Today's Dose is part awesome and part ridiculously interesting. As I'm currently playing through Telltale Games Sam & Max The Penal Zone Episode 2: The Tomb of Sammun-Mak in preparation for a review, I thought I'd take the time to follow some Telltale news. What I've discovered is a very interesting initiative they are currently in the process of implementing.
The company is focusing their attention on a somewhat ambitious Pilot Program. Similar to the Pilot Series comic book developer Top Cow Studios are implementing and the more conventional TV show pilots we are accustomed to, Telltale will create pilot episodes for games. The idea is to take ideas the folks at Telltale have been toying with, develop a pilot episode and release it. The future of the project will then be in the hands of fans as their feedback will determine whether the game should go to series. One would assume this will partly come from sales figures but also from fan critiques of the quality of the game and the idea behind it.
I say "episodes" because Telltale games have rebuilt their point and click adventure game catalog around episodic content. As CEO Dan Connors states G4 "We built Telltale to take advantage of the digital distribution revolution and build ourselves up as a publisher who can put product into the market through digital distribution." Games like Sam & Max are now released online as four or five episode stories, greatly reducing the risk associated with developing a large, big budget game.
Through the Pilot Program Telltale are further reducing the risk associated with their projects. As Connors says it "allows us to try some new ideas without having to [take as much risk] and learn more what people like about it before we commit to doing the whole thing." Telltale will also be able to dedicate smaller teams to the projects currently in development Puzzle Agent, the first Pilot Program game, has a development group "about the third of the size of an average team". That means their already large stable of in-development, higher budget games are not affected by a project which may turn out to be a bust.