Valve Might Reconsider Episodic Approach

ripvanwinkle.jpgValve might (MIGHT) consider doing away with their episodic model for future titles. You may remember they instituted the plan for their series of Half-Life 2 expansions. You may also remember the first of these appearing in April 2006, with the second only scheduled to arrive later this year. Those are long waits for short games, and Gabe Newell says they'll be taking stock of your thoughts on the subject once Episode 3's done:

I think what we really want to do is have a couple of examples out there - Episode One, and how long it was to play and how long it took to develop, Episode Two, Portal and TF2 and then the third part of the trilogy; and then sit down with the community and say, 'OK, so what do you want?

I may as well jump the gun, get it off my chest now: six years between full games, I can do, I'm easily distracted, but long waits between 3-4 hour releases? No, thanks. Valve: Episodic game plan may not last [CVG]


    It baffled me as to why Valve decided to attempt episodic content only to then decide to package it with other content, delaying the release considerably. I understand the business principle behind it (and added value for customers), but to force people to wait this long for such an afternoon of gameplay is odd.

    I hope they don't consider the episodic-content model to have failed. It just seems more like the business idea of packaging it with other content, preventing a neat schedule of releases, is not entirely appreciated once you see the credits scroll.

    I wouldn't say the model has failed, more that is hasn't worked in the way Valve wanted it to.

    If you look at the new Sam & Max, which employed an episodic model, it was fantastic for them. I think it works best for games that don't have huge art and coding requirements or QA issues. In other words, the ability to turn around a new episode every couple of months, rather than every year.

    For Sam & Max, it was a case of whipping up some new backdrops and lots of dialogue, which is less of a workload than the script-heavy Half-Life 2. Episode Two also contains a big engine update for Source, which undoubtedly threw a few spanners into the works.

    It's all very understandable from their perspective, but at least they're open to the idea of asking the community how they feel about that kind of delay.

    Perhaps I expected the releases to feel more like Opposing Forces or Blue Shift. Not much longer in terms of gameplay than what they're giving people now, but something that feels more like a whole story that can add to the Half Life world.

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