Do you still remember the “hot” phase of Telltale adventures that was started by The Walking Dead in 2012? The episode game may not have been a great success in terms of gameplay, but the adventure of Clementine and Lee, with all the difficult decisions, was told all the more vividly. From then on, several of the interactive stories from Telltale followed every year, for all sorts of well-known franchises such as Borderlands, Game of Thrones, Minecraft, Marvel (Guardians of the Galaxy) and DC (Batman) – until the studio had to be closed in 2018.
However, one of the best Telltale games of this period was based on Bill Willingham’s comic book Fables, which previously probably only enthusiasts knew about. The Wolf Among Us shone with the exciting setting around all the well-known fairy tale characters who experience a film noir-esque murder investigation in an alternative version of New York, with to the point written dialogues, multi-layered characters and a stylish comic look.
Not a wolf among us in 2023
Then, in August 2019, Telltale Games was revived. The year’s Game Awards was followed by the announcement of the first project: The Wolf Among Us 2 (Telltale is also working in parallel with Deck Nine Games on The Expanse: A Telltale Series). The release year is 2023. But now we know that nothing will come of it. Via Twitter and with a Interviewed by IGN the developers announced that the adventure will be released in 2024 at the earliest.
The reason for the postponement: You want to take the chance to bring the game from Unreal Engine 4 to the new Unreal Engine 5. Above all, the team’s engineers and artists are convinced that the new features of the more modern engine are worth the effort. However, the switch means a lot of extra work, because some things that were already done in Unreal Engine 4 now have to be redone.
In that case, a release in 2023 would only have been possible if an unfinished game were published or if the team plunged into a long crunch phase (You can find out more about crunch in the games industry in this special). However, the new Telltale does not intend to go this route. The health and well-being of the team is our top priority.
Jamie Ottilie, CEO of Telltale Games, knows only too well that crunch hurts not only developers and studios, but the entire industry: “I have [Crunch] done, and I don’t want to do it again, and it’s not fair to ask that. You can’t base your business on it. Yes, it is also about maintaining a healthy work culture. We don’t want to let our good people burn out. Between COVID, the job market and the growth in the gaming industry, it has been incredibly difficult to find new employees over the last two years.
So burning people out or wearing them down is certainly wrong in the long run. You can’t build a company like that. And as an industry, we’re terrible at it. We burn our people out. Our best people burn out even faster. And if we want to keep growing as an industry, we have to stop that. We just have to stop it and make better decisions.” Good decision!