I’ve been sequestered in my apartment for the last week, and I think I can finally say what the project is. I’ve been helping out with Telltale’s Sam & Max adventure games. The first episode I worked on, “Abe Lincoln Must Die!” is coming out on Gametap this Thursday, and then on Telltale’s site March 8.
This is very cool for me for two reasons: first, because I’ve wanted to work on a Sam & Max game for at least fifteen years now, ever since I first read the comics in the LucasArts Adventurer magazine. And this one’s actually going to get released! I did get a chance to work with Steve Purcell (translation: I got to listen while Steve came up with some great ideas) on a game a few years ago, but the pitch never got a publisher. On this series, Dave Grossman and Brendan Ferguson, two of the designers at Telltale, come up with the game design, puzzles, and situations, and I just came in for the last three episodes to write dialogue.
The second reason is because I haven’t played it yet. I always liked how on talk shows, an actor could come on and say that he hadn’t seen the movie he just worked on; there was always something admirably phony and pretentious and too-cool-for-school about it. I’ve only seen one scene from episode 4, a musical number that I have to say worked out a lot better than I’d expected it to. And I have played episode 1, and since I had nothing to do with it, can objectively and honestly say that it’s pretty hilarious.
I’ve worked on a few adventure games, but I have to admit that I’m not really a fan of adventure game puzzles. I play adventure games for the dialogue exchanges and the art and the cutscenes. So I think Telltale has managed to strike a good balance of puzzles that are just interesting enough to keep you engaged, but not so much to get you stuck and frustrated while you wait for the next cutscene. In other words: you want to buy all six episodes right now!
There’s a cool trailer for episode 4 on the Telltale blog. If you’re too lazy to click, here’s a lower-quality YouTube version: