Bob Gale Answers Your Back to the Future Questions
A couple of weeks ago we put out a call for questions for Back to the Future co-creator Bob Gale and the Telltale Games community answered in full force! Now, we present to you Mr. Gale's answers to some of your questions.
All of the questions posed to Bob Gale can be found in the thread on our forums here.
Youso asks: I believe that a Back to the Future Part IV film was planned at one point. How closely were you involved with the pre-production? Have any of that film's concepts made it into Telltale's Back to the Future game?
Bob Gale: Bob Zemeckis and I never planned a BTTF-4, so there was never any pre-production to be involved with! And here's a photo [above] of Bob Z., co-producer Neil Canton, and I at the Back-to-back-to-back trilogy screening in Hollywood on May 24, 1990 making a statement about that!
In the mid-1990's, Bob Z. and I had one or two fanciful conversations about it, but once Michael J. Fox revealed he had Parkinson's disease we never discussed it again. Nobody else, could fill that role, and to make a BTTF film without him would just be, well, wrong.
However, there were things we discussed for BTTF-2 which we didn't use that have made it into the game. These involved exploring the history of Doc's family (we though it would be fun to have Christopher Lloyd play his mother), going back to the days of Prohibition in which Biff's ancestor would be a bootlegger, and a visit to the 1960's. Editor's Note: Guess which of those is actually in the game.
Junaid asks: What do you think are the key elements of a Back to the Future story other than components like the DeLorean and time travel?
Bob Gale: The key elements, are without a doubt, the characters. We have always believed that the success and longevity of the franchise is due to our memorable characters, especially Marty and Doc. In fact, in 1986 or 1987, when Universal first asked us to do a sequel, we said 'as long as we can sign up Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, we can do a sequel'. Without them, there's no movie.
The whole family aspect and seeing the futures and the pasts of the various characters, as well as their ancestors and descendants (which we explored a great deal in the cartoon series), is the heart and soul of BTTF.
Spykes asks: What's the hardest part about re-visiting characters you haven't written in over 20 years?
Bob Gale: It's not hard at all! I know these characters so well that it was a snap to get my head back into them!
GhstbstrLMLIII asks: Was there anything you really wanted to do in the Back to the Future films that, for one reason or another, could not happen (ie. because of technological restrictions, financial hindrances, etc.) that you now are getting to weave into the video game?
Bob Gale: There were some concepts that we considered for Part II that will be part of the game. if you get the new Trilogy set - either in Blu-Ray or standard definition - you'll find a special feature that shows the storyboards of the original nuclear test site sequence which was intended to be the end of Part I. However, it was a good thing we replaced that with the far superior Clock Tower sequence, so that's an example of something we won't be utilizing [in the game]. In the early drafts of Part II, we depicted a new sport in 2015 called 'Slamball', which was a zero-gravity hybrid of handball, Jai-alai, dodgeball, and roller derby. That won't be showing up in this game, but perhaps if there's a sequel...!
Vivek asks: Would you be interested in penning a sequel to BTTF in the form of an ongoing comic series or perhaps a standalone graphic novel?
Bob Gale: Harvey Comics did a BTTF series in the early 90's, in conjunction with our Saturday morning animated series, utilizing the character designs. I thought it was well done, but for whatever reason, it never took off. As far as trying again, it's not something I'd want to do because the concept of BTTF was never designed to be an ongoing series.
RAnthonyMahan asks: Were you familiar with Telltale Games before being attached to this game? Have you become familar with their other work since? Do you have a favorite title by Telltale?
Bob Gale: Prior to this, I knew about Sam & Max but I'd never played it, nor did I know Telltale by name. Now that I have played it, I highly recommend it! But just to assure you that I'm no stranger to gaming, my preferred gaming experiences have been arcade and console gaming. By 1992 I got annoyed with computer gaming because everything I wanted to play seemed to require me to update my graphics card or my sound card, or get some special controller, or more memory, or a faster processor. Console gaming was simpler: every game worked perfectly every time! Plus, I could play them on my projection TV!
I've been playing video games ever since I first played 'Gun Fight' in Steven Spielberg's office in 1976! (Pictured) Since then, I've owned an Atari 2600, NES ( I bought the first one that came with the robot), Sega SMS, ColecoVision, Vectrex, the black and white GameBoy (and the color one), Sega Genesis, Super NES, TurboGrafix, Sega Game Gear, Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo 64, Sony PS, Sony PS2, Sony PS3, and Nintendo Wii. Plus the occasional game on my Android phone! Unfortunately, there are not enough hours in the day! I don't do online gaming because I don't like getting my ass kicked by a ten year old. I don't do Facebook or Farm[ville] either.And my favorite game? I've always liked driving games, and my favorite is the Burnout series on PS2, which I still enjoy. (The PS3 game is, in my opinion, terrible despite its excellent graphics and controls.)
And before we leave this subject, I should note that the previous BTTF video games have all sucked eggs - particularly the Nintendo 8-bit cartridge made by LJN in 1989 - truly one of the worst games ever. (If you don't believe me, check this out. Video: For Mature Audiences Only
The LJN people did not want any input from he filmmakers, but they promise to show us the game when 'it was ready'. I was outraged when they finally showed it to me and had all kinds of things I wanted changed, but of course we were told it was too late to change anything. I actually did interviews telling the fans not to buy it because I was so ashamed that a product this bad would have our brand on it. Obviously, Telltale has the correct approach.
Daniel~ asks: Did you have a definite explanation of how the Brown mansion burned down?
Bob Gale: Bob Z. and I like certain things in our movies to be ambiguous; we think that provides fodder for a lot of interesting conversations. Was the fire a result of an experiment that got out of control? Maybe. Was it arson? Perhaps. Was insurance involved? Possibly. Could it have been struck by lighting? That would be ironic, wouldn't it? All of these possibilities suggest interesting stories, and maybe, in alternate timelines, they're ALL the reason the mansion burned down!
Voodoo Lord asks: Among the products that the trilogy spawned (animated series, novels, ride, etc.), what are those you consider canon?
Bob Gale: Only the movies are canon. Everything else fits into the 'what-if?' category, or might be canon in some alternate universe.
Tredlow asks: What is your favorite non-BTTF time-travel fiction?
and Trenchfoot asks: What were your influences while writing the Back to the Future series?
Bob Gale: The 1960 George Pal movie, 'The Time Machine', made a huge impression on both Bob Z. and I when we were kids. Also, 'The Twilight Zone' TV series, which turned me on to Ray Bradbury; his story 'A Sound of Thunder' was very influential. I remember writing a time travel story, probably in 9th grade, which was inspired by that work! In college, I read a lot of Robert Silverberg and his 'Up the Line' was a time travel novel that made a big impression. That novel really got my head around the 'duplication paradox'.
I've read comic books since I was nine, and DC Comics used to do their imaginary stories like 'What If Krypton Never Exploded?' or 'What if Lois Lane Married Lex Luthor?'. There was certainly an aspect of that in BTTF-2, as well as Frank Capra's 'It's a Wonderful Life' (still one of the finest movies ever made) and Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' involving a trip to a very depressing future. An obviously, all the westerns Bob Z. and I had seen informed BTTF-3.
Thanks again to all for contributing questions! We're planning to do another Q&A session, this time with some members of the Telltale Back to the Future team! Stay tuned for an update on that, and how to submit questions.