Telltale Games

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Telltale Games logo (2004⁠–⁠2018)

Telltale Games, in its original incarnation, was a video game company that partnered with The Brothers Chaps (via Videlectrix) to produce Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, a game in five episodes (or "actionsodes" in Strong Bad's term). This partnership extended to unique promotional media, merchandise, and a cameo from Strong Bad in Telltale's Poker Night at the Inventory. The Telltale offices were seen in the series Behind the Bad, a video series featuring Strong Bad interacting with staff as they produced the game.

Telltale Games closed in 2018; though the "Telltale Games" brand has been revived, their Homestar Runner games are currently unavailable for purchase on modern platforms.

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[edit] History

Hard at work

Telltale Games was founded in 2004 by former LucasArts employees; they had worked on the company's adventure games, and struck out on their own as LucasArts had ceased producing adventure games. "Telltale" was so named as their adventure games focused more on storytelling than puzzle solving. The company's games were typically released in an episodic format, themed around licensed niche IPs with strong fanbases — an early game was Sam & Max (which previously had been licensed to LucasArts).

[edit] Partnership with The Brothers Chaps

Although the Brothers Chaps had previously received video game licensing offers from companies like Sega, they had rejected such offers due to concerns that the games would not capture the spirit of Homestar Runner.[1]

Telltale Games reached out in mid-2007,[2] simply sending a message to the general contact email indicating an interest in working together. Already playing through Sam & Max: Season One, and familiar with their LucasArts pedigree, the brothers felt that Telltale would be "a perfect pairing."[3] Additionally, multiple short episodic games would be closer to the format of the website's toons compared to a single game with a large and complex narrative.[1] The simpler style of Homestar Runner made a solid match for the small file sizes used by the WiiWare game format.[4]

This partnership with Telltale would be the first time The Brothers Chaps had licensed out their work.[3]

[edit] Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People

See main article: Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People
Telltale has been rejecting my ideas for green text adventures for years, but we finally reached a compromise with this puffy 3D point-and-click-em-up adventure. They claim all the coding was done with green text, so I guess that's pretty cool.
—Strong Bad[5]

On the website, the first hint of a larger-scale retail game was the short Strong Bad Gameways released (via an Easter egg in shapeshifter) on April 1, 2008.

Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People was officially announced via a press release on April 10, 2008.[5] The game's five episodes were released on a monthly basis, from August 11, 2008 to December 15, 2008:

Originally released for PC and WiiWare, the games were later made available for PlayStation 3 and OS X. Later releases typically bundled all episodes together as a single "Season 1" purchase.

The writing process was collaborative: the general storyline and puzzles would be discussed during conference calls, then a script would be sent to the Brothers Chaps to revise and approve. Later, when recording dialog, there was still freedom to rewrite and improvise to maintain the feeling of the cartoons.[6]

[edit] Partnership with Videlectrix
"Vid'rix looks forward to working with Telltale Games and finding out just exactly what it is they do."

In keeping with many of the games on the website, Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People was presented as being produced "in partnership with Videlectrix".[5] The fictional company's mention in the initial press release led to humorous confusion from a shareholder, who did not recognize the inside joke.[1]

Videlectrix's fictional relationship with Telltale was often humorously portrayed as combative, with their lower-tech output clashing with the 3D graphics used by Telltale. On November 19, 2008, Videlectrix expressed jealousy of "graphical oppressors" Telltale Games and announced plans to "strike back". Attempts included releasing Dangeresque Roomisode 1: Behind the Dangerdesque to cash in on Dangeresque 3: The Criminal Projective and creating alternate SBCG4AP box art (which later became the reverse artwork for the SBCG4AP Collector's DVD). The release of Roomisode 1 prompted a press release from Telltale Games:[7]

"Unhappy with our Strong Bad games, Videlectrix has taken it upon themselves to release a Strong Bad game of their own from www.videlectrix.com. "Roomisode 1: Behind the Dangerdesque" is completely unauthorized and it's unfortunate that they've resorted to this. In spite of our creative differences and some weird late night phone calls from the irate Videlectrix CEO, Telltale has successfully completed production on the Strong Bad season finale and many of us think it's the best episode of the season. We only wish Videlectrix could have been a bit more grown-up about the whole situation."

The 'trix would later assert that, though the companies' difference were not irreconcilable, a second season would be on hold until Telltale agreed to "get rid of that ridiculous THIRD dimension".[8]

[edit] Later Collaborations

Strong Bad's poker strategy consists of belittling his opponents and hoping they fall prey to his "natural musk fog."

The main menu animation of strongbad_email.exe Disc Six utilized the CG models from SBCG4AP, and the intro was choreographed by Telltale employees Jake Rodkin and Nick Herman. Telltale Games is thanked in the credits of the DVD.

Although the Brothers Chaps would share ideas[4] or make jokes about[8] a potential second season of SBCG4AP, no concrete plans were ever brought forth by them or Telltale. The Brothers emphasized that the game had been "a huge time sink" for them and that Telltale had a full slate of upcoming games,[4] further reflecting that the game's production would likely be the biggest undertaking they'd ever do for Homestar Runner due to the amount of work and hours-long runtime of the games compared to typical minutes-long toons.[9] Additionally, Homestar Runner went on an extended hiatus about a year after the release of the final chapter of SBCG4AP.

On September 2, 2010, Telltale Games announced Poker Night at the Inventory; the game was released on November 22, 2010. A spiritual sequel to Telltale Texas Hold'em (the company's first game), Poker Night pitted the player against several characters from various video games; Strong Bad appeared as one of the opponents, and the game featured several musical and visual elements from Homestar Runner.

[edit] Closure and Relaunch

Telltale Games abruptly closed in 2018, going into bankruptcy assignment in October of that year. As a result, its games were delisted from digital storefronts Steam and GOG in the following months. LCG Entertainment, Inc. acquired and revived the brand on August 28, 2019 with plans of republishing much of the back catalog.

SBCG4AP was relisted on December 7, 2020;[10] although differences in licensing deals meant that the Brothers Chaps did not receive income from this relisting, @StrongBadActual still reacted positively to the news that people could play the game again. When Telltale no longer had the rights to the IP,[11] the game was delisted again on May 30, 2023. As of 2024, the Brothers Chaps have not indicated any plans to relicense, rerelease, or remaster the game.[12] Poker Night at the Inventory has remained unavailable for purchase.

[edit] Store

"No, you can't..."
"...handle my style!"

Alongside digital and physical versions of SBCG4AP, the Telltale Games store also sold Homestar Runner merchandise:

[edit] Fun Facts

[edit] Sources

  1. ^  "Lunchtime With The Brothers Chap: Strong Bad's Creators Speak And Eat", Kotaku, 13 Jun 2008
  2. ^  In a 2008 interview, Matt Chapman indicates that Telltale emailed "right before I had my daughter",[3] she was born in July 2007; in 2009, he reiterated that Telltale had made contact "two summers ago".[4] However, in an October 2006 interview with Zoinks magazine he had already hinted at a "large scale game in the works that involves the main characters," suggesting that Telltale could have been in contact as early as 2006.
  3. ^  "Interview With the Brothers Chaps", IGN, 14 Apr 2008
  4. ^  "One year of WiiWare: Matt and Mike Chapman on Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People", OMG Nintendo, 12 May 2009
  5. ^  " Announcing Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People for WiiWare" press release (archived)
  6. ^  "Strong Bad’s the Brothers Chaps", Adventure Gamers, 12 Dec 2008
  7. ^  "Telltale And Videlectrix Come To Blows", Rock Paper Shotgun
  8. ^  "RPS Speaks Exclusively To Videlectrix*", Rock Paper Shotgun
  9. ^  The Ron and Fez Show, XM 202 / Sirius 197, 19 Dec 2008
  10. ^  "Three Telltale Games arrive on GOG.COM!", GOG.com, 7 Dec 2020
  11. ^  "Important Information for Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People", The Telltale Team
  12. ^  "The Brothers Chaps of Homestar Runner fame talk about Videlectrix and the future of good graphics", Destructoid, 16 Jan 2024
  13. ^  "How did you first find out about HSR?", Telltale community thread

[edit] See Also

[edit] External Links


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