For a book that reminds many people of stories from the past, Jeff Smith's "Bone" is looking towards the future. Not only is the series the premiere graphic novel from Scholastic Books' Graphix imprint, but Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, Smiley Bone and all the rest of Smith's characters are soon to be the stars of a series of PC video games from Telltale Games, revealed at a meeting across the street from Comic-Con International in San Diego this past weekend.
Telltale is releasing a series of point-and-click adventure games based on each of the "Bone" chapters over the Internet on their Web site, http://www.telltalegames.com. Despite being only 50 megabyte downloads, the games will feature a full voice cast with dialogue taken directly from the original word balloons.
"The voices are pretty close to what I had in my mind, especially Phoney Bone," Smith said.
The games are similar to old Lucasarts adventure games, which make sense since many of the programmers were once at Lucasarts. They see "Bone" as a way to connect to video game players who aren't necessarily hardcore gamers.
"We know that there are people out there who want to interact with content who don't necessarily go into game stores," said Telltale's CEO, Dan Connors. "Bone is the perfect story for that. We took what was in the book and used them as a storyboard to make the game."
The few minutes of the game that were shown were incredibly faithful to the comic. The opening scenes, with Fone and his cousins lost in the mountains, was ripped directly off the paper into digital form. The game has been fleshed out with more dialogue however in order to increase the sense of discovery in the world. Although players who have read the books might lnow how the story is going to go, they might not find the game as easy to beat as they think.
"Gamers will actually have an easier time with the game than people who read the book, because they understand the game mechanics," Connors explained.
Smith agreed. "I was looking at the cursor when it moved over the sky and became eyes, and I had no idea what the hell that meant!" he said.
The graphics, while not mindblowing, have a cartoony cinematic quality to them that get the story across. When Phoney throws a fit, you can see it in his face. When the Stupid Rat Creatures charge across the screen, there's a sense of menace.
The first chapter is due out this September, with new chapters expected to be released every four months or so. Although currently there are only plans for the games to be downloaded over the Internet for PC only, Telltale is looking into other distribution methods on other platforms.