Telltale Needs To Stop Pretending Their Games Aren't Broken
We explain why our patience with The Walking Dead developer is wearing thin and why repeated technical issues with Telltale games need to be addressed.
Published on Feb 10, 2014
Our patience with The Walking Dead developer, Telltale, is wearing increasingly thin.
Why? Because – as with many of their fans – there’s an increasing frustration with what seems like an unwillingness to address the technical issues that have plagued their games, to almost act as if they don’t exist.
With the second season of The Walking Dead now underway, The Wolf Among Us on its second episode, a Game of Thrones title and Tales From the Borderlands announced, Telltale certainly has plenty on their plate.
The question many will be asking is, if Telltale has the resources to be working on four projects in tandem, should they not have the resources to fix the myriad technical issues that are sullying the experience of playing their games?
Could it even be argued that Telltale’s decision to take on so many projects without fixing fundamental issues with their engine is perhaps a little disrespectful to the fans who gave them a pass on technical issues in the early going?
Overlooking Telltale's Technical Deficiencies
We love Telltale. We think that The Walking Dead is incredible and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the first and second episodes of The Wolf Among Us.
That’s why it’s so frustrating to find that the technical problems that plagued the first season of The Walking Dead continue to disrupt people’s enjoyment of Telltale’s games.
The stutters, the odd pauses, the frame rate issues, the save bugs – most were willing to overlook them when The Walking Dead first rolled around.
They knew that Telltale was a relatively small studio and, with The Walking Dead being their first big hit, were prepared to accept that they might not have had the resources to address the technical deficiencies that effected the game.
Most of all, though, The Walking Dead was so damn good that to chastise Telltale too heavily for a few technical hiccups seemed unfair; their fans were willing to be patient.
Now that Telltale has had that success though, there is less of that patience around.
Why Patience With Telltale Is Wearing Thin
Having only just played through the recently released second episode of The Wolf Among Us, it’s evident that those technical problems - the odd pauses, the stutters, the frame rate issues - are still there and are still not being addressed.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that we’ve been playing the PC version of The Wolf Among Us. By all accounts, the situation is far worse on consoles when it comes to Telltale games.
Don’t take out word for it. Here’s a post from Telltale’s own forum:
"Downloaded episode one of Wolf last night for PS3 and had a lot of performance issues. Particularly with the audio being out of sync and dropping the end of lines when I make a decision on what I'd like Bigby to say and lines doing a 'Max Headroom' stuttering sort of repeat of itself.
"Failed a QTE in the first fight when the thing just bogged down/froze (without locking up entirely). Getting stuttering/buffering/loading in areas where you're just moving about the room looking at stuff."
Or this, from an Xbox 360 player on Reddit:
"I want to enjoy The Walking Dead and the Wolf Among Us. I am really drawn into the story. But the games are almost unplayable on my Xbox."
"Example: Playing Wolf Among Us last night, going back through to get one last achievement.
"At every point in the game where the action picks up and you have quickly press the right button, the game freezes/lags/framerate drops to 0 and I miss the cue and have to restart.
"So it becomes less about playing, and more about trial and error in trying to memorize where to move the cursor. I had similar problems with the Walking Dead."
Are Telltale Going To Fix Their Games?
The question that asks itself is that, with four projects underway - and with Telltale games releasing on PC, PS3, Xbox 360, iOS, PS Vita and every other platform under the sun - is Telltale really committed to fixing the technical problems that plague their games, or, are they more committed to churning out as many games as they can, on as many platforms as they can?
With the same technical snafus reemerging again and again in every Telltale release, you could be forgiven for assuming that it’s the latter.
For that reason, it feels like Telltale are neglecting the fans who’ve put them in a position to take on additional projects, almost as if the fact that fans let them off for problems with the first The Walking Dead series means they can get away with it again.
You’d hope that’s not the attitude that Telltale are taking internally, but when you’ve got nothing else to go by but Telltale’s technically deficient games, some will inevitably assume that’s the case.
Patience will only last so long with Telltale and it’s easy to imagine some sort of backlash if the developer continues to fail to fix reoccurring problems with their games.
Yes, it’s great to hear that Telltale will be making more games, because what they’ve done so far has (those pesky technical issues aside) been brilliant.
If the development of more Telltale games come at the expense of definitively addressing chronic issues with Telltale’s engine, though, we might just say, "thanks, but no thanks".