Have you guys ever thought about releasing game \"Episodes\"?

18
Tim Ruswick #1 89 2068

You know, this idea has been on my mind for a while. Its a big long hard scary process to finish a game and tell a complete story...but what if you broke up that story into chunks, kind of like a comic book. And then every month or so, you released a new "Episode" of teh game that the player could play thorugh. It could work on puzzle games with new and exciting levels, or story driven games that tell sections of a story. Have you guys ever thought about doing this? If so, what's your take on it?

12
Jimmy Hurstel #50 20 194

I have thought about doing this for a future project. It would mirror the same structure a television series does. A weekly ad supported web release. After the season was up I would discontinue that for exclusivity reasons and ship a premium digital "boxed" version for multiple platforms. If the series does pick up enough weekly gamers you could probably charge a pretty penny for advertisments. This is all in theory of course and very high level.

18
Tim Ruswick #1 89 2068

I think it would be well worth it. And also...I think there is less risk there too. If the game doesnt pick up steam, you can cancel it early rather than spend a ton of time making a whole game and have it be a flop.

13
Disturbing13 #73 20 215

I've thought about it myself and have helped friend with some of my horrible voice acting on my part with two of his eposodic games. They were the three part 'Tales of Cthulhu' and the three part 'Prince of Mars' series. It worked well for him. He got out the game he wanted to as well as guaged if he should continue according to how well or not well it was recieved. Each game was roughlt 4 to 5 levels long with some levels being purely for atmosphere and story telling. I personally think the idea is a completely great one. It would allow your projects and ideas to quite literally grow. Feedback from the previous editions could help improve each subsiquent edition.

12
AffinityChris #58 12 146

Episodic games are a strange thing, definitely. I think we don’t see them with as much frequency for two reasons: Limitations and Distribution. They make it rather difficult to have games that aren’t linear in story, or even translating mechanics can be a tricky thing – as people might perceive the episode to be too identical to the prior episode, or if the mechanics are too different they won’t necessarily draw as strong of a connection between episodes. But distribution seems tricky too, since there aren’t really many standard models of distribution that would effectively utilize that structure. If your episodes are big enough to sell as full games on places like steam or on other virtual markets, that’s not too bad, but I can see customers getting upset if they don’t realize what an “episode” is supposed to entail. Though that’s not to say they can’t be used very well. I’d almost like to try it just for the challenge of making a good set of games that use the episodic structure. -CWeiss

13
Disturbing13 #73 20 215

I've not played them yet so I don't know how long they are but the Sam and Max series does episodic games. The way my friend Steve did his game Tales of Cthulhu, each game was a different character that met up with the previous character. It gave you 3 different perspectives that was kind of like passing the torch. Each character had a completely different personality so the feel and gameplay was different yet still part of the same story. Marketing them may be difficult and I completely agree on mechanics needing to remain the same, for each episode of the same game, but should you wish to change things up a bit mechanics wise you could do that in the episodes of the sequel. It does offer a quicker way to release parts of the story without having to wait for the completion as a whole, especially for an indie developer. You could always rerelease them when the story is complete as a full game as well.

10
Jan@Sector49 #46 7 63

Hey there, I think that episodic storytelling only fits stories that are ended by the end of an episode. Even though it takes pressure off your shoulders, you should never forget how the player's face would look like, if he would play for a few minutes and just get a "To be continued..."-screen. I don't like that and I don't think that anyone else would love such a treatment and cry out about how nice the developers are. :) Well, it's a decision everyone has to make for himself. I think, the story should be finished before going Alpha with the project. In the end you could ruin the storytelling by bringing in new aspects that probably don't fit the setting or the beginning of the plot. When you have one thing to tell, then chances are that you won't mess up, because you've got into the workflow and the ideas are floating around this particular subject. If you take breaks between episodes, then you would have to get into the matter again. Just my five cents. Greetings, Jan

12
AffinityChris #58 12 146

@Disturbing13, I definitely agree about the quicker releases and a full game release upon completion. I suppose it's just a matter of really understanding your distribution and presentation to build a community that appreciates the episodic releases. In fact, I will say that studios that do episodes tend to have rather faithful followings, so I can see that being an interesting way to craft a very loyal fan base. Either way, I love seeing things like what your friend handled it. Shifts in perspective is a wonderful storytelling technique used in novels, and applied to games it makes even more sense to do that with an episode, so I can really see some cool things being done with that. @Jan, I do think you're right for the most part about people having a distaste for the "to be continued" type of thing. I think it comes down to making sure the player is completely satisfied with each episode, and the next episode offers them something more. Unless I suppose you're that quick about releasing episodes, the "to be continued" part may not hurt people’s feelings so much (but at the same time, even television is making a shift away from episodic releases, so maybe entertainment is evolving beyond episodes? That certainly changes how the public would view games trying the same). -CWeiss

18
Tim Ruswick #1 89 2068

I think as far as the "To be continued" stuff goes - thats all in the positioning. Of course you dont want them to think theyre getting a full game and that you pulled an EA under their noses...and ofcourse you dont want to let a story spanning multiple episodes go in random directions. I think you could plan out an entire story like chapters of a book...where each chapter is its own somewhat complete experience but its part of a bigger whole. The mechanics could also progress like they do in a regular game in each episode, like you get more powerups, bigger weapons, more health etc. And then if you realeased a game with the same or progressing mechanics but a different 'episode' of the story say every month or so, you could charge per month or something...or even do an advertising model like jimmy suggested. The point is I think "Planning" a game is a hell of a lot easier than making one...so you could plan it, but make it in stages. The advantages are 2 fold...1) you could see a profit sooner than finishing the entire project - and for an indie studio thats a big deal...But 2) you could see if the game gathers an audience or not before deciding if you actually want to finish it.

12
AffinityChris #58 12 146

An episodic game excites me as well. There are a few games out there I've been meaning to check out that went this route. I think that it definitely depends on the genre of the game though.I imagine that something like Grim Fandango would have worked well if it was placed in episodes. It had easy enough mechanics throughout with mini-games to make it interesting, yet not too out of control. Also, breaks in play due to production would prevent a player from getting too overwhelmed from long story. A cloud system like Steam's would make it easier to translate progress over from one episode to the next as well. Another thing to add to sales is that people could be chomping at the bits to get their next installation of the game but others would be just as happy to purchase the entire series once it's out in full. I suppose it really just depends on the game and how you prepare to launch it. -NSanders

10
raymondlee306 #76 4 81

I feel it's a viable option for an individual or a small team to get a project out there and in motion. Small teams can finish one level more efficient than a full blown 9-10 hour game. Personal Opinion.

Showing 1 - 11 of 11