Telltale And Lionsgate Mixing Games With Filmed Episodes

I have this great idea for a game about Alex, Nicky, Poussey, and Flaca becoming BFFs. Also, I hope Flaca becomes prominent enough to join group cast photos with Season 3.

Mad Men, Orange Is the New Black, Nurse Jackie, Weeds, and other popular collections of moving pictures are not strictly connected to this, or I don’t think they are, but they work all right as an intro. Lionsgate, the production company behind them (with distributing and producing fingers in film pies such as The Hunger Games too), have cosied up to Telltale Games. Lionsgate have “made a significant investment” in the Wolf Among Us and Walking Dead devs, they announced today.

Together, they plan to work on original creations and Telltale’s idea for a part-game, part-filmed thingy episodic format called a ‘Super Show’.

“A Super Whaaaa?” you may very well ask. Telltale CEO Kevin Bruner explains the idea in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:

“A ‘Super Show” episode combines one part of interactive playable content with one part of scripted television style content. Both pieces, when combined together, are what make an actual Super Show ‘episode.’ As we’ve been developing the series, we’re using both mediums in concert to deliver our story. Developing both aspects simultaneously is key to utilizing this new medium. Both parts are first class citizens during the writing and design process. It’s not an interactive series with a show, or a TV show with a game, but a story integrated in a way that only Telltale can do. For us it’s a very natural evolution of the interactive story telling expertise we’ve pioneered.”

Telltale’s first Super Show (which I stress is the name of the format) will be an original creation, not their usual licensed beat, but Bruner says they might make Super Shows in existing settings in future if it makes sense. What a curious thing.

The idea of blending video game and TV-style show has been tried before, but not in a satisfying way as far as I can remember. Defiance suffered from both a humdrum MMORPG and an unremarkable Syfy (that’s the Sci-Fi Channel, for non-drektoids) TV show. Live & Kicking’s phone-in Grabbit Rabbit was dire (yes, I know, shut up, this is simply so old people can mutter “Coo, I remember that from back before I became so old”).

I’m jolly sceptical, but Lionsgate are good at television and Telltale are good at video games so… maybe this time? I don’t have a good point of reference for this and they haven’t really explained how a Super Show will work, so trying to imagine how good it might be is like grabbing at smoke.

Please, please do also make an Orange Is the New Black game about Alex Vause, Nicky, Poussey, and Flaca hanging out, chatting, and generally becoming super-best friends.

25 Comments

  1. Pazguato says:

    Well, Telltale games are actually like watching filmed episodes :P

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Yeah, that’s essentially all they are. It’s a season of a TV show where you choose the dialogue of the main character.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        This is most likely just going to be a case of, Lionsgate make a TV show, Telltale make a spinoff featuring a character from the show doing things that weren’t shown on the show. Possibly along the lines of each Telltale episode is a flashback sequence a’la Lost that gives the characters backstory etc etc.

    • April March says:

      In before someone says Telltale games already are- oh, crap.

  2. GallonOfAlan says:

    Super Show is nearly as cringeworthy as Fox referring to repeats as ‘encore episodes’.

    • lasikbear says:

      Or as TBS calls them “The entirety of our programming”.

      • Hebrind says:

        Here in the UK, there’s a TV station called “Dave” – which calls itself the “home of witty banter”. It’s essentially just repeats of Top Gear, QI and Man Vs Food. All great shows, sure, but there’s only so many times I can watch the Landroer Vs Tank episode of Top Gear (which was beautifully re-mastered in Battlefield 2 courtesy of the Sir community: link to youtube.com )

  3. SigmaCAT says:

    You insta-get a comment, a hug and a cookie for this choice of cover picture.

    • Frank says:

      Wait, what? I wanted to complain about being tricked by it!

      • Groove says:

        Both of these are laudable positions.

        Orange would genuinely make a great setting for an adventure, since they’ve already set the required tone of dramatic circumstances and constant jokes. As a bonus it’s got clear confines for areas; plenty of reasons why you can’t use the simplest tool to do a job (no need to invent an island-wide wrench shortage); and since you have so few possessions it’s a great reason to carry all your valuables with you and for those valuables to include some fluff and a paperclip.

  4. LogicalDash says:

    Trademarkable name for games with very long cutscenes

  5. pullthewires says:

    This is either a genuine crossing-over point for games (and television?) or the kind of blunder that gives Cracked writers something to recycle as number three in their posts every year or so.

    I’m personally skeptical, partly because that’s my default position, partly because I’m losing interest in Telltale’s output, but would be happy to be proved wrong. Maybe they’ll try something interesting, like an episodic format that based on an aggregate of the choices made by players in the game sections, although considering the internet, that might be terrible idea…

    • DanMan says:

      I’m kind of in the same boat. Too much of anything is bad. I really liked TWD, but if they start producing these game novels by the dozen…

    • Vandelay says:

      It is funny you say that. I would recommend having a look at the screen that pops up at the end of a TellTale-esque game. It is interesting to see how many people actually go for the “good” route. Even something where you are playing a darker character, such as The Wolf Among Us, I was surprised to see that I was unusual in playing the character as someone who has moments of explosive violence.

      Of course, the fact that the decisions can be so easily broken down into good and bad means that they are unlikely to produce a good enough plot to compete with television. I also have a feeling that Telltale are bound slip up soon. I was expecting it to be with Tales from the Borderlands and/or Game of Thrones, but both of those seem to have received quite positive responses. This might be pushing the style too far though.

    • SomeDuder says:

      Nonsense. I would say that it’s a pretty good story of how a company in trouble (Before TWD, Telltale wasn’t doing so hot, remember Jurassic Park?) found a niche to survive in.

      It’s not like we’ll be seeing lots of other developers on the hunt for popular HBO series to convert into FMV-like clicking games.

      I personally don’t play their games, nor do I like the genre, but if Telltale has an audience, then why not?

  6. communisthamster says:

    FMV point and click adventures: the future of gaming since 1992

  7. D70CW6 says:

    sounds poopy

  8. DrScuttles says:

    Grabbit Rabbit was a little fucker. As were all those phone in games. Think Otis the Aardvark had one that was similarly balls.

  9. April March says:

    So, a regular Telltale game in which non-interactive cutscenes are made using a method so expensive, even small changes to the story due to player-driven actions are prohibitive. Sounds like a winner!

  10. Baines says:

    Definace might not have been so bad if:

    1) The show and game had seemed like they were set in the same world. Okay, you have to make concessions when translating from one medium to another. But for a project where a selling point was the interconnection, Defiance the game shared less with Defiance the show than any generic licensed spin-off game shares with the property that it is licensed from. The bits that *did* try to say “Hey, look, it is names and things you recognize from the show” in a way made things even worse, since the game location was on the West Coast while the show was in the East.

    2) Trion wasn’t in charge of the game. Trion, quite bluntly, is terrible from a gamer-perspective. A large number of the developers were fired when the game still needed work, and the people left behind either had no clue how to do anything or weren’t allowed to do anything. Rather than fixing problems, Trion focused more on keeping the game barely running while gouging whales through the cash shop. (Apparently because of the show crossover element, Defiance the game managed to pick up some rather gaming-indifferent players who had money to burn on their one gaming indulgence.) There were constant broken promises and illogical arguments for changes or the lack of changes. The guy in charge of the game seemed like an idiot at times, and there was a fairly big disconnect between the devs and the people who were playing (and spending money) on the game. (The dev article denouncing lock-keepers was a prime example, made worse in that multiple devs vetted the article, but there were plenty of other examples.)

    My experiences with Defiance gave me enough reason to never play another game that has Trion’s name on it.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Well, thanks for sharing anyway. The game kind of fell off the face of the Earth after launch, coverage-wise. Nothing too surprising in your account but it was interesting to read about.

  11. Darth Gangrel says:

    A Super Show, you say? Well, if it’s as good as The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! (1989), then I’m all for it. I used to love watching that show when I was a kid.

    Not too sure about this merging of TV and video game, but Telltale’s games are certainly cinematic and as some have already pointed out, it might not be a great leap to do a TV-show out of their trademark style.

    Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II feels more cinematic and Star Wars-like with their FMV’s than any of the prequel movies, so it’s not like gameplay and TV material cannot play nice together. However, I’d personally like shorter cutscenes between missions or unlocking longer TV episodes that you can watch later, if they want to merge stuff.

  12. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    You know what? Fine, have a go at it. If it works out, great! Diversification in our media landscape is great (at least it’s not yet more low-quality lowest common denominator shows or COD)

  13. Sacarathe says:

    Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. I hope distribution is handled as one single “program” rather than a tv show that airs with all the usual licensing and ‘ease of access’ associated with tv shows.

    Don’t want to be waiting 6 months for each episode.

  14. tomimt says:

    So, they’ve just re-branded FMV games? I’m cool with that.