According to an expose from Variety magazine, Telltale Games are updating their game engine, the Telltale Tool, after 12 years. The engine was first developed for Bone: Out Of Boneville in 2006 and has become very outdated. As Variety report, there are a number of issues that have lead to the decline of Telltale, but the outdated engine was one of the most glaring. Telltale games were often full of bugs, glitches and technical hick-ups, leading to a steady decline in positive reviews. As the Telltale Tool was so old, it didn’t even have a physics engine until the 2016 update for Batman: The Telltale Series. The developers are now looking to ditch the Telltale Tool in favour of the Unity engine. While there will be some growing pains, the Unity engine is better optimised than the rudimentary 2006 engine.
The new engine is the first in a string of changes that hope to spur life into the stagnant developers. With a recent deal with Netflix to deliver Minecraft and Stranger Things gaming content, investors hope to turn the company around. An in-depth exclusive from US Gamer revealed the horrid state of Telltale in late 2017. Rushed development cycles, rapid over-expansion, and a quantity over quality mentality made the company a shell of its former self. The small indie developers had become a corporate machine. This all led to Telltale laying off 90 employees in late 2017, with CEO Pete Hawley stating they are “reorienting our organization with a focus on delivering fewer, better games with a smaller team.” Hawley, former vice president of Zynga, was brought in as a fixer, with the layoffs being the first of many hard choices he is making to keep the studio afloat.
Changing engines is a clear sign of the return to a quality over quantity mindset. Telltale currently only have two upcoming games. According to Eurogamer, The Walking Dead: The Final Season will be the final game on the Telltale Tool, releasing later this year, and 2019’s The Wolf Among Us: Season 2 will be the first game on the new Unity engine. Hopefully bringing the developers back down to a smaller and more personal studio will result in a final season of the Walking Dead reminiscent of the overwhelmingly successful Season One. The Walking Dead: The Final Season is available August 14, 2018 on mobile devices, PC and consoles.