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Sam & Max Season Two - What Needs To Happen?


The Tingler
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Hi guys, I'm planning a feature on Sam & Max Season Two to be up soon and I was hoping to get a few opinions.

 

Put simply: What does Telltale need to do with Sam & Max Season Two? What needs to be changed from Season One? What did you like about S1 that needs to be in S2? What was excellent in S1 but needs to be in more? What does absolutely not need to be in S2 that you're worried might actually happen?

 

It can be anything at all. I'll take notes & quotes for the feature, and everyone who gets a quote will be named as the author.

 

Take it away guys!

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A cliffhanger and "next time..." trailer at the end of every episode. Also, a more straightforward way of downloading each one. I think this is just me, but I got way confused trying to get the next episode. Downloading the demo and activating it didn't work for me, for some reason - instead I had to download it from another link. It furrowed my brow.

 

Things like length, humour, music, etc. were spot on. I suppose more locations (a la Hit the Road) would be nice though.

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I don't have any issues, they seemed to have really hit a stride with the last few games. I think the trailer idea is a good one (provided they didn't give too much away), and maybe some edgier humour would be good (not that it wasn't great, I just think the edgier stuff they did was funnier). I would definitely like an easier way to download.

 

Probably the main thing they should do is ignore requests from fans though, especially from their main site! Some of the requests on their forum are really dumb ("The game would be SO much better if I could combine items in my inventory!" - Yeah, because Grim Fandango really sucked as a game because you couldn't do this).

 

I'm with Alan Moore on this one:

"It is not the job of artists to give the audience what the audience want. If the audience knew what they needed, then they wouldn't be the audience, they would be the artists. It is the job of artists to give the audience what they need."

 

If TellTale start forgetting what type of gaming they were trying to make in the first place and start doing a Stan Lee, giving everyone what they want when they ask for it, I think the game quality will plummet quickly.

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Yes indeed, to all those points. Although I must say, there were definitely elements that could be improved on. You just have to check out various reviews of the game to see that there were definitely things that knocked the score down. A good example (and something I agree with) is Jon 'Log' Blyth's review of Episode 6, where he was really irked by the reliance on fantasy items with obvious uses - i.e. 'spoon bender' or 'button presser'.

 

I'm not sure Telltale did hit their stride with the last few episodes. 4 and 5 were excellent, but 6 was a bit of an anticlimax.

 

So, what was great about your favourite episode/s that wasn't in other episode/s?

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Probably the main thing they should do is ignore requests from fans though, especially from their main site! Some of the requests on their forum are really dumb ("The game would be SO much better if I could combine items in my inventory!" - Yeah, because Grim Fandango really sucked as a game because you couldn't do this).

 

I'm with Alan Moore on this one:

"It is not the job of artists to give the audience what the audience want. If the audience knew what they needed, then they wouldn't be the audience, they would be the artists. It is the job of artists to give the audience what they need."

 

I love that Alan Moore quote. It sums it up really well. Fortunately, the designers at Telltale don't actually just copy and paste forum threads into the design doc or anything like that. There's a gigantic difference between reading and replying to forum threads, and actually taking every suggestion from the forum threads and weighing it equally to ideas of your own for the series. Some excellent ideas come from the forum, but for every excellent idea there are dozens of hilarious ones that range from "might be talked about over lunch sometime" to "hahah oh good god what on earth is that?!"

 

As I say with a lot of things people worry about (eg "oh man what if Telltale goes out of business will all the games stop working?!?"), fortunately Telltale is staffed by a bunch of living breathing, free-thinking human beings -- generally creative and intelligent ones at that -- and not a warehouse of faceless automotons with one cable plugged into the forums and another into a credit card processor.

 

The forums are a fun place for the design team and the community to interact, and it's also a fun place for fans to brew up their own ideas for where the plot's going, or for them to do a bit of "Monday Morning Quarterbacking" and armchair game designing, but in the end the game designer's creative vision trumps forum-design-by-committee any day. They're on pretty separate planes of existence, really.

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It's funny you said "will all the game stop working?!?" because that never crossed my mind. Thinking about it, I have complete trust that the people at TellTale would fix things so no-one would be left out in the cold, I'm more concerned with playing TT's next games!

 

It's good to hear that the forum suggestions aren't taken too seriously. I worry that if a lot of people suddenly started saying that something was needed (I saw the "combine inventory items" one quite a few times, so who knows what the louder people on the forum could suddenly "agree" on) that the powers that be TT might start second guessing themselves. Like I said though, I think Alan Moore sums it up!

 

I think Ron Gilbert has been paralysed by fear in this respect (and this is just complete speculation on my part - I could be very wrong), as I seem to remember him saying "something needed to be done" about keeping designers way from fan's comments - and this was a long time before the internet really exploded. If you look at the difference in tone between Monkey Island (fresh faced and optimistic) and Monkey 2 (cynical, grumpy, references to being forced to live up expectations, etc), it makes you wonder if Gilbert just feels the shadow of the success of the first game over him, and all the people who still email him about Monkey 1.

 

(I seem to have drifted slightly, but it's sort of relevant in terms of fans interfering with the creative process.)

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Hey I think the Telltale forum is very good, and the suggestions on the whole make a lot of sense.. A lot of people played hit the road, where inventory combination was a key to a lot of its puzzles.. Its only natural some people would miss that..particularly as the new games only have 4 or 5 inventory items an episode..

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I think that the Telltale forum is good too! Also, what I think Season 2 need is more mindless violence. You never really see anyone get clobbered in Season 1(outside of the boxing glove scenes in the Ep. 6 ending), so it would be fun to see someone, be it Sam & Max, get beat up on screen, like in Hit the Road. I loved it when Sam & Max set off the alarm in Bumpusville, and get pummeled by Lee-Harvey. No reason this couldn't have been done in Ep.4 - there are lots of windows in the White House for Sam & Max to appear at, and Chuckles even says "And stay out!", just like Lee-Harvey.

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When I was talking to Ron Gilbert during the inteview I did with him for Idle Thumbs, he didn't seem like the sort of person who would be paralized by much, let alone worrying about what fans thought, but you never know!

 

With the stuff on the Telltale forums, it's all about using good judgment. I don't know if an idea has ever been lifted right out of the forums into the game (other than "Bright Side of the Moon," which was a name suggested by a forum-goer), but frequently if a problem is identified by the dev team, and a few discussions are had, people will check the forums and try to read into what people are saying, to see if the solution we've come up with will address the related complaints... not by doing exactly what the forum community is requesting, but by doing something else that we want to do that will fulfill their need (hopefully in a better way than their original suggestion even would). Hopefully that makes sense?

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Don't worry, this thread (and the accompanying feature) is about both what people would like to see happen and speculation on what will happen. But there are also problems with Season One that couldn't be ironed out mid-season, so this thread is also for opinions on what those problems are. C'mon guys, gimme your best shots! What would you ideally like to happen in Season Two?

 

No one's opinions are wrong, for example if they say they'd like to be able to combine inventory items, why is that a bad thing? Didn't do Grim Fandango any harm, but every other adventure has it, and GF was a big epic adventure and these are just episodes - combining items would multiply the amount of puzzle possibilities in an instant. On the other hand, combining items is an irritating puzzle dynamic and I'm quite happy to see the back of it, and it puts pressure on Telltale to be extra-creative. I'm probably gonna quote myself in that feature now...

 

Maybe we're too close to the subject matter...

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Arbitrary feature I think would be cool in a Sam & Max game sometime: I'd like to see an open GTA style world where you could get into the DeSoto and basically drive through the ground floor of any building on the street ala the Blues Brothers to get from location to location.

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Well, if we're just going to go crazy, then I'd personally like to see more "adult" humour. Not rude or crude or anything, just stuff with a bit more bite. I loved the few bits of really satirical humour in the first season and I'd love to see more of it.

 

I would also like to see Max impeached (if he wasn't already, at the end of last season, I forget). Actually, the idea of Max being impeached and trying to him "off" could be a great episode in Season 2! (Presumably you'd fail and the next episode Max would be in jail -- lots of jokes about jail that fit perfectly in the S&M vein, right there!)

 

I always thought it was silly keeping Max as the president, as it sort of makes their adventures oddly redundant... of course it was worked out in the series so that they weren't redundant, but it still felt odd. Forcing them to living in grunge holes, where they were perfectly happy, seems to be where they belong!

 

So, for me: More "adult"/sharper humour and Max getting impeached, would make me happy! :)

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I suppose, and this is the most basic idea ever, that Sam could be getting together evidence for Max for his trial. You get everything (maybe including bribing officials etc.) but in the end it's all for nought and Max is quickly found guilty.

 

The next episode is predominately Max in jail, trying to co-ordinate a jail-break with Sam. Scenes would include Max beating the big scary inmate that runs everything. Characters would include the wardens and corrupt official that runs the prison. Think of Shawshank Redemption references!

 

Ah. It could be fun!

 

Impeach President Max!

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