Since the company was founded in 2004, Telltale has used an in-house engine to create its own unique style in both art and gameplay. Of course, that approach wasn’t free of problems, Telltale games have become well-known for bugs, slowdown and animation goofs at this point. The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones games in particular became infamous for these issues. This 14 year-old engine powered nearly all of Telltale’s adventure titles including Minecraft Story Mode, The Wolf Among Us, Batman: The Telltale Series and The Walking Dead.
And now, the company has made the decision to move away from a custom solution. The company is said to be moving to the Unity engine. Which is very easy to work with, and highly flexible. That should translate to a good fit for the folks at Telltale.
It’s pretty easy to guess why this is occurring, at least partially. The engine can’t keep up in scenes with too much going on, and while it will be said to see some aspects of the iconic comic-esque style go away, the transition should be beneficial overall.
But there may be things at play here that forced the developer into the shift.
According to a report on Marin Independent Journal, Kevin Bruner, who helped establish Telltale Games back in 2004, sued the company back in February over his ousting as CEO last year. Bruner was later ousted entirely from the board of directors and replaced by Peter Hawley. The first case management conference will happen in July, with other proceedings following after that.
It’s possible that some behind-the-scenes contention over ownership of Telltale IP may have prompted the switch to Unity. Although this is pure speculation in this case, these kinds of disputes are common among the gaming industry.
Whatever happens with Telltale post The Walking Dead, it will be great to see if they can bounce back and deliver another stellar hit like that glorious first season. One such opportunity is the recently announced Stranger Things game, hopefully they can live up to the narrative potential of the original Netflix hit.