Telltale Bosses Wanted Guardians Of The Galaxy To Be Dark, Violent, And Sad

Telltale Bosses Wanted Guardians Of The Galaxy To Be Dark, Violent, And Sad

The chronicles of Telltale Games seems to have no end, despite the company’s collapse last month. On that fateful day of September 21, the majority of Telltale’s staff was suddenly let go with no severance packages and with their healthcare coverage ending come October. The sudden downfall of the company became a major talking point in the industry.

Shedding some new light to this entire ordeal is Emily Grace Buck, one of Telltale’s narrative designers. Buck spoke at the Sweden Game Conference and had some juicy bits to share, namely the massive disconnect between the company’s executives and both its staff and its audience. One particular Telltale game that suffered due to this was Guardians of the Galaxy. Due to orders from Telltale executives, it ended up having a dark, violent, and gritty tone.

Telltale Guardians Of The Galaxy Dc Universe Batman Vs Superman
Because superhero movies need to be darker and grittier, right Martha?

Guardians Of The Humorless Galaxy

Buck’s speech mentioned the following:

“Our executive team insisted that what was popular about Guardians of the Galaxy, was darkness and violence, and sadness. And that people did not associate humour with that brand… So we redid the first two episodes to be less funny and more dark and more violent and more sad, and that’s the game that shipped. And one of the biggest comments in editorial, was that it felt very off-tone for Guardians of the Galaxy and wasn’t very funny. And we were like ‘we know’.”

Ironically, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies became a hit because they offered a fresh, hip take on the superhero genre. Chris Pratt’s humor was impeccable. Groot and Mantis were adorable. And who knew WWE superstar Dave Batista had such comedic timing as Drax the Destroyer?

Many fans and critics lauded Guardians of the Galaxy because of the light-hearted vibes it had compared to other superhero flicks, most notably those from the DC Universe. Seriously, not everyone wants heroic adventures and origin stories that followed Zack Snyder’s vision. So it is highly questionable why Telltale executives wanted a dark and gritty tone for a franchise that’s not even associated with such.

Telltale Minecraft

Not My Minecraft

Buck also mentioned having to do rewrites for 60 to 90 percent of the game based on the whims of executives. The frame skips and buggy scenes that we saw in various instances? Those weren’t due to the engine or the coding, but due to a “buggy management system.” They were scenes that had to get redone at the last minute based on new demands from up top.

Another Telltale game which found success but had a strange internal development cycle was Minecraft: Story Mode. Buck mentioned that they originally slated the game to be rated T. This was despite the original Mojang game being rated Everyone 10+. Fortunately, the correct decisions were made and the game did release with that lower rating. But again, that makes us question why the executives initially misaligned Minecraft: Story Mode with its target audience.

Buck also mentioned what a terrifying working environment it was when facing executives. Pushing for what you felt was right could sometimes lead them to take you off a project. Sometimes, they might have even let you go from the company.  She also added that executives felt that Telltale should cater to a “core gamer-type” audience. This was fairly telling, knowing that Telltale’s games reached a broad spectrum of gamers. Most notably, Telltale’s products have fairly casual-friendly mechanics.

In the end, Buck spoke of how everyone in the gaming industry should work together. She also surmised that it might be time to start a union. After all, as Buck asked the audience at the summit: “How do we start holding leadership accountable to the people who work for their company?”


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  • Jrodriguezwp

    I’m a small business owner who’s also writing on the side, contributing in various websites under the Enthusiast Gaming umbrella — Destructoid, Flixist, Daily Esports, PlayStation Enthusiast, and PC Invasion.
    My Steam library has 1,131 games at the moment so we definitely have a lot of things to talk about.

    • Limit Break

      Oh, I love dark, violent and sad. But at this point all I am getting from anything and everything “comic books” is just vomit. Too much… Too much of this stuff all around. I mean… Even Venom has got his movie now. That is just reaching absurd levels. And I was a huge superhero kid and even I can’t take this onslaught anymore.

      • Jason Rodriguez

        At least it wasn’t a Carnage solo outing.

        • Limit Break

          Oh, and that’s supposed to be reassuring…?

          • Jason Rodriguez

            No. Just that a Carnage movie will be very dark and very violent, and everyone will leave the theaters feeling sad.
            Like “Why did I buy tickets for this” kind of sadness.

            • Limit Break

              Well… That is kind of self-contradictory… As in why would those people be going to cinema on “Carnage” if they are expecting anything else ? XD

              It’s like going to watch a David Lynch film and expecting yourself to come out with anything BUT utter confusion and “dreamy” feeling. You’re kind of expecting EXACTLY that and if you don’t like it… well… shame on you for not conducting research pre-viewing…

              You don’t walk into a “Halloween” screening and expect a “My Little Pony” episode.

              • Jason Rodriguez

                Well, because as we all know, lots of folks go: “A superhero blockbuster flick! Hell yeah!” the moment the trailer drops.

                Also, I tend to go see a David Lynch film expecting to fall asleep halfway through, but that’s just me, haha.

              • Limit Break

                That is really on them.

                Fair enough, even I, a snobby mofo, couldn’t make myself go through the third season of Twin Peaks. You don’t even need any weed to get utterly disoriented.