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The Walking Dead's Faces of Death: Part 1

Telltale Games breaks down the reasoning behind the most harrowing decisions in the first episode of The Walking Dead. Warning: spoilers ahead.

[Warning: If you have not finished episode one of The Walking Dead, you should read no further.]

Zombies are a tired, boring trope for a video game enemy, but Telltale Games' The Walking Dead is, somehow, one of the most riveting pieces of interactive storytelling in 2012. To think The Walking Dead is actually about the zombies, however, is to miss the point. The zombies are simply a catalyst for the human drama.

Episode one, A New Day, launched in late April. Episode two, Starved for Help, released in late June. Episode three, Long Road Ahead, is out on PlayStation Network today, and arrives on Xbox Live Arcade, PC and Mac on Wednesday. As this goes live, the next chapter is close, and it seemed like the perfect time to rope some of the principal characters from Telltale to take a closer look the moral decisions that have kept players sweating.

Moments spent hacking apart zombies are not nearly as shocking as the game's other setups.

Project leads Sean Vanaman and Jake Rodkin and writer Mark Darin joined me over Skype for a nearly hour-long breakdown of the first two episodes, in which we specifically focus on the decisions where the player is responsible, or at least involved, with the death of a character. There are plenty of other decisions, big and small, that players make throughout each episode of The Walking Dead, but when someone finally bites the dust, those are the ones that make you wonder "Did I make the right choice?" It doesn't take long to contemplate loading a previous save.

The plan is to dissect of these moments from every episode of The Walking Dead with several members of Telltale Games in the weeks and months ahead. We're aided by Telltalle's welcomed disclosure of player decision statistics, which the studio releases as part of an ongoing video series.

Look for a dismemberment of episode two tomorrow, and when we're closer to the release of episode four, Around Every Corner, we'll (hopefully!) be back again with a look back at the inevitable deaths in episode three.

Our conversation began after I'd spent a few hours on YouTube watching different reaction videos. I came across this quote, which seemed to best summarize what makes The Walking Dead click with folks.

"Keep in mind that the decisions I made are my own, there are no right or wrong choices here, at the very best there are more morally questionable paths that you can take. That's what probably makes the game so real, intense and good."

"At this stage, I feel like we have a pretty good gut for the type of choices we want to present the player, but that’s pretty accurate," said Vanaman in response. "We never want there to be a right answer, but at the same time, I feel like there are choices in the game that are probably better than others at doing that, so we have to ramp our due dilligence in the second half of the season when it comes to really making sure the things we’re asking the player to pick between don’t have moral connotation and don’t have good or bad or value judgements attached to them."

As Vanaman and Rodkin started pitching the studio on their ideas for The Walking Dead, there were more than a few developers put off by the material. It took some convincing to get some folks on board. Even now, some of the horrific ideas and concepts they're wrestling with give them pause, a point we touch on later.

"We want players to feel like 'I had to pick between a terrible thing and a different terrible thing,'" said Rodkin, "and 'Would I go back and do it again?' [And think] 'Maybe, but I don't know if I’d go back and reverse my decision.' Because if you have a choice-based game where people feel like 'Oh, I fucked that up,' then they’re just going to go back and chance it. We really want people to feel comfortable with their horrible choice. [laughs]"

"We can’t build a system that locks you in to your choice," added Vanaman.

"Well, it’s a video game!" said Rodkin.

Yeah, it's a video game, but one unlike most I've played. And with that, onto episode one's violent moral quandaries.

GB: In the first major choice that can result in a death in episode one, where you choose between Shawn and Duck, the stats actually showed that was split down the middle. Some of the stuff that people were commenting on was that, no matter what you do, Shawn dies. In that choice, in some sense, it's illusion of choice. Because even if you try to save Shawn, he still gets captured by the zombies and moves on. When you guys set up that choice, was there ever a situation where Shawn was rescue-able, or did you want to set a tone early on where, even if you choose to save someone, that doesn’t mean it’s going to necessarily happen?

Vanaman: That was the most tumultuous choice in the game, and that was the one that took a lot of getting people bought into [it]. By the time we shipped it, everybody was into it.

The player's relationship with Kenny is stressed several times throughout episode one and two.

But, no, there was never an option. Because Shawn Greene is presented as a zombie within the first couple trades of the comic, it was never something we wanted to do. We always wanted him to die, or, at least, to be bitten really badly. If you try to save him, he kind of talks for a minute before drifting off, so you get a little bit more out of him, but that was really hard because that choice really isn’t about Shawn or Duck. The choice is actually completely about Kenny. You’ve just met this guy, you don’t really know much about him, but hopefully you’ve walked around and talked to him and his family and got a sense of where they’re from and how they treat each other, how he feels about his son. He loves his son but he realizes his son is sort of a 10-year-old dipshit. Him and his wife have what seems to be...she really takes care of him. Hopefully you have this sense of who this guy is, so that--how much does that matter to you in a situation where you have to go with your gut? That’s really what the choice is about. The choice is not so much “Which of these characters do you care about, which of these characters do you choose to live?” It’s “I’ve just met this man. How long am I going to be with him? Am I attached enough to him and his son yet to go for him first?”

Jake: It’s also about testing the waters with Kenny as a player. Even if you are someone who is going to place the value judgement on saving Shawn and saving Duck, entirely relative to you, you immediately learn who Kenny is as a person by how he reacts to the choice that you ended up making.

Sean: If you choose Shawn, he [Kenny] saves Duck, and you’ve still got a chance to save Shawn. Lee yells “Kenny, come here!” and Kenny runs away. If those things didn’t exist, if it was just “save this little boy or this early 20s young man” and the young man always dies but you don’t know who the little boy is, you don’t know who his dad is, you take it at face value. Then, that choice...

Jake: We would feel like shit.

Sean: Then, you are just saying “Eff you, player, this game is not only is one track but means one thing." That’s the thing about the game, especially since we’re making episodic content and we can only make so much. At one point, the game is really, really linear, but we hope that we can make a linear game that, in the way it arranges itself, produces a multitude of meaning. And that’s really what I think--that’s what I went into the game thinking. Okay, I know what the limitations are of a Telltale game, I know what the limitations are [in] our production process, where do I think I can make an impact? That’s my thought.

How, when, and why to kill characters, including children, remains an active debate within Telltale.

GB: Even if you choose to try and go after Shawn, Duck can’t die. Is there any rule about an aversion to killing children? Or is that, specifically, a moment where you’re given this illusion that you’re choosing between Shawn or Duck, but it’s really about your attitude towards Kenny?

Sean: It’s tough. I’ll be honest. There’s stuff that [Robert] Kirkman does in the comics, where I’m just like...ugh. "How are we..? I don’t know if I wanna go...?" I definitely felt that reading the comics. A lot. But not necessarily in that instance. Duck surviving there or not surviving there--that didn’t really come into play there. To your point, there’s stuff in the comics. I don’t know. Are you up on the comics at all?

GB: I’ve read through the first major trade, but I haven’t read past that.

Sean: Can I spoil something for you?

[Warning: Do not click this if you haven't read up to issue #100 of the comics.]

GB: Yeah, yeah.

Sean: The little kid, Carl, gets shot in the face. [laughs] Right in the fucking face! In the eye! It rips his whole face out. Oh, he’s fine!

GB: He’s just a little cyclops now.

Sean: Actually, Glenn, from the first episode, in the comics, [he] recently died--issue 100. In just a brutal way. That’s something we’re always talking about internally. I think there’s probably stuff in episode three that...I’ll be curious. Let me know when you’ve played it. [laughs] It starts to get darker.

Mark: I don’t think there’s anything off the table, really. Anything that’s been “We’re not allowed, that’s pushing it too far,” that we’re told we’re pushing it too far, we internally fear “Oh, shit, I can’t go there.”

Jake: More often than not, though, when we say “Oh, shit, we can’t go there,” and then the room kind of goes quiet for a couple of minutes, and then someone goes “No, we can probably do that.” [laughs]

One thing that’s maybe worth pointing out about choices that seem important until you do them, and then they don’t seem to do anything is that people should remember that this is a five episode game. Whether or not you save Duck or Shawn Greene doesn’t mean that Lee is suddenly going to be on the North Pole instead of, like, western Europe in episode five.

Sean: It’s not the butterfly effect.

Jake: It’s not like you get an entirely different back half of the season. Things like that, the game and we don’t forget what you do. It’s important for people to remember your storyline because things that you’ve done in the past do end up coming back on you way later on than you think sometimes.

Sean: It’s just being pertinent. Going back, we can kind of sound like “You’re going to regret how he died!” We don’t do that.

Jake: No, I don’t mean come back on you as much as...

GB: There are consequences.

Jake: Things that seem like they sank away a long time ago might still be percolating in the back of a character’s mind.

Mark: That whole choice with saving Shawn, if you choose to save Shawn, just because you couldn’t do it doesn’t mean that the choice is meaningless because everybody remembers that choice, and that ripples through the entire game.

Sean: Mark makes a really good point. Just because somebody dies--in real-life, I’ve gotta live with that guy now, the guy [where] I didn’t try to save his son, the guy who maybe thinks he should have not run away. That’s a tension I have to live with, as opposed to you guys carrying the same amount of baggage. You can’t commiserate. If you choose Duck, Lee and Kenny could realistically commiserate and say “You know, man, back there, we really should have tried to do something else” and there’s a bond built there, whereas now there’s a rift. That, really, more interesting.

GB: In the case of Doug and Carley, the second major choice you get in episode one, when I was looking at the stats for Duck and Shawn, that was basically split 50/50. But with Carley and Doug, it was 75/25, essentially. Do you guys aim for that to be 50/50? I mean, not every choice is going to be 50/50, but these ones where you’re talking about a character death, is the aim 50/50? So when you get a situation like Carley and Doug where it’s 75/25, do you think you didn’t properly set that up?

Sean: That’s a really good question.

Jake: In the specific case of Doug and Carley, we’d hoped that it would be 50/50, but I think we knew going in with that one, we made peace with the fact that hot reporter with a gun versus dorky dude, we kind of knew where that was going to go.

Sean: I mean, we definitely kind of made our bed on that one a little bit. I would probably do things a little differently, I’ll be completely honest. I would probably frame them as different people, and not for the sake of getting it to 50/50, but because I feel, personally--I guess I’m kind of the guy who created Doug and Carley. I mean, Jake and I do a lot of the conceptual work together, but on episode one, I wrote all the stuff. It was in the can when Gary [Whitta] came on, he dug it already, so that was good. [laughs] I would probably frame them a little bit differently, to be perfectly honest. Just because--it has nothing to do with the stat choices--it has to do with the fact that I think I left some stuff on the table with them, with what possibilities could have been communicated in the first episode with their characters. I think, had I done a better job communicating the possibility of their characters, this stat would be a little...maybe not more 50/50, but you wouldn’t be able to boil it down to what Jake was boiling it down [to].

Even though most people chose Carley, Telltale was prepared for players to act that way.

GB: I was rewatching the scene this afternoon, and there’s a line from Carley which says “Doug, if we make it through this, you should know...” which seemed to allude to a much larger backstory between the two, unless that’s me reading too much into that scene.

Sean: No, that’s totally where I was going. If you talk to Carley in the drug store, he [Lee] can be like “Hey, how’d you get here?” and she’s like “Oh, I came down from Atlanta, we were covering this festival, and everything went to shit. My producer got eaten, and that dude over there saved my ass,” and you look over and it’s Doug. “That guy?!” “Yeah, that guy.” They’ve been together for three or four days now, and that relationship--that’s what I’m saying about left things on the table. You get this sense, at the end, where, in the face of possible death, Carley clearly has something to say to Doug, and I thought that was interesting. I wanted to communicate [that].

That was one of those things where I came back and looked at the script and we’re at a moment where we’re trying to get the game done and I’m like “God, I really did not make the relationship between these two characters the way I always wanted to. Okay, I have this moment right here where everything’s going to hell. Can I, at least, allude to it?” So I did.

Jake: There’s one, little reference to at the very end.

Sean: Oh, yeah, that’s true. If you go to Carley, she says “Why’d you save me?” She basically says “Oh, well, thanks.” But if you go to Doug, and he says “Why’d you save me?” he goes “I wish you had saved her.” Depending on who you save, you get a different perspective on their friendship, or relationship in general, was.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
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[Warning: If you have not finished episode one of The Walking Dead, you should read no further.]

Zombies are a tired, boring trope for a video game enemy, but Telltale Games' The Walking Dead is, somehow, one of the most riveting pieces of interactive storytelling in 2012. To think The Walking Dead is actually about the zombies, however, is to miss the point. The zombies are simply a catalyst for the human drama.

Episode one, A New Day, launched in late April. Episode two, Starved for Help, released in late June. Episode three, Long Road Ahead, is out on PlayStation Network today, and arrives on Xbox Live Arcade, PC and Mac on Wednesday. As this goes live, the next chapter is close, and it seemed like the perfect time to rope some of the principal characters from Telltale to take a closer look the moral decisions that have kept players sweating.

Moments spent hacking apart zombies are not nearly as shocking as the game's other setups.

Project leads Sean Vanaman and Jake Rodkin and writer Mark Darin joined me over Skype for a nearly hour-long breakdown of the first two episodes, in which we specifically focus on the decisions where the player is responsible, or at least involved, with the death of a character. There are plenty of other decisions, big and small, that players make throughout each episode of The Walking Dead, but when someone finally bites the dust, those are the ones that make you wonder "Did I make the right choice?" It doesn't take long to contemplate loading a previous save.

The plan is to dissect of these moments from every episode of The Walking Dead with several members of Telltale Games in the weeks and months ahead. We're aided by Telltalle's welcomed disclosure of player decision statistics, which the studio releases as part of an ongoing video series.

Look for a dismemberment of episode two tomorrow, and when we're closer to the release of episode four, Around Every Corner, we'll (hopefully!) be back again with a look back at the inevitable deaths in episode three.

Our conversation began after I'd spent a few hours on YouTube watching different reaction videos. I came across this quote, which seemed to best summarize what makes The Walking Dead click with folks.

"Keep in mind that the decisions I made are my own, there are no right or wrong choices here, at the very best there are more morally questionable paths that you can take. That's what probably makes the game so real, intense and good."

"At this stage, I feel like we have a pretty good gut for the type of choices we want to present the player, but that’s pretty accurate," said Vanaman in response. "We never want there to be a right answer, but at the same time, I feel like there are choices in the game that are probably better than others at doing that, so we have to ramp our due dilligence in the second half of the season when it comes to really making sure the things we’re asking the player to pick between don’t have moral connotation and don’t have good or bad or value judgements attached to them."

As Vanaman and Rodkin started pitching the studio on their ideas for The Walking Dead, there were more than a few developers put off by the material. It took some convincing to get some folks on board. Even now, some of the horrific ideas and concepts they're wrestling with give them pause, a point we touch on later.

"We want players to feel like 'I had to pick between a terrible thing and a different terrible thing,'" said Rodkin, "and 'Would I go back and do it again?' [And think] 'Maybe, but I don't know if I’d go back and reverse my decision.' Because if you have a choice-based game where people feel like 'Oh, I fucked that up,' then they’re just going to go back and chance it. We really want people to feel comfortable with their horrible choice. [laughs]"

"We can’t build a system that locks you in to your choice," added Vanaman.

"Well, it’s a video game!" said Rodkin.

Yeah, it's a video game, but one unlike most I've played. And with that, onto episode one's violent moral quandaries.

GB: In the first major choice that can result in a death in episode one, where you choose between Shawn and Duck, the stats actually showed that was split down the middle. Some of the stuff that people were commenting on was that, no matter what you do, Shawn dies. In that choice, in some sense, it's illusion of choice. Because even if you try to save Shawn, he still gets captured by the zombies and moves on. When you guys set up that choice, was there ever a situation where Shawn was rescue-able, or did you want to set a tone early on where, even if you choose to save someone, that doesn’t mean it’s going to necessarily happen?

Vanaman: That was the most tumultuous choice in the game, and that was the one that took a lot of getting people bought into [it]. By the time we shipped it, everybody was into it.

The player's relationship with Kenny is stressed several times throughout episode one and two.

But, no, there was never an option. Because Shawn Greene is presented as a zombie within the first couple trades of the comic, it was never something we wanted to do. We always wanted him to die, or, at least, to be bitten really badly. If you try to save him, he kind of talks for a minute before drifting off, so you get a little bit more out of him, but that was really hard because that choice really isn’t about Shawn or Duck. The choice is actually completely about Kenny. You’ve just met this guy, you don’t really know much about him, but hopefully you’ve walked around and talked to him and his family and got a sense of where they’re from and how they treat each other, how he feels about his son. He loves his son but he realizes his son is sort of a 10-year-old dipshit. Him and his wife have what seems to be...she really takes care of him. Hopefully you have this sense of who this guy is, so that--how much does that matter to you in a situation where you have to go with your gut? That’s really what the choice is about. The choice is not so much “Which of these characters do you care about, which of these characters do you choose to live?” It’s “I’ve just met this man. How long am I going to be with him? Am I attached enough to him and his son yet to go for him first?”

Jake: It’s also about testing the waters with Kenny as a player. Even if you are someone who is going to place the value judgement on saving Shawn and saving Duck, entirely relative to you, you immediately learn who Kenny is as a person by how he reacts to the choice that you ended up making.

Sean: If you choose Shawn, he [Kenny] saves Duck, and you’ve still got a chance to save Shawn. Lee yells “Kenny, come here!” and Kenny runs away. If those things didn’t exist, if it was just “save this little boy or this early 20s young man” and the young man always dies but you don’t know who the little boy is, you don’t know who his dad is, you take it at face value. Then, that choice...

Jake: We would feel like shit.

Sean: Then, you are just saying “Eff you, player, this game is not only is one track but means one thing." That’s the thing about the game, especially since we’re making episodic content and we can only make so much. At one point, the game is really, really linear, but we hope that we can make a linear game that, in the way it arranges itself, produces a multitude of meaning. And that’s really what I think--that’s what I went into the game thinking. Okay, I know what the limitations are of a Telltale game, I know what the limitations are [in] our production process, where do I think I can make an impact? That’s my thought.

How, when, and why to kill characters, including children, remains an active debate within Telltale.

GB: Even if you choose to try and go after Shawn, Duck can’t die. Is there any rule about an aversion to killing children? Or is that, specifically, a moment where you’re given this illusion that you’re choosing between Shawn or Duck, but it’s really about your attitude towards Kenny?

Sean: It’s tough. I’ll be honest. There’s stuff that [Robert] Kirkman does in the comics, where I’m just like...ugh. "How are we..? I don’t know if I wanna go...?" I definitely felt that reading the comics. A lot. But not necessarily in that instance. Duck surviving there or not surviving there--that didn’t really come into play there. To your point, there’s stuff in the comics. I don’t know. Are you up on the comics at all?

GB: I’ve read through the first major trade, but I haven’t read past that.

Sean: Can I spoil something for you?

[Warning: Do not click this if you haven't read up to issue #100 of the comics.]

GB: Yeah, yeah.

Sean: The little kid, Carl, gets shot in the face. [laughs] Right in the fucking face! In the eye! It rips his whole face out. Oh, he’s fine!

GB: He’s just a little cyclops now.

Sean: Actually, Glenn, from the first episode, in the comics, [he] recently died--issue 100. In just a brutal way. That’s something we’re always talking about internally. I think there’s probably stuff in episode three that...I’ll be curious. Let me know when you’ve played it. [laughs] It starts to get darker.

Mark: I don’t think there’s anything off the table, really. Anything that’s been “We’re not allowed, that’s pushing it too far,” that we’re told we’re pushing it too far, we internally fear “Oh, shit, I can’t go there.”

Jake: More often than not, though, when we say “Oh, shit, we can’t go there,” and then the room kind of goes quiet for a couple of minutes, and then someone goes “No, we can probably do that.” [laughs]

One thing that’s maybe worth pointing out about choices that seem important until you do them, and then they don’t seem to do anything is that people should remember that this is a five episode game. Whether or not you save Duck or Shawn Greene doesn’t mean that Lee is suddenly going to be on the North Pole instead of, like, western Europe in episode five.

Sean: It’s not the butterfly effect.

Jake: It’s not like you get an entirely different back half of the season. Things like that, the game and we don’t forget what you do. It’s important for people to remember your storyline because things that you’ve done in the past do end up coming back on you way later on than you think sometimes.

Sean: It’s just being pertinent. Going back, we can kind of sound like “You’re going to regret how he died!” We don’t do that.

Jake: No, I don’t mean come back on you as much as...

GB: There are consequences.

Jake: Things that seem like they sank away a long time ago might still be percolating in the back of a character’s mind.

Mark: That whole choice with saving Shawn, if you choose to save Shawn, just because you couldn’t do it doesn’t mean that the choice is meaningless because everybody remembers that choice, and that ripples through the entire game.

Sean: Mark makes a really good point. Just because somebody dies--in real-life, I’ve gotta live with that guy now, the guy [where] I didn’t try to save his son, the guy who maybe thinks he should have not run away. That’s a tension I have to live with, as opposed to you guys carrying the same amount of baggage. You can’t commiserate. If you choose Duck, Lee and Kenny could realistically commiserate and say “You know, man, back there, we really should have tried to do something else” and there’s a bond built there, whereas now there’s a rift. That, really, more interesting.

GB: In the case of Doug and Carley, the second major choice you get in episode one, when I was looking at the stats for Duck and Shawn, that was basically split 50/50. But with Carley and Doug, it was 75/25, essentially. Do you guys aim for that to be 50/50? I mean, not every choice is going to be 50/50, but these ones where you’re talking about a character death, is the aim 50/50? So when you get a situation like Carley and Doug where it’s 75/25, do you think you didn’t properly set that up?

Sean: That’s a really good question.

Jake: In the specific case of Doug and Carley, we’d hoped that it would be 50/50, but I think we knew going in with that one, we made peace with the fact that hot reporter with a gun versus dorky dude, we kind of knew where that was going to go.

Sean: I mean, we definitely kind of made our bed on that one a little bit. I would probably do things a little differently, I’ll be completely honest. I would probably frame them as different people, and not for the sake of getting it to 50/50, but because I feel, personally--I guess I’m kind of the guy who created Doug and Carley. I mean, Jake and I do a lot of the conceptual work together, but on episode one, I wrote all the stuff. It was in the can when Gary [Whitta] came on, he dug it already, so that was good. [laughs] I would probably frame them a little bit differently, to be perfectly honest. Just because--it has nothing to do with the stat choices--it has to do with the fact that I think I left some stuff on the table with them, with what possibilities could have been communicated in the first episode with their characters. I think, had I done a better job communicating the possibility of their characters, this stat would be a little...maybe not more 50/50, but you wouldn’t be able to boil it down to what Jake was boiling it down [to].

Even though most people chose Carley, Telltale was prepared for players to act that way.

GB: I was rewatching the scene this afternoon, and there’s a line from Carley which says “Doug, if we make it through this, you should know...” which seemed to allude to a much larger backstory between the two, unless that’s me reading too much into that scene.

Sean: No, that’s totally where I was going. If you talk to Carley in the drug store, he [Lee] can be like “Hey, how’d you get here?” and she’s like “Oh, I came down from Atlanta, we were covering this festival, and everything went to shit. My producer got eaten, and that dude over there saved my ass,” and you look over and it’s Doug. “That guy?!” “Yeah, that guy.” They’ve been together for three or four days now, and that relationship--that’s what I’m saying about left things on the table. You get this sense, at the end, where, in the face of possible death, Carley clearly has something to say to Doug, and I thought that was interesting. I wanted to communicate [that].

That was one of those things where I came back and looked at the script and we’re at a moment where we’re trying to get the game done and I’m like “God, I really did not make the relationship between these two characters the way I always wanted to. Okay, I have this moment right here where everything’s going to hell. Can I, at least, allude to it?” So I did.

Jake: There’s one, little reference to at the very end.

Sean: Oh, yeah, that’s true. If you go to Carley, she says “Why’d you save me?” She basically says “Oh, well, thanks.” But if you go to Doug, and he says “Why’d you save me?” he goes “I wish you had saved her.” Depending on who you save, you get a different perspective on their friendship, or relationship in general, was.

Online
Posted by phantastik

Love this game

Edited by cabelhigh

Brilliant game. It's almost too compelling. Wish they talked about the assisted suicide scene tho. That one was gut wrenching.

Posted by ComradeCrash

Making a simple choice in this game is difficult at times. Love it!

Posted by GS_Dan

Poor Doug :(

I totally saved him, screw you all.

Posted by leinad44

Ah shit I'm up to date with the comics trade paperback wise. And the spoiler was from one of the most recent issues that isn't in a trade yet......FUCK!!

Posted by Terramagi

I saved Shawn because fuck, Kenny's RIGHT THERE. Help me, asshole!

Also, I like how everybody apparently sided with Larry, because Kenny is such a black and white guy that you're either with him, or a monster. No compromise.

I can sort of respect that, in a way.

Edited by crusader8463

I hope they have the guts to kill the kids. I hate horror stories with kids in them because everyone is too afraid to kill them off. So as a result any scene involving them has no meaning or emotions attached to it because you know the worst that will ever happen to that character is that they might bruise their knee as they run away and it neuters any kind of worry about their safety.

Walking Dead Comic Spoiler

Unlike in the comics where they killed a bunch of them off. That scene was what made me fall in love with the comics because at that point I knew that no one was safe and it made every encounter truly interesting. When everyone has equal opportunity to get axed it allows the writers to make any kind of situation truly emotional.

Anyway, super happy to hear that it's coming out tomorrow. I'm in love with this series and tomorrow is my day off so I get to play it all day!

Edited by cap123

I saved Carley because I knew Doug would be devastated if you didn't save her, whereas I suppose I thought Carley would handle the situation better.

Great article!

edit: She's good with a gun too of course, I can't remember if I thought of that at the time. Also hotness never came into it for me, Doug seemed like a cool guy and just as worthwhile a character.

Posted by ThePaleKing

I've stopped watching the tv show entirely (as in, before the season ended), but I am excited as hell for episode 3 of this game.

Posted by Cirdain

I'll read this after I play them all.

Edited by Rmack

@Terramagi said:

I saved Shawn because fuck, Kenny's RIGHT THERE. Help me, asshole!

Exactly this! Dammit Kenny! Shit like that and his act in part 2 are why his ass is SO not getting helped in this next episode for me.

Posted by BeachThunder

Mark: That whole choice with saving Shawn, if you choose to save Shawn, just because you couldn’t do it doesn’t mean that the choice if meaningless because everybody remembers that choice, and that ripples through the entire game.

Anyway, I'm really loving the game, it's exactly what I wanted from Mass Effect - a game with choices that doesn't grade you in anyway; no paragon/renegate/good/bad/light/dark, just choices that have consequences - and it's entirely up to you to decide how you feel about those choices.

Also, I saved Doug; Carley knew all about my past - and she's also a complete moron =|

Posted by Terramagi

@crusader8463 said:

I hope they have the guts to kill the kids. I hate horror stories with kids in them because everyone is too afraid to kill them off. So as a result any scene involving them has no meaning or emotions attached to it because you know the worst that will ever happen to that character is that they might bruise their knee as they run away and it neuters any kind of worry about their safety.

Walking Dead Comic Spoiler

Unlike in the comics where they killed a bunch of them off. That scene was what made me fall in love with the comics because at that point I knew that no one was safe and it made every encounter truly interesting. When everyone has equal opportunity to get axed it allows the writers to make any kind of situation truly emotional.

Anyway, super happy to hear that it's coming out tomorrow. I'm in love with this series and tomorrow is my day off so I get to play it all day!

Yeah, I really hope they just fucking WASTE a kid at some point.

Like, you're in the Walking Dead. This shit happens. If you fuck up hard enough, Clem should DIE because fuck you that's why.

Posted by Sgtpierceface

This game is one of my favourites this year. I'm glad you're writing articles on it Patrick.

Posted by Kerned

Great read, can't wait for part two. Thanks, Patrick.

Posted by golguin

@cabelhigh said:

Brilliant game. It's almost too compelling. Wish they talked about the assisted suicide scene tho. That one was gut wrenching.

That choice seemed like a no brainer. Don't give the suicidal girl a gun because a) the sound will draw in walkers b) you can't spare ammo c) she'd unstable and might shoot someone else.

I've felt pretty good about all my choices in the first two episodes and I'm surprised how the game has changed my opinions on characters I thought were cool until they weren't anymore and vice versa.

Posted by Smithers

Great article Patrick. I loved Walking Dead ep1&2, but I get the criticism that some of the choices (ie "do I save the man or the helpless child" or "do I save the useless guy or the girl with the firearm") are actually kinda no-brainers to most people. But its interesting to see that the developers thought about this, and WD walks a fine line between giving you disturbing choices and narratives to drive the plot forward and giving you really really shitty choices that just make you not want to play that game anymore.

Looking forward to part 2 of this, I must say that when ep 2 really ramps up at the end (ie everything goes nuts) its some of the most emotional resonance I've had with a game.

Posted by Olivaw

I saved Duck because he's like ten years old, what the fuck.

And yeah, the Carley/Doug thing? Could have been communicated better. Doug seemed capable enough, but he didn't have a gun and know how to use it, and that alone made saving her a greater priority in this post-apocalypse situation.

Plus she was pretty smokin', and had already done you a solid by knowing what you did and not telling anyone. Like, you have way more connection to and appreciation for Carley as a character than you do Doug. It's not even a contest.

Posted by HydraHam

@Olivaw said:

I saved Duck because he's like ten years old, what the fuck.

And yeah, the Carley/Doug thing? Could have been communicated better. Doug seemed capable enough, but he didn't have a gun and know how to use it, and that alone made saving her a greater priority in this post-apocalypse situation.

Plus she was pretty smokin', and had already done you a solid by knowing what you did and not telling anyone. Like, you have way more connection to and appreciation for Carley as a character than you do Doug. It's not even a contest.

I have 2 playthroughs going (one on 360, one on PS3)

PS3 is my i want to watch the world burn play through and saved neither. 360 is my "what would i do in this situation" play through and yeah i saved Duck as well

Posted by MEATBALL

I haven't read this article yet because I'm not sure I quite want to peel back the curtain on the game before the 5 episode run has finished.

Posted by LucVargas

Hey Patrick, just a small correction: the name of the first episode is "A New Day". "Days Gone By" is the name of the first chapter of the comic book, if I'm not mistaken.

Great feature, I hope to see one everytime a new episode comes out. Really nice to read the developer's perspective on some of the big choices.

Posted by Sarx

"I sit out here all day and can program universal remotes" was not all of the problem. Carley has an additional scene with Lee in the drugstore office where she is amiable and agrees to keep quiet about his past no strings attached. With Doug there are no bonding experiences like that.

Posted by alexe0506

LOVE THIS GAME!!!

Posted by sixpin

Great article about one of the most compelling story driven games in recent years. I'm a big fan of The Walking Dead and this series is -by a wide margin - the best use of the comic franchise. Really looking forward to Part 2 of this article and to tomorrow's Episode 3.

Posted by Dprotp

i saved carley, hoping that she'd save doug because she has a gun

i was too hopeful :(

Posted by Hatp

@Olivaw said:

I saved Duck because he's like ten years old, what the fuck.

And yeah, the Carley/Doug thing? Could have been communicated better. Doug seemed capable enough, but he didn't have a gun and know how to use it, and that alone made saving her a greater priority in this post-apocalypse situation.

Plus she was pretty smokin', and had already done you a solid by knowing what you did and not telling anyone. Like, you have way more connection to and appreciation for Carley as a character than you do Doug. It's not even a contest.

no, you take carley out because she knows too much.

Posted by GalacticGravy

The only reason I lied to Hershel is because I had no idea who I was. I didn't even know I was lying. He said I was lying and I was totally confused. I thought all those questions were me building my character or something.

Posted by Peanut

Interesting read. More like this please, Klepek.

Posted by The_Ruiner

I saved Carly cause she's fucking Hawkeye...

Posted by GalacticGravy

@Olivaw said:

I saved Duck because he's like ten years old, what the fuck.

Exactly what I didn't save Duck. What's a 10 year old going to do to help me survive?

This is also exactly why I love this game, because you and I could probably discuss this topic for a while and never come to an agreement.

Posted by zungerman090

I really don't like the fact that they are implying that gamers are definitely going to save a hot chick rather than a dude. Seriously though, I saved Carly because she had more interesting dialogue. Doug just kind of sat there outside of the store and talked about how weird/geeky he was. Not to mention him screaming while he was supposed to be quiet. Yeesh.

Posted by hollitz

Shawn vs Duck: Duck is--by his own father's admission--not the brightest kid. Also, he's a kid. Not a huge help in the zombie apocalypse. Shawn is a grown-ass man, handy (building a fence) and the son of the person who's farm you are camping out on. Shawn's father has medical training, as does Duck's mother, but Shawn's father also has land. Also Shawn saved your life.

Carley vs Doug: Sure Doug is brave and all, but Carley has a gun on her person and she's adept at shooting. Not to mention, if there is any hope for humanity after the zombies--if that were to happen--the value of a woman's life FAR outweighs the value of a man's. Carley was the correct choice.

Posted by tallTuck94

My choice to save Carley was down to the fact she was shown to be more useful to the group, I didn't have enough time to get to know either so when it came down to it I chose the one who could defend themselves better.

While Carley doesn't know how batteries work she is a great shot and Doug didn't really do anything of worth.

I think that's why people chose her rather than "she's hot". At least I hope players aren't that shallow.

Edited by Wilshere

I am amazed that so many (90%) gave false hope to Clem.

Posted by steevl

Ouch, didn't think that spoiler would cover something in the comics I haven't read since I'm caught up on the trades, but that doesn't include issue 100. :( Oh well, not the end of the world.

Looks like episode 3 is due out today on PSN and tomorrow everywhere else according to Joystiq.

Posted by mbr2

@Hatp said:

@Olivaw said:

I saved Duck because he's like ten years old, what the fuck.

And yeah, the Carley/Doug thing? Could have been communicated better. Doug seemed capable enough, but he didn't have a gun and know how to use it, and that alone made saving her a greater priority in this post-apocalypse situation.

Plus she was pretty smokin', and had already done you a solid by knowing what you did and not telling anyone. Like, you have way more connection to and appreciation for Carley as a character than you do Doug. It's not even a contest.

no, you take carley out because she knows too much.

Nice.

Posted by impartialgecko

After having Thumbs repeatedly go off on tangents about TWD then pulling back before they revealed the interesting stuff it's awesome to read more about it in depth. Ta Tricky.

Posted by MistaSparkle

I mainly saved Carley because she saved Clem when I fucked up and couldn't hit the button on time.

Cool interview by the way. I'm kind of wanting to wait to read these till the game is completely finished though...

Posted by TheDancingDynamo

Hey Patrick, maybe some phrasing could be changed on the spoiler? Issue 100 came out about a month and a half ago, but the trade paperbacks take months to catch up to that. For a lot of people it will still be a spoiler if they're up to date on the trades. Maybe just a change of wording along the lines of "Spoiler for those who are not up to issue 100 of The Walking Dead" would be a little more descriptive for those who aren't the most diehard fans. Otherwise fantastic article. I'd be really interested to hear their thoughts on the assisted suicide in the first episode, because honestly that part was so god damn brutal and to me the most interesting. I knew to go after Duck because in reading the comic you know that Shawn is gonna die anyway, and Carly was just much more of a character than Doug. I talked to her and had conversations with her and she knew things about me that others didn't. It gave her depth while Doug was just geeky and kind of there. Plus her skills with a gun seemed far more relevant at the time than Doug's tech skills. I'm sure that will come back to bite me in the ass when I run across the 50 foot tall zombie killing mech that only Doug could have repaired, but I'll just have to deal.

Posted by DeathbyYeti

Carley couldnt figure out batteries. There is no choice here

Edited by Phatmac

Noticed a typo here

"Mark: That whole choice with saving Shawn, if you choose to save Shawn, just because you couldn’t do it doesn’t mean that the choice if meaningless because everybody remembers that choice, and that ripples through the entire game."

I'll continue reading and see if i see anything else. Great read so far!

Posted by billyhoush

It was a no brainer to save Carley over Doug. Carley has a vagina and a gun. Make life, take life.

Posted by patrickklepek

My deepest apologies if the comic spoiler wasn't clear enough. I've edited the text to reflect it's up to issue #100. Really sorry, guys.

I also don't know how I forgot about the assisted suicide choice! Damn! I'll circle back to that in a later feature...

Online
Posted by teh_destroyer

I tried saving the other guy over the kid the first time because I hated Kenny, I am pumped for episode 3.

Posted by Gildermershina

When I made the Doug/Carley choice, it happened so quickly that I didn't realise what I had done, I panicked and I ended up clicking on Doug without realising that's who I had picked. I immediately felt the game had robbed me of the choice by not giving me enough time or warning to make it, but then I realised that that's exactly the point of it. A videogame is the only medium where you could be forced to make a decision yourself like that rather than simply reading or watching a character make it for you. It's a very satisfying level of engagement. Congratulations to Telltale for pulling this one off so convincingly.

Posted by Phatmac

I really do wish that you could save Shawn, but it was never meant to be. :(

Posted by cikame

I think it's possible to kill kids in a story like this and be tasteful about it.
Say there's a fight, an accidental discharge of a weapon occurs, everything stops people look around and "oh no". No need to show a body or describe exactly what happened, say it was Duck and his parents run over to his body off camera and you can hear their cries.
 
Additionally, if you played Kane and Lynch 2 you know that often times not seeing something is far worse than having it shown to you.

Posted by Jolt92

This is my favorite game this year.

Posted by Reluctant_Hero

Patrick, this is an excellent feature. Looking forward to reading the future installments!

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