To help maintain the British feel of the series in the face of Telltale being American and therefore genetically responsible for the US versions of Coupling and Men Behaving Badly, Aardman also put them together with an editor who has worked on Wallace & Gromit before, Tristan Davies (whose name may also be familiar to readers of Private Eye, The Independent and the Sunday Times). "Tristan Davies has been going over all of our stories, designs, and scripts with a tweezers, helping us make sure that the premises, humour and culture all feel appropriate to Wallace & Gromit," says Grossman. "And naturally, he rewords dialogue, although some of our writers seem to be developing a fair ear for it as we go along... Hopefully there are enough British eyes on the project to keep it clean, and the odd Americanism that manages to slip through will feel more like an Easter Egg than a wart."
Telltale has also sought to maintain the series' signature claymation visuals thanks to the efforts of engineer Carlo Morgantini. "He gives new and wonderful options to the people who model, light and texture our character and environments," says Grossman. "In addition to the clay feel and the lighting and the camera work, we also needed to emulate the Aardman style of animation, and it turned out that there was a technological trick or two that we could use to help in that effort as well." Although Aardman was obviously rather busy with A Matter of Loaf and Death, the British animators also assisted with feedback on characters, environments, models and presentation.
Grossman also deflects criticism of Strong Bad episodes - celebrated by many, but panned by a few who felt the web cartoon had been shoehorned rather roughly into the developer's adventure template - by arguing that the differences between Strong Bad and Wallace & Gromit will safeguard the latter. "Homestar Runner web cartoons are very freeform, with a fast pace and heavy dependence on the random and unexpected," he points out.
"In translating something like Homestar (or Sam & Max) to a video game, which is a medium wherein players need to be able to understand enough about the likely results of their actions to be able to make decisions about what to do, 'random and unexpected' interfere with gameplay and tend to change by necessity into 'bizarre but consistent'... Wallace & Gromit doesn't have the same issue. The humour there is far more grounded, so, although outlandish things often happen, they always make a certain amount of intuitive sense as well, meaning that you shouldn't notice anything substantially different in the interactive translation in that respect."
There's still a lot to be revealed - the number of episodes, the identity of that mystery console, the release schedule and whether Wallace's usual voice actor Peter Sallis is involved, to name a few - but the developer's clear passion and respect for the source material, its close ties to Aardman, and the experience built up across multiple adventure series since 2005 are enough to inspire confidence at this early stage. All that's left, then, is to work out what we're forgetting about 25th December. Answers on a Christmas card.
Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures is - or in fact are - due to begin in 2009 on the PC and "a console platform that will soon be announced". Check out the official website for more.