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A very different kind of episode

posted by Mario on - last edited - Viewed by 747 users

When I first heard that Sam & Max were to return in an episodic format, I thought of it as something like the "next best thing". We wouldn’t get another full price game, but at least we would get something. While playing, I realized that episodic games are not necessarily inferior to regular ones, but merely different. Telltale has used the format to its advantage by including concepts like running gags (the birthday guy) or epsiode or even season spanning story archs (the relationship between Sybil and Abe).

There is another advantage I’d love to see being fully capitalized on: the absolute freedom to experiment. Telltale now has the opportunity to try out things that maybe are too risky for a full price game. If such an episode isn’t so well received – no big problem, I doubt that somebody who liked the first 9 or so games is going to quit after the 10th didn’t appeal to him. If an episode with a different approach to it succeeds though, it can really help to increase interest in the series and keep it from becoming stale.

I’m thinking of concepts like an episode wholly in black and white. This could look wonderful, with lovely lightning and shadow effects. Or maybe a Rashomon-style story, for which Sam & Max provide the different viewpoints. Or maybe just an episode with a different tone.

I’m sure the designers can come up with more interesting ideas. Basically, I just want to say that I would love to play a really experimental episode. I like the current ones very much, but something different now and than would be very cool indeed.

21 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • @Jake said: I believe Hit the Road had that as well.

    Honestly? I never knew! Anyway, there is a huge difference between simply draining the colour from a game and deliberately presenting black and white aesthetics.


    I can definitely see a a Rashomon style adventure game going horribly wrong, but I think there are tremendous comedic and dramatic possibilities.

  • @Mario said: but I think there are tremendous comedic and dramatic possibilities.

    Oh please not a red-handed joke...

  • You're seriously right about an experiment going wrong wouldn't affect things to much. I have no problem with everything right now, I think the guys are doing a great job. But when I think about it, it would be interesting to see something different. Perhaps if they tried to take part of an episode and do it and see the response. That could work out real well.

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    Jake Telltale Alumni

    another classic entry in "just one guy's opinion..."

    The idea of doing an all black and white noir episode has been thrown around since the day it was announced that Telltale was doing a Sam & Max game (the night before Boneville shipped)... probably before that (but I wasn't there before that so I wouldn't know). It may have been discussed even earlier than that! So, if we do enough of these, it'll probably happen, right? Who knows.

    That said, I think we've done some things that people weren't expecting with the series. For instance, I think Reality 2.0 definitely pushed beyond people's expectations of where the series could go stylistically. I think last season was a lot of just sort of feeling out what the real boundaries were for a Sam & Max episode - I feel like people took a semi-educated guess at setting them with Culture Shock, and then kept poking at them throughout the hear, hitting a good point with Lincoln Must Die and then getting a bit daring with Reality 2.0. Season Two, from where I'm sitting as an occasionally-involved observer, is about pushing the storytelling you can pull off, both in a single episode, and long-form season-wide plotting. Last year was a string of hypnosis cases which slowly spiraled out from the street and nearby shady businesses to slightly more exotic locales, but Season Two has been about trying to basically see how far you can go, how disparate you can make things from one moment to the next, how much twisting and non-sequitur can you cram into 3 hours before it pops. These, to me, are some of the core questions about how games of this length on this schedule can work, and they're probably important things to figure out before going entirely nuts with the window dressing.

    Of course, sweet window dressing is nice too, and while I know we haven't (yet) done anything as crazy as Reality 2.0 or an Episode Noir or something this year, I think we've definitely been pushing the envelope on visuals in our episodes.

  • Well, if you want test the black and white option. Do not just reduce the saturation. Try a Sin City (movie) approach, where white, black and few colors are used to improve the contrast. I think it may be cool.

  • @ezzetabi said: Well, if you want test the black and white option. Do not just reduce the saturation. Try a Sin City (movie) approach, where white, black and few colors are used to improve the contrast. I think it may be cool.

    Just don't have white blood (that was lame.)

  • I really like what you've been doing this season in terms of twists in the story. It definitely creates much more interesting stories, and ones that you become really invested in. Especially the stinger in 203. Also the 'globe trotting' nature of the adventures are something I'd been hoping for after Season 1, as it makes Sam and Max seem much more important than just guys who wander around their street beating up thugs.

  • @Jake said:
    That said, I think we've done some things that people weren't expecting with the series. For instance, I think Reality 2.0 definitely pushed beyond people's expectations of where the series could go stylistically.

    I just want to add that Reality 2.0 was very well received, so the experimental approach definitely paid off.

  • @tobar said: Just don't have white blood (that was lame.)


    Why do you say so?

    According to the Sin City authors the blood is sometime white, sometime red and sometime black because the b/w 'red' is very dark and so often hard to see, moreover the 'always red' option was discarded because some scenes would be too much colorful.

    The blood color argument is actually pretty unimportant since Sam and Max shows almost no blood (Sibyl's one maybe? ;) .)
    I think the Sin City idea probably the only way to make a black and white media without going back 70 years.

  • Black and white can save something quite a lot. I have the game Nosferatu. First person shooter game, kinda bland, but everything is gloomy, can't recall if it's black and white, but it has a dust filter over it which makes it look like an old old movie, spoken text is as far as I recall on cue cards like in the trailer for sam & max. And according to the blurb the levels are randomly put together when you play it. Not that good FPS. Not good graphics, but the effect makes it very playable, just like a bad movie is no good, but a B-movie can come out on the other side of bad.

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