Here we are at the end of an era.
The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series has just been released and just like that The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series will be laid to its third and final rest. Its surreal to me that this is all coming to an end as my own personal journey with this series is a long and emotional one.
I started playing the game as a fan who was already gaga for Robert Kirkman’s amazing comic book – it was an added bonus that my brother, Sean Ainsworth, was working on the game as well. Thanks to Sean, I became personally involved when my likeness was used for the character of Eddie in 400 Days. Eventually, I became part of the team and got to author the cinematics on the opening sequence of Michonne. Then I received my first-ever “Directed By” credit for episode three of A New Frontier. Finally, I became a creative lead on the project as Season Supervising Director for The Final Season. This series has meant more to me than almost anything I’ve ever been involved with, and I’m genuinely sad to say goodbye to it once and for all.
And I know I’m not the only one.
This series and the characters of Clementine, Lee, Kenny, AJ and many more have meant a lot to a lot of people. Because of this, it was important to the #StillNotBitten team to make sure we did all of those people justice; that this “Definitive” edition was as good as it could possibly be and that it honored the passion of everyone who has ever worked on, played or loved this series.
I’m happy to say that as a longtime fan of “The Walking Dead” and a proud member of the #StillNotBitten team: I think we’ve created something really special.
Working on this project was a challenge for me and the rest of the team because the “creative” work was already completed. That is to say, for the first time since starting at Telltale we didn’t have to come up with story content, design new mechanics, figure out the visual flow of sequences, develop new art assets – none of the above. Instead we were compiling almost nine years worth of content into one cohesive package, and that required some readjusting of our perspective.
But in the end, we found the best approach was simple: now that our “creative” work was said and done, we could finally appreciate the material as fans. That notion was both liberating and fun – after all, that’s how I started my journey with this series and it was fun to connect with my team members on this level as well. We replayed the games, dug into the archives, parsed every single thing we could think of that made this series so successful and so beloved, and that’s how the Definitive Series began to take shape.
We discovered pages and pages of concept art that some of us had never seen before and others had forgotten existed, then we compiled it all into an amazing digital art gallery that hopefully every fan will enjoy. Even we were surprised to see original concept drawings of beloved characters that vastly differed from how they appeared in the game. There’s also lots of really cool stylistic explorations found in the gallery that each season considered before finally settling on the art direction that we’re all familiar with, and it’s really cool to see what could have been in terms of how all of the characters and environments could have looked had different decisions been made.
We listened to hours and hours of original score written by the incredible Jared Emerson-Johnson and organized those tracks to be played in the music player so that fans could listen to them over and over again. We scoured our extensive animation libraries, our dialogue archives and our character models to create a character viewer that will bring every fan hours and hours of fun – and we even snuck in a few, fun little surprises like AJ riding on the back of Lee Everett and firing an AK-47 into the air.
Our art team re-lit thousands of shots and applied the graphic black art style that defined the look of the Final Season to the entire series, making the whole thing feel that much more cohesive, like these stories had been ripped from the pages of Kirkman’s original comic.
Finally, we gathered developers and voice artists from every season to participate in developer commentary tracks that every fan will enjoy listening to. I personally got to be involved in one of these recordings with Clementine herself, Melissa Hutchison, and Gideon Adlon, the voice of Violet. Would you believe that recording this commentary track was the first time the two of them met in real life? Moments like these and behind-the-scenes stories for every season can be found in spades on all of the commentary tracks, and I think fans are going to love getting finding out how some of their favorite moments from the series came to be.
Now that it’s all said and done and The Telltale Definitive Series is now available worldwide, I hope that what we have created has indeed done justice to the series and everyone who has ever been a part of it – developers and fans alike. I hope that this collection commemorates the love and passion of so many who have invested so much into this series. I hope that those who play will be reminded over and over again why The Walking Dead changed storytelling in gaming forever.
And I really, really hope you enjoy it.