Story Time: Telltale Confirms Game Of Thrones, Borderlands

By Nathan Grayson on December 9th, 2013 at 9:00 am.

Yes, “the” Borderlands. The relentlessly silly blast-fest from Gearbox, as opposed to, um, that other Borderlands. Telltale might not seem like the most natural fit for a spinoff of the action-heavy RPG (which is less conversational and more often gunversational), but it’s happening, per Spike’s abysmally awkward VGX “award” show over the weekend. Also fired from the dudebro-centric network’s Big Fucking Announcement Gun: a Telltale Game of Thrones series, which was first rumored last month. Scant details on both below.

Game of Thrones will be based on HBO’s version of George R.R. Martin’s lusty tale of lustful lustiness (and dragons), as opposed to reinterpreting material straight from the books. It will be done “in a Telltale way,” so probably expect plenty of choice, consequence, and, like, 30 red weddings. I’d post the VGX interview about it, but it’s entirely insubstantial and consistently awkward due to Joel McHale trying to be Joel McHale in an environment super non-conducive to it.

The big takeaways? Telltale still doesn’t really know what exactly it’s doing with the story, the main plot and side plots are still on the table, and there’ll be big battles, but they’ll be less about action and more centered on Telltale-style objectives and themes. Telltale’s Game of Thrones will kick off sometime in 2014.

The Borderlands spinoff, meanwhile, is titled Tales from Borderlands, and it’ll feature Gearbox characters and assets as well as new ones, but it’ll “play like a Telltale game.” The main characters “aren’t quite Vault Hunters,” but they’ll still encounter the likes of Handsome Jack and other familiar faces – both artificially soldered on and otherwise. Given that Telltale and Gearbox have worked together before on games like Poker Night 2, this isn’t entirely unprecedented. And honestly, Borderlands 2′s writing was pretty solid as far as comedic games go. Color me cautiously intrigued. Tales from Borderlands will also be out in 2014.

So then, that’s Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us, Game of Thrones, and Tales from Borderlands. I love Telltale’s recent output, but I do wonder if too much of this very specific good thing might grow a bit tedious with so many tails sprouting from its main body. Then again, the formula’s evolved quite a bit – albeit gradually – from Telltale’s early days up to its current Walking-Dead-born renaissance, so maybe I’m worrying over nothing. And hey, I’ll take more interesting character-driven stories over yet another military FPS any day, so even with some genre fatigue, there are worse fates. What do you think?

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57 Comments »

  1. LogicalDash says:

    Maybe there’s hope for a Telltale Bioshock?

    • GameCat says:

      It would be the best Bioshock, count me in.

    • jimangi says:

      Now that would solve a lot of the problems I have with Bioshock. That would be wonderful.
      If they’re not going to make Bioshock the Deus Ex/System Shock game lots of people wish it was this might just be the next best thing.

    • Ross Angus says:

      I just broke the “+1″ key on my keyboard, from hitting it too hard.

    • Synesthesia says:

      hhmm! I would definitely play that.

  2. Caiman says:

    Genre fatigue? It was only yesterday we were proclaiming that the adventure game genre was deader than a dead thing from the land of the dead.

    • brat-sampson says:

      These are very much more in the mold of ‘interactive fiction’ than actual ‘adventure games’ in the classic sense. I’ve enjoyed the best of Telltale’s output since they first brought back Sam and Max, but it looks like whatever evolution was progressing through those seasons has been abandoned now in favour of this. I still like it, but it’s practically a different genre now

      • internisus says:

        I think it’s a bad idea to throw around the term “interactive fiction” in this manner. It doesn’t really refer to a specific genre as much as it does a different medium, whose essential divergence from videogames, including adventure games, lies in the form of its interactivity. In interactive fiction or text adventures, the player has to come up with the gameplay commands him/herself from the pool of all available words in the language, meaning that the number of available mechanics is quite enormous but also—and more importantly—that the player must imagine what might be possible at any given moment rather than be shown a list of allowed actions. This makes all the difference in the world, so I don’t think a videogame should ever be described as interactive fiction, unless it’s, perhaps, Scribblenauts.

      • pilouuuu says:

        Well, the more genres there are the better, IMO. We have (had?) adventure games, visual novels, choose your own adventure, interactive fiction, QTEs games… Telltale was never faithful to the old adventure traditions and even when they tried to emulate classics like Sam & Max and Monkey Island their intention was to create something else. They found a style now and while there are examples that work like The Walking Dead and the Wolf Among Us, there are also examples that failed like Jurassic Park.

        I still think they can polish their games more, like including real consequences and multiple endings, but they already improved a lot and I’ve been a fan of their games since the first season of Sam & Max. I just wish they didn’t completely forget about adventure elements. The Wolf would have been much better if it included more investigation stuff. Heck, that was the best part of L.A. Noire which can also be considered a modern adventure.

        Adventure games died and ressucitated as something else. We can call it The Walking Dead genre.

    • Quine says:

      What is dead may never die…

  3. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    This confirmation was one of very very few highlights of VGX. Three hours I’ll never get back, even though I just had it on in the background. It was painful. Especially the live music part with the stoned guy screaming “POTATOES!” in his microphone several times.
    I watched the stream because I thought Valve had something planned since they promoted it on Steam but nopes.

  4. Javier says:

    After playing Walking Dead, I honestly don’t mind. I actually hope this will become a well established genre. Bring it on, Telltale.

    • RedViv says:

      Telltale TWD is massively better than TV’s. Some say it’s the best TWD of all things TWD.
      Maybe they can do the same with Game of Thrones. Probably not the ‘all things’ part.

      • Arnvidr says:

        I thought the TV version of TWD was boring and quickly abandoned it. I have been avoiding Telltale’s game for that very reason. And also for not seeming to be enough “game” as opposed to story, but a good story will trump that fault. Should I check out the game?

  5. Steven Hutton says:

    Give me Buttstalion or give me death.

    • Loyal_Viggo says:

      If you could ride Buttstalion like Seabiscuit then it will be full speed ahead like I’m running a toll booth, I turbo blast, and go right through the ceiling and the roof.

  6. Soulstrider says:

    As much I enjoy telltalte games aren’t they biting more they can chew? At this moment they are making 4 games, though I guess due to their similarity they can just port assets and systems between each other.

    I still would love to see a Dr Who game by them.

    • Mokinokaro says:

      They developed Walking Dead season 1, back to the future, Jurassic Park and Fables in parallel.

      Game of Thrones and Borderlands are probably only in very early planning stages so they use different staff than the games releasing sooner (I remember reading the Fables’ preproduction was handled between episode releases of TWD since the only folks needed in those periods were support.)

    • MobileAssaultDuck says:

      If you pay attention to the credits in their games, you’ll notice it mentions “made with the Telltale tool.”

      This leads me to believe they have some universal tool that allows the creation of these games to be fairly easy as they tend to share gameplay mechanics.

      Plug in a background, plug in character models, define walking paths and interactive objects, bam. The voice acting probably takes the longest of all the content.

      • KhanIHelpYou says:

        Telltale Tool is the name of their engine, think “Made with CryEngine3″ or “Made with Unreal Engine 3″ or even “Made with Unity.”

        They will of course have advanced tools to streamline game production, but then every game developer does. Even indie developers usually write their own level design tools and such.

  7. 123kings says:

    This is all good, but with the delay of TWAU episode 2, I am pessimistic for the release schedules.

  8. Meat Circus says:

    I’ve just realized this means that there are people out there that watch Spike.

    Voluntarily.

    Of their own free will.

    People with minds.

    By choice.

    Wow.

    • Syra says:

      Around 25 million people buy call of duty every year.

      • Foosnark says:

        This is starting to sound like one of those Sally Struthers guilt-inducing PSAs about starving children.

        “Around 25 million people buy Call of Duty every year.. With your help, we can change that.”

  9. MeestaNob says:

    Seeing as Borderlands has almost no story or characters even remotely worth exploring, I just don’t see the value of this property for an adventure game.

    To make anything of value from this would be an astounding effort.

    • paddymaxson says:

      Well in fairness, telltale kind of do specialise in taking existing worlds and making their own stories within, and given The Walking Dead, they also do well at populating those stories with characters that are not in the main body of the material (aside from small cameo appearances), so Im not sure how a lack of story/good characters is a problem, the world itself is pretty interesting.

    • The Dark One says:

      I got tired of BL2′s gameplay about half-way through, so if Telltale can use the setting to make something I find fun (and with out trying to sell me 348756 DLC packs), I’m all for it.

    • Kollega says:

      What I don’t like is that Gearbox keep insisting on exploring the character of Handsome Jack, despite him being a Platonic ideal of a total jackass with zero redeeming qualities, and despite his jokes easily slipping into “Dude, not fucking funny!” territory. This may seem ridiculous, but I actually liked the bland, characterless approach of the first Borderlands more, because at least it wasn’t so damned abrasive.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      Yup. Never have I played a game where so much effort was plainly put into the writing to so little effect. Positive gender roles! No discrimination on grounds of sexuality! Emotions and stuff oh for God’s sake who cares it’s still a vacuous theme park populated by one-dimensional cartoons. And I say that as someone who beat the main game (40+ hours) and started in on the DLC packs until I was distracted by Black Flag. I appreciate Telltale pulled off quite the coup in making TWD much more interesting than the TV show but seriously, at least TWD had something there to begin with. I really don’t see anything in Borderlands’ fiction worth spinning out. Not the characters, not the world, nothing.

    • Smashbox says:

      Abrasive is the word.

      Every single time they talked over my gunshooting it was abominable, abrasive nonsense. Fun game, uniformly TERRIBLE writing.

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      Every time Handsome Jack says something all I can think is “You are not General Knox, and you never will be.”
      Knox wasn’t particularly intricate or deep, but listening to him made me laugh every time.

  10. quietone says:

    Thou shalt not take the name of Borderlands in vain, so this better be good or

  11. bladedsmoke says:

    I am an immense Telltale fan after TWD, and the Game of Thrones announcement filled me with joy. But that said… I can’t begin to get even remotely excited about them doing a fuckin’ Borderlands game. Borderlands was a dull series with no story and I gave up on it very quickly, not even Telltale can make me care about that world now.

  12. Turkey says:

    I sincerely hope Game Of Thrones is Telltale’s new poker franchise.

  13. Rao Dao Zao says:

    If it’s 10 hours of Claptrap-driven banter, I’m in.

  14. Noviere says:

    I tried to get into Borderlands because I liked the concept and the artwork, but I don’t enjoy shooty-shoot games. I think this will be right up my alley :D

    • The Random One says:

      I like shooty-shoot games, but not so much that I’m willing to shoot a random mook for 10 seconds just to get him to finch, so I think I’ll like this one a lot better.

  15. Universal Quitter says:

    If you’re running a massive, overblown celebration of machismo and sexual overcompensation, is a BFAG (big fucking announcement gun) really something you want to have as a prominent part of the show?

    Or am I just being immature, beyond the point of even a SpikeTV viewer?

    Side note, I remember when SpikeTV was just TNN, and showed rodeos, drag races, and tractor pulls. Please tell me that someone, somewhere in the UK actually does something resembling a tractor pull. Maybe up in Scotland?

    Ridiculous, silly things should be treasured and proliferated.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Oh god, I don’t really want to imagine a UK tractor pull. We don’t really do bombast well.

      • Jackablade says:

        I’m imagining more tweed jackets, flatcaps and the odd pipe.

      • DXN says:

        It’s true. Pomp we can do, but bombast is beyond us, along with unselfconscious lust.

  16. Gyro says:

    Oh, good! I was afraid Martin would run out of things to distract him from writing the actual books!

  17. DrScuttles says:

    The game successfully avoids the pitfalls of the TV show by not being shit. And really, I think it’s better than the comic too.

    edit: reply fail to Arnvidr up there.

  18. Freud says:

    There are lots of great characters in Borderlands and if they can export the humor, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.

  19. Hidden_7 says:

    At first I was like “Telltale Borderlands what nonsense is this?!” But on seeing that trailer I came to the conclusion that I’d very much like to see an adventure game in the Borderlands world / spirit. It’s a fun little Space Western with some neat world-building flourishes and an attitude towards sillyness, which is something I’ve always got a place in my heart for.

    Shame we won’t get one. :/

    No disrespect to The Walking Dead or the winning formula it’s spawned, but I didn’t much care for it, and preferred Telltale’s previous work. Their height for me would probably be S&M season 3, or the Monkey Island game which I quite enjoyed. I wish they had continued to refine and build upon that formula, maybe fold a bit of old-school complexity back in (e.g. more than one click maybe?) rather than the QTE Choose your own adventure visual novel they’ve settled with.

    I get it though. there are strengths to that model and they’ve achieved tremendous success both critically and in mainstream recognition with TWD. Makes sense to follow the path that’s working for them.

    All the same, I can’t help looking on this announcement as a foregone missed opportunity.

  20. pilouuuu says:

    I’m a big fan of Telltale since Sam & Max.

    I just hope they include more consequences this time and hopefully multiple endings. And hopefully the release of their episodes won’t get as bad as Valve’s.

  21. kdz says:

    I loooved TWD. And then the first episode of The Wolf Among Us made me think that I could love Bigby’s adventure even more.
    These announcements made me worry, though. Don’t get me wrong: I am crazy excited to see Handsome Jack again (what an awesome character!). I just hope that Telltale aren’t spreading themselves too thin. It would be a shame if they kept missing dates.