Over the past decade a lot of the best storytelling "has been episodic storytelling," like The Sopranos or Game of Thrones. Telltale wanted to capture the "strength in that model" for gaming.
The other issue is that many gamers don't actually reach the end of big games, or don't enjoy sections as they race to the finish line. Episodes keep it paced and players hungry.
"We saw the strength in that model as the way to tell a story and it was tied into our digital distribution strategy, which was to break the content up in a way that would engage people over time and have them return to you, instead of just building a one-time experience," said Telltale CEO Dan Connors in an .
They wanted to give people "smaller, finishable chunks – to change the dynamics of the way people play games."
It's been a model that's helped drag Sam & Max back into the public's affections, as well as Monkey Island's Guybrush Threepwood in The Secrets of Monkey Island. Telltale have gone for much bigger licenses too with Jurassic Park and now The Walking Dead, which is preparing to receive its fourth episode this month.
"...people seem to finish episodes in their entirety," said CTO Kevin Bruner. Episodes aren't too great in length and so help people avoid getting burnt out. At Telltale in the beginning they were "buying and playing and enjoying a lot of games, but never finishing them because there were just too many" and they were "too big."
"I used to always say that the worst job in games was the second-to-last level designer, because anybody on the second-to-last level was going to finish the game," Bruner continued. "They’re just plowing through the second-to-last level as fast as they can to get to the end, so that’s the most unloved level in any game."
They believe these smaller chunks cure this as "each episode is a contained experience. We design a beginning, middle, and end so it has its own arc that can be satisfying in and of itself."
Connors added: "Over time, we’ve kind of honed the craft of creating a piece of content that people could finish and feel good about, but still have a feeling of wanting more. That’s been a big focus for us." By this December The Walking Dead will be a complete season with 5 episodes as Telltale Games will package it for physical retail release.
Check out thebetween Dan Connors, Kevin Bruner and Game Informer.