Mike Stemmle on Telltale Games' work

Mike Stemmle on Telltale Games' work


We asked Telltale Games about episodic gaming and Max running for president and Mike talked about inspiration and people chained to cubicles in their office.

Hooked Gamers: Your adventures traditionally are first released on PC, but they eventually make the transition to consoles as well. What steps do you have to take to make a point-and-click adventure game work on consoles?

Mike Stemmle: It's not all that interesting. 90% of it is taking the time to ask "Hey, how's this gonna work on the Wii/Xbox 360/Whatever the Heck We're Shipping on this Week?" before committing any resources to it. After that, the other 90% is coding. And art. And testing.

Hooked Gamers: Telltale's adventures are some of the funniest in gaming. There hasn't been a single episode that I have played that did not have me howling with laughter. How are you able to constantly achieve this? Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Mike Stemmle on Telltale Games' work
Mike Stemmle: The secret to keeping our comedy fresh lies in the dozens of 20-somethings we've got chained to cubicles in the Telltale offices. They THINK they're doing something called "choring" (seriously, is that even a word), when in fact we're tapping their YouTube and Hulu feeds to see what the young hipsters of today find funny. Apparently it's all about piano-playing cats and ironic references to 50 year-old musicals these days. Who knew?

Personally, I'm inspired by just about everything. As my long-suffering co-workers can attest, conversations with me can be a cultural minefield of Marni Nixon and Rula Lenska references, only occasionally leavened by the slightly-more-familiar Horta jokes.

Hooked Gamers: What do you feel is the biggest difference between working on a well-established adventure franchise such as Monkey Island and a franchise new to the genre like Strong Bad? What unique challenges did they both hold? How were you able to make sure each would appeal to the original fanbase?

Mike Stemmle: Monkey Island is like putting on an old glove, trying to stitch up the holes and give it a new lining. Strong Bad was like taking a really soft piece of calf leather, and trying to decide whether you should make a glove, boot, hat, or purse out of it.

Mike Stemmle on Telltale Games' work
With Monkey, appealing to the core fan base meant going back to the original games and figuring out what worked and what didn't. With Strong Bad, the key was to listen to the Brothers Chaps ... a lot.

Hooked Gamers: Is there any big news you'd like to share with our readers, or something funny that's been dominating your brain while you were answering our questions?

Mike Stemmle: Right now my brain is dominated writing dialog for Chapter 4 of Tales of Monkey Island. I'm trying to figure out a good name for the moths...

Hooked Gamers: Thank you!
Mike Stemmle: My pleasure.