GDC 2012: Telltale CEO Dan Connors Talks The Walking Dead

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When I sat down with Telltale CEO Dan Connors at this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, I had one thing on my mind: The Walking Dead. But I didn’t expect to get many answers, given how quiet Telltale has been about its episodic game adaptation of the heralded comic book (and now television) series. So I was pleasantly surprised when Connors offered up more information about the Walking Dead than I had ever been able to glean previously.

The Walking DeadThe Walking Dead will consist of five episodes and will feature an all-new story set in the universe of the source material. The game follows an original protagonist named Lee Everett, who is on trial for the murder of his wife. As he’s being taken to a penitentiary in Georgia, the zombie apocalypse begins and all hell breaks loose.

Despite the crime that Lee is on trial for, Connors said, “We don’t play him as this badass criminal or anything. The details surrounding his murder of his wife are a bit…murky.” He added that Lee meets an 8-year-old girl in the course of his travels that he must help and protect, and she serves as his shot at redemption.

For those who are familiar with The Walking Dead, this story will run parallel to Rick’s narrative, and will begin while Rick is still in his coma (in terms of time progression, Rick will be long since out of his coma by the time the series wraps up). Players will come across many well-known characters over the course of their adventures, including Glen and Lilly, and will even pay a visit to Hershel’s farm.”We didn’t want to repeat the story of what was going on in the show and the comic books,” said Connors of their original narrative, “but we wanted to make one that followed canon and adhered to the rules of the franchise and its universe.”

So does Telltale know how exactly this story is going to unfold beyond the first episode?

“We never do,” said Connors. “That’s one of those things about being a company that develops episodic games. We see how fans respond and we change the product as it goes on. It helps us build our products.” He added that in previous games, they’ve even killed off characters that fans weren’t responding to well.

The Walking DeadConnors went on to say that they obviously were not going into the process totally blind, and that they have a rough outline of how the story will go up until about the fifth episode. “But historically, the third or fourth episodes of our series are considered the best, because that’s when we have the most information and we really start hitting our stride.”

Though the game has yet to receive a concrete release date, Connors said that it would be released within the next couple of months and that the company is in the process of “syncing up a launch plan.” Each episode is priced at $5 apiece (or $25 for a season bundle) and will be available on PC, Xbox 360, and iOS. The release schedule for each of the episodes still sounds kind of loose, however.

“We’ve always said that we release our episodes monthly, but we’ve never said when in the month,” said Connors jokingly, pointing out that with previous games, releasing one episode on June 1 and the next episode on July 31 could be considered monthly. “But we’re going to start out trying to release The Walking Dead episodes four to five weeks apart.  Our intent is to do it monthly, but development tends to catch up to us by the last couple of episodes, so we’ll probably take a little longer between releases by the end.”

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