Home News General News Episodic Game Concept? Definitely Not Working For Valve.
Episodic Game Concept? Definitely Not Working For Valve. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Starfox   
Sunday, 19 July 2009 13:22
Just a little thought that has no other basis than the fact that I was replaying Half-Life Episode 2 the other day and that we're still without news of Episode 3, almost 2 years later. I think that it's safe to assume that Valve brilliantly demonstrated that the episodic concept is a failure regarding big projects although it works for small scale games like Telltale's Sam & Max that generated 2 seasons of respectively 6 and 5 episode released at the rate of 1 per month. But obviously, Half-Life is not Sam & Max and although Valve came with the "episodic" idea in the fist place, they failed to maintain the real meaning of the word (2 years+ of development is OK for a full game, not for a 6 hours "episode")

There are however some bright spots in the failure and fortunately those bright spots form the essential. The two first "episodes" were of high quality technologically, in gameplay and storyline which kind of makes up for the whole one and a half year waiting between Episode 1 and Episode 2 and the "probably more than two years" waiting between Episode 2 and Episode 3 (that the way it looks now  won't be released before 2010). Because ambitiously high quality takes an astounding amount of time, we can understand that. Eh, by the time they're ready to release Episode 3 we may expect some pretty neat stuff like hardware calculated physics with Havok and ATI's HD3 and 4 series of graphic cards (hoping that the thing doesn't turn into the debacle that was Cryostasis with PhysX and NVidia).

On the other hand, the episodic aspect of Half-Life is nowhere to  be found. Picture it: 2 years after, Alyx is still mourning her father while Gordon is still recovering from the advisors attack his hand firmly holding his crowbar and Eli is still dying, painfully. A TV series with such a waiting after a cliffhanger would be canceled in the minute. The amusing thing is that Half-Life Episodes are not long enough to qualify as full games but their development cycle is still equivalent to the ones of full games.

Valve having completely screwed the episodic part, let's have confidence that Episode 3 will be worth the wait. And let's hope that they'll abandon the idea to go "episodic" in the future because well... obviously, the concept is just not working for them.

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