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PurpleTentacle

SpaceVenture: Episodic or Full-Game release?

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I am fine with a cliffhanger. It's a good way get people excited for the next game. Of course , I would prefer the cliffhanger at the end of a full game. But, really, I'd just be happy with a good, quality, fun product regardless. I could even live with an episodic release or with the game broken up, though it wouldn't be my preference.

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Joking aside, I know Scott and Mark are acutely trying not to repeat what they call "mistakes" of the past. Such as dead-end scenarios, blindsided deaths without the ability to respawn, and, yes, leaving huge chunks of plot un-wrapped and unexplained. (Imagine if there never were any games after The Two Guys went their separate ways the first time. What kind of cliffhanger would SQ4 have been? :D )

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I am not a fan of episodic gaming at all.  As a designer, I would rather cut out large chunks of my design and release a complete game, rather than break it into "episodes".  You really test your mettle and creativity by crafting a whole and complete game within (unforseen) boundaries, and any material you cut, well, you can adapt it to the sequel if you're good!

 

 

Bt

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Thanks for your input, SteveBot. Want me to read that out on the next podcast episode?

 

And, also, to respond: Well, how about what I said on the last episode about the even curves of suspense of episodic games versus the potential pitfall of the "bit in the middle" lull?

 

I'm not saying that in defense of episodic gaming per se, but there is, in my opinion, something to be said for forcing yourself as a designer to even out the suspense and not let the narrative get bogged down.

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I've sort of said this on the twitters, but there's not enough room there for nuance, so forgive me.

 

I don't think that episodic anything really works unless one starts the project from the outset to be so. There may be natural breathing points where one could end a "chapter", but if a story arc is supposed to be in one piece it takes an awful lot of work to make it fit to two or more pieces.

 

A game like Space Quest III, for example, couldn't be episodic. The whole exploration thing simply wouldn't work. You'd also have problems with SQ4 and SQ5. Sure, you could instigate insta-death if you go to a world you're not supposed to, or find some other clunky mechanic to get Roger back in his time pod, but I don't think it would really work.

 

Seeing as Spaceventure was - even if only implicitly - "sold" to us as, and no doubt originally intended to be, a "feature length" game, I personally would rather a vastly delayed full game than a still-delayed episodic version.

 

I would also be rather worried. If you're going episodic as an attempt to raise enough capital for the later parts, there's no guarantee that this will actually work. More to the point, if you need extra capital to finish those parts, I can't imagine that after investing in the equipment, coding, art assets, etc. that parts 2 and 3 cost that much compared to getting part 1 out in the first place. In short, I find it doubtful that if the company cannot afford to release all the parts together that it can afford to get out 1, fully-polished and well-crafted opening chapter.

 

However, Troels "devil's advocate" defence of episodic games, coupled with the fact that it was raised on the podcast makes me think that Scott and Mark are seriously considering doing this, if they haven't made that decision already. If that's the case, then I'm sure they'll do the best with what they've got to work with. I can't help but think, though, that something will be lost through such a compromise. And that will always taint the game for me. (Not a rational response, perhaps, but true.)

 

I could be talking out of my arse, here. But to me, it doesn't seem like it can really be justified from an artistic standpoint. Though the economic realities may dictate otherwise.

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It very much depends on where a split is made and how it is made. Out of the recent adventures I think Broken Sword 5 was a bit too heavy handed in how they handeled the middle part. the whole cinematic part with recap just doesn't sit well in it and it feels especaially out of place now that the game is one piece. Broken Age looks like they've done it a bit better, though I reckon it also depends on how they start the game and if it contais some kind of recap of the first part of the game.

Dreamfall Chapters is more interesting case, as it is, from the looks of it, more naturally an episodic game. All that has been said about the different books (which in this case is one book = chapter) makes it pretty clear that despite they in the beginning though they'd be delivering the whole thing as a whole, it would still had been just as episodic in structure, as some time passes between each book and the next one doesn't begin straight from the moment the previous book ended. But in any case Dreamfall will also be made into "one" game with each released book.

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I find myself in complete agreement with Gareth. I support the Guys wholeheartedly and I'm sure no decision is made lightly. But still - watch out. Do the story justice above all. You couldn't turn "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" into a miniseries either.

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Hahah Troels - I must record more Steve-Bot material.  For a potato fueled robot, he sure is chatty.

 

I think your argument for the "lull" in the middle the game is a good one - except, you know, some people kind of LIKE the lull in the middle of the game.  I suppose that comes, for me, from the days where playing a game could stretch over weeks and months, not days and hours.  Different world.  I think the best thing said about Episodic Gaming is that if you're going to do it - start out designing the game that way.  Make sure each episode wraps up it's own story, but IS a part of the larger one.

 

Bt

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I can't speak to whether it'll be released as episodic or not, but Chris was definitely referring to the entirety of SpaceVenture being basically 1/3 finished. The main thing we're hitting in the first third is bugs, right now. They are my bane.

 

bugs.png

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