Telltale Games made huge waves more than half a decade ago when the company started taking on more serious subject matter in the form of The Walking Dead. At the time, the visual art-style and gameplay design was wholly unique, offering gamers something that they hadn't quite played before from a point-and-click adventure perspective. The first season of the game managed to win plenty of awards and put Telltale on the map as a multi-million selling developer. Over the years, however, the games that Telltale produced began to show their age and gamers began to note how dated it all looked. Well, Telltale is making a major change to its next generation of games and the changes will be quite obvious.
In a report by Variety, it was revealed that with a new CEO stepping in, Pete Hawley, there's also a new direction that the company is taking in how it produces games. This includes ditching the old Telltale Tools and switching engines over to the Unity 3D game engine.
This is a huge departure from what Telltale is used to working with, and sources explained to Variety that it will take time to acclimate to the workflow provided by the Unity 3D toolset. One of the major reasons for the change actually ties into the company's recent deal with Netflix, which has begun streaming "interactive narratives" (viz., video games) through its streaming platform, and that includes Telltale's Minecraft: Story Mode.
Essentially, this streaming deal goes both ways, as Telltale will be producing a new game based on the widely popular Netflix series, Stranger Things. Originally, the company wanted to do a game based on the streaming series earlier, but the former CEO at Telltale turned it down. Some of the developers also wanted to capitalize on the deal that Telltale made with HBO for Game of Thrones and leverage the property through HBO Now, the on-demand streaming service provided by HBO, but the Telltale Tool game engine was incapable of handling such a feat.
Basically, there was a lot of market breadth that Telltale gave up due to the limitations of the game engine. Aging visual effects, stilted animation suites, and limited shader tools meant that Telltale was attempting to produce new games without new advancements in technology.
CEO Pete Hawley decided that the first thing the company needed to do was ditch the engine, and instead of going with the very versatile but front-loaded Unreal Engine 4, it was decided the company would go with a much leaner engine that has less backend baggage. Since Telltale makes point-and-click style games, they didn't need all the first-person shooter assets and toolsets that come with the Unreal Engine, and so the more cost effective and pipeline-friendly option landed on Unity.
The company won't be debuting the Unity-style games until Stranger Things is released, but it also makes us wonder what The Wolf Among Us 2 will be running on. According to the report, Telltale's The Walking Dead: The Final Season will still be running on the Telltale Tool, but it's been greatly overhauled to feature some tweaks to the visuals, slightly better animation pipelines, as well as new gameplay mechanics. But after The Walking Dead: The Final Season, you can kiss the Telltale Engine goodbye and say hello to Unity.