Telltale Games and Lionsgate are partnering in a bid to bring us some fresh new content, blending videogames and television in one hopefully beautiful interactive package called a "Super Show."
The TV expertise will come from Lionsgate, of course. After all, they're the producing company behind Mad Men and Orange Is the New Black. On the gaming side of things, we have Telltale, aka the creative team that brought us The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series, The Wolf Among Us and Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series.
The new Super Show format will thus fuse the two together by featuring both interactive and scripted content. Here’s what Telltale CEO Kevin Bruner told Entertainment Weekly about the new format:
“A “Super Show” episode combines one part of interactive playable content with one part of scripted television style content. Both pieces, when combined together, are what make an actual Super Show “episode.” As we’ve been developing the series, we’re using both mediums in concert to deliver our story. Developing both aspects simultaneously is key to utilizing this new medium. Both parts are first class citizens during the writing and design process. It’s not an interactive series with a show, or a TV show with a game, but a story integrated in a way that only Telltale can do. For us it’s a very natural evolution of the interactive story telling expertise we’ve pioneered.
That said, television and game content are actually produced in different ways and on different schedules. Live action scripted content is shot and produced quickly on a tight schedule, while games require more iteration and flexibility. Integrating these two radically different production styles is a huge challenge, but we’ve been producing games episodically for over 10 years and have brought a lot of television production techniques to our game studio.
Super Show episodes will also contain a lot of content, much more than a standard hour-long television episode. With this in mind, the release cadence will be more predictable like TV scheduling, but still a bit further apart like our games [are released] to allow newer audiences time to consume and discuss both aspects of the show across their game consoles, tablets, mobile phones and computers.”
Now, Telltale has been making its mark in the videogame industry by producing games already based on existing intellectual properties, but in the case of the Super Show, they’ll be producing original content. And since there’s a cost and risk involved in this, they’ve decided to debut with an original IP. BUT Bruner said they’re still open to using an existing property in future:
“Our first Super Show is an original IP we’ve developed in collaboration with a world-class creative partner who’s just as excited about the format as we are. Together we’ve created a world where we can really demonstrate the power of this new format and leverage the toolkit it brings to us as storytellers, much like we’ve done in the [game-only] space.
Producing this kind of content is also a much deeper investment for us so it’s been important that we own or co-own the IP we develop as Super Shows. As we move forward I certainly can imagine building future Super Show series based on existing IP when it makes sense.”
Whatever they do, at least Telltale seems truly intent on creating high-quality content with their Super Show. In fact, Bruner has some very lofty goals for the project, as he also explained how it will all work:
“Our goal is to create products that have a legitimate chance of winning both a Golden Globe and a Game of the Year. This means both aspects of the productions must be first class work.
Each Super Show episode [the interactive game and the scripted episode] will be released as a package designed so that you can consume the interactive portion or watch the scripted show portion in any order you’d like. For instance, if you play the interactive episode first, certain elements of the scripted episode portion will be tailored to reflect some choices made in your interactive play through. If you watch the show before playing, some elements in the interactive portions may be presented differently than if you played first. The interactive episodes will never release without a scripted episode, they will always come out together.
At some point, non-interactive episodes of the scripted content will become available as traditional TV-style episodes on streaming services and broadcast TV. While this obviously can’t deliver the interactivity, this version of the scripted episodes will still stand as completely satisfying top-quality television entertainment.”
For those of us who might worry about what this will mean for Telltale's videogames, Bruner promised that the development of the Super Show will not hinder production on their more traditional episodic games, but that they’ll be developed simultaneously. What do you think of this whole Super Show format? Is the world ready to embrace a game/show hybrid, or is this another doomed attempt to merge interactive media and TV?