When you think Minecraft and its audience of millions of children, you really think edgy humor and dick jokes, right? Maybe not so much, but according to former Telltale designer Emily Grace Buck, that was the original tone of Telltale's Minecraft: Story Mode, thanks to a "fundamental misunderstanding of who our audience was" on the part of some of Telltale's executive leadership.
At the Sweden Game Conference this week, Buck talked about some of the troubles with Telltale, including the tone of Minecraft: Story Mode and Guardians of the Galaxy, which both had to be rewritten. "We often, at Telltale, after executive reviews, had to do 90 per cent rewrites of the game," said Buck in her talk, according to GamesIndustry.biz (opens in new tab).
In Minecraft's case, it seems the game ended up hitting a tone appropriate for its young audience (and presumably Microsoft's approval). Buck said executives pushed for Guardians of the Galaxy to be darker and more violent, claiming "that people did not associate humour with that brand." Huh? Did they watch the movie that ended with a dance-off to save the galaxy?
Buck has since clarified on Twitter (opens in new tab) that "Minecraft: Story Mode was intended to be T, not M. I played it, and it was not appropriate for young kids... but not that raunchy." The example still works: Story Mode ended up with an E10+ rating.
Getting the leadership to listen and agree to changes was a "scary" uphill battle that could result in developers being reassigned or even fired. "We were trying as hard as possible to cater to who our executive team thought out fanbase was, this core gamer-type audience," she said.
Last month Telltale Games laid off nearly the entirety of its staff (opens in new tab).