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TheGreyMatter 04-14-2006 10:10 AM

Telltale Game Engine
I'm quite interested in your game engine, and in technical parts of creating games

1) What were the reasons leading you to develop your own game engine? and what is so special about it?
2) can you mention in few words what are the capabilities of your engine?
3) what are the main engine limitations of your engine, how did you overcome them, and which improvements can we expect in your next games.
4) how do you use art to overcome the engine's limitations (for me it was quite visible in the desert scenes in 'out of boneville')

Dasilva 04-14-2006 10:26 AM

Do you have any screenshots or videos showing what the engine is fully capable of?

kbruner 04-14-2006 10:34 AM

Finally! Let's talk tech!

Our game engine (The T3 Tool) is special in that it's got a huge focus on writing, acting and authoring. One of the reasons we don't have shadows yet is a reflection of my commitment to enabling designers and artist more than "eye candy". I firmly believe this is why we've been able to put our so much quality content in such a short amount of time.

Graphically, the CSI game uses the "full" feature set. Not all those features we're available for Bone, so Bone is simpler. Sam & Max uses the "full" capabilities as well.

Some of the shader work in CSI is really beautiful. Check out the subtle lighting effects on the desk in the gallery office in case 1. It's awsome! All the previous CSI games we're completly pre-rendered, and our realtime environments look as good (if not better).

Jake 04-14-2006 10:42 AM

Are the 3 T's in "T3" in fact Telltale Tool? If so, isn't the name "T3 Tool" a little redundant?

Melanie68 04-14-2006 10:43 AM

Who developed the engine and was it from scratch or based on another one*?

*I am a total novice when it comes to computer stuff like this so the question may be silly. :)

Karmillo 04-14-2006 10:45 AM


Originally Posted by Jake
Are the 3 T's in "T3" in fact Telltale Tool? If so, isn't the name "T3 Tool" a little redundant?

Maybe its Telltale Technical Tool?

kbruner 04-14-2006 10:50 AM

The engine is built from scratch. I left Lucas and locked myself in my apartment for a few months to get it on it's feet. But I've been obsessive about cinematic games forever. It's one of the reasons I went to Lucas / Lucas found me. But Telltale gives me the chance to really put some of my production ideas into practice. It's really satisfying for me since we're really cranking out alot more content than I was ever able to get a team to do at LEC. Go Team and Tools!

Melanie68 04-14-2006 10:52 AM

Wow. I can't even conceive of where you would start with something like that. Congrats on a great engine and all you get to do with it now! :)

kbruner 04-14-2006 10:52 AM

And T3 = Telltale Tool...

Which is both redundant and reinforces my pet peeve of people spelling Telltale "TellTale"

We don't have an icon for the tool yet, perhaps one of you guys could make one?

kbruner 04-14-2006 10:55 AM

I don't want to imply that I've written the whole thing myself. I just got us kick started. Graham McDermott has written HUGE amounts of T3 code, as well as Mike Malakhov on the graphics end of things. There would be no tool without those guys!!!

tabacco 04-14-2006 10:55 AM


Originally Posted by kbruner
And T3 = Telltale Tool...

Which is both redundant and reinforces my pet peeve of people spelling Telltale "TellTale"

We don't have an icon for the tool yet, perhaps one of you guys could make one?

The Telltale Tool? solves the pet peeve :)

(Also, that's what I always assumed it was)

Jayel 04-14-2006 10:59 AM

I always wondered why Bone games don't have character shadows...
Also, are you guys exporting character animations straight from Maya, or do you have some proprietary keyframing tool?

kbruner 04-14-2006 11:00 AM

We export straight from Maya.

Jayel 04-14-2006 11:02 AM

Isnt' that difficult? How do you duplicate the animation curves in your game engine? Or the vertex weighting information? Does Maya API have tools for making the transition from Maya->your game engine easier?

kbruner 04-14-2006 11:06 AM

The tool has a plugin for maya that converts from Maya's curves to the game engine animation formats. Same idea for vertex weights, etc... The Maya API is pretty straight forward once you get used to it.

TheGreyMatter 04-14-2006 11:33 AM

How did you solve the well known gap between the engine programmers and the designers? or in simpler words - how does the T3 makes the designers life easier ? and what do you mean by saying that the engine has more cinematic approach?

kbruner 04-14-2006 11:54 AM

I sit down with the designers and "listen" to them, and I watch them work to find out what's confusing them or slowing them down. I've been fortunate enough to work with a lot of talented designers over the years (Tim Schafer, Mike Stemmle, Dave Grossman, and more!) so I've devloped a good sense of different ways they approach a problem, and I try really hard to get the tech to work with them, not against them. It's hard to describe because it's many many small things. There is no silver bullet.

An example: Checking files in and out is handled automatically. So there's no reason to interupt your work flow and jump to Source Safe to check out a file.

As far as cinematic, the tool treats the world more like a movie set than a "level". Multiple cameras, blocking, etc...

RLacey 04-14-2006 12:30 PM


Originally Posted by kbruner
We don't have an icon for the tool yet, perhaps one of you guys could make one?

I'll expect my royalties in the post :shifty:.

But seriously, kudos for the well designed engine :).

Dasilva 04-14-2006 12:56 PM

So the screenshots shown here, is what the engine is at its maximum limits?

kbruner 04-14-2006 01:09 PM

Max limits is an interesting concept.

So much depends on the hardware the game is running on. We don't have much "scaling" technology in the engine (making the game look better on better hardware). On my dev machine, I could have a WHOLE lot more detail and everything would run just fine. But I've got a pretty nice machine <grin>. The CSI games run and look good on some pretty modest hardware. We're talking GeForce2 MX here. Plus, as the graphic features get more complicated, so does the production process, which makes the games take longer to produce.

The engine is more about getting a consitent experience across a lot of hardware than making something super cool for a few. So we'll keep adding features as we go along, but for now, it's giving alot of people (with a lot of different hardware) a pretty good experience.

You'll probably always be able to find a "shiner" game than a typical Telltale game. But it probably won't run on as many machines and it won't be delivered every couple of months!

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