It’s only been a few months since adventure game maker Telltale games closed its doors, leaving many of its employees in limbo. With Skybound Games taking the reigns for the final season of The Walking Dead game, it seemed Telltale’s legacy would similarly come to a close. But, as it goes, when one chapter ends another one begins. Variety reports that four former Telltale developers have founded AdHoc Studio with a focus on creating narrative games.
Three of the founding members –Dennis Lenart, Nick Herman, and Pierre Shorette – left Telltale in 2017 to join Ubisoft while the AdHoc’s CEO Michael Choung left in 2016 to work at Night School Studio. It is believed that the burdensome working conditions at Telltale, which involved long hours and intense crunch periods, may have helped form AdHoc. The four often talked about striking it out on their own and evolving narrative games past what they were doing.
Lenart, Herman, Shorette originally hoped to form a studio at Ubisoft, but that never materialized. That prompted the three to reunite with Choung to found AdHoc. The new company aims to take narrative games in a new direction with video streaming. Specifically, it’s looking to engage with the same audience that loved Netflix’s interactive Black Mirror episode, “Bandersnatch.”
“It feels like we’re at the precipice of a big shift in how we consume media where the lines between film, television, and games are starting to blur,” AdHoc chief creative officer Shorette told Variety. “With streaming platforms in our homes and cell phones in our pockets we’re in this unique time where the barrier to entry to interaction is gone. So, as a group of people whose expertise and experience has come from making Interactive Narrative that sits in that space between, we feel now is the perfect time to form a studio that focuses on creating content for a new space.”
Netflix currently has over 139 million while Hulu enjoys 23 million, reflecting the shift in consuming entertainment. But the field is becoming increasingly crowded, with CBS, DC Comics, and many others competing for audiences while Disney’s streaming service is set to launch later this year. That means platforms will increasingly look to unique and interactive content to stand out and engage with their viewers.
Each of AdHoc’s founding members have backgrounds in television and film. Although they were not ready to reveal what their inaugural project will be, the four hinted that it will be an interactive live-action experience that will use full motion video, similar to Her Story, Late Shift, and the Tex Murphy game Tesla Effect. The company believes that “Bandersnatch” may have opened the door to a new gaming audience that no one knew existed. People who wouldn’t necessarily identify themselves as gamers.
One thing the studio will keep in mind is the rule of diminishing returns. Although The Walking Dead helped revive the flagging adventure game genre, Telltale saw diminishing returns from its games, despite critical acclaim, because of their formulaic gameplay. AdHoc will need to figure out a way to keep from falling into the same trap to keep audiences entertained.