With expansive squads of programmers, artists and designers often working ridiculous hours keep up with the demands of current games, it’s no surprise that so much of the games industry relies on stagnant sequels and rusty franchises. Nevertheless, there could be some brand new ideas coming from Telltale’s new Pilot Program, which aims to bring experimentation back to gaming.
In much the same way that TV companies test the water for potential new shows by creating a one-off episode, Telltale plans to experiment with new game ideas by creating a single episode of a potential new game.
It’s a scheme that fits neatly into Telltale’s existing business model, which splits up games into shorter monthly episodes, rather than releasing them in one large chunk. Previous episodic series from Telltale include Tales from Monkey Island, Wallace & Gromit, Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People and Sam & Max.
Each episode usually takes around three hours for an accomplished adventure gaming veteran to complete, and there are usually five episodes in a series.
Telltale has so far focused mainly on the adventure game market, and making the genre workable on all three current games consoles, as well as the PC. However, it looks as though the team have all sorts of other potential ideas that they want to try out.
"Our internal teams are filled with incredibly talented and creative people,” explained Telltale CEO Dan Connors, adding that “the Pilot Program (sic) will foster the exploration of ideas that will help us evolve Telltale's product offerings."
The scheme kicks off with an experimental game called Puzzle Agent (pictured) for the PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Wii, which Telltale says was inspired by the insanely popular Nintendo DS puzzler, Professor Layton. The game was created in collaboration with Graham Annable, the artist responsible for the distinctive Grickle comics in the US.
According to Telltale, the game will see you playing a character called Nelson Tethers, who has to investigate why the eraser factory in Scoggins, Minnesota has shut down. “The title combines brainteasers that include mazes, puzzles, logic and riddles, intertwined with an engrossing, twisted mystery story,” says Telltale. This will all be “presented with Graham’s unique narrative and visual sensibilities and the distinctive Telltale style.”
Explaining the need for experimentation in the gaming business, Connors said that “The Pilot Program is an excellent way to expand the boundaries of interactive entertainment and gaming by bringing audiences unique and interesting content they might not see otherwise."
Telltale is no stranger to bucking the trends in gaming. Originally formed by the fallout from LucasArts’ adventure game division after it was shut down, the indie developer went on to breathe life back into the old point-and-click genre when everyone else thought it had gasped its last breath.