Telltale Games 54 Reviews | Glassdoor

Telltale Games Reviews

Updated February 21, 2017
54 reviews

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3.1
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Telltale Games CEO Kevin Bruner
Kevin Bruner
19 Ratings

54 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Working with such talented people is very inspiring, surprisingly there are no egos on the studio floor and everyone is always happy to help (in 6 reviews)

  • Great benefits - better than some of the bigger companies Ive been at (in 3 reviews)

Cons
  • Salary is lower than average for Bay Area, and bonuses are small (in 7 reviews)

  • The company remains in a state of transition from a small to medium-large studio, with all the growing pains that go with that (in 6 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "ceo"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - The Man in Fairfax, CA
    Current Employee - The Man in Fairfax, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

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

    Pros

    I am doing very well here so far

    Cons

    they are going through some growing pains

    Advice to Management

    keep on keeping on


  2. "Studio Potential Held Back by Senior Leadership"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Artist in San Rafael, CA
    Current Employee - Senior Artist in San Rafael, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Studio has a lot of extremely hardworking and talented people, great properties, and a cool niche of narrative interactive fiction. Could be a great studio if senior leadership invested in their teams and put more quality into the games.

    Cons

    Senior leadership is disengaged from development teams, doesn't seem to care about the people doing the boots-on-the-ground work. Crunch mode is abusive, especially for QA, cinematic artists, and producers. Expect to be asked for constant weekend and night work in these disciplines. Salary is lower than average for Bay Area, and bonuses are small. Projects are poorly scheduled and tend to be rushed together in last few weeks, although the studio is getting better at this, with an influx of excellent and talented mid-level producers. Facilities are minimalist; the office is a bunch of desks crammed together in big rooms, without much else. You get a sense that leadership doesn't care about the teams very much and is just forcing out as much product as fast as possible.

    Advice to Management

    Invest in your people.


  3. "Fun but tiring"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Writer in Los Angeles, CA
    Former Employee - Writer in Los Angeles, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Telltale Games (More than a year)

    Pros

    They are friendly and creative.

    Cons

    The deadlines are really rough.

    Advice to Management

    Try to focus on one IP instead of splitting up the team.


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  5. Helpful (1)

    "Good"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Environment Artist in San Rafael, CA
    Current Employee - Environment Artist in San Rafael, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Telltale is filled with a lot of driven people who create high quality work at a very fast pace.

    Cons

    Sometimes the pace feels so fast that there is little time to reflect, or make changes within an IP.

    Understanding raises and bonuses is quite difficult. This can be stressful if your position doesn't feel quite like it pays enough for the area.

    Advice to Management

    The games are feeling a little too much like reskins of the same core. Features that are touted as new gameplay mechanics seem vastly behind the times in relation to the rest of the industry.

    In comparison to other story-driven studios, our techniques are not as innovative as we could afford to be.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Not a Bad Studio, If You're Paid Well and Take Adequate Time Off"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Rafael, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Rafael, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Telltale Games full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    -Relaxing and beautiful location of the office
    -Artists are actually creating real work here instead of cleaning up outsourced models (like at other AAA studios)
    -The tools for artists are not so old anymore, and the work is straight from first-party asset creation tools (Maya). Not much work is actually done in the engine, for artists.
    -Flexibility to make something and know that it's done, instead of constantly iterating on it. Feedback is short and swift, and usually not checked up on. As long as it looks "good enough" and aids the storytelling, there is only so much that can be finessed within the tight deadlines
    -Experience working on multiple projects and teams
    -The parties are unmatched: The best I've ever partaken in, in my career. Also, they happen frequently and are a good moral-booster for the teams.
    -Unlimited vacation time. For those who are not highly-motivated and don't care about getting ahead, and who want to have a great work-life balance, this studio is for you. Many of the longest-term employees are symbols of this lax lifestyle.
    -Standing desks are standard. This company is really paving the way for the revolution in office job work-style and promotes a healthy work environment.

    Cons

    -Tight deadlines. It feels like an outsourcing house: where art is produced quickly and there is no time to stop and reflect on the quality or direction
    -Not much hierarchy. The studio already knows this. Their business model is to hire mainly mid-level employees who have enough experience to be senior, and the rest are straight from college to keep budgets low. The mid-level people will be in a constant power-struggle since turnover is not high in the departments that don't crunch.
    -Watch out for crunch if you are in the Chore or Animation departments. Tools are un-intuitive for those departments and not what you learned in school.
    -Studio spatial organization is awkward: The kitchen is on the far corner of the building, which makes frequent snack breaks a chore.
    -Requesting vacation time off has more pressure than usual. Even though there is unlimited time off, the nature of the deadlines and something always being planned to be ship in a couple of weeks, it is complicated to anticipate when an actual deadline will be (since they change) and have your vacation time not interfere. Other employees with unintentionally, psychologically, judge you for taking time off during a shipping date. It is more luck of the draw than hard-science, and it's something employees get used to.
    -The pay is extraordinarily inadequate for entry-level positions. The good part is that it is a full-time job and the company is a resume booster. I've dealt with worse in my career: but more because of the location (in an unpopular state) instead of by getting paid in an expensive area. Turnover is no doubt high because of low-paid, lower-level employees, who are afraid to utilize the power of the unlimited vacation and sick time. This studio is a lot less structured than others, and is still in a developing startup mode. Thus, there is less hand-holding and employees are in charge of their own happiness. They should be responsible for pushing back against crunch, and knowing their own limits. I know that this is easier said than done, with industry-fresh talent.
    -Some of the directors here are not well-trained in being directors. They may have been talented technical workers, but not natural or learned leaders.

    Advice to Management

    CEO needs to step up an have more of a presence. I know he is from an engineering background, but this timid attitude hurts cultures, as I've seen it before. Leaders need to practice leadership and read books like Developing the Leader Within You by John Maxwell, Good to Great by Jim Collins, and How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

    The studio is doing well for now, but has been more strained than ever. The issue is that the business model is built on a culture of volatility and high-turnover. Creating more systems, modular-pipelines, and being smarter instead of working harder (not having artists and animators hand-craft everything, each time) would enable more efficiency and reach the scale-ability that the studio is aiming for.


  7. Helpful (3)

    "Difficult Environment"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Telltale Games full-time

    Pros

    - Strong company vision
    - Consistent work, stability of employment
    - Storytelling rules!

    Cons

    - No accountability from studio leadership
    - Old tech. Old tools.
    - FAST paced. Easy to burn out.

    Advice to Management

    Put more effort into developing easier ways to do the things we do most often. Get 800% better at pre-productiuon. Become more visual communicators. Develop better training and on-boarding materials for new hires; we're such a unique place to work. Regroup as an organization and wait until we're ready before deciding to resume the chase of hyper-aggressive business objectives.


  8. Helpful (5)

    "Telltale, you could be great."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Telltale Games full-time

    Pros

    I want to love Telltale. The IP is great. The people on the dev teams care deeply about making a quality game. There has been genuine improvement in process since I started. I honestly can't think of anyone I work with who doesn't come to work hoping to be able to bring their best, on a daily basis.

    Cons

    Telltale cares deeply about player agency, but doesn't apply those values to team leadership agency.

    The company is big; the decision-making small. Those same people coming in to bring their best are stymied by process that is frequently driven by the gut feel of a single person; there's nothing sadder to me than to see the people on this talented team settle for "just tell me what to do and I'll do it."

    Advice to Management

    If you want to be a success at the size you've grown to, set goals, leave the details to others, and find a way to hold those people accountable for success.

    There are so many things happening in a 300+ person the company that the CEO just isn't exposed to. Every time you make the calls rather than letting the people you hired make them, you're creating an atmosphere that preserves and stratifies some of the very things that are holding us back from those critical goals of cadence, community, fidelity. We want it too. Please let us help you get there.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Moving Forward"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Telltale Games (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Growing company, Great people, Interesting IP, genuine interest in becoming better

    Cons

    Still figuring stuff out as we go, Growing pains, Pipeline needs to be refined

    Advice to Management

    Now that we've grown, let's really focus on making TTG an employer of choice.


  10. Helpful (18)

    "Get in, get some experience, get out"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Rafael, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Rafael, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Telltale Games full-time

    Pros

    Stable employment, so stable you'll never leave the office at night...or see your friends again.

    If you're just out of college, you can level up your skills quick...assuming the burnout & the terrible OT food doesn't kill you first.

    Cons

    Soul crushing hours. Noncompetitive pay. No incentive to stay longer than it takes to find a different job. No respect for veteran employees.

    If you're just out of college, they'll take you. But do not stay here ANY longer than you have to. Get some experience, and get out.

    If you're a experienced developer, don't waste your time.

    Advice to Management

    Ha, like you guys actually listen to advice.


  11. Helpful (12)

    "Be honest with your employees"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Telltale Games full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Stable employment in an area that can feel like it's shrinking. Mostly staff employment instead of short term contracts. Talented hard working people. Genuinely great projects to work on under different circumstances. The smaller feel can sometimes lead to great communication.

    Cons

    I would sound like a broken record at this point to list the usual low pay, poor work/life balance, and broken tools complaints that are in just about every review(and they keep showing up for a reason). The real complaint I'll add to this is that management would often not scope projects, or intentionally over-scope from the beginning. Artists were almost always given tasks based on what management wanted to see happen and not what was possible. The idea of a budget was of no concern to a studio doesn't pay overtime, so people's hours were treated as an endless resource. This was a company wide mentality and at the time I left they were doubling down on it to hit some of the most unreasonable deadlines the studio had proposed yet. The narrative that Telltale was experiencing growing pains was a spin on a toxic environment that I heard going in, I heard it as I was leaving, and continue to hear in the positive reviews that the company "encourages" employees to post here.

    Advice to Management

    Stop treating people as disposable. High turn over happens for a reason and is far more expensive than creating a healthy environment. Be honest with your employees about how the culture operates. Not everyone leaves furious, but those who feel they were mislead by a studio that is more interested in covering up their weaknesses than confronting them often do.



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