Just before Christmas, a wave of layoffs was announced at Telltale Games as part of a restructuring initiative under new CEO Pete Hawley. Now it seems they are hiring again, but with new gameplay mechanics in mind and perhaps a desire to use the Unity Engine.
Speaking to VentureBeat last year, Hawley revealed that the company is working on new IP with new gameplay mechanics. Hawley was short on details, though. “The next couple of years, we’ll be locking in the road map soon and we’re really excited about it,” Hawley said.
Now, thanks to a job listing for a Gameplay Designer on Telltale’s official website, we may have a better idea of what they're looking to develop. The posting describes how Telltale “embraces new technologies” and is seeking to “expand [their] repertoire of innovative mechanics and gameplay.”
The job listing says that as gameplay designer, the new hire will focus "on creation and polish of new player abilities and game systems." It goes on to say that "the ideal candidate has worked in Unity across a number of genres." That definitely elicits a big exclamation mark from me, as Telltale hasn't used any engine other than the Telltale Tool.
A switch to the Unity engine could suggest a desire to craft higher quality experiences using tools that have seen broader application and more widely shared expertise. That would be a positive development, as devotees of Telltale's output have become accustomed to glitchy, unoptimized experiences like Batman: The Telltale Series and Walking Dead: Season Two.
The listing also declares that "iterating on gameplay-centric aspects," will be part of the job, with an "emphasis on player experience, and traditional game feedback/control, i.e. mini-games, action beats, inventory and role-playing systems.” That means either Telltale wants to return to more traditional adventure designs and/or give players more control over character and story.
Of course, we're entering the realm of pure speculation here. Still, a job listing that advertises a desire to pursue new technologies and innovate new designs and experiences is an interesting development for a company that has struggled with both despite its successes.