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What TellTale Games should do next


Hey TellTale Games! If you're not too busy, I'd like a word with you.

I've noticed that you guys have been buying up a lot of exciting, unique franchises; Wallace & Gromit, Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, The Walking Dead, and been turning them into gripping graphic adventure titles like the good old LucasArts days.

I commend your choices thus far and thought you might like some thoughts on which franchise you should choose next.

Here's my choice: I think you should totally make a The West Wing videogame.

If I were to imagine how the game would work, it would go a little something like this: You play Deputy White House chief of staff Josh Lyman, and kick it large around the corridors of power in the Land of the Free, trying to juggle the constant demand of being in a position of power and staying there, along with all the respect and responsibility such a role demands. I've done up a few shots of how I believe the game would play out and have sprinkle them liberally round this blog for your delectation.

If the game played out similarly to the TV series, you would have all the drama, tension and razor-sharp dialogue that the show is famous for. You could deliver a game with maturity that could have an enduring impact on the player by giving them the opportunity to consider tough political decisions and, most importantly, be entertained with something new and fresh that hasn't been done before in videogames.

TellTale Games: I believe the premise is certainly there for an amazing title, sitting proudly alongside your other creative work. However, like any game of this ilk, the premise alone might get sales, but for the critics' approval you're going to have to deliver with some smart narrative and an interesting experience in terms of gameplay.

I cannot see this game as a puzzle-oriented experience in the way Monkey Island or Sam and Max operate, but would be entirely focused on delivering a winding path of confrontations and events where your decisions have meaningful consequences on your relationships and possibly looking at an end game scenario where you take your decisions through to further episodes. Did a staffer turn in their resignation in disgust at your choices in episode 1? You play with a new staffer in episode 2, then.

There is also no reason why your decisions could change the way in which your position is reflected amongst the other staffers: Are you going to be a hard-ass that dishes out the lectures and vitriol if your comrades don't tow the line, or are you going to be flowers and chocolates, asking your staff to play nice and join the Best Friends forever club?

There is no doubt that this moral compass mechanic is playing pretty heavy in titles such as Mass Effect and inFAMOUS, but I can see a West Wing offering a more subtle ethical shade. You're not going to be given the chance to authorise airstrikes on a kitten hospital in this game.

At the time, The West Wing was one of the most successful and well-received shows on television, and deservedly so. Any fans of the show would want to see a game that would meet those lofty expectations. That would mean getting all the original cast on board for voice duty, or good enough facsimiles that would not offend the ear. Otherwise, you could find yourself in the unenviable position of making a licensed videogame that does a terrible disservice to the original product.

Of course, there are advantages, which, being TellTale games, you are already acutely aware of. You already have large number of fans of The West Wing that would clamour to see any new product that brings that show back into focus. Starting out with brand new IP is an incredible uphill struggle to get the game marketed and advertised and the consumer enthused. A West Wing videogame would start on an established franchise and offer the player something they haven't had before, but with the understanding that with the people at TellTale games at the helm, you get the opportunity of seeing this franchise treated with respect, with a team well versed in adventure titles and handling die-hard fans.

I'll stop buttering you up now.

I know that's not to say it wouldn't be an expensive gamble. Writers of the same quality as Aaron Sorkin aren't exactly plaguing the videogame industry, and even fewer could keep up the level of panache required to pull off a videogame's worth of dialogue, with all of the winding choices of narrative and the longer play time.

Not only that, but the game's mechanics would need to be sound. As I said earlier, it would hardly make sense to make a West Wing videogame a puzzle-driven experience. You're not going to be searching for Lincoln's buried golden nightcap in the oval office. Leave that to the producers of the National Treasure videogame.

A West Wing videogame would be chiefly about dialogue, making decisions, and watching the actions of your choices come into play. It needs to be smart enough to draw the player in with its authenticity, but it needs to be accessible enough to not alienate the player by confusing him as to the right course of action, or demeaning him if he doesn't know what filibuster means.

This would all need to be carried off with the same kind of production values in quality scoring and graphics too. The characters would need to jump out of the screen with flair and authenticity, and the entire game would need the epic orchestra work that the show was famous for, too.

Yeah, TellTale Games, I know it would be a long and narrow tightrope act to get a good West Wing videogame, but what a performance it would be if you could pull it off!

Please feel free to mail the massive cheque for thinking up such a great idea to Sean Daisy at Destructoid.
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About Sean Daisyone of us since 11:13 AM on 07.16.2009

Formerly CaptainBus.

Commentoider and MassDebate founder/contendor. Has heard a lot of jokes about helmets.


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