When Telltale Games closed up shop last month, a lot of theories rose up about why the company closed. But in a new postmortem over at GamesIndustry International, former narrative designer Emily Grace Buck had her own idea -- a “fundamental misunderstanding of who our audience was.”
We indicated this earlier regarding the company’s initial direction with Minecraft: Story Mode, which was going for more of a Teen-rated approach -- something that alienated the all-ages fans of the original game. But apparently, one of Telltale’s biggest projects, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, had a different approach as well. And not everyone liked it.
When that game was planned out, Buck explained that the creative team was looking things over to go for more of a tone and feel for the comic universe. That said, the original draft for the game was funnier and more “goofy,” but was then changed into something darker and grittier.
“Our executive team insisted that what was popular about Guardians of the Galaxy, was darkness and violence, and sadness,” she noted. “And that people did not associate humour with that brand. So we redid the first two episodes to be less funny and more dark and more violent and more sad, and that’s the game that shipped.
“And one of the biggest comments in editorial was that it felt very off-tone for Guardians of the Galaxy and wasn’t very funny. And we were like, ‘We know.’”
This tied in not only with the lack of understanding, but also with battles with the executive team, which Buck notes didn’t listen. And when they did, “it was very, very often an uphill battle, and one that was scary to fight.”
And they tightened their grip even further with said battle. Buck explained, “If you fought it too hard, you would be taken off a project, replaced, or even let go, and that happened to people on a number of occasions. So we were trying as hard as possible to cater to who our executive team thought out fanbase was, this core gamer-type audience. And we did cultivate a pretty large audience of that type as well all of the other types of people."
Eventually, the studio closed up shop last month and laid off 200+ members of its workforce, keeping only a barebones staff that worked on Minecraft for Netflix before they were eventually released as well.
Hopefully we’ll see some good come out of this for the folks that were laid off...and maybe a Guardians of the Galaxy game that’s more worthy of the Marvel franchise. Not that the one that was released was bad, but ask any fan -- it’s definitely different.
(Hat tip to GamesIndustry International for the scoop!)