Episodic gaming - a pie-in-the-sky dream?

Discussion in 'PC Gaming' started by Rainbow Man, Apr 13, 2007.

  1. Rainbow Man

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    Edit: could a mod please move to PC forum wheer I intended this thread to end up? Kkthx! :cool:

    Well we know what's happened with episodic content on the PC. It seems cursed doesn't it.

    Sin became..well..nothing really. And Half-Life episode 2 is now delayed AGAIN agfter not even coming anywhere near the previous estimated delayed release date of "summer" 07. It's now said september. MAYBE.

    I wouldn't hold my breath. I guess I can expect the game to have been released before september 08 but who can say for sureat this point.

    So is episodic gaming just aplain stupid idea?

    Seems to me the shorter the episodes the less gets done. It was now several years since Half-Life was released. In the time that has passed Valve will have spent almost as much time as with the original Half-Life2 and will have developed a lot less content than the previous game which spanned many many levels.

    It feels as if they fiddle too much with details instead of just getting on with stuff.

    I also notice no other devs have really jumped on the episodic bandwagon.

    Is it because they don't have a Steam equivalent for content delivery? Or could it be that episodic just like I suspect breeds an uncoordinated and "choppy" development process that lacks long-term cohesion and structure?

    Peace.
     
    #1 Rainbow Man, Apr 13, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2007
  2. kyleb

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    I don't think it is a bad idea at all, rather Sin and Episode 1 just made episodic content look bad as both were very mediocre experiences. On the other hand I can think of a lot of other games that I would have been happy to play broken up into two or three eposoides, and would be interested in further episodes for them as well.
     
  3. Skrying

    Skrying S K R Y I N G
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    Just because the idea was not executed well does not mean the idea was bad. Sometimes that concept is hard for people to grasp...
     
  4. TheAlSpark

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    The devs of Sam and Max are doing pretty well with the concept. They're already close to releasing the 6th episode (final episode of "season 1"). I've been waiting for them to finish the series before I plunge for the full set.
     
  5. _xxx_

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    I hoped to see more of Sin Episodes, I hate it that Ritual went belly up.

    Episodic content would work well if you'd have the completely finished engine from the get go and just keep churning out new levels and stuff, but it surely won't work if you develop major stuff further each time. Consumes too much time and resources.
     
  6. Rodéric

    Rodéric a.k.a. Ingenu
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    I like the idea, it may work, but execution will need be done well.

    As for HL²:Ep One, I like it very much, it's like concentrated HL² goodness.
     
  7. LunchBox

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    I don't like it.

    It's like getting blue balled... but worse...
     
  8. Davros

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    i hate the idea too
    its just selling you a game for more money
     
  9. pcchen

    pcchen Moderator
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    IMHO, episode gaming is only viable after a certain platform is ready. That is, in the case of Sam and Max, it uses the same engine (platform) for all episodes. It's just like that for a TV program the producers use the same tools for all episodes. They generally don't create new tools on the fly because that would be too expensive.

    Feature length movies, on the other hand, especially the larger budget ones, do use new tools which are developed specially for the movie. This is like a "normal game" where new technologies and engines are developed specially for it.

    When a platform is ready, I think there are several advantages for "episode gaming:" each "episodes" are cheaper, therefore you can test drive the game for less price to see whether you like it or not. The development time can also be shorter, because all contents do not need to be ready at once, the developers can do it one by one. For developers, the risk is less, because if an idea doesn't work out, they can ditch it earlier without committing too much resources on it.

    Of course, the price structure will be the key. "Episode gaming" should be very cheap, otherwise people will think it's a rip off. Ideally it should be free and supported by in game ads. For people who don't like in game ads they can pay for a small fee (a few dollars for an episode, for example). And people will still buy full games just like people will still go to movie theaters to watch movies.
     
  10. Arwin

    Arwin Now Officially a Top 10 Poster
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    As content go up versus engine design in terms of relative costs, I think episodic gaming will become increasingly viable. Of course, some genres lend themselves to this more than others, but the general principel of it isn't that different from being able to download new maps or weapons for a multiplayer FPS game.

    Sam & Max are doing a good job in showing how it can be done, and I think it's just the start. Soon enough, you'll have game 'pilots', the success of which will determine whether you'll get to play a whole 'season'. ;)
     
  11. Rainbow Man

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    Fox Force Five maybe? :cool:


    Seriousyl heh.. I'd forgotten all about Sam and Max. Probably because that game doesn't interest me the slightest. Humor games never struck much of a chord with me. But it seems as if the series is well executed. Unlike others. *Ahem*
    Peace.
     
  12. D3v0ur3r

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    Personally I am not really a fan of the idea so far. I think the only way it could work is if they took a page out of HBO, & most TV series shows where I think the majority or all episodes for a season are shot, edited & done well before the season starts. This way they can work on patches & new games during the release of the currently done game episodes. Btw, I think 4 to 6 months would have to be the maximum time frame between episodes being released. I am pretty happy I didn't buy the first HL2 episode just for the very reason its been far to long a wait for the next. I had little interest to begin with & now I have absolutely no interest in the HL2 episodes. Unfortunately I did buy the one & only Sin episode which not only sucked so bad that I couldn't bring myself to even finish it & now looks to never get finished.

    No thanks to "episode" gaming. Isn't what we call say "Doom 2" Quake 2, Half Life 2, & so on really just episodes on a proven scale anyway?
     
  13. Dresden

    Dresden Celebrating Mediocrity
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    Episodic gaming is the deathknell to videogames. One of the nicest features of having a sequel is, well, the introduction of updated graphics/physics. One thing that really bothers me about the Half Life episodes is they're all mirror images of 2. That leaves the gamer with little wow factor anymore, and I know Valve focuses highly on plot, but frankly I've seen it all as far as Half Life 2 is concerned. There was speculation the reasoning behind the continual episodes was intended to prevent Valve from having to make another game entirely, which is a little insulting. If that's the case they should have ended the series with 2.

    *edit* What does pie-in-the-sky mean anyway?
     
    #13 Dresden, Apr 13, 2007
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  14. D3v0ur3r

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    Basically it means. A high and lofty goal that is too idealistic to become a reality.
     
  15. TheAlSpark

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    simply Ludicrous!

    That's exactly how I feel about the subject. There's this obsession with updating the engine and implementing it in-game - a perpetual incomplete feature set - only to delay development further as the designers have to learn new things instead of just pumping out content. Between "Seasons" for TV series is typically where the enhancements are made, not episode to episode.

    When Sam and Max Season 1 is finally released and the devs think it's viable to work on Season 2, I expect them to do enhancements and optimizations or whatever they feel appropriate to differentiate Season 2. The development of Sam and Max is exactly that - episodic. They're releasing content as they work on finishing what would otherwise be a normal game that is consistent technically from beginning to end. At the same time it focuses development as each episodic release is a target to be reached in the development cycle.

    And.... I'm probably reiterating too much. :p
     
    #15 TheAlSpark, Apr 13, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2007
  16. SugarCoat

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    I completely agree, i think valve is squeezing entirely too much out of the engine that was considered ground breaking four years ago. I understand its their pride and joy but showing that they cant even release 4-6 hour additions to the origonal game in a timely mannor makes me really wonder when we'll ever see Source Engine 2 and a true HL3 and hopefully a just end to the title as well so we can see what else they have to offer. Hope they dont pull a Remedy and drop it all of a sudden like they did with Max Payne 2. Hopefully this last release of Ep2 +TFC2 (i havent bought Ep1 either) singals the end to the Source engine in its current form. Valve can absolutly continue to pump out episodes, and im sure they'll sell quite well, but in the end what makes the huge news and personally gets the biggest thrill out of me is running the game and seeing its newness for the first time on my own PC. Ep1/Ep2 simply cant hope to match the initial brilliance i saw in HL2 during my very first couple hours playing.
     
  17. L233

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    "Episodic content"

    appears to be little more than a euphemism for

    "let's chunk up a game's content into smaller pieces and sell it off piecemeal so we can maintain cashflow during developement and turn in a higher total profit than with a boxed game"
     
  18. Sobek

    Sobek Locally Operating
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    Bingo!

    I'd much prefer a consolidated, lengthened gameplay experience. Even if it means waiting years for it...because at least then it gets the polish it needs and almost always provides more in the way of 'sidequests' (so-to-speak in an FPS sense) and little neat features. What pissed me off most about Ep1 wasn't that it was just a pathetic rehash of the final missions of HL2, but rather that it was super-super-linear. In the normal HL2 campaign, there were plenty of times when you could just stop, turn away, walk over the next hill and find something cool to play with. Even in the Citadel...I just finished it a few days ago with the Cinematic Mod and I still found new areas i'd never seen the first time I played.

    Ep1? On rails. Go here, go there, don't explore, we don't like that. The pitch-black elevator sequence had some side-areas, but nothing terribly worth finding.

    I really feel there needs to just be a simple HL3, with none of this episodic BS inbetween. It needs time, and plenty of it, to inspire innovation much like HL2. Expand on the incredible artwork Valve, it's what we want! :smile:
     
  19. ANova

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    QFT, which is exactly what I said to begin with.

    I can't for the life of me understand how content that's supposed to feature around 6-8 hours of gameplay take as long to develop as EP2 continues to do, regardless of the add-ons. I never liked episodic content and I certainly don't now.
     
  20. Quitch

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    I thought Episode One was great, it was an advancement in all the right directions and fixed many of the problems I found in Half-Life 2. Had Valve managed to keep to a four to six month deadline I would declare the experiment a resounding success.

    It hasn't been.

    We're approaching, what, eighteen months? And isn't Episode Two being developed by a second team anyway? This makes me wonder if it's Episode Two delaying the shipping, or TF2/Portal. This also raises the point of what's the point of episodic gaming if it's going to just be bundle deals to hit the same retail price as normal? I want Episode Two, and let's not mess around, I'm going to buy it regardless. But Team Fortress 2? Not interested. It just means the games have to be that much better to justify me purchasing elements I may not want.

    I enjoyed the first third of SiN Episodes Emergence, because it's obvious that's where the work had gone in. After that it kinda devolved into tedious level design. However, I saw one thing here I'd like to see again, and that's high difficulty... or rather a great breadth of difficulty. If you're only going to give me a small chunk, at least let me make it bloody hard so I can really challenge myself for that short period, and where even an inch of progress means a lot due to relative size.

    Still, after my experiences I find myself just wishing for a full game. I want to immerse myself in the world for a weekend, not an afternoon.
     
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