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The End of Episodic Gaming at Telltale?

posted by RAnthonyMahan on - last edited - Viewed by 1.9K 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
  • LuigiHann;536753 said:
    Isn't it more like 80 or 90 percent committed if you're releasing even one game non-episodically?
    A game is still episodic in nature if it's still made up of separate episodes even if they are all released at the same time.
  • The episodic approach worked for S&M Seasons 1 because the plot was actually divided into 6 chapters.
    I think for games like S&M S3 and ToMI the episodic format was forced, It wasn't really necessary.
    S&M S2 was something in between. Both episodic & non-episodic formats would work. Maybe that's why it's still the best game from TellTale ... Or at least the best S&M game from Telltale so-far ...
  • I'm hoping Fables will allow Telltale to explore the possibility of short stories that are only loosely connected (or at least connect at the end). This is what I've been saying for a while. Lately, they've been shoehorning single, large stories into the episodic model, which is the inverse of trying to put sugar cubes in an eggcup.
  • tbm1986;536836 said:
    I'm hoping Fables will allow Telltale to explore the possibility of short stories that are only loosely connected (or at least connect at the end). This is what I've been saying for a while. Lately, they've been shoehorning single, large stories into the episodic model, which is the inverse of trying to put sugar cubes in an eggcup.
    yes but the way that the storys dont connect anymore well bttf has a way because martys adventures in time r ment to be like this i mean they do got a cliffhanger but in the movies marty has no idea wat will happen to the different timelines socthe story cant connect because in the movies its like this also because doc makes a plan while marty looks around to see wat has changed so how exactly can this story connect well telltale made this connect same with sam and max season 3 it all connected actally all of telltales games i played save for puzzle agent 1 and 2 because i played puzzle agent 1 and didnt play 2 yet all have connected up with one and other :)
  • ryannumber1gamer;536840 said:
    yes but the way that the storys dont connect anymore well bttf has a way because martys adventures in time r ment to be like this i mean they do got a cliffhanger but in the movies marty has no idea wat will happen to the different timelines socthe story cant connect because in the movies its like this also because doc makes a plan while marty looks around to see wat has changed so how exactly can this story connect well telltale made this connect same with sam and max season 3 it all connected actally all of telltales games i played save for puzzle agent 1 and 2 because i played puzzle agent 1 and didnt play 2 yet all have connected up with one and other :)
    I think you've missed what I said. I said so far, their games have been connected all the way through, due to having a single plot. In order for the potential of episodic gaming to be utilised in the future, I think the episodes should not be one big game forcibly broken down.
  • I think it works. In the same way Star wars works as three (six) movies. In the same way you wouldn't want back to the future parts 2/3 as one film, despite the cliffhanger.
  • Alan Johnson;536584 said:
    Hey guys, just a quick note to assuage your fears/speculation/theories:

    We're absolutely not moving away from the episodic model at all! We're committed to it 100%!
    Yes, yes, smooth talk.

    Keep up illusion of promise until suckers have given money. ;)
  • I don't really mind the episodic games, but I would happily plunk down my money for a big, full-sized adventure game, too.
  • tbm1986;536844 said:
    I think you've missed what I said. I said so far, their games have been connected all the way through, due to having a single plot. In order for the potential of episodic gaming to be utilised in the future, I think the episodes should not be one big game forcibly broken down.
    That's exactly the way I prefer it, though. It's the closest we get to getting a full complete game from Telltale.
  • MusicallyInspired;536929 said:
    That's exactly the way I prefer it, though. It's the closest we get to getting a full complete game from Telltale.
    Wouldn't you rather see (not every time) what the episodic model can do exclusively? Atm it's imitating the one feature-length game model, being better in some ways, worse in others.
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