Dave Grossman is an adventure game legend. While at LucasArts he wrote and programmed The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge together with Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer. He later co-designed Day of the Tentacle. Now at Telltale Games, Dave's focus is on episodic gaming - releasing games as episodes in TV series fashion. And he's turning his adventure game talent towards the quintessentially British animated show Wallace & Gromit, having already dished out the episodic treatment to Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People and Sam & Max for Wii and PC. Not only that, but Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures, due out this spring, will be Telltale's first Xbox LIVE Arcade game. Here, in an exclusive interview, Grossman dishes the dirt on how the game will work on the 360, answers questions on his old games and tells us why he wouldn't change a thing. For more information, be sure to check out the official website.
VideoGamer.com: Wallace & Gromit is coming out on XBLA as well as PC. How will it translate to XBLA?
Dave Grossman: We designed it specifically for the Xbox. So there is a new control system, which is a little bit different to our usual one. It's just a little better integrated with the Xbox controller.
VideoGamer.com: We're used to moving a cursor around in a fairly traditional point and click style way with Telltale's games on PC and Wii. How will it work with the 360 pad? Will you move the cursor with a thumb stick?
DG: No, you will for driving the characters but there's a different kind of a system for interacting with objects on screen. It's a little bit of a hybrid system that I think probably works better than either the traditional method right now on the Xbox or the old method.
VideoGamer.com: How exactly will the control system work?
DG: You'll essentially use the two thumb sticks, one to drive the character and then the other one lets you fly around between selectable objects on the screen. You point in the thing's direction, so you're not moving a cursor, it's a little more organic than that. And then you use a button to select things.
VideoGamer.com: What can you tell us about the plot?
DG: Each episode has its own standalone story and they fit together so it's more rewarding to play the entire series, but each one does wrap up on its own. The first one is Wallace has got this crazy new idea where he's got a honey delivery business, keeping bees in his cellar to produce the honey. Things get out of control as usual. He winds up essentially invaded by giant bees. It becomes maybe a cross between a World War II film and a comedy.
VideoGamer.com: Where did the idea for that come from? Did you dream that up yourself?
DG: Yes, we spent a lot of time actually pitching plot ideas at each other and at Aardman. There was a lot of back and forth early in the process. It was internal but with help from outside.
VideoGamer.com: What kind of involvement has Aardman had in the development of the game?
DG: It's basically feedback on many levels, actually. They've been helping us from the beginning just to make sure everything fits into the Wallace & Gromit universe. It's a very specific style of humour, the look of the characters and the nature of the kinds of things that will happen, of course. So we would come up with a hell of a lot of ideas and run them past them and they would say something we wouldn't expect, like Wallace would never say that, Wallace would never do that. So it's been productive for us to be working with them, and the look and the feel of the game is markedly improved as a result.
VideoGamer.com: How would you describe the British sense of humour?
DG: More specifically the Wallace sense of humour, is kind of loony, but friendly, small town sense of humour and it's based more on the quibbles of the characters than on the things that they might say. The things that we're used to from Sam & Max are a more sardonic kind of humour. That's not really what Wallace & Gromit's about.
VideoGamer.com: How big is Wallace & Gromit in the States?
DG: I think it's not quite as huge as it is over there. It's certainly popular. I'm hard pressed to find people who have never heard of it. The new film's not out over here yet, we're a little behind. It's definitely the biggest thing we've ever worked on in terms of the sheer popularity.
VideoGamer.com: What attracted you to Wallace & Gromit? What makes it ripe for a Telltale game?
DG: Well, what I didn't say about it is Wallace & Gromit is particularly popular with animation geeks, and there are a lot of those here. I think we have a higher percentage of Wallace & Gromit fans in the studio than the general populace. So we all like it to begin with. When we're looking for a license to work on, we look for something that's going to lend itself to the gameplay we're good at. With Wallace & Gromit you've got situations where, Wallace does things that wind up getting him into more trouble, solving one problem then causing another, and then Gromit gets him out of it. And that really lends itself a lot to the style of gameplay that we use.
VideoGamer.com: I understand Wallace & Gromit will be much more character driven than your previous games. How will that translate to players?
DG: Yeah, Wallace does a lot of the talking for you. You can play actually as both Wallace & Gromit in the game. Wallace gets to talk a little more. Like our other games you enter a theme where there is a character and you will be involved with the dialogue with them. We're pushing that a little bit so it's going on the whole time you're in the scene as opposed to just when you walk up to the character and talk to them. It's a little more proactive I guess about hollering at you as you walk by and getting your attention.