Telltale Games has grown exponentially since the huge success of The Walking Dead season one in 2012, becoming a development giant working on numerous series at once, based on IPs including Game of Thrones, Minecraft, Borderlands and comic series Fables. More recently they released episode one of a new Batman series, the studio's first major adaptation of a DC Comics license.
Next year they're adding to that with a series based on an unannounced line of Marvel comics, proving just how varied their catalogue of properties has become.
IBTimes UK: Batman is your current focus. What does this series represent for Telltale beyond the new IP?
Job Stauffer: For us it represents a certain amount of pride in bringing a Batman story to the table that... in 75 years and hundreds of different iterations of Batman, really embracing the opportunity to tell a Bruce Wayne story and explore his psyche, and see more of him than in any other Batman story. You're playing as Bruce as much as you're playing Batman. Effectively we want you to feel like you're Bruce Wayne even when you're in the Batsuit. To have Bruce rethink what made him become Batman in the first place, and rethink the entire Wayne legacy.
What drove the decision to focus more on Bruce Wayne than fans are used to? Was it born out of the limitations of your engine when it comes to action?
Not at all. We chose to focus on Bruce because it's uncharted territory, and there's this deep, rich, fertile ground in which to explore Bruce as a character. We're big fans of Rocksteady, they made some of the best action games of all time with the Arkham series, but we aren't making an action game. We're making a thrilling, epic Batman story that yes, is full of action – there's more action in the first 30 minutes of episode one than some of our entire series combined – but the way it's consumed and interacted with is more dramatic than mechanical. There's no limit on the stories we can do. Our engine enables us to tell any story we'd like to tell, produce any scene we need to make to tell the best story possible.
Would you agree that Bruce Wayne's dead parents were brought up too much in ep 1? At a point it just seemed characters were being unnecessarily cruel.
I think... it's a common theme to re-explore what happened with Bruce's parents in Crime Alley. It's highly uncommon to suggest that perhaps Bruce's parents.... and spoiler alert... that perhaps they may have been criminals the entire time. Tapping into the psyche of Bruce and everything that made him do what he does now, hitting the rooftops at night and trying to save Gotham from crime and corruption. Having him question why he does that, question his own legacy, question the Wayne family, question who is good and bad. That's really just the tip of the iceberg for this series, and as we get closer to the finale we're going to be delving deeper and deeper into what made Bruce Batman.
Next year you plan to release a series based on a Marvel IP, what can you tell us about that, and are you conscious of there being too many similarities between your Marvel and DC series? It's a strange position for one studio to be working with both Marvel and DC licenses...
It's a strange position, but it's something we're very proud of. From a fan perspective it might seem unusual but for Telltale, we pride ourselves on partnering with the best story-tellers in entertainment – HBO with Game of Thrones, Skybound with Walking Dead, or different sides of the comic book aisle. It's nice to have these companies arrive at the same place at Telltale.
For the Marvel project, we announced it was coming for 2017. We may have announcement later this year on exactly what it is and when it'll be starting. As for if there are similarities: I don't think that's an issue. When you look at the different stories you can tell in the space of comics... obviously Walking Dead is a comic and that's an apocalyptic drama, then there's Batman which is a crime saga. Our story from the pages of Marvel will be very different.
Sure, like you say... obviously you won't comment directly on this, but I've always thought Telltale would be a good fit for an X-Men story that focuses on the students at Xavier's academy and day-to-day school life. I think that highlights the breadth of different stories that are possible.
Really it boils down to diving into the human drama of characters and exploring characters from a personal perspective. Our first foray into that was The Wolf Among Us, where you're playing as this character – Bigby Wolf – who has the power to transform into a 25-foot wolf, and take down a city. He can wolf-out and get into fights but that's part of the narrative, the story and the character itself. It's not about controlling a character mechanically, rapidly bashing a button to punch, punch, kick and attack as a superhero, it's about the drama and the story.
With Wolf Among Us we're proud to explore a superhero from more human perspective. We're continuing that with Batman and we'll continue that with our Marvel project.