By now we all know that Telltale Games is facing a majority closure, and now freelancer game writer Alexis Kennedy has spilled the beans about an unannounced Telltale game that was in the works, telling VG247 that this was a zombie strategy game featuring randomly-generated encounters.
"While I was at BioWare, this was early 2017 I think, Telltale approached me because they wanted some consultancy on a specific narrative, procedurally generated thing," he said. "It was a project that had been ongoing for years, with a variety of different people coming and going, to try to find a way to do something different to the usual Telltale approach. Above all, it was something that didn't require hand-tuned content but allowed room for stuff that emerged naturally from procedural generation. It's a hard problem and my strong impression is that there was a significant, long-term effort by Telltale to try find another way to do things. But given their brutal dev cycle, they could never focus attention on it. It's really hard to do two kinds of things."
The same report also adds that the project was planned for mobile but that others platforms were also considered, with resource gathering and base management being the focus. It would also have been based on a popular game series, and feature Telltale's iconic art style.
"The project was going to have more gameplay, and wouldn't require a narrative designer and a writer to fine-tune every single scene. It would be handcrafted bits, suspended in a gel or ocean of procedural bits," Kennedy adds.
"A lot of the difficulty for this kind of approach is trying to find writing that works - it can be too specific, it can be repetitive, and you need to write a lot of it. Too generic and it looks like it's been assembled on a production line by a language engine."
After the story went public, creative lead Stacey Mason had this to add via Twitter:
"So this story is partly right but gets a lot wrong. The project was cancelled when the R&D dept was cut last year. We were in production."
"I was sad to see the project die when Pete came in, but I'm excited about the new directions my career is taking and the really awesome indie project I'm working on now with truly amazing people."
"But this is why it frustrates me so much to hear all of the "Telltale wasn't innovating" takes. We were, actually. Radically. But Pete had hard decisions to make when he came in."
Would you have liked to see this?