Recently I got the chance to speak to the good folks at Telltale about their new Wallace and Gromit game. I want to thank the team and Emily for answering my questions.
GVK: What is the background and setting for the game?
Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures is a four episode series based on the characters and world created by Aardman Animations in the Wallace & Gromit films. In our games, you play as both Wallace, a well-intentioned inventor whose big ideas tend to get him in trouble, and Gromit, Wallace’s highly-intelligent dog. We have been working closely with Aardman to ensure that the games feel very much like the movies.
GVK: What are some of the locales gamers will see in the game?
Like the films, the Wallace & Gromit games take place in their West Wallaby Street neighborhood in Northern England. Each episode has some new locations that tie into the storylines (for example, episode 3 takes place at a carnival, and episode 4 at a country club).
GVK: What are some of the biggest obstacles you faced in creating the game and the biggest successes?
Getting the world to look as much as possible like its source material was a big focus for our artists. Members of our team flew over to Aardman several times to collaborate with the animators over there and make sure we were on the right track. We ended up making changes to our in-house engine to make the models look like their clay counterparts, right down to the thumbprints and pockmarks in the models! So the visual style was definitely a challenge, but now that the game is finished, we think it’s one of our biggest successes as well. We’ve had some wonderful feedback about how much the game looks like Aardman’s films, which is exactly what we were hoping for!
GVK: What can you tell the readers about the control systems in the game?
Unlike our Sam & Max and Strong Bad games, Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures uses direct control. On the Xbox you play with a gamepad, and on PC you have the option of using a gamepad or keyboard and mouse controls. You use the left stick to move the character around, and the right stick and buttons to interact with objects and characters in the environment.
GVK: Is the game Puzzle or action based?
In all of our games, we strive to tell a good story, first and foremost. With that in mind, we aim for gameplay that feels true to the license we’re working with. In Wallace & Gromit, for the most part this translates into puzzle-based gameplay. Each episode has its own storyline and the gameplay ties closely to the plot.
For example, in the first episode, Wallace & Gromit have a struggling bee-keeping venture. First they have to figure out how to step up production so they can come up with fifty gallons of honey for one of their customers. Once this has been done, via a growth formula Wallace mixes up in the kitchen, they have to deal with an unintended consequence: giant bees that take over the town. It ends with an preposterous chase scene that feels like it’s right out of one of Aardman’s films.
There are Rube Goldberg-style puzzles where you have to figure out how to build a machine or get rid of an obstacle by working logical steps. The games also have some high-energy sequences as the game reaches its climax, but it’s not the twitchy action you might expect in a console game. Everything comes back to solving puzzles and telling a good story.
GVK: Will co-Op play be offered?
Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures is a single player game, but it’s great to play in a group, the same way you might gather around the living room with friends to watch a good TV show. Because of Wallace & Gromit’s all ages appeal, we think it’s an especially good games for families to play together.
GVK: How will players save their progress in game and will the game offer multiple difficulty Levels?
The game saves automatically as you progress, and you also have four save slots that you can use whenever you want to. We don’t have difficulty levels per se, but we do have a hint system that you can adjust to suit your playing style. When hints are turned up, other characters will offer suggestions to help keep you on track and get you “unstuck”. When hints are turned off, you won’t get this extra help. You can adjust the hint system whenever you want, too.
GVK: Will players have NPC characters to command in game?
Part of the charm of this world lies with the characters that Wallace & Gromit interact with, and we’ve tried to heighten the relationships between characters to make this an interesting part of the experience. From the nutty retired army general to the bickering Gabberly couple to the squirrel that keeps stealing food out of your kitchen, Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures has some very memorable characters!
You also switch between Wallace and Gromit as a playable character at different points in the game, so when you’re playing as Wallace you get to interact with Gromit, and vice versa.
GVK: What sort of enemies and heroes will players face and will there be boss battles?
Wallace tends to be his own worst enemy. He has great ideas for new inventions and business ventures, but his ideas usually get him into sticky situations, and Gromit has to step in and save the day. There are also villains (and heroes) related to the storylines. In episode 1, you have to contend with giant bees. In later episodes, a swindler comes to town and Wallace & Gromit have to prevent him from taking advantage of their friends. There aren’t traditional boss battles, but the episodes ramp up to exciting climaxes, and there’s usually a “grand finale” set of puzzles at the end that feels every bit as satisfying after you’ve solved them!