GDC 2012: Telltale CEO Dan Connors Talks The Walking Dead

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Creating Choices That Matter

Telltale looks to be putting a new twist on an old formula with The Walking Dead, as Connors described the game as an “adventure game with choice” (or, in some cases, consequence).

“We’re evolving the genre with The Walking Dead,” said Connors. “The player has some flexibility in what they do or how they act around other characters. You’re going to have to live with whatever you say or do in these tense situations.”

Connors even went as far as to say that certain decisions will carry over from one episode to the next, changing events over the course of the season. And the choices you make are no small matter. “There may even be events that possibly involve choosing whether certain characters live or die. But I don’t want to give too much away,” he chuckled.

The Walking Dead

“Being able to tailor players’ experiences based on their decisions…that’s a huge move forward for us,” said Connors. “We’re probably going to do a lot of that going forward.”

As far as gameplay mechanics go, I asked Connors whether Telltale would be going back to their purer adventure game roots for The Walking Dead, or if it would be more action-oriented in the vein of Jurassic Park, which was rife with quick-time events and lighter on the puzzles.

“The Walking Dead plays more like a traditional adventure game, but there are still some action sequences,” said Connor. “Jurassic Park was a radical change from what we did in the past, because the material demanded it in some ways. We couldn’t have pulled off Jurassic Park without the action sequences. But in the Walking Dead, it’s more about understanding the characters and the world around you. It’s much more traditional in that sense.”

That doesn’t mean that the Walking Dead, a game that features zombies, would be devoid of any action, though. “At the same time, now that we’ve done Jurassic Park, we now have the toolbox to pull off zombie attacks. You’ll be putting down more than a few zombies while playing the game.”

The Walking Dead“We’ve done a lot of different things in our previous games,” he continued. “With the Walking Dead, we’re trying to put together all of the best parts.”

The type of action players will experience in the Walking Dead won’t be anything like Left 4 Dead or horde modes in shooters. Rather, Telltale is trying to create something more dramatic, something more moving with the killing.

“Over the course of the game, you’re going to have to put down some people that you don’t want to,” said Connors. “We wanted to create that kind of emotional connection between you and the characters, much like they do on the show.”

Indeed, it appears that Telltale’s commitment to creating something true to the source material is dedicated as it has ever been. With this parallel storyline, the developer has found a good way to strike a balance between creating something new and original without upsetting fans of franchise. And unlike its last outing — after all, Jurassic Park did not receive the best critical response — The Walking Dead appears to be a perfect fit for both the medium and Telltale’s style of making games.

“The Walking Dead is a great piece of content for trying to redefine what games can be with a monthly release schedule,” said Connors. “It has great cliffhangers, it gives our players a lot of things to discuss between episodes, and it’s easy for us to optimize the experience as we go along. It’s a super-exciting piece of content for us.”

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