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The End of Episodic Gaming at Telltale?

posted by RAnthonyMahan on - last edited - Viewed by 552 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
  • @coolsome said: I dunno I still love Monkey Island 2.



    MI 2 had a really good ending.

    "The Whispered World" has a horrible ending.

  • Agreed with Coolsome that MI2 has a bad ending.

    Whispered World's is about on par with MI2's only because they give you the illusion of choice and then take it from you.

  • Sam and Max: The Devil's Playhouse was fantastic, and was my first time playing a Telltale game while it was still being released. As long as the episodes are released regularly, I don't mind an episodic format.

    Having the Playhouse all at once would lessen the tension between episodes.

  • @der_ketzer said: MI 2 had a really good ending.



    I highly disagree.

  • @Alcoremortis said: Seriously, I was actually rather relieved that the thing even had a use in the end, and happy that it's use sorta wrapped up the story nicely.



    I was mostly annoyed that the first time I tried to use it in the exact same way, it didn't let me.

    About episodic gaming, I kind of think it would work best without seasons. I don't see it happening, especially when DVDs are made for each season, but I like the idea of completely independent game that have no order to them. In the Ace Attorney games for instance, I tend to prefer the case that are NOT completely tied together. For instance the Mask DeMasque one in the third game is the only one that's not part of the main plot of that game, and the only one I actually liked :p. This being said, it does use continuity by reusing characters and items from previous games, but it's still much more independent than the others.

    I guess my point is that I would probably enjoy the episodes more if each was its own game. I feel like telltale is often a "worst of both worlds" kind of option. In this case, not a full-length season (episodes limit the environment you can have, and things need to be done in some order at the very least to fit within each episode) but no completely independent episodes either (so you pretty much still have to play them in order and get them all to really follow what's going on. I mean technically you can play them independently, but technically you can also read any book starting in the middle).
    Similarly I don't enjoy their take on the game/movies mix thing either. I've already talked about that though, probably don't need to parrot myself :p

    I appreciate that they're trying to do something new, but it seems a bit like someone going "I like movies... I like books... Let's mix them up!". You could end up with something like comic books (please, no need to point out how inaccurate I am about the origin of comic books :p) and that would be awesome, but if you just show pages on a movie screen and flip them, it's going to take from both media.

    So if telltale really was 100% committed to episodic games (or I should say, what I envision when I think "episodic games"), I would actually think that's cool. But I don't think they are. They're committed to games that they can release bit by bit, which is slightly different.

    That's not to say I think big epic stories divided into chapters can't work. I do think they can. But it seems limiting to have to work within each episode. I don't understand how that works, granted, but doesn't that mean that in the end DVD you need to have the same environment every time they're in a chapter rather than just once? Doesn't that limit how much you can have? Instead of having five places to go to that you can access in every chapter, you're more likely to be able to access one per chapter, and that's potentially a problem for the "epic story" kind of game because you have to limit the plot to the one area you could include in that episode.

    Anyways. I think it would be cool if telltale decided to branch out and have some big-games that are divided into chapters but are sold as just one game with shared resources between episodes, and some other games that are completely independent and not grouped into seasons. But it doesn't sound like something they'd want and I have no idea if that would be practical or possible anyways.

  • I hope the monkeys Telltale are listening...

  • @DAISHI said: I liked Puzzle Agent 2's ending. I thought it was hilarious.



    In a good way or bad way? I was thinking of picking it up whilst preording The Walking Dead. (which is sounding cool [and I can't say 'looking cool' because we haven't really seen anything from it yet.])

  • To be honest even IF they decided in the future to not make episodic games I would still play them.... I wouldn't even really care either way... The biggest effect on me would be getting to talk to other fans on these boards WHILE the story was being told.

  • @Nintendo Boy1 said: In a good way or bad way? I was thinking of picking it up whilst preording The Walking Dead. (which is sounding cool [and I can't say 'looking cool' because we haven't really seen anything from it yet.])



    There's just a moment that's absurd and yet completely in tune with the game. It's a good ending for me.

  • My problem with the Guybrush stays in crossroads ending is if Lucas never license out MI again then Guybrush would be stuck there forever!

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