Not only will players now be able to actively injure Clementine, but they'll be able to make her hurt others. Choices in The Walking Dead don't revolve around turning left or right; they're interpersonal, deciding who to help, who to harm or who to leave behind, Lenart says.
"The choices, for us, not only are they going to affect the people around us and those relationships, but also Clementine and her growth as a character, as a young girl in this crazy world, trying to grow up," he says.
Critics of The Walking Dead season one point out that the story itself doesn't change much according to individual player choices. All That Remains writer and season two designer Mark Darin says Telltale is exploring how much it can branch the story and what different content it can provide players, but in the end it's not about differing plot points – it's about the unique, emotional nuance that each player can achieve within the given storyline.
"Producing these episodically and, sort of our live development, means that we don't have a lot of time to create so much content," Darin says. "So we want to create the best content, the most meaningful content that we just branch for the sake of branching. But if it's not interesting and it doesn't give you a really good moment, then it's not worth it. We want to make the best experience. Sometimes that means different content depending on what you choose, sometimes it means characters are reacting to you differently and your alliances are different, but the story is the same."
Telltale heard this critique and plenty more during the first season. The studio receives a constant stream of player feedback and collaborates with the audience to build a better game, Darin says. Each episode of The Walking Dead offers a new chance to incorporate audience suggestions:
"We were hearing that all the way through and responding to it, and building the game with the community," Darin says. "It makes it a little bit easier going into season two, to already know what people like, what people want and what we want .... We're fully focused on telling a real, heartfelt story and creating a game that lets you experience and craft and be a part of how it's told."
At least one player provides positive feedback to Telltale during its seasonal rollouts: Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead
comic series. Every meeting Telltale has with Kirkman is "super positive," and he even throws in his own ideas – he was just in the office last week, Lenart recalls.
"He's a fan of what we did in season one," Lenart says. "Early on in the production of that game, he realized that we all kind of got what he was going for with the books, and that we can take that in a different direction with the game – use the same world to tell our story. He felt really comfortable with that."
Kirkman probably won't be writing episodes of the game any time soon, Darin says: "I don't think he has time."
For All That Remains
, Darin is handling the writing. To get a sense of his style, Darin's favorite character from season one is Larry, the hot-tempered, controlling ex-commander whose lines include, "We almost died because of this bitch and her itchy trigger finger," and, "What do you want? A handout? Oh, I've got 60 cents in my pocket, if you'd shut up and quit being such a pansy."
"I love writing Larry's lines," Darin says.All That Remains
premieres this month on PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox 360 and PS3 – Steam
lists its launch as December 17 and Microsoft says it hits Xbox 360
on December 18, but Telltale hasn't confirmed any dates.