Telltale On Wolf Among Us, Following The Walking Dead

By Nathan Grayson on May 16th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

To hear Telltale tell the tale, The Walking Dead wasn’t built to be a wildly acclaimed game of the year award magnet. A good game? Yes. A great story? Clearly. But not a bowling ball catapult into zombified super stardom. With all eyes suddenly on the once-unassuming developer, “that Fables game” has an incredibly tough act to follow. But The Wolf Among Us is a) about a gruff, nicotine-addicted werewolf detective and b) not about gazing sullenly out the window while protesting, “No, it’s just the rain/my allergies/this waterfall we’re standing under.” It takes place in a mad fantasy reality where anything can happen – except, um, the undead apocalypse. It’s maybe a bit different. So, where does Walking Dead’s DNA end and Wolf Among Us begin? What about Fables-specific issues like mystery-solving, a pre-established main character, wolfed-out combat, and a somewhat controversial creator? I spoke with Telltale president Kevin Bruner about all of that and more.

RPS: The Wolf Among Us takes place in pseudo-modern times, but under a premise that’s far more surreal. Walking Dead was at least grounded in…

Bruner: Real people in a zombie apocalypse.

RPS: Whereas this is a lot more outlandish and crazy. How are you embracing and leveraging that? What are the biggest changes?

Bruner: In a lot of ways I think Fables is the hardest thing we’ve ever done to date. In Walking Dead, Lee and Clem were inventions. They could be things that were convenient for the game world. Their backgrounds, their personalities, the way they react to things. We could craft those characters in a way that was fun to role-play as and fun to interact with. With Fables, you play Bigby Wolf. He has to be Bigby Wolf. Snow has to be Snow. The world has a stricter set of rules than Kirkman’s zombie world. The role that you play, as a kind of detective and the sheriff of Fabletown, isn’t as life and death as “I am protecting Clementine from being eaten by zombies.” The bar is set a lot higher for us as far as how we make all that work.

I think Fables is the hardest thing we’ve done to date.

But we really have embraced it. We’ve come up with new storytelling techniques. We call it the evolution of choice. A big thing in Walking Dead was going where the story took you, and we would throw these choices at you, but you couldn’t really determine what was going to happen next. Whereas in Fables, the choices you make in the moment are all there, like in Walking Dead, but there are places where it branches timeline-wise.

Two events are happening at the same time and you have to choose which event you’re going to interact with. When you get there, you make the same kind of in-the-moment choices, but there’s stuff happening somewhere else at the same time. Not only do you get to choose what to say and how to treat people, but you also get to choose when and where you’re saying it. If you go one way, people will be like, “Where were you? We were over here and we could have really used you.” You have to explain why you weren’t there. These are all new role-playing aspects that we’re using as tools to help us stay within the bounds where Bigby Wolf can be Bigby Wolf and the Fables universe can stay consistent.

RPS: Is that how you’re handling the issue of ownership of a pre-established character? Like you said, Lee was your own invention. Bigby’s an animal of an entirely different (and literal) sort.

Bruner: It’s interesting. He’s the sheriff, right? Your first instinct is that it should be a crime-solving game. We’ve done a bunch of forensics games at Telltale before. Where we landed was, he’s the sheriff of Fabletown, and there’s a crime, and it’s a story about a sheriff figuring out what’s going on with a crime, but the gameplay isn’t [necessarily crime].

That’s the backdrop. That’s what happens. But the gameplay is about relationships. It’s about how Bigby and Snow start to come closer together. There, in canon, Snow isn’t the deputy mayor yet. You can see how Crane treats her. You can start to form some opinions about… Bigby can express to Snow, “Well, don’t do that,” or “I’m gonna go and kick his ass.” Those kinds of things. We let you explore that level of detail, in the context of this narrative of this crime and this event that happens in Fabletown. That’s the backbone that you ride along. The gameplay is about something different.

It’s not like an L.A. Noire crime-solving game. But the story is about investigating and interviewing and things like that.

RPS: Aside from those moments where you can choose to go to one event or another, is this story by and large fairly linear? Or is there more exploration to it?

Bruner: There’s more non-linear areas in each episode than there are in Walking Dead, but certainly early on in the episodes, they all end in the same place that you can share with your friends.

RPS: You recently mentioned that Telltale sort of “begrudgingly” adds adventure game-y elements to its stories. You’re trying to,er, tell tales first and foremost. Compared to Walking Dead, is this even less puzzle-heavy?

Bruner: Yeah, I’d say it’s less puzzle-heavy, but that’s because the core narrative, being a mystery, has more intrigue built into it. I think some of the same questions that a puzzle, in a more traditional adventure games, might pose in your head, like “How am I going to do this?”, it’s more like, “What does this information that I have right now mean?” In some ways it’s like a whodunit kind of thing. I think you feel a lot of the same things you might feel if there were more puzzles, but it’s not a puzzle game, in the same way. I think it’s mentally challenging in the same way as a puzzle game, but that’s more because of the whodunit nature of the tropes.

RPS: How does the whodunit part function? Can you make a wrong call? Can you accuse someone who’s entirely innocent?

Bruner: A big part of the choices that you make is how you interpret the information that you know right now. That’s one thing that’s going to be a lot of fun. The game certainly isn’t set up in a way where it rewards or punishes you for making a call. If you say, “I think all the events that I saw mean this, or this other thing,” it just allows you to express that. The world comes back and says, “Well, if it means that, then this follows.”

But it’s very non-judgmental. The story allows all that space to exist. It feeds that kind of detective story whodunit intrigue. Okay, you saw this, what does it mean? What we want is for you to say, “I don’t know what it means.” Narratively you don’t have enough information to know exactly what it means. You could say, “I think it might mean this,” and then the story will start telling itself. If that’s what you think it means, we’ll give you a bit of information that reinforces that, or maybe a bit of information that will make you question that, and we’ll take it from there. I think that makes it really engaging. It feels cool.

RPS: Bigby is also, at heart, a gigantic wolf monster. He fights, right? How are you approaching combat in this one? I’m guessing you’ve evolved it quite a bit from Walking Dead.

Bruner: Yeah, the fight sequences are completely over the top. They’re fables, right? They’re hard to kill. One of the things we didn’t want to do was make it feel like it turned into a superhero game. When fights break out, we want you to get excited. You feel the fight coming and you have the controller in your hand, and then the fight gets so over the top that you’re like, “Whoa, hold on, that’s not exactly what I was going for there.”

Bigby, when he becomes the wolf, he’s out of control. We want to convey that to the player. The level of control and the things that you can do when Bigby is the wolf aren’t exactly the expected things. You’ll be like, “Yeah, I’m totally going to be a big badass right now and punch that guy in the face.” So you punch that guy in the face, but you punch his face off. There’s blood everywhere. It’s totally brutal. As a gamer, we want you to be like, “OK, that’s not exactly what I meant. I meant I wanted him to be a big badass hero. Then I obliterated this guy in a horrible way.” That’s kind of like Bigby being out of control and when he wolfs out, he doesn’t always do [what you're expecting].

Bigby’s a wolf – not a superhero. He’s being his DNA, what’s inside him.

He goes a little overboard most of the time. It’s a reflection of the Fables thing. They’re not Superman and Batman fighting. He’s not a kung fu master. He’s a wolf. It’s very animalistic. He’s not being a superhero – he’s being his DNA, what’s inside him.

RPS: With the combat, how direct is the control for the player? Is it just a few little QTE button inputs, or are you fully moving him around?

Bruner: It’s cinematic combat. It’s kind of QTE-ish. More like what we did in Walking Dead. It’s not like an Arkham Asylum kind of combat, where you can target people and things like that. The sequences are scripted in a way so that they’re timed and dramatic. You shouldn’t feel like you’re getting scored. There’s not a power meter or anything like that. It’s still very cinematic. We want to be telling stories all the time. Coming back and putting a power meter up, for us, is not narratively the right thing to do.

RPS: But I saw in another report that you can get beaten up, and people will actually react to your battered appearance.

Bruner: Yeah, you can succeed to varying levels when you’re in a fight. You can lose fights. Sometimes you can intentionally lose a fight, if you think that’s the right thing to do. Then, if your face is all beat up and bruised and you go back to Snow, she might be like, “What the hell happened to you? I thought you were a tough guy?” Or she might say, “What the hell happened to you? C’mere, let me warm up to you a little bit, get a little closer.” You can kind of use the fighting narratively as a tool if you want to. That’s more what getting beat up is about.

RPS: It’s interesting that you’re approaching combat from the narrative perspective first and foremost. Combat is one of gaming’s main means of interaction, but gratifying violence is always the end goal. What’s it like reinventing a very common game trope for an entirely different purpose?

Bruner: It’s pretty hard. How do we do it cinematically? How do we look at really great fights in the movies and more linear mechanisms? Why are they compelling? Why do you care what’s happening in a fight? We’ve been working on it all through Jurassic Park, all through the zombie attacks and the different activities you do in Walking Dead, and I think Fables is our next iteration of it.

But the fighting in Fables is definitely a result of different combat prototypes that we’ve done over the years. It’s hard, because in games, in skill-based gaming, you have arena fighting games, which is all about dexterity and memory and button combos. They’re really compelling to play. The line gets really close between video game fighting, for skill-based rewards, and a fight in a story-based game that is narratively important. That’s a really fine line to tread, a difficult line to tread.

RPS: For all its fantastically brutal emotional and narrative beats, Walking Dead didn’t look so great. It moved really robotically, and the art style kind of clashed with everything else. Wolf Among Us is quite a looker in still shots, though. Is fluidity and animation getting a similar treatment?

Bruner: We get pretty maniacal about making things look the way that they’re supposed to look when we get into various IP. We have what we call a “living ink” look for the game. When we released the first round of screenshots, there was a lot of, “Holy crap, is that concept art?” It’s the game. The game really looks like that when it’s moving. It’s not cel-shading in the more traditional cartoon cel-shading. It’s a very flat look that looks more like inked comic books.

We’ve invested a lot in some technology to make it look like a comic book, like a newsprint comic. Then we keep iterating on what our actors can do, trying to make our animations look better. But we’re always challenged by the amount of content that we do. Every game is like trying to do an animated feature film, a five- or six-hour animated movie on a very small budget in a very short amount of time. We have a lot of tricks up our sleeves to do that. We keep trying to get better at it. But on this one, I think the art direction is very bold, very cool. The overall look that comes out is very unique. I haven’t seen anything that quite goes to the extent of looking like a regular printed comic the way Fables does.

RPS: Are seasons of Wolf Among Us and Walking Dead going to run concurrently, or will it be one and the other alternating?

Bruner: We’re not announcing any release dates for anything other than Fables right now, but certainly we’re gearing up to have multiple games or shows running simultaneously. We’ll have an episode of one thing coming out at the same time as an episode of another thing, which we’ve never done before. We’re definitely getting prepared for that.

You talked about the technical problems. One of the things that we want to make sure of is that, before we get two games going simultaneously, we get one game going without people having saved game problems and technical issues like that. That’s our immediate goal, to get Fables out there, get it clean, feel confident that if we have two of these things going simultaneously, we have the bandwidth to support it properly. We feel pretty confident that we’re there, but the proof’s in the pudding. We’ll have to wait until Fables launches.

RPS: I’ve only recently gotten into Fables myself, but I keep hearing of controversy attached to its creator. He’s said some things about Israel apparently, and he even alluded to it in the comic once. But do you think that stuff’s really an issue – especially for your game and your story?

Bruner: I don’t think our story is overly conservative or has any kind of personal political slant to it or anything like that. Bill [Willingham] has been great to work with. I’ve heard similar things, but in our interactions with him, he doesn’t seem like he has an agenda or anything like that. He just seems like he wants to tell a great story with these characters.

RPS: It’s always an interesting thing to see, when people just will not remove a creator’s work from the creator themselves. In some cases it’s maybe warranted. Case in point: Orson Scott Card. But is that at all a concern for you guys?

Bruner: It hasn’t really come up so far. Fables is a comic book. Fables doesn’t have a TV show. The really hardcore Fables audience is still relatively small. We feel like one of the things that we’re trying to do is to get a lot more people introduced to Fables. So I think everyone’s aware that, for a lot of people, the Fables game is going to be their first contact with the franchise. We feel like we have a lot of heavy lifting to do, just about Fabletown and the Mundies and all that.

When we get to that level of, “Is there an agenda to it or not?” you have to get pretty deep into the IP. Most of our effort is focusing on people who are new to the franchise and explaining why these fairy tales live in New York and how long they’ve been there and what the relationship is with the mundane world. We have an enormous amount of expositional ground-level work to do.

RPS: Especially relative to The Walking Dead, because even if it’s its own universe, it’s still like, “This is the world. Now there are zombies in it. That’s pretty much it.”

We’re gearing up to have multiple games or shows running simultaneously.

Bruner: If you say it’s a zombie story, you have a big head start, whereas the Fables universe is really sophisticated and really complicated. Getting people up to speed with enough of it that they understand how the game is working has been a real challenge. We’ve deliberately focused on just a few aspects of the world to start with, because if you try to go wide and explain everything – which we did contemplate at one point, having a big speech at the beginning of the game where we figured out a way to dump as much information as possible, like at the Remembrance Day festival or something like that – [it's too obvious]. We’ll talk about the Mundies. We’ll talk about glamours. We’ll talk about how they got to Fabletown. And we’ll leave the rest of it for episode two [laughs].

RPS: Personally, I think that’s probably the better way to go. Usually, when there’s an exposition dump, most people can pick up on it. People are pretty story-savvy.

Bruner: Yeah. We want to be clever about it. The Remembrance Day is a great time to talk about the past. Can we squeeze that into two minutes and feel like people understood what they were doing, though? We explored that for a little while, and we said, “No, let’s just start small.” Start small, start intimate, try to get people engaged in what they’re doing, and let the story get bigger as it goes along.

RPS: For better or worse, I think all eyes are on you right now, because Walking Dead was such a success. Admittedly, the follow-up to Walking Dead is Walking Dead season two. But a lot of people will look at Wolf and say, “That’s the follow-up to Walking Dead,” because it’s the next thing sequentially. When you have that kind of comparison, how do you manage it? How do you manage the fact that a lot of people are going to be coming to your game because they liked The Walking Dead?

Bruner: You do two things. You continue to do the best work you can possibly do, and then you run in the corner and hide as much as possible [laughs]. It’s tough coming on the heels of such a successful and an important game to people, saying, “Hey, do you want to try this other thing?” We think a lot of people who played Walking Dead will really like Fables. It may not be for all of them, because it’s a different context. Maybe some people who never played Walking Dead, Fables will be their thing.

But we believe that Fables is the right kind of world for us to play with. It works really well for the kind of games that we want to make. We didn’t know Walking Dead was going to be what it was, so hopefully, as long as we stick to our guns and the same things we thought were important with Walking Dead… If we’re doing that with Fables, hopefully it will resonate the same way with people.

Check back tomorrow for part two, which digs deep into Telltale’s super-duper secret (and very interesting) experimental projects. Complex non-combat AI, being able to say whatever you want to characters, atypical games that bridge the gap between seasons – those sorts of things. Also, we talk about why King’s Quest ended up falling by the wayside

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66 Comments »

  1. GallonOfAlan says:

    And so to werewolves. Inevitable I suppose since we’ve done zombies and draculas to death. After this it’ll be all frankensteins and mummies.

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      Surlywombat says:

      Bigby isn’t exactly a werewolf. He’s a big bad wolf. It’s portrayed differently enough in the comic.

      • Tacroy says:

        Bigby is not just a big bad wolf, he’s the Big Bad Wolf. That’s why his name is Bigby.

    • The Random One says:

      A werewolf is a man who turns into a wolf. Bigby is a wolf that looks like a man.

  2. Stillquest says:

    ” I keep hearing of controversy attached to its creator. He’s said some things about Israel apparently, and he even alluded to it in the comic once.”

    Oh, wow, RPS. Good to know alluding to Israel once makes the writer controversial.

    • Ross Angus says:

      Huh? What do you mean?

    • S Jay says:

      I am not even sure who the guy is or what was the statement, but anything you say about Israel (pro or against) tend to be controversial somewhere.

    • Jams O'Donnell says:

      Fables is a metaphor for the Israel/Palestine conflict, with the good guys being Israel.

      • solidsquid says:

        It’s not really Israel/Palestine from what I read of it, although I guess you could argue it was Israel/Muslim territories

        That said, I didn’t find the in-comic reference to Israel to be that out of place, it did kind of make sense for that character in that context (trying to avoid spoilers here). At the same time though, the character was essentially espousing a pro-terrorist view and comparing their situation to Israel, so I can see how holding that particular viewpoint would be controvertial

        • Stillquest says:

          Being from Israel myself, I found Bigby’s “let me tell you about Israel” rant to be equal parts amusing and, well, embarrassing. I might be expected to go “yay, this guy is rooting for my side”, but it’s about as silly as somebody going “Let me tell you about Ireland, a wonderful country of brave feisty red-heads fighting side by side with leprechauns” – it’s a myth of Israel, as opposed to the real thing.

          Hmm… on second thought, it might be quite fitting, considering the subject matter of the comic.

          • MasterDex says:

            But….that’s what Ireland is like. We drink a few beers in the morning, head to the pub to meet up with the leprechauns and after we’ve finished fighting each other, we go to the next town over and fight them…Except in that case, we bring a referee and call it Hurling. Or Gaelic Football.

          • napoleon_in_rags says:

            It’s too bad more people (on both sides) don’t think more like this about the conflict. People prefer to believe myths, though. It’s easier.

          • Stillquest says:

            I KNEW IT! Damn you, MasterDex, why do you keep hiding the leprechauns whenever tourists are around?!

    • omicron1 says:

      It’s quite interesting, really – I’ve been on the receiving end of a small amount of bigotry for my gender identity… But that hate is vanishingly small compared to the amount I’ve received for being conservative.
      I mean, I get that RPS is British and the prevailing political winds across the pond are to the Liberal side, but… Inclusivity is sometimes a real problem here.

      In this case, it seems ‘pro-Israel’ is the ‘controversy’. I’d be curious to see if a pro-Palestine author of equal fervor received the same attention to his own ‘controversial’ views.

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        Surlywombat says:

        I’ll never understand the US definitions of “Conservative” and “Liberal” as long as I live.

        • Fred S. says:

          Any relationship between the political parties and the abstract definitions of “liberal” or “conservative” is purely coincidental.

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          Faldrath says:

          It’s mostly because during the Cold War Americans wanted to purge their language from anything that might resemble communism, so the “liberal/conservative” dichotomy emerged to replace the “left/right” one. But since this emerged internally, it conflicts with how “liberal” is used outside the USA. As in, since the 1700s “liberal” means someone that supports free trade, and is actually on the right side of the political spectrum. Hence the confusion.

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          phuzz says:

          Indeed, for the record the prevailing political winds in the UK right now are Conservative (as in the political party), which is basically completely different from the US use of the word.
          And while the Conservative party is towards the right by British standards, some of their policies would be called “liberal” in the US.
          Mind you, the Liberal Democrat party are not far off what the US interpretation of the words might mean, assuming Americans could come to agreement about anything to do with politics…

        • sophof says:

          I don’t know about the UK, but in the Netherlands these odd definitions are definitely being adopted as well. So I suggest you get used to it, I know from experience no one will listen to your complaints ;-)

        • ucfalumknight says:

          Oddly enough, I thought our definitions were pretty much the same. From what I have gathered, the UK and most of Europe are suffering under a conservative regime, just as we are having to bend to the conservative will here in the states. The Liberals in the Senate and White House are constantly at odds with the Conservatives here.

      • S Jay says:

        I don’t want to compare (oh, this will sound badly) but the same way a “pro-Libyan-insurgency” is not very controversial, while a “pro-Libyan-government” is.

        Maybe it is a very wrong analogy, but my point is that it is easier to sympathize with the underdog which claims is being oppressed and abused by a larger power.

      • Cryo says:

        You don’t have a “gender identity”. That’s for people,
        and conservatives are not people.

        • cowardly says:

          I am impressed by how well you managed to prove their point for them. Bravo! You are now officially a prat. Congratulations.

        • WrenBoy says:

          Dont be silly, the only non people in this world are those who develop QTEs.

    • twig_reads says:

      Just for everyone here to know, this is what Bisgby is saying in the comic.

      “Ever hear of a country called Israel? …Israel is a tiny country surrounded by much larger countries dedicated to its eventual total destruction. …they stay alive by being a bunch of tough little bastards who make the other guys pay dearly every time they do anything against Israel. Some in the wider world constantly wail and moan about the endless cycle of violence and reprisal. But since the alternative is non-existence, the Israelis seem determined to keep at it. They have a lot of grit and iron. I’m a big fan of them.”

      Yes, just a slight mention indeed.

      • Cryo says:

        Hahaha, holy shit. Yeah, just a bunch of tough little bastards, with no outside backing at all.

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        Faldrath says:

        Wow. Ok, looks like I won’t be getting this game then.

        • cowardly says:

          I’m sorry, but why? I fundamentally disagree with what he’s saying as well, but I don’t see why the political slant of the author should affect your enjoyment of his creation (especially since in this case, it’s a game based of his creation, which likely won’t have that slant as overtly as that quote).

          Art always has ideology behind it, and disagreement with that ideology should never be a reason to not read/look at/play/interact wih it in some way. Stories are always tinged with the author’s view of the world, to a lesser or larger extent, and that is precisely what makes them entertaining and engaging. They can both uplift and infuriate you by their perspective, but that alone should in no way be the criteria you use to judge them.

          Would not reading Narnia or the Lord of the Rings because of their inspiration (more or less heavy-handed) from Christian theology be acceptable? No! And not reading His Dark Materials for the opposite reason? Nope! This is the same for political themes ; whether we disagree with them or not, they are no reason to dismiss a creation.

          Of course, it may put the bar slightly higher for your enjoyment of it depending on how overt it is, but many people seem to be very much taken by the comics, and Telltale have proven their ability to craft and excellent, well, tale ^^

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            Faldrath says:

            Honestly, I don’t really disagree with what you say, but I also don’t particularly feel the need to justify my position with anything other than: “different people have different criteria”. I can sometimes overcome my political/moral disagreements with an author to enjoy/analyze their work (for instance, I study philosophy, so I have to deal with Heidegger somehow, even though he was a monster in his personal life). But in this particular case, in which I don’t really *have to* engage with this game, and I already know beforehand that the author has views that I find questionable… well, I’d rather save my money and time then. There are other things that deserve both of them better.

          • WrenBoy says:

            I think its entirely reasonable to love the work and not the man. Jorge Luis Borges, for example, is a literary hero but outside of his writing was a far greater villian than Willingham.

            However were you to read Borges’ magnificent fiction in isolation you wouldnt guess that the writer was an authoritarian loving asshole. Its a bit different when the work itself is polluted by the mans objectionable ideas.

          • trinka00 says:

            it’s a perfectly good reason to not support an artistic creation tho. not buying a thing is far from dismissing it. also to some people it might make far more of a difference that the creator of whatever art is in question is still living and would directly be receiving a bigger check.

          • Lestibournes says:

            I actually liked The Wheel of Time (and maybe some other stories as well) to a certain extent because it irritated me so much. The constant focus on power struggles between people, and especially between the sexes, really annoyed me and made me subsequently feel more strongly towards the story. I liked it and hated it both at the same time.

        • twig_reads says:

          Yeah, this version of Bigsby is created by Willingham. This one will be done by Telltale, so different creators using same characters. I didnt copy this to bash the game (as we don’t know anything about how Telltale executes it) but to point out that those, who said that it’s not a controversy just because a comic “mentions” Israel, couldn’t be more wrong. But really, what did you expect, no film noir detective is anything but a libertarian. Just like batman, really :D

          Let’s just wait and see what Telltale does with it.

      • shagohad says:

        lol……maybe we moan about the reprisal because it uses an organized military to murder civilians and built effectively bantustans….yeah good work writers.

        I dont really know about this charachter.. is he presented as a but of a crazed righty?

        • Stillquest says:

          Sigh. Yeah, well, that’s more or less the kind of attitude I had in mind when I called Nathan out on the “Mentioned Israel once = Controversial” comment. If I may make a humble suggestion – try waking up to an air-raid siren once. From experience – great way to start the morning. Might also serve as an eye-opener to the fact we’re dealing with a *slightly* more nuanced situation here.

          • invisiblejesus says:

            Willingham is a conservative and is pro-Israel, and some would consider him controversial. His politics aren’t really it though, it’s more his tendency to run his mouth online without thinking. I haven’t read of him saying anything foolish recently, but his badmouthing Joss Whedon while he was writing the Angel comic was the stuff of message board legend.

          • twig_reads says:

            “Israel is a country”. Oh, you’re right, slight mention is not controversial. But what was there wasn’t jsut “slight mention”, no matter how many times you try to make it as insignificant as possible. This went beyond just mentioning Israel. Yes, the situation is *slightly* more nuanced. Happens when you march in a group of people into a land where other have been living for centuries without even trying to find some compromise. Yes, that can indeed cause slight inconvenience. A trickle of annoyance, really.

          • Stillquest says:

            Twig, as much as I hate conforming to people’s expectations by sounding like an apologist, you should really brush-up on your history. Try looking up “United Nations partition plan for Palestine”.

          • Lestibournes says:

            It’s not so much that the Jews didn’t try to get along with the Arabs as that the Arabs weren’t willing to get along with the Jews. And that’s not all of the Arabs, BTW, as some have allied themselves with the Jews. I still need to study that part in more detail. Basically, it’s very easy, instinctive, and fashionable to assume the weaker party is the victim and the stronger party the agressor, but if you look at the chain of events it’s not so. Also calling certain areas occupied territories when a much more accurate term would be disputed territories in itself shows an incorrect understanding of the situation by only recognizing the claims of one side while ignoring the other, as both the Jews and the Palestinians claim those areas as their homeland. You treat the Jews as European colonists when it’s various empires, including European emires such as Rome that have conquered the Jews, exiled them and oppressed them. The Jews are finally returning home after being forced out by other’s imperialism and yet you call them imperialists and colonialists. Fine, so another nation appeared in the Jewish homeland while most of the Jews were gone. I’ll accept that, at least for the sake of an argument. Why then has this nation, unlike the Jewish nation, consistently rejected coexistence, rejected the most generous peace offerings it can reasonably hope to get, still has ethnic cleansing of Jews from all of Israel on the official documents of it’s leading organizations, and focuses it’s efforts on indisriminate genocidal attacks against Jews?

        • Phasma Felis says:

          IIRC, he’s the hero.

      • Lestibournes says:

        When RPS called the author controversial I thought they were hinting that he was an antisemite. The I looked him up on Wikipedia and saw that he is actually a decent guy. There’s now a much greater chance that I’ll buy a game and comics in which I previously had absolutely no interest.

    • trinka00 says:

      pointing out that someone’s statements are controversial doesn’t render any kind of judgement on those statements.

      that is to say, if we are giving a person the benefit of the doubt that they are speaking without the motive of manipulation. because the word, of course, can be used in an attempt to invalidate or demonize.

      but in the case where there actually was a ‘controversy’ about an issue, it’s merely a statement of fact, and in this interview, is totally reasonable to bring up. he’s asking how this affected their translation of the comic to a game, if it had any effect at all.

      • Stillquest says:

        Mentioning that a controversy exists is fine, but it’s Nathan’s wording I took umbrage with. It may have been just an unfortunate turn of phrase, but as you can clearly see from some of the previous comments – it can also echo a sentiment I find unacceptable. Namely, that my country shouldn’t exist or rather, stop existing.

        I wish it was only me being oversensitive, but I keep running into extremely venomous – and usually just as extremely ill-informed – anti-Israeli sentiments lately.

        • WrenBoy says:

          Im going to go out on a limb and guess that, despite your hyper sensitive nature, you are able to magically grow tough skin every time you see the latest evidence of your countrys ongoing grossly disproportional violence and oppression.

          • Stillquest says:

            That’s one limb you should perhaps think twice about going out on – being little more than an Ad Hominem attack. Newsflash: Even in war-torn areas of the world, there are people that don’t live by jingoism and “my country right or wrong”. Hardly surprising you miss that fact, as you obviously assume your black-and-white, good guys versus bad guys worldview is shared by everyone.

          • WrenBoy says:

            I never said good guy versus bad guy. I said grossly disproportionate violence and oppression on the part of Israel. That is just a plain description of the situation. If you think that makes Israel the bad guy that is your call.

            Since you claim you dont live by “my country right or wrong” I have to ask; what “wrongs” do you think your country has committed?

          • Stillquest says:

            How about you start by saying what it did right? I’m all for civil discussion, but from your tone and choice of words it seems patently clear we won’t have one here.

            We both know that there’s nothing I can say that will change your mind or even give you the slightest pause. If I’m wrong and you’re actually interested in what I have to say – then my apologies, and please see my response to twig-reads below.

          • WrenBoy says:

            I honestly dont know which choice of words you find objectionable or why. I assume you do not disagree with the disproportionality of violence committed by Israel as that is an easily demonstrated fact. If you find it objectionable that I am calling you out on being an Israeli apologist prentending to refuse to live by my country right or wrong then I suggest you read all of your numerous comments on this thread.

            I have read your reply to twig-reads. I am not sure what you are hoping I would find. You are repeating unconvincing Israeli propoganda.

            You claim that Iranian leaders constantly state that their goal is the destruction of Israel. This is often exaggerated to put it mildly
            http://www.globalresearch.ca/israel-wiped-off-the-map-the-rumor-of-the-century-fabricated-by-the-us-media-to-justify-an-all-out-war-on-iran/21188

            You say in one breath that you are convinced that Israel tries to stay humane and does all it can to reduce civilian casualties and in another that a peaceful protester killed attempting to prevent the Israeli army from bulldozing civilians out of their homes was a fool who was looking for trouble and found it. I didnt actually think I was going out on much of a limb when I guessed that your hyper sensitivity to mild critisism of your country on the internet would disappear when presented evidence of your states violence.

            You complain that Iran give arms to Palestinian groups but dont complain that the US gives far more aid to your own army. Of course by your own logic you should be encouraging Iranian arming of Palestinians as you also complain that your overwhelming military superiority is a disadvantage. The lopsided death tolls hint at one possible advantage I would say.

            You say that the majority of Israelis wish for peace, and I certainly hope they do. Here is an image of the president they elected going about his daily peace loving business
            http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/09/28/blogs/rdv-bibi/rdv-bibi-blog480.jpg

        • Phasma Felis says:

          Your country probably shouldn’t have ever been created. Of course, mine (the USA) probably shouldn’t either, and for the same reason: a bunch of smug racists with guns roll up to the natives, say “nice place you got here, we’ll take it”, drive them out of house and home, and then act all surprised when they get violent about it. Your guys did it in living memory, and they also haven’t yet succeeded in wiping out 99% of the natives and driving the survivors into reservations, so the pain is fresher and more alive, but otherwise the analogy works pretty well.

          The tragedy, of course, is that there are far more innocents than militants on both sides, Israeli and Palestinian children and adults who just want to live out their lives in peace and had no hand in beginning or perpetuating the cycle of violence. Palestinian mortar teams who murder civilians are no less guilty than Israeli soldiers who do the same. For better or worse, the people of Israel have been living there now for generations; I don’t want to see them killed, and I don’t want to see them driven away as refugees. It’s far too late for simply unmaking Israel, as Israel and its allies did to much of Palestine, to be a reasonable solution. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

          But no, despite all that, neither Willingham nor anyone else gets to claim with a straight face that Israel as a nation is just a poor spunky victim of those nasty violent Muslims. You don’t get to claim that it’s a moral act to bulldoze people’s homes and shoot them if they look at you funny. You don’t get to claim that the place your ancestors lived two fucking thousand years ago is yours in perpetuity and that anyone who happens to have settled there in the intervening twenty centuries is a squatter who you can evict by force. All of that is towering bullshit. I don’t support violent solutions on any side. If people think that makes me an anti-Israeli extremist, then so be it.

          • Stillquest says:

            You know what’s the most amusing thing here? Embarrassing messianic tone aside, Willingham’s rant-by-Bigby doesn’t say anything about Israel’s history, its raison d’être, or even whether it’s in the right or not. What he does say is quite simple: For better or worse, Israel lives by its sword. We really ARE surrounded by countries that would see us destroyed. You may or may not cheer them on, you may or may not believe we (or in my case, my great-grandparents) brought it upon ourselves – fact remains, that “cycle of violence” is a 5 minute news article on CNN to you, it’s literally a matter of life and death to me.

            I don’t think you’re an anti-Israeli extremist. Mostly, I think you’re simply lucky enough to be born in a country and a time that affords you the luxury of not needing to get your hands dirty in order to survive – and I truly hope you get to keep that privilege.

          • twig_reads says:

            So Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall, James Miller and Tristan Anderson were all just necessary sacrificial lambs for your survival?

            I understand living near hostile neighbours can be nervewrecking but you there’s a difference in just surviving and creating more hostility with unwarranted aggression. I see your people feels it’s us or them but no good can come out of that thoughtframe. And mind you, I’m not saying that the palestinians who attack Israel don’t also further the violence but come on, Israel has the upper hand in that, Palestina doesnt have to stay down because they are beaten into submission.

          • Stillquest says:

            If you want my blunt and unpolitically-correct opinion – they were naive, bright-eyed fools that went into a real life conflict zone looking for trouble, and found it. Personally I find it tragic, because being a fool shouldn’t carry a death-sentence. But there you have it.

            Obviously you’ll consider me biased, but I truly believe Israel does its best to minimize civilian casualties, and generally speaking, trying to stay as humane as possible in a situation that’s anything but. Yes, obviously Israel has the “upper hand” army-wise, but considering the kind of conflict we have with the Palestinians, it does little good unless we were bent on genocide. And contrary to what you might have heard, we are not. The war’s currently being fought mostly on the media, and on that field, having the stronger army is a liability more than anything. Everybody likes to root for the underdog.

            Most Israelis want peace, even if it means compromising and ceding land. Oh, I’m not trying to say we’re all lovey-dovey angels here: We have our share of racist shit-heads – and being in a state of constant, low-scale conflict does little to ameliorate this – but surveys tend to place those in the minority.

            Unfortunately, I don’t see it happening anytime soon. There’s mostly no-one to compromise with. About half the Palestinians are currently ruled by a fundamentally religious, militant group that openly says they will be satisfied by nothing less than the complete and total “liberation” of the country. The other half are ruled by a weak, non-elected leadership that’s considered deeply corrupt by most of its citizens. And the former is constantly armed by Iran, whose leaders constantly state their goal is the destruction of Israel.

            The vast majority of both Israelis and Palestinians were born into that conflict, didn’t choose to become a part of it – and that makes the whole “who’s in the right” tack ridiculous in my eyes.

            Personally, as a deeply irreligious, anti-racism libertarian (as much as you can be, being a soldier), I dream of the day this stupid war will be over, the differences between Palestinians and Israelis becoming irrelevant. But as a realist, I’m not going to condone my country committing suicide for something that’s currently patently impossible, and a sure recipe for disaster.

            For that matter, nor am I going to condone being moralized by admittedly well-meaning outsiders, especially when said moralizing is based on a very tenuous grasp of the situation, and done by people for whom “war” is something you only ever see in the evening news. Present company excluded, of course.

          • whiskey9 says:

            Look this is all nice to say that you don’t support violence. None of us support violence and yet there are situations where violence is the only answer. I served in the military for over 20 years, I’ve worked with the Israelis on a number of issues. I’ve worked with many different countries and their militaries. I can tell you that in my entire career I have never once met anyone in the military who has reveled in the death or destruction of people whether they are innocent casualties or enemy targets. Thankfully technology and strategy has come a long way from how battles and wars were fought in the early part of the 20th century, which has allowed us to minimize casualties as best as possible. But we are not able to surgically fight enemies in the battlefield without losses on both sides and often losses to innocent bystanders. And often choices have to be made and usually it’s trying to make the best worst choice. The fact that we have had to go to war and engage in violence is already a terrible choice, a last choice.

            And choice is the important thing. I think that’s what’s drawn me to interactive media like video games and certainly why Tell-Tale does such interesting work. So I can tell you personally, I have made choices that I have had to live with in reality to keep people safer and that I am personally responsible for hundreds of people’s deaths through various air strikes and engagements that I have authorized. I can tell you that every time I made that call it was consistently a difficult decision and a decision that I wouldn’t want to place on anyone else. But they were decisions that had to be made and I don’t regret them as I did the best with what I could do at the time with the information and intelligence on hand.

            You also have to remember that most often we recruit young people to fight our wars. We stick guns into the hands of 18 year olds, people whose brains haven’t quite finished forming, who are then for the first time in their lives taken away from everyone and anything they are familiar with, their family, their friends, their homes and brought to a battlefield where they are frightened because they know they have a big target on their back and that, especially in these days of suicide attacks and guerrilla warfare, that anyone could be an assailant. So sadly yes there is a tendency on the front-lines to have young soldiers who can be at times trigger happy and can make mistakes. But I think you’re misunderstanding that as a brutality. Those 18 year olds don’t want to be there. Especially in a country like Israel which has mandatory military service, they don’t have a choice not to be there. And all the want to do is get back home to their loved ones at the end of the day. It is about survival at all times. And if you are familiar with a show like The Walking Dead – that’s what war is like these days: enemies in hiding amongst the crowd, not knowing who to trust from an intelligence standpoint, having to countlessly weigh the needs of the few in your command against the many and vice versa. War and battle is literally hell and if you’ve never experienced it beyond a Call of Duty game, then count yourself lucky, because there are no continues when you mess up, and when you lose your mate they don’t respawn. Everything is finite. And choices have weight like nothing else you can imagine. The average person has easy choices by day, what am I eating for lunch, how am i going to spend my evening, what am I going to do on my weekend. Imagine each day making decisions where you know someone is going to die and you have to try to prevent that, but each day every moment is filled with those choices. It’s unyielding. And it’s why so many people’s minds do crack in the heat of battle. Because those choices have weight.

            But here I want to throw something out at everyone. Because I’m interested in this. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the Israeli/Palestinian issue – I don’t. I have zero opinion as to the outcome but I understand why things are where they are, I understand it more then I think most of the people here do. But since this is a video game site and a page dealing with Tell-Tale games, then let me throw this out there. What if I created a game about this issue. Wherein you get control of either the Palestinian leadership or the Israeli leadership, you can play it from either side. What choices would you personally make to solve the hostility? How would you react to a suicide bombing that killed 20 people or a series of rocket attacks that were striking your border towns? How would you react to checkpoints and military occupation? What choices would you make? Because it’s easy to criticize when you’re sitting in a comfy chair and when you don’t have the power of making those choices and where you don’t have to live with their outcome. If I gave you full control over Israel how would you react to militant or terrorist attacks? I’d love people to answer honestly and to give that some thought.

            As someone said before it’s not black and white, it is extremely gray. And sadly as well, mistakes get made. I’ve made mistakes. And I’ve sent innocent people to the grave and I have to live with that, but in the same sense I know it was the right decision based on the intelligence that I had at that moment and often you only have moments to react because if you don’t you’ll lose a hundred of your men, who you have trained, supported and grown to love. I am forever thinking of that choice in The Walking Dead where you only have so much food for so many people and you have to decide who to feed. How many of you thought long and hard when you played that game about who to feed. Imagine 100 choices like that a day that have to be made in an instant. That’s what war is. It isn’t Call of Duty. It isn’t just shooting and flanking and tossing grenades. That was war 100 years ago in the era of trench-warfare. Now it’s about choice. It’s about making the worst best choice. And I hope you all think a little on that and I’d love a response. A real response from people about how they would react in a Tell-Tale game where they were the leader of Israel or the leader of Palestine – but base your answers in reality. What you’ll find I hope is that there are no happy solutions. And the reason why this drama is ongoing is that there is no easy outcome for either side. Hence why the conflict will not end anytime soon. We don’t live in the world of John Lennon’s Imagine. Humanity has not decided to throw away its reliance on greed and instead embrace peace. I’m sorry to say this but violence is still the only useful strategy against a violent enemy. You wouldn’t send a police officer after a murderer armed only with a hug – you give her a weapon to fight them and to defend herself.

            In any case food for thought. But I’m glad to see people talking to one another and not just being vindictive. It gives me hope that maybe one day there will be a time when people like me are put out of work. I just don’t see that happening anytime soon.

        • trinka00 says:

          i genuinely don’t see anything ugly in the way that the author asked the question. i guess a lot of the responses to u here, tho, do justify in some way your ‘sensitivity’ to the issue. damn.

          but this also, i think, justifies that there really is a controversy. if a gaming message board like this explodes about this one mention of Israel in a comic book that’s being translated to a game, it’s a controversial topic and kind of proof that it was a valid question to ask.

          and i don’t see how the question could have been phrased in a way that would have made u feel better about it, short of the author expressing support in some way to Willingham’s mention of it. the question is just neutrally phrased, maybe if anything reads oddly about it, it’s probably in the author’s consciousness that it’s a touchy subject and being uncomfortable about the phrasing.

          how should this question have been asked, in your opinion?

  3. wodin says:

    Punch his face off…I do like the ideas behind this game and Walking Dead was a big surprise hit for me.

    • trinka00 says:

      i wish they had made a game out of Face/Off. i loved that movie.

  4. Premium User Badge

    HermitUK says:

    “I’ve had some bad days since I started work as a private investigator. But I’ve never woken up dead before”

  5. tarasis says:

    Looking forward to finding out with Kings Quest got shelved. Was looking forward to it. Kind of excited about Fables (was more so when it was first announced) but want to know if we will ever get more Sam & Max!

  6. Arglebargle says:

    When I hear things from spokesheads like “…you have the controller in your hand….”, and ‘kinda QTE-ish’, it makes my hands move away from my wallet.

    • Stillquest says:

      I really don’t get it. Nobody seems to like QTEs. A lot of gamers actively hate them. Why do developers keep using them all the time?

      • MasterDex says:

        Because many gamers know less about what they want than the developers do. It sounds crazy but I’ve seen so much evidence of it in the past. In the case of QTE’s, there’s some justifiable concern behind their usage but like many things in life, it became cool to hate it and many people just hopped on the bandwagon. If badly implemented, it can feel like lazy game design but implement it well and it allows you to bring to life an otherwise static (in an interactive sense) scene or deliver an immersive event.

        It’s the proper implementation of QTE’s that allowed The Walking Dead to become a favourite among many people, the same as it did Heavy Rain and I think many would admit that it made Shenmue stand out back in the day too.

        • Premium User Badge

          welverin says:

          God of War would be one of the good games. The big cinematic bits just would not be the same during normal gameplay.

        • The Random One says:

          QTE’s have joined moral choices and regenerating health in the hall of gameplay mechanics that aren’t bad by themselves but have become reviled after a thousand bad implementations by shallow me-toos. They get it even worse because they are a powerful tool in the arsenal of devs who’d rather be making movies and like to throw a few button presses so we can pretend to be engaged without risking ruining the cutscenes they worked so hard on.

        • soldant says:

          Also it helps to disguise the uncomfortable truth that a lot of gameplay mechanics in action games are just quicktime events without a big “PRESS Q NOW” prompt flashing on the screen. Trying to jump on a platform, trying to score a headshot, trying to run past while that guard’s back is turned – it all boils down to reflexes. The QTEs are just scripted, and in the modern game of gaming, scripted = linear = bad, apparently.

    • ikbenbeter says:

      That’s what has kept me from playing tWD as well. Great story, gameplay so shallow you can’t wash your pinky in it.