things to 60mbish, and of course the real motivation for doing so – keeping it small enough for console downloads – is more clear now. But can the PC users, who download gigabytes without noticing, not have an extra hundred meg or so, so we can have voices that don’t sound like they’re underwater?

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36 Comments »

  1. Xagarath says:

    Wallace and Gromit was never purely about slapstick.
    It’s the blend of it with parody and character animation that works.

  2. rob says:

    Does anyone remember that claymation game that came out years ago, The Neverhood? I remember PC World had this huge display set up for it but the game was £50! I got the demo off a PCG cover disk and played it over and over but by the time I’d saved up enough money to buy it, nobody was selling it any more.
    It had a great visual style to it and I only hope that Wallace and Gromit can capture that. The Neverhood came out during an interesting time where people were spending a lot of money on developing adventure games for very little return. Toonstruck cost loads to make and completely failed to recoup that and I seem to remember The Neverhood being a bit of a failure in terms of sales. Telltale seem to be going in the opposite direction, making cheap and quite samey games but presumably making a decent profit on them.

  3. cliffski says:

    I’m sad enough to be interested in a wallace and gromit game, and lvoe the idea of episodic stuff. bring it on!

    And yes, the slapstick is a minor element. its the expressions, the writing, and the characters that make W&G, and the extreme Britishness of it. We need more British-feeling comedic games, why isn’t there an ealing comedies of gaming?

  4. Ian says:

    If they make a W&G game as funny as the shows are while still being a fun game, count me in.

  5. Simon says:

    I was surprised, then excited, then immediately sceptical. Wallace & Gromit point-and-click adventure games could be wonderful if Telltale nail it, but they’ve even managed to shake my interest in the charming Sam & Max for the time being. I hear those games keep getting better, but the samey structures and awkwardness of the first batch turned me off. Although I think Telltale’s guts and effort are to be encouraged, people seem to have a blind spot for the genre and rave about adventure games where they are not nearly as enjoyable as a slice of old LucasArts, which has invariably been the case.

    I can’t tell exactly what kind of game Grimm’s going to be from the idiotic trailer, but if Gametap worked in the UK I’d be tempted to give it a whirl to see more of the art style and how that cutesy/dark transforming mechanic works. Reminds me of Toonstruck, now I mention it.

  6. Optimaximal says:

    John, can you confirm you are not British?

    If that’s definitely the case, I think we’ve just found out why you don’t get W&G…

  7. John Walker says:

    I’m from the UK, and still live here. I’m not quite sure what your comment means. The only times I’ve heard such a defense made is from Americans arguing why they sit through infinite repeats of Are You Being Served? on PBS.

    I deleted a paragraph from the post about why I don’t find it funny because it wasn’t relevant, and too self-indulgent. Yay comments threads!

    I find it so tedious. Wacky expressions and exaggerated Northern accents don’t equal comedy for me. And I don’t follow this “Britishness” argument. Everything from the UK that I do find funny doesn’t need to rely on such an ethereal and ridiculous notion. It’s so derivative.

    I find it agonising to watch – it’s this false subtle. Pretending like they’re oh-so cleverly having the dog roll his eyes in the background, while they might as well have flashing neon signs and awooga sounds alerting you to it. And then someone’s trousers fall down!!!

    Put it with Some Mothers Do Have Them in the circular, on fire, file.

  8. Alec Meer says:

    John’s opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the rest of RPS.

  9. rob says:

    The rest of RPS loves Some Mothers Do Have Them.

  10. houseinrlyeh says:

    Hm, I don’t get Wallace & Gromit either, but I’m not British anyway, so I guess I’m allowed to.

    I really wish Telltale would try something based on an original IP or even (*gasp*) something non-comedic.

  11. Flint says:

    Both look very, very interesting.

  12. Saul says:

    Wallace and Gromit is supurb. I’m Australian, if that counts for anything.

  13. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    I like the shorts, they’re rarely, if ever, laugh out loud funny but get carried along by their charm. They do have a cloying tweeness to them at times though.

    Really can’t say I’m optimistic for the episodes given Telltale’s track record.

  14. Tims says:

    I hope the do it well, I don’t really like the Sam and Max games. Hopefully Aardman does most of the writing, being ‘involved’ seems rather vague.

  15. Ian says:

    I’m a big Wallace and Gromit fan, but I’d be lying if I said it was because of Cleggy’s accent. Anybody who thinks Peter Sallis affecting a northern twang is what particularly adds to the humour value would probably enjoy driving up the M1 to take a gander at what Northerners look like and giggle about them being “quaint”.

    Anyway, back on topic… I’ve never played any of the Sam and Max games at all so the episodes didn’t really appeal to me either. Would I be sensible in trying to get my hands on the old ones and giving them a go?

  16. Ed says:

    I really enjoyed Alice, tried to play it the other day but couldn’t get it to run. Would love to see it remade – one of the few games of that ‘era’ I think could do with better graphics. Acording to Wikipedia, both the film and a possible remake are on the cards… Let’s hope.

    As for W&G, I like them, so let’s see. I’ve not particularily liked the recent episodic adventure games – Sam & Max and Penny Arcade in particular. I love Monkey Island & co though, so it’s not the genre I dislike. I found Sam & Max to be frustrating, at least from the demo. I found Penny Arcade to be interesting, but levels were repetitive and the story banal.

    Monkey Island (1 and 2 in particular) managed to have a fun, interesting and wacky story, and is a game I can go back to over and over…

  17. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    @ Ian: You can download ‘Abe Lincoln Must Die’ for free. It’s supposedly the best episode of the first season, on which evidence the rest of the season must be pretty dire. I guess it’s worth a shot to see whether it’s your thing or not though.

  18. roBurky says:

    At least Wallace & Gromit is getting a point and click adventure, which suits them. Unlike the shooter that their last game was.

    But I suspect it’s going to follow the formula of Sam & Max, and just make lots of references to jokes tin the originals. That the trailer is just a scene from the films but with an egg instead of porridge kind of supports that.

  19. cyrenic says:

    John also hates RTS’s, puppies, and sunshine.

  20. AbyssUK says:

    I so wished the new IP was Futurama, that would be so awesome… W&G I dunno, unless you play the penguin from the wrong trousers now that would be awesome.

  21. Ian says:

    @AbyssUK: “Feathers McGraw Returns”

    !!!!!

  22. hungSolo says:

    @rob: I played The Neverhood last year. Frustrating puzzles for an adventure novice like myself, but I enjoyed the wonderfully realized world so much that I pushed through (with the help of GameFAQs). I was going through a period of exploring mid-90s oddities like Bad Day on the Midway and The Dark Eye. They don’t make them like that anymore, or at least companies the size of DreamWorks don’t.

    I believe The Neverhood sold pretty poorly on release, but a complete copy is fetching a nice price on eBay these days.

    EDIT: Occurs to me to note that Douglas TenNapel, the designer of Earthworm Jim, created The Neverhood. Also, if I remember correctly, when you get to the end, you get to see some wicked-cool pixelated pictures of the making of the game. That is all.

  23. Arathain says:

    Are they allowed to touch Wallace and Grommit? Some things should remain in their original form. If it isn’t utterly brilliant (and there’s no reason to think it will be) then it should never happen.

  24. Larington says:

    Usually its the relatively subtle things that get me, such as when gromit is in the mini-airoplane thingy and sees a clocktower right ahead of him and has to quickly pull up to avoid hitting the clocktower.

    The white on blue background arrow isn’t pointing left or right, its pointing up.

  25. A-Scale says:

    @John Walker

    What bad audio in Telltale games? I have always been quite impressed with the Sam and Max audio quality.

  26. Optimaximal says:

    What bad audio in Telltale games? I have always been quite impressed with the Sam and Max audio quality.

    He means the playback quality of the audio rather than the quality of the content – Telltale encode the sound at a low bit-rate to a) lower the file size of the downloadable versions and b) charge people for a soundtrack CD because most of the music is rather spiffing!

    It’s actually quite noticeable with good sound hardware. It’s a shame they didn’t use higher-quality versions on the season DVDs – after all, I doubt they actually recorded them at that bit-rate.

  27. A-Scale says:

    I was speaking about audio quality in the bitrate sense, not in the writing sense as well. What kind of hardware are we talking about? I have a Realtek ALC883 chip and cheap but decent speakers, and it has never bothered me a bit. Do I need to spend 100 on a separate sound card and 500 on speakers before I will notice it? If so, I don’t think Telltale has much to worry about.

  28. malkav11 says:

    Seriously.

    I think Telltale’s done a great job with Sam and Max (a few notable missteps in the form of early season 1 and season 2 episode 2 aside), and that they’ve only gotten better over time. I can’t wait to see what they do with Wallace and Gromit – I might even be able to get my mom interested, which is a rare thing, believe you me.

  29. malkav11 says:

    Also, American McGee does have one other accomplishment to his name – he managed to release a game so bad that Gamestop would have paid me to take a copy of it off their hands (the sticker price was -$1). That game being Bad Day LA.

    Well, that and I think he was involved with some of the early Quake games or something.

  30. Ted says:

    There was nothing wrong with the audio in Sam and Max. And this is not using a new engine. All of Telltale’s games have been done with the Telltale Tool (even CSI), with updates and enhancements added along the way, just as in this case. Different art style doesn’t mean new engine.

  31. John Walker says:

    The audio in Sam & Max, Bone, and indeed in the trailers for Strong Bad, all sound garbled by a poor bit rate. And that’s on a standard Creative soundcard and regular speakers. It produces a bubbly sound to all the voices, that I’ve always found to be offputting. And I say this as no neurotic audiophile – it’s a distinct, peculiar sound.

    I also said, “won’t be using exactly the same engine,” as in there are changes to it for this game. I realise this could be understood to mean a different engine – sorry for any confusion.

  32. Justin says:

    To pick out a minor thread here – Doug Tennapel did Earthworm Jim along with Neverhood. He also wrote and drew “Creature Tech“, an interesting book (‘graphic novel’ if you feel hoity-toity) It’s worth picking up if you liked the Earthworm Jim art style, though he tends to proselytize Christianity a bit harder than the story demands.

  33. GeorgeR says:

    I probably won’;t run to buy grimm stuff until a few are out and I know I won’t be diving into a sad letdown. From what I’ve seen that won’t be the case.

  34. BJ Blazkowicz says:

    Looking forward to Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures.

  35. Tims says:

    I think I’ll add, this does seem like a good idea. Yay.

  36. baf says:

    Wow, what a lot of not-love here for Telltale. I’ll chime in saying that I didn’t notice anything wrong with the audio in Sam & Max. Perhaps my headphones are just so low-quality that everything sounds like that to me.

    As to Grimm, regardless of how it turns out, it’s nice to see that they’re tackling one of the less well-known tales first, instead of sticking to the ones that Perrault and Disney picked up. Maybe they’ll do The Robber Bridegroom next. Or The Juniper Tree.

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