The mind behind the new Telltale Series shares screens, talks character casting, and much more!
Soon, Telltale Games will bring Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy to life in a new episodic video game series! After yesterday’s reveal of the voice cast behind the team, and with today’s panel at PAX East, we wanted to see just how much news we could share with Guardians fans here at Marvel.com.
So, we called up our friends at Telltale and—amid all the convention prep—managed to grab a few minutes with Sean Ainsworth, the game’s Creative Lead!
Marvel.com: Players will take up the mantle of Star-Lord in “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series.” Will we experience the story from the perspectives of other members of the team at any point?
Sean Ainsworth: Yes, there will be sequences within the game where you’ll get to play as other Guardians. How and why is kind of a spoiler so we’ll keep that to ourselves! Star-Lord will still be the main playable character so that you’re able to forge meaningful relationships with the other Guardians, but the Guardians have never and will never be a solo act, so the team dynamic will shine in multiple ways.
Marvel.com: If we’re going to play as the pilot of the Milano, is it safe to say players will get a chance to fly the infamous ship?
Sean Ainsworth: You’ll essentially be the captain of the Milano, able to walk around inside it, check in on the other Guardians—or whoever else might be inside at the time. By the end of the game we want you to know it inside and out—warts and all. Telltale games focus heavily on the narrative rather than twitch gameplay, so while the Milano will get into some dust-ups for sure, those sequences will primarily be heavily cinematic QTEs. The game is not an action game, though there will be a lot of death-defying, well-choreographed action.
Marvel.com: Can you give us any clues about this adventure? What are the Guardians protecting the galaxy from this time?
Sean Ainsworth: Without giving anything away, I will say that you’ll start the game protecting the galaxy what feels like for good, but complications from the discovery of a powerful artifact will arise, causing the Guardians to look deeply at themselves as a group and what they mean to one another. Also there will be punching and shooting and disintegrations and rad music.
Marvel.com: In these preview shots, we get a look at Star-Lord and Drax outside Knowhere, as well as Rocket sporting a trademark giant-gun-he-probably-just-assembled. We also see Star-Lord drifting outside a—potentially crashed?—Nova Corps ship. Can you give us any more detail as to what’s going on in these images?
Sean Ainsworth: Drax and Peter are chasing something and someone very important to the season here…something I will not be spoiling! In the final game, instead of Drax, you might actually experience that scene with an entirely different character by your side, based on decisions you make as a player—one of the best thing about Telltale games is being able to choose the way things happen in the game, and we want to offer people multiple choices based on who or what they care about most at any given moment.
I can say that the gun Rocket’s holding will become important to the story pretty early on, that it’s unstable, and that it’s not strictly legal.
Marvel.com: What was the casting process like, searching for those who would fill the cosmic boots of the team?
Sean Ainsworth: Very difficult, actually. We wanted the cast to embody the characters but also offer something new—a different take. We listened to thousands of auditions and whittled it down, and still didn’t get it right on the first go around in a few places. The team has to sound like they belong together—you have to hear that chemistry—and it took a little while to balance that out. In the end though we’re all very excited about the cast. It was important to us that we get these characters right, but also that we differentiate the game from the films [or] animated series, so that it stands on its own merits.
Scott Porter, who folks might know from “Friday Night Lights” or from a few other Telltale series, has made for an awesome Star-Lord. He’s really passionate about getting it right, and brings a lot of natural charm and charisma to Peter.
One of the hardest parts to cast was Groot, weirdly. We got a lot of auditions that seemed to miss the point; Groot is only saying one phrase over and over, yes, but he’s actually saying much more than that, and Adam Harrington—another actor we’ve worked with extensively—really nailed it. We could say “Okay, Groot’s melancholy in this scene,” and he’ll give you a melancholy “I am Groot.” Or we’ll go “Now he’s really saying ‘I’m worried about Rocket,’” and you’ll get “I am Groot” with layers of worry about Rocket woven into it. It’s pretty outstanding.
Marvel.com: As you work with the cast, does the process for writing dialogue change at all? Do you make adjustments to play to the unique voice these actors bring to their roles?
Sean Ainsworth: After we start working with them, yes. Also we’ll allow them to kind of riff on lines in the booth, or change the wording to sound more natural, especially for difficult phrases or lines that sound better on paper than out loud. Sometimes an actor will improve a joke, too—Scott Porter, for instance, just added a “What?” to the end of a line in the first episode that just made it much funnier. That all comes out of the actor understanding the role and situation, and being able to imagine it well enough to embellish it. We try to make the process as natural as we can to encourage that kind of thing.
Marvel.com: Every game is going to be different when it comes to directing the voice work. In this case, how do those actors who haven’t previously worked with Telltale bring a new perspective to the process?
Sean Ainsworth: We have a certain way of working that we sometimes massage—lovingly—based on who we’re working with. Sometimes actors do better, for instance, if you act against them in the booth. Sometimes they like to do line reads until they get it right—or have an idea of a line read they’ll ask to do; some of our best reads come from this. It all depends on the actor. We usually stick to our regular methods, but there’s always room to improvise and accommodate the actor to make sure the performance—and thus the game—is as good as it can be.
Stay tuned to Marvel.com and our social channels for all the latest news on “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series”!