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The End of Episodic Gaming at Telltale?

posted by RAnthonyMahan on - last edited - Viewed by 1.5K users

(DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Telltale, or anywhere else in the gaming industry. Everything I say here is pure speculation, so please don't take it as anything official. Kthx.)

There have been two pieces of Telltale-related news lately that interested me. I think it might be possible they're leading into something bigger.

The first is that Jurassic Park won't be released episodically (unless you're on the iPad). The game will still be divided into separate episodes, yes, but all of them will be released at once.

Now, I don't believe Telltale's doing this because they're tired of episodic gaming. If you recall, JP was originally going to be released in April for the PC, but in fall for consoles. Apparently Microsoft demanded every version be released at the same time, pushing the PC version back and forcing Telltale to develop all the episodes before they can be finished. Even if Telltale isn't doing this to avoid episodic gaming, though, the fact stands that they're making a full-length non-episodic game, and I'm sure they're taking advantage of the opportunity to test how people receive it.

The second is that, in addition to Telltale's previously announced publishing deal with Microsoft, they've signed similar deals with Nintendo and Sony. (Their previous publishing deal with Sony only allowed them to publish downloadable games, but now they can publish retail games too.) So if Telltale wanted to, they could give their games disc releases on all three consoles. They'd no longer have to deal with the constraints PSN/XBLA/WiiWare force on games. Not to mention that, as far as consoles go, retail games get more exposure than downloadable titles.

Now, I admire Telltale for having more success with the episodic format than any other developer's managed, but the fact is that episodic gaming carries a lot of inherent problems. The games have to be small (a big issue for an adventure game, since so much of the appeal lies in exploration!). The demanding release schedule means you either rush the episodes' development or fail to release them on time. It's next to impossible to pull off on consoles. If you're doing a more open-ended series, like The Walking Dead is supposed to be, it could be difficult implementing proper continuity between the episodes. (Look at all the reports of Marty getting called by the wrong alias in BttF, and that was just a single choice!) I get a feeling that some people at Telltale have been debating if it's worth sticking to episodic games.

So, as I said before, I suspect Telltale is treating Jurassic Park as a big experiment to see how making a game the normal way turns out for them. If it goes well...who knows what they'll decide in the future? I wouldn't be surprised if The Walking Dead ends up being Telltale's last episodic game. (And even then, it might only be episodic in the same way that Jurassic Park is.)

So...do you think Telltale should stick to episodic gaming or not? And do you think it's likely they'll make the switch? Discuss and whatnot.

82 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • ok when you make an episodic season it is almost always plagued with issues. First the games have a deadline which is not a really good thing to have if you want to make a quality game. Also it forces the makers to make the ending of the episode dramatic, which does not always work out.

  • I highly agree with Musically Inspired in this thread.

  • I feel like designing a game episodically, then putting it on a disk and releasing it all at once is kind of a "worst of both worlds" scenario, unless they were actually using the disc's storage space to increase the size of the game's world and such. Since the game is still going to be released episodically on iPad I'm guessing we're going to get all of the downsides of episodic gaming with none of the benefits.

    Now granted I do enjoy chapter-based storytelling in games, so I'm not really complaining that they're sticking with that format. I just think it's a bit of an oddity here

  • @Jon NA said: I think for games like S&M S3 and ToMI the episodic format was forced,



    Forced? How?! Don't you remember those fantastic cliffhangers? THEY STOLE MAX'S BRAIN! UNHOLY THIS!

  • UNHOLY THIS! was one of the best and awesomest gaming cliffhangers I've ever experienced.
    I'm still kicking myself that I didn't see it coming.
    I mean.... he... four games.... how did I miss that?
    And then the wait full of anticipation for the next part? Yeah, that was hard! (That's what she said. She lied.)

    So yeah, needless to say, if this is what TTG continues to do I'm all for it! :D

    So what's the next game coming out? Jurassic Park?

  • @Talahar said: UNHOLY THIS! was one of the best and awesomest gaming cliffhangers I've ever experienced.
    I'm still kicking myself that I didn't see it coming.
    I mean.... he... four games.... how did I miss that?
    And then the wait full of anticipation for the next part?

    I watched the end for Episode 4 every day until Episode 5 was released. It was epic.

  • Yes ok I must admit I loved UNHOLY THIS! in TMI but imo S&M 304 could easily have wrapped up the S&M season.

  • @tbm1986 said: Yes ok I must admit I loved UNHOLY THIS! in TMI but imo S&M 304 could easily have wrapped up the S&M season.

    Agreed. In fact, it was a better ending than 305.

  • @Trenchfoot said: Agreed. In fact, it was a better ending than 305.

    Agreed. I'd happily wipe my memory of 305 altogether. I liked the music, what they did to the lighting in the inner brain, Sybil's entrance and that's about it.

  • @tbm1986 said: Yes ok I must admit I loved UNHOLY THIS! in TMI but imo S&M 304 could easily have wrapped up the S&M season.



    That doesn't argue against episodes in general, though, only against one particular episode!

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