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Episodic games? No, thank you

posted by Anonymous on - last edited - Viewed by 2.7K users

The last months show a sad development in games industry: Episodic games. Why is this happening? Are developers not able to finish their games? Is the market pressure too high? I´m playing Half Life 2: Episode One right now and I don´t like this concept at all. It´s boring to know that the game will end in 3 hours, only to give you a cliffhanger that is more than unsatisfying. So why is Telltale Games making the same mistake? I have read somewhere on this forums "2 hours of gameplay per episode"? If this is the case I won´t buy this game. I don´t see any sense to torture my gaming experience over many months to see the end credits. That doesn´t make sense.

Why do I hate this idea? The main reason is inconsistency: What happens if the main characters voice actor passes away and we have to hear Sam or Max with a different actor. What if they change the overall game style? What if Episode 1 doesn´t sell well and they cancel all other episodes? What if it sells so well that they stretch the game from 3 episodes to 10?

I´d rather had a full game, a full piece of art and not just a puzzle where I get the pieces after months of waiting. I love Sam & Max and I´m waiting badly for years to see a Part 2, but, Telltale, if you really stick to this idea I will have to say "without me".

This is just my unimportant opinion but many other gamers are feeling the same. I have read many other discussions in other forums about this topic so you should take this thread serious.

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    Anonymous

    I think Sam & Max are very well suited to the episodic approach. Being police, each episode can equal one case. It's a very similar approach to the comics in the sense of short, self-contained adventures. It also allows for wider variety and more experimentation, as episodes can be based on premises that perhaps wouldn't sustain a full length game and there's less at stake if something doesn't work in a particular episode, as opposed to a full, 2 year's worth of work game. Sam & Max are known for their highly bizarre escapades and locales; episodic gaming really facilitates this approach. I find myself very excited by the episodic style of games, even if I wouldn't want them to the exclusion of full length games.

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    Anonymous

    One case per episode? What does ttg say how long you will be playing one episode? It took me nearly (I have forgotten) 20 hours to play S&M1 for the first time, how will you add the depth into a 2-3 hours episode?

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    Anonymous

    I'm curious to see how the games play out. JPSelter, you can always wait for the whole season to come out and buy the whole package then.

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    Anonymous

    [quote]I'm curious to see how the games play out. JPSelter, you can always wait for the whole season to come out and buy the whole package then.[/quote]

    That would be an option.

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    Anonymous

    [quote]The last months show a sad development in games industry: Episodic games. Why is this happening? Are developers not able to finish their games? Is the market pressure too high? I´m playing Half Life 2: Episode One right now and I don´t like this concept at all. It´s boring to know that the game will end in 3 hours, only to give you a cliffhanger that is more than unsatisfying. So why is Telltale Games making the same mistake? I have read somewhere on this forums "2 hours of gameplay per episode"? If this is the case I won´t buy this game. I don´t see any sense to torture my gaming experience over many months to see the end credits. That doesn´t make sense.

    Why do I hate this idea? The main reason is inconsistency: What happens if the main characters voice actor passes away and we have to hear Sam or Max with a different actor. What if they change the overall game style? What if Episode 1 doesn´t sell well and they cancel all other episodes? What if it sells so well that they stretch the game from 3 episodes to 10?

    I´d rather had a full game, a full piece of art and not just a puzzle where I get the pieces after months of waiting. I love Sam & Max and I´m waiting badly for years to see a Part 2, but, Telltale, if you really stick to this idea I will have to say "without me".

    This is just my unimportant opinion but many other gamers are feeling the same. I have read many other discussions in other forums about this topic so you should take this thread serious.[/quote]

    I bet you anything you'll still buy the first one. haha

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    Anonymous

    the episodic model works for a small independant gaming company like telltale..they cant afford to work on a game for 2 years with no revenue coming in.. I'd rather have an episodic game over no game at all..

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    Anonymous

    Everyone is familiar with episodic entertainment. It's part of the culture in various creative mediums. Nearly all of them. That's why, too me, it's really curious that there is such a reactionary thought process on the part of many gamers. At the end of the day, it's going to come down to execution.

    The plan for the Sam and Max episodes seem fairly solid and should really accommodate the format well. Having a completely solved case within an episode, with an overarching story connecting them all together, seems like a good idea. The thing is it's a format we've all seem hundreds of times on television and, just as with a television show, it comes down to how well it's done. Some shows are good and some shows are not, but it really has nothing to do with the episodic format. It has to do with the skill and passion of those producing it. Just because episodes are a familiar structure in television or comics doesn't make it an invalid choice in another medium.

    Also, you may want to reconsider your definition of art, which tends to be a fairly nebulous term these days anyway. Being episodic hardly takes away from a games ability to be art. More likely, a game can now consist of several pieces of art that come together to form a sum greater than its parts.

    In any case, you can just buy the whole season once it’s completed if you want. Though really, I think this will be an option for those who are uncomfortable with something ever-so-slightly outside of their comfort zone. As a Sam and Max fan I think you are probably quite at ease with things outside of most people’s comfort zone. So just go ahead and give it a chance. These episodes at least promise to give a satisfying ending to each episode. While Valve makes amazing games, their endings have always been somewhat unsatisfying.

  • [quote]Everyone is familiar with episodic entertainment. It's part of the culture in various creative mediums. Nearly all of them.[/quote]
    /:) Can you name a few examples, apart from television and comics? Most art forms aren't episodic... books can be, but then, each episode in a series of books is usually self-contained, and pretty long. The thing with these Sam & Max episodes is that they're so short. Game series have always been episodic, but the individual episodes have been much longer. I think the problem most people who oppose to this new episodic model have, is that the episodes are so short that they can't be properly explored/enjoyed/replayed. The fact that they are released closer together doesn't make up for that in my opinion, and doesn't really make things easier on the wallet either, if in any other game series the games are a few years apart. It's actually a bit pricier if you look at it that way. But of course, this is all just my opinion.

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    Anonymous

    The number of mediums that use an episodic format regularly is irrelevant, though most have the capability (comics, television, books, and movies). The issue is if a game can provide a compelling experience within the context of shorter episodes. Honestly, I see no reason to think that they can’t.

    The idea that a game can’t be properly explored, enjoyed or replayed because it’s shorter is ridiculous. A smaller game area encourages people to explore more deeply and it makes replaying a game far less daunting.

    When discussing the forthcoming Sam and Max episodes some seem to be hung up on the “2 hours of gameplay†quote, which at this point means nothing besides providing a general estimate. What factors this estimate is based on are beyond our knowledge. Is that an estimate based on a playing through the game without digging deep into it like a more casual gamer might? Is that after finding every joke possible? On top of that, the game is not near completion yet. That estimate may change based on the actual finished product.

    None of this takes into account the fact that mileage will vary between players. Some may get stuck on a puzzle and spend an hour and a half trying to figure it out, where others may solve that puzzle instantly.

    On the subject of your wallet, the price per episode hasn’t been released yet. All we know is that it’ll be cheaper than the Bone episodes. With this in mind, if an episode is released every 3 months or so, you’d need to put aside less than one United States dollar a week to purchase an episode the day that it is released. I’m sure most of our wallets should be safe.

    Outside of the calculations of Time Played versus Money Spent, I paid $40 for Full Throttle when it came out. I beat the game in less than a day and a half, if memory serves correctly, and I didn’t regret it one bit. It was an excellent game, if a bit short.

    There are factors that go way beyond Time verses Money. If you enjoy the hell out a game and the price is reasonable than all this other stuff is just moot.

    Just remember, an episode is just a way of delivery. The enjoyment and richness of the game experience is not dependent on the format.

  • I guess my problem is that I can't help thinking that smaller episodes = smaller environments and less to explore. You can only put in so many items and characters. One of the charms of adventure games is, for me, that there are a lot of characters and things to interact with, and I hope that Telltale will remember that that's one of the fun things about adventure games. The Great Cow Race was a giant leap in the right direction, with quite a number of things to do at the fair, and a number of guys to talk to in the tavern. I don't necessarily mind shorter games if there is enough interactivity. For instance, Ankh was a pretty short game (and on the expensive side for such a short game), but there were a lot of people you could talk to, which made up for that quite a bit. So the bottom line is, I want to feel satisfied after playing the game. Oh, and the bottom line is also that I'm a complainer. :D

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