I had a chance to sit down with the great folks at TellTale games, who wanted to show off the work they’ve done on Sam & Max: Season Two. The lovely Emily Morganti was seated next to the demo laptop, and several of the key developers and program managers were also present, interjecting comments as Emily showed me the demo. At the table were Dave Grossman, the Design Director, and David Bogan, the Art Director for Sam & Max.
Sam & Max are coming back for a second season of warm, melty episodic goodness, thanks to Telltale’s tireless development team and our good friends at GameTap. Like the groundbreaking Season One, Sam & Max will appear in several small installments, which will be released semi-monthly. Each game features the same sharp wit as the previous season, and a funny mystery for our crime-fighting duo to solve.
Emily started off by showing me the trailer for Sam & Max: Season Two. It starts off with the headless man from episode 6 running throught the streets, whom our courageous Dog & Bunny duo are chasing after. The chase goes past scenes of the Diner (that you never could go to in Season One), Bostco’s, and other locations from the series. There also is an appearance of a giant robot that appears between two buildings. Max eventually tackles the headless man, and the final scene shows Max spinning the disembodies head on his finger like a Harlem Globetrotter.
Emily mentioned that instead of writing an developing one episode at a time (as they did in Season One), they are concentrating on the new season as a whole. At the time they were showing me the demo, they had several different episodes in varying stages of completion. Episode one was in beta testing, Episode Two was in alpha testing, and episode Three was in the design and writing stages.
Emily then loaded up a savegame from one of the new episodes of Season Two. The scene begins with our favorite animal detectives, Sam & Max, entering Bosco’s Inconvenience store and receiving a full-body search. Apparently, Bosco has retrofitted his store from the millions he won from the detectives in Season One. There is some typical comedy dialogue (a la Abbot and Costello) between Bosco and Max about some confusion about a bomb that Bosco has discovered. This leads to lines like “My package is the Bomb!” with the funny bunny exclaiming “Now THAT’s a pickup line!”. It’s good to see that the writing remains as clever (and yet jouvenile) as ever.
The background music seems a little more polished, as the scene displayed had a somber 30s-era jazz trumpet playing in the background. Emily mentioned that some areas of the game have placeholder music, but that this scene had the final soundtrack, recorded with real instruments. The game engine also supports widescreen monitors (finally!).
Emily showed off some of the usability improvements of Season Two. For one, Sam can now run. If you click on an object far away from the Dog Detective, he will run to it as quickly as he can, which saves the user from having to watch him slowly schleping across the room. Of course, if you order Max to check out something just a few paces away, then he will walk as usual. Also, you can hold down your mouse button and have Sam “free walk”… he will go wherever the cursor is as long as the mouse button is held down.
There are also changes to all the recurring locations, and a few brand new ones! More lively NPCs who move around the world instead of standing rooted to one spot like pieces of furniture! Even more bizarre scenarios that will take Sam & Max from the arctic to the tropics and beyond! Characters also pipe up of their own accord with useful information if they think you’re stuck (although you can turn this feature off)!