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The positive side of episodic content

posted by fhqwhgads on - last edited - Viewed by 580 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
  • @Udvarnoky said: 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.

    I wouldn't call it padding out, really; it's a matter of making solutions less conspicuous so actions have to be thought out rather than being able to complete the game by experimentation. Still, maybe you're right that it's not necessarily impossible to make an episodic game more difficult, MM being a good example. I just wish they would! But I guess that's a topic for a different thread.

  • @ShaggE said: 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.

    I would challenge that assertion that "most people" can finish S&M in one hour--they do a lot of playtests and focus tests with timers etc, from what I hear--and it actually takes "most people" a lot longer than that.

    But if you meant veteran FPS player (say somebody who's played 20+ FPS games) versus veteran adventure gamer--you maybe a bit more accurate.

    @ShaggE said: 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).

    Regardless of ShaggE's contention that HL episodes are actually shorter than (or on par with) Sam and Max episodes, if one is to declare that the sale price of an item represents its real price, then a Sam and Max episode is actually priced less than $6 an episode [$5.83]--and thus less than 2/3rds the "real price" of a Half-Life episode.

    That Half-Life episode actually costs $19.95 right now by the way... so the non-sale comparison (non-real price? fake price?) would mean that a Sam and Max episode [$8.95] costs less than 45% the price of a Half-Life episode--even more dramatic).

  • I love, that the game is episodic.
    I am always looking forward to play the next game, and I really love all the characters. I also like Sybil, who isn't the most loved character.
    The games are easy, yes. But that dosen't matter!
    They are very entertaining!! Greate humor!
    I was very sceptical when I first heard that sam and max were going to be episodic.
    But now I think it's the best thing, that could happen to it.

  • I don't know.. HL episode1-
    gamespy said-"With about four to five hours of new gameplay,"
    Gamespot said-" featuring only four to six hours of gameplay;"
    Eurogamer-"Given that Episode One will only clock in at around five hours on most people's first run-through"

  • @shadow9d9 said: I don't know.. HL episode1-
    gamespy said-"With about four to five hours of new gameplay,"
    Gamespot said-" featuring only four to six hours of gameplay;"
    Eurogamer-"Given that Episode One will only clock in at around five hours on most people's first run-through"

    Some of the reviews have the nerve to say it'll take 4-5 hours when it is clearly not the case, btw. They are just quoting what was told to them it seems. 90 minutes cannot be extended to 4-5 hours unless you go idle(in the brain). Don't take this literally! It is just my opinion!

  • @numble said: Some of the reviews have the nerve to say it'll take 4-5 hours when it is clearly not the case, btw. They are just quoting what was told to them it seems. 90 minutes cannot be extended to 4-5 hours unless you go idle(in the brain). Don't take this literally! It is just my opinion!

    I own the game, just haven't gotten around to playing it.. i'll just ask my friend later on.

    HL2 itself was very long and I'm pretty sure I would have heard tons of complaints if episode 1 was only an hour.

  • I have to say that I mostly agree with a lot of the points made so far (even Kunkku-Antti and shadow9d9! :eek: ;))

    I do believe the games so far was too easy and making the difficulty harder will make them more enjoyable. I think this point has been argued extensively and the developers surely are aware of our feelings on this.

    I also notice that there are mixed feelings on Bosco and Sybil. This is fine, but hopefully there are going to be more recurring characters in future episodes (I hope Hugh Bliss! I'm also betting on Chuckles). My point was that recurring characters (and inside references to previous episodes) are something that can be uniquely handled by the episodic nature.

    What I love about it though, is having a new (albeit short) story every month to explore and enjoy. Another thing I agree on is the point on user feedback. One thing we should remember, though, is that because of the 3 month development period for each episode, user feedback is probably first going to make an impact on episode 4 onwards. I think this is where most of the fighting is originating from. Users feel Telltale is ingoring their comments, because they can't see any results. I do believe (hope?) that from episode 4 we will all see that the developers ARE listening!

    Finally, I'm glad to see positive and constructive comments on this thread, and that we havent reverted to insult slinging again. I do believe criticism is important, especially when it can influence future releases. Ignoring the problems won't make them go away, but resorting to rudeness and vulgarity isn't going to help either (Max might disagree though!).

  • Clearly the advantage is getting a new game in just a month! So while I've been disappointed with episode 2 and 3.. I know episode 4,5 and 6 are coming very soon, and they are apparently longer and more difficult.

  • @numble said: I would challenge that assertion that "most people" can finish S&M in one hour--they do a lot of playtests and focus tests with timers etc, from what I hear--and it actually takes "most people" a lot longer than that.

    But if you meant veteran FPS player (say somebody who's played 20+ FPS games) versus veteran adventure gamer--you maybe a bit more accurate.

    Sorry, I didn't clarify. Indeed I did mean veteran vs. veteran. And I'm just going by past complaints, where many say they get about an hour/hour and a half out of S&M. I probably shouldn't have made it look like I was stating a hard fact.

  • I think the episodic format is fascinating as it allows user feedback in an entirely unprecidented way.

    It makes the entire project much more dynamic and ends up leaving the people who follow the project feel like they've got more influence. It's neat.

    There's a lot of drawbacks, and most of them are that nobody but Telltale has been able to keep a schedule. And for that, I certainly applaud Telltale.


    I think the episodic format serves Sam and Max very well. The chracters work best in short chunks. Trying to do a long sprawling storyline with the characters would be very difficult because they tend to be so tangenty. Granted they pulled it off on the original game, but that doesn't mean it should always be the case.

    I do agree the games are a bit too easy, but once season one is done, if it's sucessful enough to warrant a season two, you can be certain that the folks at Telltale are going to keep that in mind when designing the next season. After all length, repetitivness and simplicity have been the chief complaints, and they've shown that they do care about input.

    I'm excited where this leads, and I think considering how very experamental episodic games are at this time, Sam and Max is generally pretty sucessful. It's got room to improve but that's to it being episodic, it CAN.

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