Tales From the Borderlands Was Perceived Internally “As a Failure,” Says Director
In the latest Campo Santo Quarterly Review, an oral history of Tales From the Borderlands featuring developers from Telltale Games and Gearbox Software was compiled.
Premiered in late 2014, and wrapped up in late 2015, Tales From the Borderlands began its life at the 2012 Video Game Awards where Telltale Games won Game of the Year for The Walking Dead. Gearbox thought Borderlands had the ability to be story-rich, and when they were hanging out with Telltale, “the idea of doing a Borderlands game came up,” Borderlands Creator Matthew Armstrong revealed. “It perfectly fit the bill of what we wanted to do, and some of the creative guys at Telltale were eager for something a little more light-hearted after finishing up The Walking Dead.”
After the developers talked about the disjointed and ever-changing development of Tales From the Borderlands, Season Director Nick Herman revealed that, just before the season finale, sales weren’t strong:
At that point, the sales for Tales from the Borderlands weren’t great. They were decent, it’s not like we were losing money, but compared to something like The Walking Dead, it wasn’t on the same level.
The mentality was, we’ve got to wrap this season up quick, because we need to move on to some other things, and we’re holding on to staff, and it didn’t – I couldn’t let go, and let the season just end either abruptly or not pay off the things we were setting up.
Despite being one of the largest episodes Telltale has ever made, Episode 5 lost 95% of its staff about halfway through. “We had at least one person from every department working on the game,” Herman added. “But that’s a very small team for an episode.”
Herman then addressed what life was like after completing Tales From the Borderlands, which was seen as a failure internally:
After the first week or so, the adrenaline wore off, and I realized I had no clue what came next. I hadn’t really thought about what happened after Borderlands, and as I looked at what was on the horizon, I had a hard time getting excited for the next thing. Tales was my life for two years, and internally it was perceived as a failure. Critically it was a huge success, but from a sales and production standpoint, it wasn’t awesome.
So after all that, there wasn’t a whole lot of high fives and crowd surfing, but I guess we already knew that stuff would be absent at the finish line. [Season Writer Pierre Shorette] and I talk about how it’s hard enough to just make a shitty thing; that’s like 75% of the work. I guess it just seems crazy to not push for that last 25% and give yourself a shot at making something special.
If you’ve finished Tales From the Borderlands (there’s spoilers for everything), be sure to check out the full post for a detailed account of the game’s development.
Telltale has previously said that the next Borderlands release will be from Gearbox, not them.