“To use a cliche, it was like The Walking Dead, ” says Rafferty. It was a blow. ” The cuts affected both new and longtime employees in every area of the company.
To make this style of gaming mainstream again, the co-founders decided to focus on improving interactive storytelling and deepen the role-playing that came along with it. The story of Telltale — its rise, decline, and potential reformation — is not just the story of the missteps of one studio. It’s a shocking window into the $36 billion video game industry, and how its worst practices can grind down and burn out even the most devoted and valuable employees. In November 2017, the company announced that it was laying off 90 developers, roughly a quarter of its staff. For others, the inevitable outcome of what sources familiar with the company describe as years of a culture that promoted constant overwork, toxic management, and creative stagnation. Maybe Stadia isn’t another Daydream but part of a much bigger play. There’s no reason anyone should buy into Stadia right now.
Bruner’s time at Telltale came to a close in March 2017, when employees spotted him leaving the Telltale offices with his backpack. He’d left most of his things in his office; shortly after, the company got an email from him announcing that he had stepped down as CEO, and Connors would once again resume the position. Though rumors of Bruner’s departure had circulated widely, many were shocked when it came to pass. Others were more surprised by the quiet way Bruner had chosen to leave. Every source The Verge spoke to hailed Telltale as a studio full of some of the most talented, creative developers they’ve had the chance to work for. But change has been coming to Telltale, however slowly and, in some cases, painfully.
Around 10AM, the affected employees — roughly 90 people — received emails asking them to attend a mandatory meeting. When they jdb slot showed up, they learned that they no longer had jobs, before being shuffled off to a separate meeting to discuss benefits.
One person with direct knowledge of Telltale’s inner workings described it as building train tracks while the train is already speeding along them. More than half a dozen sources across the company also talked about a perceived culture of underpayment, citing salaries below industry standards that also required living in the notoriously expensive Bay Area. Issues of crunch and underpayment were particularly pervasive for the cinematics team, which was staffed by many junior members who had come straight from college. Despite shepherding the studio’s most successful project to date, Vanaman and Rodkin didn’t stay to continue work on season 2 .
“When saw something he decided he didn’t like — which very often was exactly what he had asked for — was really undeserved, and often really difficult for teams to deal with, ” the source says. Some say Bruner’s behavior led Rodkin and Vanaman to ultimately leave after the wildly successful first season of The Walking Dead. “They were tired of fighting with, ” says a source with direct knowledge. They jumped into indie development and founded their own studio called Campo Santo, where they released the award-winning game Firewatch. One source points to Campo Santo’s success, along with Night School Studios and its supernatural thriller Oxenfree — co-created by former Telltale veteran Adam Hines — as a catalyst for Bruner’s tightening grip. A scene could be rewritten in a few hours or days, for example, but translating that into visuals is a much more time-consuming process.