Telltale: this is your opportunity to break the radio silence.
Over the past couple of days, frustrations with telltale's current manner of creating and advertising their episode have been thrust into the forefront, in large part due to the fact that Telltale rarely interacts with its fans except in an advertising context and attempts to hype people.
The concerns people have with episodes 1 and 2 of TWD: S3 are not new, but are reccurrant threads of issues people have had with Telltale for years.
The biggest issues I've seen are:
- Episode length. Episodes have been getting progressively shorter, but season prices are still the same. How can I recommend a friend to spend £25 on 7 hours of gameplay when in the past they would have paid the same for 10 hours?
Usually length isn't such a specific issue, going hour by hour on games, but with the small length of Telltale seasons generally in terms of play hours, each hour really does count.
People have raised concerns about episode length since at least TWAU, and I think I remember people being concerned with the length of Season 1 Episode 5 of TWD.
Now, of course length isn't everything, quality over quantity and all that, but when episodes were longer, their quality wasn't significantly lower. If you ask people to spend their money on your game, you should try to make what they pay for consistent, especially as you often pay in advance for episodes that may end up significantly falling short of gameplay expectations.
- Impact of choices and predictable storylines. We get it, it is hard to consistently make us feel that our choices are worth something, and we also get that you can't make every choice massively impactful. However it has become so incredibly predictable that determinant characters will either say very little or die shortly after you save them. If you are going to do determinant characters, do them right.
We are also aware that you say the game is 'tailored' by our choices, not massively altered - but Telltale still prides itself on its games having complex choices, and even if there aren't many big ones, the impacts of the biggest choices should be well developed - at least those of the 5 end choices displayed after each episode.
- Inconsistent episode structuring. Not only are episode lengths wildly different (I believe having consistent episode lengths would help with the clarity of your product greatly) but the presentation of them between each series, season and episode also differ. Some seasons have opening credits while some lack them, some have songs in the credits while others (such as recently TWD s3) just have quiet music, sometimes we get 'next time' trailers and sometimes they're inexplicably absent, sometimes the end of series summarises our interactions with characters (TWD 1, TWAU, TFFTB, GoT) and sometimes they don't at all.
If you want happy consumers you need your episodes to be consistent in quality and presentation, so people know what to expect, and know what they should spend their money on. I have spent £25 on TWD S3 - and I have no idea whether the next episodes will all be 1 hour, or 2 hours, whether they will offer good value for money in terms of choices or not, etc.. People should know what they are paying for when they pay for it.
All of these issues are underlined by the fact that Telltale very rarely (and increasingly rarely, it seems) interacts with their fans over concerns. They only poke their heads out to try to sell us the next episode. If you want people to trust you enough to spend their money on a product they have very little way of predicting the quality of, you need to be around, responding the fan feedback and getting involved with your community. I can't remember the last time I saw your community manager commenting on the forums.
This isn't an attack - this is a request. People are frustrated and concerned about their purchases, the future of your company and its games, and especially about your apparent unwillingness to interact with them and to listen to their worries. Please, talk to us. Show us you are listening and that you are taking our concerns into consideration, as people have raised these concerns for years, and very little has improved.
We really do enjoy your games, and we appreciate your work, but it's becoming harder and harder, for me at least, to justify spending hard-earned money on something stagnant and unclear.