Summary: We chat with Telltale Games's Dan Conners about the upcoming second chapter in their episodic comic book based humor adventure game.
FiringSquad: First was Telltale Games pleased with how the first Bone game "chapter" turned out in terms of the game itself as well as sales?
Dan Conners: Ultimately, I'm very proud of Bone: Out from Boneville because it succeeded in pushing the envelope in critical ways, including character acting, interactive story telling, and accessibility to a broader market. None of these are trivial accomplishments. That said, we don't feel like Out from Boneville is the best we can do. It's our very first title and the beginning of an evolving process. The Great Cow Race will allow us to quickly improve upon the experience. That's part of the master plan. From a sales standpoint, it has performed to our expectations. We expect sales to continue with each new release.
FiringSquad: The second game episode of course had to be about The Great Cow Race, which really made the Bone comic stand out among the rest of independent comics. How intimidating was it to adapt a well known and loved comic book storyline?
Dan Conners: I would call it more inspirational than intimidating. The team has experience working with the material of many great storytellers (George Lucas, Tim Schafer, Steve Purcell) and executing their visions; it's one of our specialties. In the case of the Cow Race, there's a very cool merger of Jeff's original story and Dave Grossman's seasoned game development experience. The elements we've added to embellish the story and enhance gameplay are hilarious and fit neatly into the main story. Also, as a book, The Great Cow Race is really where the Bone story starts to take off. I think the Cow Race game will put Out from Boneville into perspective for a lot gamers who aren't familiar with the books.
One cool thing about being responsible for creating the interactive version of The Great Cow Race is that we're bringing the characters and the story to life for Bone fans for the very first time. If this were a movie, fans would inevitably get that feeling of "the book was much better," but in the game world you can maintain the integrity of the story and bring more depth to it.
FiringSquad: How much input did Jeff Smith give to The Great Cow Race?
Dan Conners: Jeff has final approval on everything, so obviously he is looped in very tightly. There were a couple of gags that we initially left out of the production because we didn't feel they would read very well, but Jeff really wanted them to stay. These turned out to be a couple of the funniest bits in the game.
Dan Conners: The cow race was a huge challenge since so many expectations come with it, but I think we nailed it. It was very important to us that this portion of the game feel immersive and exciting, but not have a gameplay mechanic that's foreign to the rest of the game. I won't spoil the surprise. I'm going to let people play it to see what we've done with it.
FiringSquad: What other mini-games or tasks will there be in The Great Cow Race?
Dan Conners: Smiley needs to build a cow suit, Phoney needs to convince the locals to bet on the Mystery Cow, and Fone needs to impress Thorn. There are games to play at the fair, a giant bee to outsmart, rat creatures to get away from, and a really bad love poem to create.
FiringSquad: How will the second chapter improve on the gameplay of the first Bone game chapter?
Dan Conners: It's much less linear this time out. The middle part of the game requires you to switch between the three cousins to solve puzzles, which is kind of a tribute to Day of the Tentacle. It's also more challenging for gamers and there's a lot more to do. We really have taken the feedback to heart in the creation of this game.
FiringSquad: Will there be any visual improvements for The Great Cow Race?
Dan Conners: The game looks better overall, but we're still trying to be as compatible as possible. Our visuals aren't about the latest shaders or normal mapping, but they are about quality art.
FiringSquad: What is the current status of The Great Cow Race and when will it be released?
Dan Conners: It's just about wrapped up. Look for it in the middle of April
FiringSquad:: Is the third Bone chapter in production now and if so how will it be handled?
Dan Conners: We are mulling over the design at this point.
FiringSquad: Telltale Games took a risk with episodic games. Looking back does the team believe that this way of presenting PC games will become more popular among other developers?
Dan Conners: Definitely. The move to episodic games is unavoidable for so many reasons.
FiringSquad: Can you give us a brief update on the Sam and Max game?
Dan Conners: We are currently working on the design.
FiringSquad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about The Great Cow Race and Telltale in general?
Dan Conners: The Great Cow Race is a very cool game. We've listened to gamer feedback and responded. The Bone story takes a big step forward, as well. I think after playing The Great Cow Race, people will really start to understand the benefits of this model. Regarding Telltale, we're going to continue to build unique games that aren't the same old thing. We appreciate the support and feedback we've received from the gaming community and vow to keep improving.
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