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The positive side of episodic content

posted by fhqwhgads on - last edited - Viewed by 330 users

We seem to have a lot of negative posts lately regarding the Sam & Max episodes. I firmly believe most of the criticism directed at Sam & Max is due to the episodic format (ie. length, difficulty). I also believe these games are unfairly compared to full adventure games, which is a whole different ballgame. We all knew before we bought the games that they were going to be episodic and shorter than a full game.

But on to the positive things. What do you believe is the most positive aspect of telltale's decision to make Sam & Max episodic?

For one, I love the fact that characters like Bosco, Sybil and Jimmy are allowed to grow and progress in ways that are not possible in a single game. Bosco's next disguise, Sybil's next job and Jimmy's next scheme are always things I look out for in each game.

Also I think from a developers perspective, it is probably much more satisfying too. When working on a big game with a long developing time, one can easily get unmotivated. With episodic content, you can see the reactions of the audience with every release, motivating the next release.

32 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • I think the recurring characters and scenes are actually maybe the weakest link in the game. OK, Bosco cracks me up sometimes but the whole concept of Bosco is pretty dull. Let alone Sybil. The game would actually be better without her. No need to use valuable memory space for her stupid office. OK, she shines sometimes (though very rarely) like Bosco but still I think if both of them were replaced by something genuinely and all around funny the game would be a lot better and could do without them.

    I don´t think that an episodic format and the easiness are related. Wouldn´t it be possible to make a difficulter game with the same content but with harder puzzles? Surely the game wouldn´t be as long as a long game, but at least it would feel like a challenge (and also take more time to complete).

    Anyway, I think the games are made very well. You know, it isn´t a matter of what we have, it´s ok, but it´s a matter of what we should have had: a more difficult game with crazier storylines.

    I think the episodic format could be used more creatively than Telltale has. Crazy trips to strange places with no limitations of continuing a storyline that was finished in last episode, that´s what I kinda hoped S&M would have been. Something like the comics were. Unexpectable.

    Now the games and stories are videogamish and safe, but with an interactivity of a comic. I would have hoped for a (S&M) comic with an interactivity of a videogame. That´s my problem with the games in a nutshell.

    Hopefully Steve will wirte more in the future and draw the storylines, no offense to those other dudes but they are just making safe videogames, Steve´s stuff has been a little more imaginative (of course, I can´t know, maybe Steve has written most of the stuff I don´t like about these games, who knows?).

    The best thing about episodic format is the fast pace of new releases.Also, the episodic format birngs a lot of possibilities and freedom, hopefully the will be used in the future.

  • If it had been 1 large game that was released, it would have been completed and placed neatly onto my dusty shelf by now, but instead im left with a smile on my face knowing that theres more to come, counting down untill then next installment...and i love it.

    I also think the episodes are great becuase they can easily switch theme and style with each new release, making it feel fresh. Whereas a full length sequel would more or less stay consistant all the way through.

  • The best part of episodicness? User input. If something's hideously wrong with an episodic game, you can point it out before it ruins the entire series.

    (Not including Valve's episodic content. Valve wouldn't listen to a consumer if their lives depended on it.)

  • I agree with all the positive points about the episodic format, especially the growth of the secondary characters, whom I think are hilarious, but do also think it suffers for being too easy. I have yet to really become stuck on any puzzle, and suspect this is because there is only a small number of items to use and only one new location in which to try them out each episode. There are sufficiently few options that even if one did get stuck on a puzzle without a clue how to solve it, the problem could actually be solved simply by trying every item with every object until something happened. As a general point which is vaguely related, the interface is admirably simple - at last we have a quite literal interpretation of 'point and click' gaming - but it might be nice to be able to combine inventory items, allowing a little more ingenuity into the process of puzzle-solving.

    What we lose in an episodic game is the capacity to really explore a game world and see how all the different locations interact with one another. Think of the original Sam and Max, which charts the duo's journey across the bizarre tourist attractions of America, and how often an item is found in one location that turns out to be of use somewhere else, or a puzzle has to be completed in a variety of different places, bit by bit. The diversity of the game world required the player to think harder, because the solutions weren't simply laid out in from of them. Additionally, while the secondary characters in the episodes are great, we miss out on the more eccentric characters with smaller appearances to be found in the original game, whose role was largely to provide a unique nugget of humour based on their position and personality. The new characters in each episode, although quite well characterised, are generally plot-driving more than humourous.

    The question is whether (should anyone agree with me) these problems could be ironed out while retaining the episodic structure of the game. Could the next series perhaps have fewer, longer episodes, just to allow for more locations and characters to squeeze their way into each one, or maybe places discovered in previous episodes could remain available thereafter and have new additions to accommodate the evolving storyline. Admittedly the current examples of locations are probably a bit too specific for that to be possible - I can think of no reason we would ever return to Brady Culture's place, for example. This sort of direction wouldn't actually be so dissimilar to the original game, in which, while many more places can be visited at a time, they are only revealed one by one as the game progresses.

  • I happen to love episodic content. I got a whole season for the price of a single game. Instead of one full course, I get six appetizers. This really is like a TV episode and I hope the characters do grow. For the first time we can have a season arc.

    Yes, the games a little easy and the fact that we can't combine inventory truly sucks. I still adore the Sam and Max games and thing they are fantastic value for money. Who knows, maybe we will get to combine inventory later?

    Keep in mind that Telltale is at the head of whole new kind of distibution. On-line episodic gaming will allow indepents on Adventure Gaming Studio to compete. People like Herculean Production could get in on the game, so could the guy who made Shivah and The Blackwell Legacy.

    I think Telltale is breathing new life in to a stagnant industry. The sheer cost of producing a video games means no one wants to take a risk anymore. Creativity and innovation are slowly going out the window. Viva La TellTale!

  • @Christovsky said:

    Places discovered in previous episodes could remain available thereafter and have new additions to accommodate the evolving storyline. Admittedly the current examples of locations are probably a bit too specific for that to be possible - I can think of no reason we would ever return to Brady Culture's place, for example. This sort of direction wouldn't actually be so dissimilar to the original game, in which, while many more places can be visited at a time, they are only revealed one by one as the game progresses.



    I totally agree that areas from previous episodes should still remain available.

    I would also be pleased if every single Bosco item was left available in all episodes; i think that would help. I'll be gutted after spending something rediculous like $10,000,000, only to have the item removed in later episodes :p

  • @Christovsky said: I agree with all the positive points about the episodic format, especially the growth of the secondary characters, whom I think are hilarious, but do also think it suffers for being too easy. I have yet to really become stuck on any puzzle, and suspect this is because there is only a small number of items to use and only one new location in which to try them out each episode.



    I don't think episodic has anything to do with the game's difficulty. Sam & Max is as challenging as it is due to a conscious design choice and nothing more. Yes, more locations would mean more tedious backtracking, but I guarantee they could fill these games with stupid and overly complicated puzzles that serve to blatantly pad out the game length if they really wanted to. In fact, I imagine it would be relatively easy to do.

    You don't need a ton of locations that the characters must traverse the world to reach to make a game hard. Maniac Mansion was essentially one giant location with tons of inventory items.

  • With a geniuinely engrossing main story arc, the Episodic format would be a great way to hook up players to return episode after episode. Compared to feature-length single games, episodic format allows for recurring characters, jokes, storylines and locations with added depth.

    Whether or not Sybil and Bosco are successful examples of the aformentioned possibilities is debatable. As to what a recurring joke/storyline could be, an example I have in mind right now would be for S&M to get a monetary reward from solving a case, building up their fortune and perhaps amassing money for a certain project they could throw a quip about at the end of each episode.

    Also, producing episodes is more affordable and of lower risk than single large projects.

  • The problem isn't with the negative side of episodic content.. it is the fact tha telltale's version of episode content is way too small foe each content. Both Half life episode 1 and 2, and agon's 3 episodes are all much longer than telltale's episodes.... for roughly the same price(episode 1 of hl for example was on sale for 9 bucks for the longest time , so i consider this the real price).

  • On the contrary: HL Ep.1 was quite short by FPS standards. A veteran gamer can finish the game in an hour; the same time it takes most people to finish a S&M episode.

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