Telltale Autumn Sale

The End of Episodic Gaming at Telltale?

edited September 2011 in General Chat
(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.
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Comments

  • edited August 2011
    I love episodic gaming. It's like Christmas for half a freaking year. I love the expectation, and the wait.
  • Blind SniperBlind Sniper Moderator
    edited August 2011
    I think that if Telltale were to abandon monthly episodic gaming, than the reason would be technical issues rather than an effect of debating the worth of episodic gaming. From several articles and interviews I have read about Telltale, I always hear about their fascination with the episodic structure and the fact that they specifically like making stories in small bits rather than a full story at once. That, and there is also the fact that many people see Telltale as the pioneers of episodic gaming in a sense so I highly doubt Telltale would so easily give up episodic games.

    Granted, however, I do think that abandoning the episodic model would have it's benefits, as various traits of the episodic games such as reusing character models for multiple characters, small locations, and a somewhat lack of depth compared to old adventure games would hopefully make way for better, more in depth games with more time in the oven so to speak. (I still do like the current model however, I'm just saying both have their ups and downs.)
  • edited August 2011
    Given that I only tend to buy Telltale's games sometime after they've released all the episodes (generally when it's on sale), I'm not really bothered either way. But it seems a shame that Microsoft forced them to change a practice that's been working so well for them (actually, I've not heard that before. Any chance of a link to back this up?).

    If I had to choose, I'd like them to continue the episodic route. It lets them incorporate feedback into later episodes (the new dialogue lines in Sam & Max for example, or getting LeChuck back) and makes the whole thing feel more epic having to wait for the conclusion of the cliffhangers, much like a TV show.

    But hey ho. We'll have to see.
  • edited August 2011
    I found the whole episodic concept amusing at first, but to be perfectly honest I prefer the normal approach to making adventure games. Episodic adventure-games is just too limited in my opinion. It feels more like 5 separate games rather than one coherent story; each episode tends to have its own mini-story that doesn't necessarily tie in that well with the game as a whole.
    You have small locations as opposed to a large game world to explore.
    You can't have multiple endings or a story that branches depending on the choices you make in-game.
    Non-episodic games make for larger games with more opportunities.
  • edited August 2011
    I only play the games after they've released all the episodes. I think for some content episodic is fine, especially the lesser known properties, but some deserve to epic. Sam and Max and especially Monkey Island need full game releases.
  • edited August 2011
    I hope not, at least for the PC versions anyway. I hope that these deals mean that the PC versions will come out first in episodic format then the consoles getting the retail release at the same time the final episode is released on PC.

    But stuff like this article has me a little concerned as I'm not sure if Microsoft are just really concerned with titles released first on the Playstation or if PC first releases are also part of it.
  • edited August 2011
    I don't really mind myself.

    Just as long as the pre-order period isn't too long, (as it would drive me crazy).

    I think being able to work on all episodes before they go live would benefit Telltale quite a bit.

    It means the storyline can be tweaked to be more coherent, bugs in the earlier episodes can be fixed, and maybe more dynamic things can be implemented!
  • edited August 2011
    I'd be happy if they did away with episodic games. But I doubt it'll happen entirely. They were quite adamant about that formula for a long time. Since the creation of the company. And they're still preaching it up. I just don't see it going away despite the signs.
  • edited August 2011
    Keep in mind that even their CSI games are episodic in nature, despite the retail only releases.
  • edited August 2011
    Truth be told, Jurassic Park is the biggest franchise Telltale is and will tackle, and would do well with a retail release. However, Walking Dead and Fables are both fairly niche, and King's Quest would do terribly in a retail marketplace.
  • edited August 2011
    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%!
  • edited August 2011
    See?
  • edited August 2011
    But that WAS my fear!
  • edited August 2011
    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%!

    Ah. Thanks for giving us an official word on the matter. :)
  • JakeJake Telltale Alumni
    edited August 2011
    We've made retail versions of many of our games in the past -- Sam & Max Season 1, 2, Strong Bad, Wallace & Gromit, and others, have come out at retail as disc releases. In the past, though, all console retail releases have been published by other publishers. We're moving more and more to do our own console retail publishing. When it's just us involved, we have more control over the presentation of the product and there are fewer middlemen.
  • edited August 2011
    I hope Telltale does retail and episodic gaming. I loved playing Monkey Island all the way through without the wait, but I cannot imagine playing Sam & Max in a non-monthly-wait format after playing The Devil's Playhouse. I'm actually considering buying the Xbox 360 version of Jurrassic Park but only play an episode a month, even though I'll probably finish it in one night!
  • edited August 2011
    We're absolutely not moving away from the episodic model at all! We're committed to it 100%!

    But that is our fear.
  • edited August 2011
    Sah-weet
  • edited August 2011
    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%!

    Isn't it more like 80 or 90 percent committed if you're releasing even one game non-episodically?
  • edited August 2011
    der_ketzer wrote: »
    But that is our fear.

    Quoted for truth.
  • edited August 2011
    LuigiHann wrote: »
    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.
  • edited August 2011
    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 ...
  • edited August 2011
    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.
  • edited August 2011
    tbm1986 wrote: »
    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 :)
  • edited August 2011
    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.
  • edited August 2011
    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.
  • edited August 2011
    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. ;)
  • edited August 2011
    I don't really mind the episodic games, but I would happily plunk down my money for a big, full-sized adventure game, too.
  • edited August 2011
    tbm1986 wrote: »
    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.
  • edited August 2011
    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.
  • edited August 2011
    ok when you make an episodic season it is almost always plagued with issues. First the games have a deadline which is not a really good thing to have if you want to make a quality game. Also it forces the makers to make the ending of the episode dramatic, which does not always work out.
  • edited August 2011
    I highly agree with Musically Inspired in this thread.
  • edited August 2011
    I feel like designing a game episodically, then putting it on a disk and releasing it all at once is kind of a "worst of both worlds" scenario, unless they were actually using the disc's storage space to increase the size of the game's world and such. Since the game is still going to be released episodically on iPad I'm guessing we're going to get all of the downsides of episodic gaming with none of the benefits.

    Now granted I do enjoy chapter-based storytelling in games, so I'm not really complaining that they're sticking with that format. I just think it's a bit of an oddity here
  • edited August 2011
    Jon NA wrote: »
    I think for games like S&M S3 and ToMI the episodic format was forced,

    Forced? How?! Don't you remember those fantastic cliffhangers? THEY STOLE MAX'S BRAIN! UNHOLY THIS!
  • edited August 2011
    UNHOLY THIS! was one of the best and awesomest gaming cliffhangers I've ever experienced.
    I'm still kicking myself that I didn't see it coming.
    I mean.... he... four games.... how did I miss that?
    And then the wait full of anticipation for the next part? Yeah, that was hard! (That's what she said. She lied.)

    So yeah, needless to say, if this is what TTG continues to do I'm all for it! :D

    So what's the next game coming out? Jurassic Park?
  • edited August 2011
    Talahar wrote: »
    UNHOLY THIS! was one of the best and awesomest gaming cliffhangers I've ever experienced.
    I'm still kicking myself that I didn't see it coming.
    I mean.... he... four games.... how did I miss that?
    And then the wait full of anticipation for the next part?

    I watched the end for Episode 4 every day until Episode 5 was released. It was epic.
  • edited August 2011
    Yes ok I must admit I loved UNHOLY THIS! in TMI but imo S&M 304 could easily have wrapped up the S&M season.
  • edited August 2011
    tbm1986 wrote: »
    Yes ok I must admit I loved UNHOLY THIS! in TMI but imo S&M 304 could easily have wrapped up the S&M season.

    Agreed. In fact, it was a better ending than 305.
  • edited August 2011
    Trenchfoot wrote: »
    Agreed. In fact, it was a better ending than 305.

    Agreed. I'd happily wipe my memory of 305 altogether. I liked the music, what they did to the lighting in the inner brain, Sybil's entrance and that's about it.
  • edited August 2011
    tbm1986 wrote: »
    Yes ok I must admit I loved UNHOLY THIS! in TMI but imo S&M 304 could easily have wrapped up the S&M season.

    That doesn't argue against episodes in general, though, only against one particular episode!
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