Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by WilHarris, 30 Dec 2006.
I think SiN proved how the episodes can fail because of lack of demand for the next, something that half-life will probably never have. For me hl2 ep1 and the upcoming epsodes are a formality because they have the familiar name, characters and locations along with valves stamp of quality.
Perhaps games should only be continued in episodes if a prior 'full' release is successful and at the same time devs/distributors should not try to palm off episodes as full games so that they will sell regardless of promised sequels etc
However fps games have a problem of content, ep1 was 'only' 4 hours of gameplay something that an avid fan would not expect from a full release, also multiplayer aspects of games have to be good as well as have lasting appeal to pull people away from the likes of CS or even MMO's (Like battlefields ranking).
Valve seem to have realised this with their simple DM for HL2 and nothing much for ep1 however with their history and experience along with a 4(?) year old concept in the bank they can bring out what should be an awesome multiplayer companion to ep2 (selling packages wise).
On the subject of content its hard to judge its quality purely on 'development time' because (as with hl2) alot of that time 'used' to be bundled with creating the game engine itself but with valves source etc its easier for devs to pickup an engine and just grind out the actual playable content with minor tweaks to gameplay mechanics - something that could and will produce samey crapola if not done properly (is SiN guilty of this ?)
With this in mind is SiN's 2 hours fairly ridiculous for any amount of money ? One guy could have made a game a similar length (DaveJ's custom eps for HL1 for example) and where is the next episode as it surely has been completed long ago ?! Surely for these extremely 'bitsize' episodes they have to come out more regularly than SiN had planned.
Bring on the episodes and fortresses of the team variety, RIP SiN you just weren't good enough !
YAY first post
Sam N Max is episodic, but has implemented a cool twist. You can buy each episode, or you can pay them 35 bucks now for every episode(which ends up being cheaper than buying each individually), which you can download as they're released. When they're all done, they send you a CD copy of them as well. I went ahead and paid the 35 bucks and I think it's a brilliant system. In addition, the first episode is freaking great.
I think the only point of episodic content is to extend on a game you already love by adding more to the storyline. It's a bit like the Harry Potter books: the main framework is set into place in the first book, and if you like it you'll probably get the second, third etc. to see what happens. I totally agree that a game has to be a "full" release in itself before it can hope to spawn successful add-on episodes. TBH I think the difference between episodes and expansions is that episodes add less to the game and more to the story, and there's usually more of them. That in itself is a brilliant concept, IMHO.
Providing they finish it and the developers don't decide to do something else in the mean time or someone buys them out or someone leaves and the team goes to pot. Like Brett said, once they have that money off you, what incentive do they have to finish it. If they can then release another game with a huge hype and say "oh, Sam and Max is still coming, it's just a bit late" then people will buy into that as well. This is in an industry renowned for missed deadlines.
Why not just wait til it's finished, play other games in the mean time and then play the whole thing once it's done.
Expansions are different from episodic, as long as those (episodic) expansions offer a concise gameplay in themselves. But even Valve has slipped quite significantly for Episode 2.
I think they could probably use more work on the pricing in general, but the episodic content released thus far hasn't been that badly priced for the time and fun involved, there are plenty of "full" games that are worse and give a lot less for your cash.
It might have something to do with the exchange rate too though .. Ep1/Emergeance worked out to £7-10 each where RRP of pc games here is £30-£35 with play.com usually discounting to £25 and console games having an RRP more like £35-£50.
While we are on the somewhat silly topic of "Fun per pound" though, I have to big up psychonauts .. I paid $20 for it off steam last week (£11.50 ish since they have started charging V.A.T. on top of the list price now on steam) and it provided around about 20 hours of witty, funny, enjoyment - pretty rare in games these days.
I don't know the answer to that, but I do think Steam (and any other platforms like Steam) are great for this kind of thing. Much better than driving to BestBuy to pick up a smaller game. But then again, I think Steam is great in general, so long as it doesn't go belly up I can install my games anywhere, any time, on any computer.
But the 'belly up' part worries me a bit. No company enjoys eternal life.. Indeed, maybe not a horrible idea to spin Steam off and make it a non-profit.
Anyway, I love Episodic games. Episode 1 was a bite-size, easily digestable game. I paid $19.95, then got extremely angry when I saw it on sale for 9.99 the next day, but, alas. For those of us who arent 15 and more, isn't it much easier to set aside a few hours to knock out a pithy, fun-packed episode than it is to drop a whole extended weekend on a full game? There's room for both types, but I'd rather market forces fix the pricing rather than kill the entire concept. I think BitTech actually said most of what I just said in their review of Ep 1 themselves.
Oh, and good column! I was already vaguely aware of it after paying the 19.95, but it's something I tried not to really think about.
Excellent column. I liked the comparisons to shareware. =) Haven't bought any episodic titles yet, personally, but that's because neither SiN nor Half-Life interest me, and I haven't been able to convince myself to buy Sam & Max yet, although I hear it's great.
I dunno whether episodic gaming is better for developers — I suppose it might be since they have to work on smaller, less ambitious projects — but from the consumer's point of view, it's a total rip-off. There, I'm just restating what the article said, aren't I?
episodic content will only work if episodes can be released quickly an on time. I purchased HL2EP1 and am annoyed that EP2 isn't out already considering it's only a few extra levels!
recently I have taken to buying 99p pre owned games at gamestation, there very good value if you know what your looking for. I got spellforce order of dawn and america mcgee's alice for 99p (they had buy one get one free aswell!). far better value than anything from steam.
They talk about how doing it in episodes will speed up release dates, well they have been quicker there are still plenty of delays. I would rather wait a little longer and have my nice long game. Its not as much fun when you play the game and realise you didnt loose track of time and stay up playing untill its time to go to work.
This is just a matter of scale, you see. One Valve year equates to three Earth years. If the game takes .33 Valve years to produce, then yes, it is faster than historically possible.
Gametap are providing the backbone for Sam & Max, along with Myst Online: Uru Live (Which is in Open(ish) beta at the moment).
And, with MO:UL, they are promising 1 new age per month. AND MO:UL is included within the standard Gametap subscription. ANDMO:UL will be available outside GT regions as fast as they can set them up!
So, when you join you get the whole of Uru: Ages Beyond Myst to play, as well as Ae'gura and Bevin, and you can invite people to come into your personal ages to play multi-player (Which helps with some of the puzzles, let me tell you!).
But, Uru Live is not new. It was originally part of Ages Beyond Myst, but UBISoft dropped the ball majorly (Pulled the plug after no advertisement or revenue spent), and Cyan has been doing it's best to keep the community alive (Until URU, which was a cut-down version of the original Uru Live server that stand alone groups could run for their own "Shard"). Now it's got a home with AOL/Time Warner/Gametap (Yes, GameTap is owned by AOL), and so far things are going really well.
Fantastic article - reminded me why I read bitTech. Hit the nail straight on the head.
One thing I'd like to add: what takes time when creating a game? Building the engine or building the artwork? When they released SIN they HAD to have the engine finalized, they HAD to have most of the textures ready.
That leaves what? Some level design, some scripting, maybe a few new textures for the new weapons. Not exactly expensive to produce compared to the rest. And that was the idea all along: release the game on the cheap, but overcharge for the following 'episodes'.
The beginning of that article doesn't seem right to me. It makes perfect economic sense for a company to want to charge its customers over time, rather than spend a year and a half making a product and hope that the payout comes at the end. And the comparison to the way a bank works is based purely on the way you look at it, and isn't a very good comparison any way. A bank and game company are both businesses offering products/services to customers. But you get a loan from a bank if you need money now that you know you'll be able to pay off eventually. You get the money you want now, but you pay for it later at a greater cost over time through interest. Like it was said, present money is worth more than future money. Today when buying from a game company, there are the two routes we've become familiar with: episodic and full-package. We can start playing the game now through episodic content and pay a greater cost over time, like loaning from a bank. Or you can wait for a full-package and pay a lower cost after waiting the entire production period. That doesn't seem at all backwards.
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