Official RPG Codex Discord Server

  1. Welcome to rpgcodex.net, a site dedicated to discussing computer based role-playing games in a free and open fashion. We're less strict than other forums, but please refer to the rules.

    "This message is awaiting moderator approval": All new users must pass through our moderation queue before they will be able to post normally. Until your account has "passed" your posts will only be visible to yourself (and moderators) until they are approved. Give us a week to get around to approving / deleting / ignoring your mundane opinion on crap before hassling us about it. Once you have passed the moderation period (think of it as a test), you will be able to post normally, just like all the other retards.
    Dismiss Notice

Can 'Episodic Gaming' be done? Style/Execution?

Discussion in 'General Gaming' started by DefJam101, Mar 3, 2008.

  1. DefJam101 Arcane

    DefJam101
    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2007
    Messages:
    8,047
    Location:
    Cybernegro HQ
    There seems to be a push towards a more 'episodic' style of releasing games these days, yet no one has been able to perfect it (or even come close, for that matter). Half Life 2, Sam & Max, the failed SiN resurrection...

    Are these efforts in vain, or could there actually be a market for true episodic games (none of this, delayed by 6 months "Oh sorry.." crap)?

    What are the Pros/Cons of this style of releasing games? Should this even be a style of releasing games, or an entirely new genre of games? What would be the best way of doing this?



    Personally I would like to see a sort of dedicated 'serial-drama' gaming "series", with a large over-arching storyline, over several seasons. Each "episode" would be over in 2-3hours at most, with cutscenes taking up roughly 30 minutes of the episode, and the rest of the story revealed a-la Half Life.

    Perhaps you would 'subscribe' to the series, and download a "platform" that you install on your computer, every season. You would download new episodes as they are released, and it would include news about patches/updates/developer commentary about each new episode. Eventually you could simply play through the 20-30 hour season in sequence.



    Obvious problems to this might be:

    1. Perspective, in a show with an 'ensemble cast' perspective shifts are common, jumping between different places constantly. This might not translate well into a videogame, in which you would be controlling a single character (or a small group of characters). Switching perspectives constantly might make you feel detached from the game.

    2. Technological problems. Graphics are hot shit these days, unless your engine is highly scalable, you might be worn through by season 2. An obvious counter to this is to make the engine module-based, so that new features can be added in with relative ease.

    3. Pacing issues. Too much dialog and it starts to become a movie, too much gameplay and the story runs thin. Integrating story telling directly into gameplay is tough to do, and with the added pressure of a (possibly) bi-weekly release schedule, could cause problems.




    Personally I would love to see a Babylon 5-esq sort of space-opera/drama put in videogame form. Could this possibly be viable, or are episodic videogames destined to be vaporfailware?

    Discuss..
     
    ^ Top  
  2. afewhours Scholar

    afewhours
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
    Messages:
    562
    Location:
    UK
    I feel the over-arching storyline is something can derail some very good self-contained episodes. It's interesting to see how many TV serials sway from one big narrative to concentrate more on one-shots. Most developers will get bored mining the same vein, even if it keeps the publishers are happy. You normally a see a drop in quality by later episodes and series, and attempts to force character development and movement usually fail, big time.

    I'm more enthusiastic about modular gaming. You keep a narrow focus, and keep the ideas fresh without bending to an archplot. There seems to be a patterm *cough* NWN series *cough* of releasing a game and then only getting to the entertaining stuff with the expansions. NWN had some great self-contained modules like Kingmaker, SoU, and HotU, and while I enjoyed NWN2, you can't argue against MotB being much better.

    I know MotB is supposed to follow from NWN2, but I can't think of it as anything other than self-contained. There was that bit at the start where it went. "This follows on from NWN2! Honestly it does!" and later on it went "Look! Ammon Jerro! Do you believe us now?" but, meh, I wasn't terribly convinced. :D

    But, anyhoo. Smaller, quicker episodes = good, but I don't think they should necessarily follow in the service of some great narrative.

    EDIT: Clarity
     
    ^ Top  
  3. Jeff Graw StarChart Interactive Developer

    Jeff Graw
    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2006
    Messages:
    794
    Location:
    Frigid Wasteland
    Sam & Max did it a lot better than your other examples. Wing Commander Prophecy: Secret Ops (the first episodic games) also did a pretty good job, and for free to boot.
     
    ^ Top  
  4. WalterKinde Scholar

    WalterKinde
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Messages:
    524
    If Episodic gaming takes off in a big way be prepared for the milking of this new genre.
    Just as tv execs milk shows that have a high viewership aka lost or heroes or even the reality tv programs so to will they do with episodic games in the end its the consumer who will be spending more than what he would have paid if said game had been released as a single product.
    Can it be done and be a successful sub-genre, yes it can once they don't get greedy but when have we known corporations etc not to get greedy?
     
    ^ Top  
  5. mondblut Arcane

    mondblut
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2005
    Messages:
    18,276
    Location:
    Ingrija
    I think a Darklands type sandbox game is a goldmine for episodic games. Just add some new areas, a few dozens of quests scattered around the world, some big and some small, and it can be played indefinitely. There is no need for "main quest", just some quests are integrated into sequences bigger and badder than the rest.

    Come to think of it, the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser series would be a killer setting for such a game. Rich Conan-like world with everything from wild northlands to decadent underworld cities to visit, rare and nasty magics, 2 PCs + occasional NPCs, tons of short stories which could serve as separate or tied-in subquests, lovecraftian monsters... it begs for a sandbox RPG with episodic content addition.
     
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
    ^ Top  
  6. ghostdog Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

    ghostdog
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Messages:
    10,452
    If we're talking about adventure games, episodic gaming is ok, but I don't think it applies well in other genres. I prefer a game that will last long (at least 20 hours) and have repalyability. Of course there are exceptions. Portal could be considered an episodic game if it continues to spawn sequels.
     
    ^ Top  
  7. ricolikesrice Arcane

    ricolikesrice
    Joined:
    May 11, 2007
    Messages:
    1,196
    .....

    i wonder why noone has tapped the goldmine that is modding & mapping.

    i.e. make a game like NWN or Crysis that ships with a great editor that will spawn alot of interest in the custom content community.

    then offer all those modders a portal where they can advertise and release their projects..... this time not for free but for small prices (talking about 1-15 bucks ) and with a small percentage, say 10-20% going to the devs for providing the engine/editor and the portal. of course this wouldnt work with mods that want to use exsiting licenses (i.e. say star wars mods ) but for the rest it could be golden. heck i d consider it a bonus if there wasnt 100s of starwars mods for every new game but original stuff instead :p

    and the devs could still release their own content as well as addons for an extra income too.

    would be great for indies, they could use modern graphics and waste less time on coding their own engine... but fully focus on gameplay. and still make profit if their game is liked enough. seeing some great mods easily get 100.000 or more downloads thats a potential million bucks of which a small indie team could get the lion s share with the bigger company providing the engine getting a rather nice ammount of money as well.

    or are you seeing any problems in doing such a thing / am i too naive ?
     
    ^ Top  
  8. Schauman Scholar

    Schauman
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Messages:
    157
    Location:
    Finland
    Re: .....

    Intellectual property will stir up a hell with that, specially when money is involved, along other legal problems.

    Modder-A makes a mod but due to POS quality of the hentai action scenes it never passes the portal purity control. Five years later the developer hosting the portal releases a game with "somewhat" similiar content from the hentai action game and thus Modder-A sues the developers to hell for IP theft, even if the retail game actually had nothing to do with hentai action.

    Creating a portal where everyone would be able to sell their own "unique" mods would create a damm impressive legal hell. Look at how big developers are going to court for having similiar moral themes with preexisting material, a retail version of 4chan would ensure the birth of a new Chaos god.

    "omg u stoul mah geim!" "Nou! Ya stoul mah gaim!" "OMGWTF! I SUE U!" "NOU! I C UU!!!"

    Capcom is in the hell for it already with Dead Rising, 3DRealms + Recoil is taking the heat for Earth No More and Rockstar uses a preemptive strike to avoid any of that shizzle.
     
    ^ Top  
  9. nik2008ofs Scholar

    nik2008ofs
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Messages:
    243
    Location:
    Greece
    What exactly makes you consider the Sam and Max episodes as failed? Telltale games made enough money out of the first season to start a second one, and IIRC they have already decided to continue with a third after the second one is done (don't quote me on that though).
     
    ^ Top  
  10. Azarkon Arcane

    Azarkon
    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2005
    Messages:
    2,968
    One factor to consider about this aside from the "ZOMG more ways for publishers to screw the gamer!!1!" knee-jerk reaction is that it's probably the only way you're going to see 200-hour RPGs again. Otherwise, the prohibitive cost of developing games of such length combined with gamers' reluctance to spend large chunks of money at a time (even though they're perfectly willing to spend said amount of money over a longer period of time - see MMOs) prevent the realization of such ambitions.
     
    ^ Top  
  11. mahdi Liturgist

    mahdi
    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    Messages:
    494
    Location:
    USA, suck it Polska!
    QFT. The only thing that sucked about Wing Commander was that it was during the era of (mostly) dial-up. What a disaster.
     
    ^ Top  
  12. SmokedWolf Scholar

    SmokedWolf
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Messages:
    158
    Would be perfect for creating a slow levelling rpg spanning potentially a lifetime.

    Starting as a feeble teenager your character develops over many many stories.

    Would be interesting.
     
    ^ Top  
  13. Fez Erudite

    Fez
    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,954
    We've already got "Second Life". Maybe you could call it "real life"? I hear it works much the same as you are suggesting. I think many gamers out there would benefit from taking part in "real life" more often.
     
    ^ Top  
  14. DefJam101 Arcane

    DefJam101
    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2007
    Messages:
    8,047
    Location:
    Cybernegro HQ
    Real life is kinda boring, all the characters are blithering idiots and I can never seem to finish quests.

    I hate the developers as well, although Real Life's modding community is great.
     
    ^ Top  

As an Amazon Associate, rpgcodex.net earns from qualifying purchases.