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PAX 07: The Sam & Max panel (we made a scene!)

Despite being told we'd be creating an episode, it turns out games (even episodic ones!) take a little longer than an hour (but just barely we imagine). Improv comedy style, they take suggestions from the crowd for events in the game. First, a favorite fruit? Pomegrenates we yell out. A vacation destination? Someone yells "North Pole." A new career for Sybil? "Taxidermist" two blurt out over each other. The writing process has begun.

Sam: Hiya Sybil!
Max: What's your story lady?
Sybil: I'm an orthopedic surgeon, baby!
Sam: Holy heavenly horse radish in a Houston whorehouse!
Max: Who cares, I'm running for re-election!
Sam: More importantly we need a pastrami on rye to save the world!
Sybil: Why do you think I have a pastrami on rye sandwich?
Max: Orthopedic surgeons always have pastrami on rye sandwiches!
Sam: They use them for lubrication!
Max: It's science, Sybil.
Sybil: The problem with science is you can't prove it. Also I need condiments.
Sam: To Bosco's little buddy!

They pick three people from the audience to record the three voices (including their intern ... nepotism!). Normally they would record these all separately, with real voice actors, but we're on a tight schedule so these fine folks'll do. To show that they didn't do so bad, they show a bloopers reel featuring the actual voice actors. They even animated all the scenes! Our favorite part? The bad words (carefully bleeped out for the youg'ns).

You can also check out the bloopers video at Telltale's Summer of Sam & Max site

They show a trailer for Season 2, which we can hopefully share with you shortly (they're telling us it'll be on their website next week). We're onto Q&A. First question is whether they're dependent on GameTap for funding. Answer: No, the games are self-funded.

When is the next Bone game coming out? Answer: After they free up some resources from Sam & Max (read: not too soon).

Sam & Max on Xbox 360? Answer: We definitely want to see Sam & Max on all the platforms. "We're developing for Xbox, Wii, and PC right now. We're not doing anything with PS3 right now." They "certainly expect" to see them on consoles soon. "Our idea of soon is different than Microsoft's." Ooooh, burn!

What about the "Use Max" function from Hit the Road? In short, the function was too esoteric and difficult to logically arrive at.

Steve Purcell's involvement? They bring him by about once an episode, to wring strange ideas out of his deranged brain.

The new trailer shows a great deal of polish, have they redone the engine? Answer: The trailer is not indicative of the runtime. They recently hired a senior artist who had only worked in film and he worked on the trailer, setting the benchmark they can hope to achieve (read: target render). The consoles are a more stable development platform. "Season 2 won't have any big leaps in graphics from Season 1 since we've been pretty busy with the consoles."

"We just moved into offices that don't leak or smell." Congratulations, guys! You're a step above Joystiq HQ now.

Being the only American developer of adventure games, why did publishers shy away from the genre? Dave Grossman thinks the genre invited mediocre titles and, unlike shooters, etc, mediocrity doesn't work in adventure games. He cites DOOM specifically as a game that cost less to make and had a lot more success (DOOM is often cited as beginning a shift in video games.)

At last night's episodic games panel, Dave mentioned there's commentary on the DVD for Sam & Max. Any chance that could make it onto GameTap? Answer: It's on the website right now (available at Telltale's Summer of Sam & Max site), so they assume it would make it onto GameTap. They did talk about putting developer's commentary in the game, and they hope to in the future.

Are they working on a Mac port? Answer: we're not currently working on a Mac port. Bone: Out from Boneville was ported to the Mac by an external company and it's done reasonably well. "It's probably a platform we'll get into eventually." They mostly use Macs at home, but have been working hard on the console ports for now.

Any plans to restart other old adventure game franchises? Grim Fandango? (Crowd applauds). We don't have any specific plans along those lines.

Where does Max keep his gun? "None of your damned business!"

How has digital distribution worked for them? Can they remain all digital, or does retail distribution really help? Answer: Telltale was built from Day 1 to be all digital. "It's a new market and it's not as lucrative as retail." The retail version produced by The Adventure Company was a nice product and it came together later, but you'll still see everything they do online first.

Modding? They need to ensure that licensed properties are treated the way their owners want. For example, they can't allow Phone Bone to do things Jeff Smith wouldn't want. They do plan to create a community focused tool to create your own adventure games.

2D/3D? Do people at Telltale think they should've stayed in 2D? Answer: 3D gives them some luxury to move the camera around more and they don't think the look distracts from the feel and affect of the game.

Will the games ever support widescreen resolutions? Answer: yes.

They play the scene as created by us in the audience, 52 minutes after the event began. We've included it at the top of this post.

They say that proportionally, Telltale has the largest writing staff of any gaming company. "5 of our 35 employees are writers which is exactly the kind of company we want to be." *audience applause*

Next season? New stories, new characters. There's some improvements in control: Sam can run and you can steer the car with the arrow keys now.

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