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Telltale Games CEO Dan Connors Discusses Sam & Max for the Wii

| 20 Sep 2006 14:25

Are Sam and Max coming to the Wii? Possibly, says Telltale CEO Dan Connors, who recently took time to talk with the Escapist News Room about Nintendo's new console, episodic content, fan enthusiasm, and more.

Last week Telltale games revealed that Sam and Max fan efforts had resulted in talks with Nintendo about bringing the franchise to the Wii platform, as we previously reported. Dan Connors, CEO of Telltale games, has since spoken to the News Room to shed additional light on the subject.

"I think we're just shaking hands right now and seeing what their plans are for the virtual console," Connors said of Nintendo. He characterized Telltale's recent talks with the company as the standard preliminary discussion for any third party studio seeking to develop for the upcoming system. "The fact that they are talking to us was just a matter of them pointing us in the right direction, to get into the processes that they have in place. ... That being said, I think that there's a lot of opportunity with the virtual console, and we're two good companies to be working together on that."

Although Connors added, "There's no details around the deal or anything," he made it clear that Telltale is looking seriously at the Wii, and its potential for delivery of Sam and Max episodes. "I think everyone knows that episodic gaming is going to be a part of the future," said Connior, "But companies that are actually executing it and doing it for real are limited. How it fits into the overall plan ... is something that's still being figured out. I'm sure [Nintendo] has ideas about it, but I haven't heard them yet."

Connors indicated that Telltale's focus of late has been squarely on preparing for the delivery of the upcoming Sam and Max episodes, scheduled to launch on the GameTap PC subscription network in mid-October. As such, development for the Wii and other formats has been on the back burner. "We're completely open to putting the series on [the Wii] or whatever else, but certainly right now our focus is on nailing the GameTap thing and having a great launch with that, and then we'll be getting more involved with people like Nintendo that are responsible for such great install bases and fan bases for us."

As to the phone call from Nintendo last week, Connors admits that Sam and Max fans jump-started the process via their emails, essentially causing both companies to step back from current projects and consider the possibilities. "I think that both Nintendo and Telltale are really focused on what they're doing, with Nintendo launching one of the biggest consoles for this Christmas, and Telltale trying to nail this episodic model with GameTap," noted Connors. "I think we both kind of had our heads down, and the fans woke us up to the goods things that could happen." He added, "It's not surprising, because I think that Nintendo has a home for these types of games, and has been pretty much the console that has been really focused on trying to keep titles like Sam and Max alive."

Connors expressed appreciation for not just the enthusiasm of Sam and Max fans, but how they apparently expressed their views. "I think it speaks really well of the fans of both the license and of Telltale and Nintendo," he said. "I have to assume that it was done in a very classy way, and that it wasn't done in the hateful way that a lot of the stuff on the Internet can be done. The email that I've received has been very respectful and cool. I don't know what type of mail Nintendo got, but I think that it was a lot of positive things about [our companies]. I appreciate that, and I think that's an important piece of this."

"I wouldn't want everybody to go out and every time they want to pick up a game slam Nintendo with mail in order to make it happen," Connors added. "I think that Nintendo has a respect for its customer base, and I think Telltale has a respect for its customer base, and the fans that initiated us to do it were passionate, and we both appreciate that. It was an interesting, organic, blog-based experience, I guess."

With Sam & Max Episode 1: Culture Shock just a few weeks away from its October 17 GameTap launch, Connors is understandably excited about the potential for episodic and online gaming content. "It reminds me of back in the day when I was creating this stuff for the first time, and there were no preconceived notions of what it could be," he confided. "I think that at this stage in the industry we're kind of locked into the proverbial 14-page green light checksheet kind of thing. By the time you've checked off four pages of what a license needs to be or what a game needs to be you've pretty much squeezed any creative possibility out of it. ... I think that's really leading to the similarity across games right now, so I think digital distribution across the board, whether from Xbox, Nintendo, PlayStation, and GameTap, is going to help offer consumers and developers a lot of variety."

"I'd really like to give some love to Gametap," said Connors, "because I think they've really taken a lead and made it possible for everything. With Sam and Max and Myst, they've basically managed to take two of the most loved franchises in game history and move them into their service. And to provide the developers with that opportunity, I think that is huge."

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