Telltale Games and its sudden closure rocked the gaming industry when it happened at the end of last year. It was unexpected to fans and reporters, as well as to those working within the studio. As time has passed, more details have emerged about what happened, largely that the studio was poorly ran and was stretched way beyond its limits as it grew far too fast in the face of unexpected success. A new documentary fills in some of the details, told by people who worked there.
A documentary released by Noclip titled Telltale: The Human Stories Behind The Games details the event and features four different former Telltale employees working there in different capacities: Kent Muddle (Cinematics Artist), Emily Grace Buck (Narrative Designer), Caroline Liddick (Community Media Manager), and Paul Mastroianni (Executive Assistant). They talk openly about friction between executives and developers, taking on far too many projects, on the fly changes the studio had to endure which lead to 80, 90 or even 100 hour work weeks, being stuck in a cycle of developing the same game formula endlessly, and the sudden closure that most in the company were totally unaware until the day it happened. The full video is below. It’s lengthy, just over 50 minutes, but definitely worth a watch.
Unfortunately, it does not end up with a happy ending I’m afraid to say. While some of the Telltale workers who lost their jobs did find work and the company’s final game did get completed, most are still out of work and largely many of the issues that lead to the studio’s downfall seem to have gone ignored and unaddressed in any meaningful way.