Telltale Games Reviews

Updated March 31, 2015
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Telltale Games CEO Kevin Bruner
Kevin Bruner
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Employee Reviews

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  1. Featured Review

    Helpful (2)

    An exciting place to work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Telltale Games full-time (more than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Terrific people, great products and enormous energy. It feels like a great time to be at Telltale

    Cons

    Growth is always hard and there is tons of growth happening at Telltale. Communication becomes harder the more people that come on board.

    Advice to Management

    Keep the communication up

  2. Helpful (1)

    Telltale is growing and improving

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Rafael, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Rafael, CA

    I have been working at Telltale Games full-time (less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    I've been at Telltale a little less than a year and have watched the company grow quite a bit both on the Administrative and Product teams side. Personally, I've had a good experience here - the teams creating the content for the games are passionate about our products and there is a high bar for quality on the games that we are shipping. It's very fun to be around people who care about making great games.

    When I joined Telltale, the HR department, including recruiting, was only 2 people and now we have a decent-sized team focused on improving the employee experience and sourcing quality candidates. The IT department has expanded as well and people rarely have to wait on equipment needs. The game teams are ramping up to be able to support more titles towards the end of this year, and the new people that are coming on seem great.

    Cons

    There are not tons of frills here. After working in a lot of startups I got used to being spoiled by free everything and Telltale is less about stuff like free snacks than most of those places.

    Advice to Management

    Some of this is already a work in progress, but improving scheduling and making sure people have a manageable workload will be key to the upcoming growth.

  3. Helpful (2)

    great company, growing pains

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Telltale Games

    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Fantastic people, good games, talented leadership. A sincere desire to innovate and move the industry forward. Plenty of room for people to grow.

    Cons

    The ridiculous production schedules and one or two unfortunately uncaring leaders lead to people getting burnt out ... but there are recent efforts to change this. Also, compensation is not great, but this is also improving.

    Advice to Management

    Don't lock down schedules without getting sign off from the people who will do the work. If people are invested and respected, they will step up gladly. If they are ignored and disrespected, they will look for an exit.

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  5. Helpful (3)

    Best gaming company I've worked for

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer

    I have been working at Telltale Games full-time (more than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Telltale is free from most of the corporate problems that plague most game companies. There's no "seasonal" mentality where people are hired and fired from project to project, and there aren't any blocked websites or administrators watching your traffic. I've worked in games for thirteen years at six different companies, and Telltale has the least amount of "crunch culture" that I've ever seen. Sure, some people need to work longer hours to hit targets, but it's not the company-wide grind that other large studios build into their schedules.

    Cons

    The company is growing right now, so there isn't really enough space to house everyone in fully comfortable conditions right now. Until a few of the new management positions are filled, it can be hard to know exactly who to bother with questions/requests. Hopefully these problems are very temporary while Telltale is growing.

  6. Helpful (3)

    By focusing on the right things, everything gets better and better.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Telltale Games full-time

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    The company is constantly focused on improving it's processes to make better games.
    Everyone that works at Telltale is passionate about games.
    The focus on top quality story, character and license realization makes it easy to take pride in the work.

    Cons

    Last minute changes for quality are a double edged sword. The game gets better, but the crunch extends.
    Once the first episode is released, the audience wants the remaining episodes as fast as possible creating a very fast pace.

    Advice to Management

    Hold early episodes from release until later episodes are further along to create breathing room for the teams and a predictable release for the customer.

  7. Challenging, creative, and rewarding with plenty of room to grow

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Telltale Games full-time (more than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    There is a high bar for your work and the overall game quality, so if you enjoy being challenged creatively and technically, it's a blast and you will grow your skills

    Gives a great deal of ownership, but it is followed up with evaluation of results and correction. You are treated like a professional.

    Full of fun people, both starting their careers and with long game experience. It makes for a good mix.

    Cons

    It’s great if you believe in iteration, but I can see it frustrates people who think they "get it" the first time. Leave your ego at the door and you'll be happier.

    It's a deep and complex process getting episodes out this fast, so there is a learning curve for the process and tools.

    Advice to Management

    As you grow and hire, keep filling the seats more smart and independent folks who have made Telltale so special

  8. Helpful (1)

    Opportunity with Established Creative Product and Untapped Potential.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Art in San Rafael, CA
    Current Employee - Art in San Rafael, CA

    I have been working at Telltale Games full-time

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    Amazing Licenses to work on, Friendly, passionate and creative staff that believe in our products! A company with great ambition focused on working collaboratively. A company with a desire to be a leader in the games/entertainment industry. A company that cares about the people working here has been my experience and is my perspective. A great place for people who like to be challenged and given responsibility. The chance to work on many different products of different styles in relatively short amounts of time. A proprietary tool that is tailored to enable the content creators artistic expression. A Dog friendly office in a nice building close to many lunch locations. Plenty of parking on site for commuting to work. A decent commute for people living in the city with access to the Golden gate bridge (against rush our traffic) Decent benefits similar to other big game studios.

    Cons

    Iprovement in ramping up new employees in what seems to be constant growth of the staff, paired with the pressure to perform and hit our project goals and dates simultaneously. There is an honest desire to improve in this area and current efforts are in motion. If you are the type of person that gets really attached to your work it will be a painful existance as it is a highly collaborative environment, a con for some a pro for others. Public transportation is not very good currently (a smart train is being built and will improve this for people coming from the north in the future:novato, petaluma, and beyond) San Rafael is expensive for people to live.

    Advice to Management

    To get a better balance of - 1. The desire to change products mid production to perfect them, with 2. Embracing a little more risk by letting more leaders in the studio own the decisions/approvals for the products they are responsible for. Right now it feels like there is too many approvals dependent on too few people.

  9. Really enjoying working on an amazing game at this fast growing company

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Rafael, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Rafael, CA

    I have been working at Telltale Games full-time (less than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Great crew, flex hours, best projects, crazy growth, commitment to changing what does not work, new leadership, stand up desks (small thing but I love them).

    Cons

    San Rafael not my preferred location

  10. Helpful (7)

    Fun and rewarding, but also incredibly stressful and frustrating.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Cinematic Artist
    Current Employee - Cinematic Artist

    I have been working at Telltale Games full-time (more than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    Extremely collaborative environment, coworkers who are friendly and passionate about making quality games. Small teams make it easy to get your fingerprints on a shipping title. Episodic schedule means you're working on something new every month or so, so it's never boring. A casual and fun working environment. Can be creatively rewarding if you're lucky. Decent opportunities for advancement (for what that's worth; the job becomes more unpleasant the higher up you go). Benefits are OK.

    You get paid to make video games.

    Cons

    Insane production schedules. Over the last few years, the games have ballooned in scope, but the time allotted to make them has remained the same. Management tries to solve this problem by simply throwing more people at the project, which often creates more problems than it solves. You're trying to build scenes before they're even finished being designed or written. Crunch is "voluntary" in that nobody is telling you you have to do it (usually), but if you take any pride in your work, it's probably going to be necessary in order to ship something you're comfortable putting your name on, because the schedules are completely unrealistic. Even if you do manage to go home at a reasonable time, you will feel like a jerk because so many of your colleagues are still there.

    A milestone is set, everyone on the team agrees that there's no way we're going to hit it, but everyone's so afraid of the executives that we have to pretend we're going to hit it and kill ourselves trying. Then, when the date arrives, executives look at the game, see that it's not done, and push the milestone back, so you have to continue killing yourselves until then. Rinse and repeat.

    Every aspect of the game is subject to the whims of the executives and marketing, and they won't take no for an answer. There is little oversight from executives for most of the development process, but whenever they do look at the game, you can expect to throw out substantial amounts of your work and start over because they changed their minds about something. No decision is ever final until the game is out the door (or sometimes after, in a day-one patch).

    Bottles of hard liquor kept on people's desks are increasingly common. This is not an affectation; it is necessary when you're at work at 1 in the morning because somebody decided at the last minute that your scene would be better if everybody moved three feet to the left and were crouching instead of standing (hypothetical example). I feel like I've aged two years for every year I've been here.

    Pay is not great. There is an "unlimited PTO" policy, which is a euphemism for "you are not guaranteed any time off; you will only take time off when we deem it acceptable." (To be fair, production seems to be pretty good about giving people the time off that they ask for, but it's very difficult to schedule vacations when you know that the milestone dates are going to have to change because they're impossible.) There is no compensation for all the overtime you will work; the closest thing is "incentive bonuses" for hitting milestones, but whether the team is considered to have hit those milestones is almost entirely out of your control, and the bonus will probably come out to less than you would be entitled to if you were just getting paid for the hours you worked.

    Advice to Management

    Make a decision and commit to it. The difference between us and those TV writers/producers you like to put on PowerPoint slides is that those guys are working from a finalized script that is then shot and cut. They're not rewriting the show while/after it's shot. (Okay, sure, substantial changes can happen during post-production, but they're still limited by the footage that they have.) Just because it's possible for us to change almost anything up until we ship doesn't mean we should.

    I loved working here when I first started, and I still love the actual work that I'm doing. But the more I see of the decision-making process and office politics behind the scenes at the higher levels, the more demoralized I become.

    I realize that you guys are just trying to make the best games possible, the same as any of us. But the toll that it's taking on employees is too much. My mental health and my marriage have suffered as a direct result of this job. That's not something we can just brush off with a "that's just the way it is in this industry." It doesn't have to be. Telltale is actually really close to being a great place to work, if we could just scope/schedule our games realistically, make a plan and stick to it, and trust that people are capable of doing their jobs (and get rid of the ones who aren't).

    Also, don't fire me for writing this (I doubt it would be difficult to figure out who I am if you want to). I love the company culture and the people I work with, and I'm writing this because I want things to improve instead of having to leave (and because we were all asked to do Glassdoor reviews).

  11. Helpful (1)

    A decent place to work, but management needs to learn how to delegate.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Telltale Games full-time (more than 5 years)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Friendly coworkers, lots of creative and talented folks, fast paced and exciting work environment, room to move up and contribute your ideas, being a part of something cutting edge and unique, dogs in the office!

    Cons

    Too many executive notes stifling creativity, lower management not empowered to do their jobs, some occasional back stabbing by other employees, mediocre pay, micromanagement the likes of which I've never seen before.

    Advice to Management

    Learn how to delegate. You hire people to do a job, so let them do it. The best leaders I know are the ones who hire people smarter than they are and watch them run with it. If someone you hired isn't doing the job you expect, either work with them to figure out what the problem is or fire them. But stop thinking you have to do everything yourself if you want the job done right. In addition to being demoralizing, it creates an insane amount of bottlenecks that affect every single person in the studio.

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