Episodic Content Rant

4th October 2007

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3
Introduction

I’ve discussed my objections to episodic content in the past but recent events have brought these feelings to the surface again and I have decided the best thing for me to do is rant about it.

Because it’s a rant I’m not going to list all the supposed benefits of episodic gaming and counter them. I’m just going to moan about what I dislike about the whole thing. I’ve even decided to just type it as I think it and forgo to usually editing process, aside from correcting my numerous spelling errors. This way my true emotions may come through rather than a considered argument.

At its core I like the concept of episodic gaming; getting short chunks of games or mini-games that appear regularly in the same way a TV show has episodes. The problem with this is the time frame. If I knew I could count on receiving a game on a set schedule I might be happier. Can you image a TV show that was only broadcast when they have the episodes available? NO, of course not.

For episodic gaming to work there has to be a flow and the current gap by Valve is just too large. I’ve lost all connection with the characters and the storyline.

Before you start saying that a making a game is very different from making a TV show, I say “SO!”. How hard would it to have completely finished the first and second episodes and put them on a shelf. Then when the third part is nearly finished release the first part with a gap of the expected time to finish the third part (Include time for MFUs (Management F**k Ups). That way I would get a schedule of releases.

In Valve’s case I can’t believe it has anything to do with cash flow or other financial contraints.

I have decided that unless somebody gives me a copy of Episode 2 (Anybody?) I’m not going to buy it until the third part is released. And them probably only when it’s available as a package, with all three episodes. I urge you to do the same! Let’s make a stand! Yes, I know Valve has said that after the release of the third game they are going to re-assess episodic gaming, well let’s hurry that process along.

In fact I am going to do the same with mods. Adam Foster’s third chapter of his Minerva Trilogy was released a few days ago and without spoiling the full review it is an absolute masterpiece. However, I am both angry and frustrated that I can’t experience the full flow of the game without playing through the first two parts again and also by the fact that the last part requires Episode 1.

Of course in Adam’s case it’s different because it’s just one person doing the work (Yes, I know he had testers and people he could call on for advice, but still, it’s one man!)

Putting aside that fact that most HL lovers should already have Episode 1, it seems crazy to change the requirements midway through a series. (Yes, I know that the last third isn’t exactly “midway”, it’s just an adjective!)

In fact I’m going one stage further, any mod, especially Foster’s, that advertise that are part of a series I won’t play until either all the parts are released OR it’s obvious that the other parts have been cancelled, as so often happens in gaming.

I’m beginning to feel better, but there’s more still to come.

I’m not sure if the price I have seen for Episode 2 is correct (I can’t currently find it available on its own on the Steam Shop) but $29.95 seems a little expensive to me. I don’t know how long the game is supposed to last but for that price it better be longer than Episode 1.

When you think about the quality of some mods; Leon’s Coastline to Atmosphere, Rock 24, Riot Act and obviously Minerva, plus many others, you would think that Valve would realize that the time has come when the modding community is actually taking away business from them.

Ask yourself this question: “Why bother to pay 30 dollars when some mods are of equal quality (Some think better) and are free?”.

At Play.com they are offering Episode 2 for £26.99 and the Orange Box for £26.99! Where is the sense in that. DOn’t go telling me that for the same price I get more games. I just want EP2! Reduce the price damn it!

I love the games Valve make but I generally don’t agree with the way they do business. (I’m not saying that the Play.com prices are set by Valve but they must have some influence!?)

If Valve want to continue with Episodic Content then they should radically re-assess what the user wants. Episodes have to be regular, at fixed times, with sensible duration between each one, with special features for people who have played previous parts. Even if that is a simple intro video.

There is a certain psychology to episodes and I don

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31 Comments

  1. bobdog

    I support elements of your rant, but I think the sticking point is the word “episodic”. That is a misnomer because it sets up certain expectations of frequency and timing. Instead, we should look at the “episodes” as merely parts of a trilogy, such as a book series. It should be stated how many parts we can expect, so that we can properly prepare ourselves mentally.

    As an example, I can remember reading Robert Jordan’s first Wheel of Time book and waiting expectantly for the second, and then the third. When the fourth came around, I became a bit suspicious and stopped reading the series but kept collecting. It now stands at 10 or 11 books with maybe another to go. That sort of mentality really bites into your subconscious and unless you are a hard-core fanboy(girl), it takes you out of the mindset that the series generated.

    In contrast, I know exactly how many books are in Tad Williams” or Terry Brooks” series, and I set myself up successfully to read them that way.

    Valve should have looked at the word it uses — “episodic” — and realized that it is not accurate. While I appreciate having the content quicker, telling me it is episodic doesn’t inspire much trust in me either.

    And to answer other parts of your questions, I believe it is about 1/3rd larger than Ep1. I am hopeful that after a few months the price will go down from $30 to a more realistic $25 or even $20 on Steam. They are pricing high because they can do so, and also to get Xboxers into the game series easily.

  2. For what it’s worth, I was happy to buy ep 1 when it came out and I’ve cheerfully pre-ordered the ep 2 package (I can’t wait to play Portal!).

    I think Bobdog makes a good point when he mentions reading books that a part of a series. I’n reading book 3 of George R R Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” series, of which 7 books are proposed. There are 4 books so far with as long as a 5 year lapse in between each book being written. And these are 1000 page epics, not a piffling little alien invasion story that underpins a game. I’m not entirely convinced a story is spoilt by having gaps in the telling.

    As for some HL2 mods surpassing the efforts from Valve… I’ve yet to play one.

    A downside of episodic gaming was highlighted when the follow up to Sin:Emergence never appeared. Little chance of that happening with Valve and the HL franchise though.

    So, on the whole, I’m quite happy with episodic releases, especially when games like Portal are developed and released in tandem.

    (By the way, Bobdog, did you know Robert Jordan has recently died halfway through writing the 12th and final book?)

  3. Manual_Monaro

    Living in Australia, I simply found Episode 1 to be a bargain. Seriously, it was about $32 when first released, compared to most new releases that come up around $99. (One exception was S.T.A.L.K.E.R., which I gobbled up for a measly $65 – Give or take – right on release here!)

    The “bargain” stature was further justified by the fact that – unlike many people – I simply LOVED the game despite the length.

    But the length was what I paid for and I’m fine with that.

    The Orange Box is going to clock around $99 here, though, but remember, it does have 5 games in it! For me, that’s 3 games to chew – What a bargain! (And the fact that it includes HL2 and EP.1 isn’t a “waste’. The “gifts” Steam feature justifies that.)

    Apart from money, however, you’ve (Phillip and bobdog.) made good points.

    Ultimately, Valve’s experiment failed (Unlike, say, Telltale games, who’s Sam & Max episodes were a success in their format.) due to the length between releases plus the satisfaction it gave the players. (The latter obviously doesn’t apply to me – I’m trying to be broad here.)

    Still, I love Valve. I can’t say “NO” to ANY of their games.

    Plus — I highly, wholeheartedly doubt that Valve will continue with episodic development due to the reaction of most people.

    But even if they do, I stand by them. That’s all I have to say.

    By the way, nice rant, Phillip! That was quite a good read. (it’s good to vent ones self once in a while!)

  4. Yeah, Manual kinda echoes my feelings: I wouldn’t mourn the demise of episodic gaming, but I’m not about to dance on its grave either.

    And to go off topic slightly, I think Valve had made some great strides in the way games are developed and sold i.e. Steam and digital distribution, and freebies like Lost Coast and Deathmatch. There attitude to the modding community is excellent.

    Some folks give Valve a rough ride (I understand Steam had some wrinkles in it in the early days), but on the whole Valve are a cool company.

  5. Kerberos

    Well man that was serious. I can agree with your POV while trying to rant about the episodic releases, but let’s say that this world spins around capitalism and money. First, I do not know if the users overall would feel better having everything at first sight, like if it was Half Life 1, 2 and 3, but not the EP:1, 2, 3 and so along. The episodic releases teases the users, because you see it has a growing fan base, to buy more as soon as the game is made. Thus that, making episodic releases in Half Life will make them rivers of money, probably even more if they were to Launch an Half Life 3. Think about it: At first, an EP:1 alone is a clash, later of Half Life 2 the user, or at least the more fans of the game, really wants to know what happened, thus, they will buy the EP1 very soon. Now, after makign the same proccess HL2 to EP1, from EP1 to EP2 (Yeah I want to know if Alyx is still well, and wtf are those flying pods and wtf is the so important message and most important, who is the Gman) an eP2 to 3. Right, besides that, you can see that while they get beneffited with rivers of money churding their ways thru Valve Bank or whatever, they will gotta to receive so the next wave of money asap when EP3 arrives, so the episodic releases generates them so much money that they prefer to do it this way. Another, if you see the positive side of making episodic releases, excluding the money problem, you can see that at each episode Valve has made an implement in technology, which this time will be breakable houses (EP2), and more interaction with the ambient. If I shoot a house or crowbar it on HL2, nothing happens, besides certain props that this house will have like some wood parts that aree breakable, but now in HL2 a promisse was that: Riding thru florest ambients, a new car and this so interactivity with ambient, making everything more real, thus more enemies. With episodic releases the player get anxious and the franchise of Half Life gets even more fun to play, making things come aboard in parts rather than making the player know everything at once, such as an “HL3”.

  6. I think the one group that episodic games benefit it the companies that create them. If I were a gaming company it would make sense to do episodes because it keeps the money rolling in. Like the Sam-n-Max episodes. You could purchase the episode as soon as it was finished or wait to buy the whole season. This is a great strategy for companies because they don’t have to fund an entire project for a few years and wonder if it will be successful.
    To support Phillips rant, it is really bad for the customers. I prefer an entire game in one huge chunk. I don’t want to play Doom 3 or Far Cry in episodes and have to wait until the next one comes out. I want to play the entire game at my leisure. Thats how games should be. If this episodic gaming is the new trend then Phillip is right, it needs to be on a regular basis, every month or so. The company will have to make sacrefices for it to happen otherwise its all false hope for the customers who are waiting.

  7. It should be stated how many parts we can expect, so that we can properly prepare ourselves mentally.

    I agree that we should be told upfront how many parts to expect. Both Valve and Adam Foster have done this.

    Here’s another question for you (Well, everyone)

    “Exactly how long are you prepared to wait for each epsiode?” One year, 18 months, 2 yeras, 3, 5?

    While I appreciate having the content quicker, telling me it is episodic doesn’t inspire much trust in me either.

    Again, I agree. I honestly belive that they should have announced a set schedule. Yes, I know they are very bad at keeping dates, but they should take things like that seriously.

    One thing I admire (Amongst many!) about Foster is that he doesn’t tease you, he just says, “It’s coming out tomorrow.”

    When I eventually make and release something I will have it finished and then start a countdown.

    I am hopeful that after a few months the price will go down from $30 to a more realistic $25 or even $20 on Steam.

    In all honesty I’m not sure I would buy it now even if it was $5. I really want to play the damn thing but I’d rather wait until I have part 3 before playing it. Of course I understand that’s most likely me and a few other weirdos.

    For what it’s worth, I was happy to buy ep 1 when it came out and I’ve cheerfully pre-ordered the ep 2 package (I can’t wait to play Portal!).

    I pre-order Episode 1 too, but I don’t want to play Portal and don’t see why I should have to pay for games I already own.

    I’ve said this before but Valve should start both a loyalty scheme and also a points system. $X buyers Z points which can be redeemed against any Steam product. If you have points left over they stay on your account until something else comes out you want to buy.

    These points are drifting off the Episodic rant but in some ways they are linked because of being forced to pay in stages.

    If Valve said to me “Hey Phillip, do you know how much it costs to develop a great game. We need cash flow!! I’d say, “Ok, Gabe, here’s my thirty bucks now, go build the damn thing and give me a great game that new buyers have to pay more for! Think of me a a sort of investor.

    And these are 1000 page epics, not a piffling little alien invasion story that underpins a game. I’m not entirely convinced a story is spoilt by having gaps in the telling.

    Yes, but how would you feel if the books were 200 pages long? That’s kind of what we are getting with episodic content.

    I don’t mind waitng 5 years, if that’s what it takes. What I don’t like is being given the impression that Episodic content will get the games into my hand much, much faster. Yes, I do get a game faster but it’s too short.

    Give me a Half-Life 2 every 5 years and I’m happy.

    As for some HL2 mods surpassing the efforts from Valve… I’ve yet to play one.

    Well some would disagree. Minerva is at least equal.

    Living in Australia, I simply found Episode 1 to be a bargain. Seriously, it was about $32 when first released, compared to most new releases that come up around $99. (One exception was S.T.A.L.K.E.R., which I gobbled up for a measly $65 – Give or take – right on release here!)

    HOLY HEADCRABS
    That sound like a lot of money, but you know best. AT the moment Ep1 is on sale on Steam for $9.99, which is a bargain.

    By the way, nice rant, Phillip! That was quite a good read.

    Thank you.

    Thus that, making episodic releases in Half Life will make them rivers of money, probably even more if they were to Launch an Half Life 3

    You are right, but as a player and buyer of games Valve’s financial model is of no interest to me. I want value for money and I ahve no hesitation that I do get that with all of Valves products, although not Steam.

    You could purchase the episode as soon as it was finished or wait to buy the whole season. This is a great strategy for companies because they don’t have to fund an entire project for a few years and wonder if it will be successful.

    I would support that if the release schedule were sensible. As I said above, I’d even pay upfront for a game. I rtust Valve in that regard.
    I just feel cheated about delivery, bjut that’s Valve all over. HAve they ever released anything on time? Seriously, it’s a real question.

    You would have thought they would have leanrt by now. Unless it’s a cynical marketing ploy which has been suggested many times.

  8. Mel

    Nice rant, I enjoyed it and you should do it more often.

    Agree with all you said on the retail and commercial side of the business but not your references to the custom side, which you should always remember is not profit making based.

    I am one of those players that are now disillusioned with Valve and their marketing policies. I purchased Episode 1 when it first came out and it’s still placed in my bookshelf unopened waiting for the next episodes before a play through. I have long since lost interest and much prefer to play custom mods anyway. The current Valve policy would seem to be one of trying to either sell you something you don’t want or already have. I agree we should do something about it before it gets worst. I for one will not be buying any packaged or bundled products from Valve, I may in time buy the single episode release as the price comes down to a sensible cost. What’s the points in rushing around buying something that is overprice and contains a load of stuff you already have and paid for. We have the advantage and can be more then happy playing our custom mods.

    The gap between retail and custom games is closing and there is no need for me to give the PP community any examples, if this gap continues to close there may come a time when we don’t need Valve and the like, come to think of it, I believe I am already at that point.

    Now the bit I don’t agree with, the reference to custom episode releases, what ever you think (Phillip) we must all respect the authors right and reasons for releasing this way. There are reasons why I can see that this is a good way for an author to release and the only real issue that the player has is the size of the download each time. I for one can live with that and with ingame chapter menu you can select weather you play the new chapter first or not. Also releasing this way, in theory gives the author a chance to tweak and update the first parts such that we all have the latest levels, I personally prefer to play through the first chapters again before the new.

    Whilst I am not happy with the way Valve are releasing their HL produces I am more then happy with the likes of Adam releasing his hard work anyway he sees fit, one major difference being Valve are asking me to pay for the privilege while the likes of Adam seem content just knowing we are enjoying and appreciate their work.

  9. Nice rant, I enjoyed it and you should do it more often.

    Thanks, maybe I will.

    I personally prefer to play through the first chapters again before the new.

    I don’t. I’ve neer, ever replayed a game or mod that I can think of.

    Not everybody is happy about having to download the same thing three times (In the case of the first part).

    You could argue that an author can keep tweaking his mod and re-releasing it. But for how long?

    I respect Adam’s right to release his mods the way he sees fit, and my voice won’t change his mind, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

  10. Mel

    I am a bit surprised by your comment “I never replay games or mods” not even Half-Life 1?
    Sometimes a second play can be more rewarding then the first, I like to explore and often play though some mods looking and finding content I missed first time.

    Yes, I did agree the downside is redownloading the same stuff, but I see this has the only drawback.

    If tweaking means improving, adding new content sorting out bugs then release as much
    as you like, but then you dont replay mods, so this point maybe lost to you Phillip.

    You should rant more often.

  11. Jimbo

    “Can you image a TV show that was only broadcast when they have the episodes available? NO, of course not.”

    If TV series” were more like games, I’d rather wait a little while longer for a good show than watch a crap show anyday. Not to mention it’s a recurring theme with independant animations online. Patience! I think Shigeru Miyamoto once said something like “A good game might be delayed. A bad game is forever.”

    “”Why bother to pay 30 dollars when some mods are of equal quality (Some think better) and are free?”.”

    Because some mods do have some impressive stuff. Thing is, they probably dont have an on-site office to work with a big team, don’t have top-notch voice actors, custom modelers, riggers, animators, sound artists, and (usually) don’t have MASSIVE fan bases to rant about delays to keep them moving.

    If Minerva taught me something, it’s Valve supplies modders with some cool new aspects to throw in to their creations (like the portal effects!? WOAH!). That’s all I got for now. I’m too tired to go on…

  12. Manual_Monaro

    HOLY HEADCRABS
    That sound like a lot of money, but you know best. AT the moment Ep1 is on sale on Steam for $9.99, which is a bargain.

    It’s true. I was thinking of grabbing The Orange Box off of Steam, but I’ve got a really crap internet plan, (The speed is decent: 256Kbps. But I get shaped to 64Kbps when I exceed 1GB.) so it’s best for me to get it retail so I’ve got all the data at my fingertips! (And who doesn’t like hard copies? :))

    I am a bit surprised by your comment ” I never replay games or mods” not even Half-Life 1? Sometimes a second play can be more rewarding then the first, I like to explore and often play though some mods looking and finding content I missed first time.

    Yes, I agree. I recently played Half-Life 2 again and found something in the ‘sandtraps” chapter I’ve never even seen or heard of before! The Ep.1 commentary track is also worth playing through again. I mentioned this ages ago, but Deus Ex 1 provides many reasons to replay it, one is that you can nearly discover at least one new thing during each run! (I have.)

    I will admit that my backup hard drive has around 3GB of mod .zips, .rars and .exe installers – Some from about 2-3 years ago! My main harddrive has a ‘downloads” folder of my recent stuff and it amounts to nearly 1GB! (Although some of it would be separate software and drivers, since I recently reformatted.)

  13. Danny O'dare

    Well, Manual, I can beat that! Within the Steam/Valve directory my ‘sourceMods” folder is 15.2GB, and my “Half-Life” folder 5.51GB!!
    Also, within (non-Steam) Sierra/Half-folder is 1.87GB – that is, all for the mods that I couldn’t get to work with Steam.
    So, that’s a grand total of 22.58GB – nearly all for mods. Can anyone top that?

    cheers,
    itsonlydanny

  14. Manual_Monaro

    Wow.

    Still, I did say it was made up of JUST the installers and downloaded .zips and .rars.

    My steam mod directory is merely 454 MB (Two mods to be precise.) while my WON Half-Life directory just has 273 MB worth of custom modifications. (Four mods to be precise.) Pitiful, eh?

    Still, you’re pretty “hardcore” there, Danny, having EVERYTHING installed. I – um – guess it’s more convenient if you have it all ready to play instead of having to extract/install or even download it again! 😉

    You should rant more often.

    I forgot to mention – Yes, I agree. As I said before, this rant was ACTUALLY a good read.

  15. Wesp5

    I totally agree with Phillip on this rant! Not only on the obvious failure of Valve to provide anything what we expected when they called it “episodes”, but on the ugly Valve business schemes too. I think making the customers buy games all over that they already own is a very cheap and unfair trick to make more money and I agree with Phillip that we should boycott this! Does anyone here doubt that by the time HL2:E3 is released Valve will find another excuse to make you pay for all the other games once again?

  16. Fragmaster

    I had a few problems with steam losing my account entirely & having to buy replacement disc with cost about 70 dollars canadian.
    Im buying the Orange Box as a last chance if steam dies on me again im not buying anymore steam-related products but yes I do have a need for this pak except for TF2 I rather play the SP.
    Valve has always been money milking their products they’l do almost anything for a profit.
    Tho HL2 & HL2 episode 1 being repeated is just not needed unless your a newcomer to the series or have finally upgraded your system in order to play them.
    I never pre-load any steam games I buy them retail wise.

  17. Luke L

    I think episodic content is just a cheap cop-out. I would have rather waited 3 or more years and got a full game which doesn’t break continuity halfway through rather than get a drip feed of short episodes. Look at TV series, they record the entire thing and then show them, they don’t do a few episodes and then hurry to get the rest ready. I think Valve will have to admit at some point that this was a failure. (P.S. Phillip, design is coming along.)

  18. If TV series” were more like games, I’d rather wait a little while longer for a good show than watch a **** show anyday. Not to mention it’s a recurring theme with independant animations online. Patience! I think Shigeru Miyamoto once said something like “A good game might be delayed. A bad game is forever.”

    I’m not asking for Episode everyday, or even month. All I want is a clearly defined scehdule that is set in stone.

    Obviously I want high-quality mods and I am prepared to wait. In fact I think I am more patient than most becasue I would prefer to wait 5 years for a complete game!

    Look at TV series, they record the entire thing and then show them

    THAT’s MY WHOLE POINT.

    Finish the series then release it every six months. Even get people to pay for it up front. The players don’t have to know that VAlve has finished it.

    (P.S. Phillip, design is coming along.)

    Great, please don’t forget the bit of code related to the readers awards.

  19. dufferx

    It’s all about money. Half Life I and II mods are often episodic in content.

  20. Kerberos

    Yeah I got a little bit alte, but thanks for the rant after all, seeing the side of the customer Phillip is right upwards, since Valve is worried with their money (or not after all)and they got a biiiiiiiiiiiig fan base.

  21. Kerberos

    Does anyone here doubt that by the time HL2:E3 is released Valve will find another excuse to make you pay for all the other games once again?

    Man, boy, did I like this comment… I have also got really mad seeing they are oliguing me of buying things I already got just to increase the overall valor. But, lok I just preloaded at Steam because the box was 44,95, which seeing the EP1 and HL2 I already have, was even “cheap”. Or not after all. They show the individual package or whatever would come along at 88 bucks. Well, IDC they are abusing it for making money. I preloaded being illuded it was advantage, but it was not! I am paying for Portal which I wont really play this kind of game and TF2, which, well I dont really care with that. I would love to se the Black Box back, you know, “just” Portal, TF2(which is fun anyway) and HL2 EP2, the chief car of the entire shit.

  22. I just preloaded at Steam because the box was 44,95, which seeing the EP1 and HL2 I already have, was even “cheap”

    I truly believe that the Orange Box is excellent value for money. You only have to look at what you get. But considering I already own the games I want and I can’t ransfer the duplkicates (legal) without a charge, it seems a bit unfair.

  23. You can transfer the duplicate games (hl2 and ep1) you have legally. Its called like Steam Gift or something stupid.

    Anyway. Valve canceled the Black Box! That made me mad. Valve is one of the few companies I actually spend my money on. But thats about to change!

  24. Oopla

    As an aside, I had terrible trouble with HL2:E1, I got a terrible frame rate, and random crashes, while, HL2 and The Lost Coast ran just perfect at high detail on an 3400+ A64 with a X1650Pro system with all the latest drivers. The only way I could finish the game was to periodically scale back the graphics and sound quality on my system. This seemed to solve the crashing for a while. I had to end the game at 640×480 on Low, while I can play “The Lost Coast” at 1280×1024 at high, with 4xAA and full HDR. I was mostly disappointed by HL2:E1 on a technical angle. Independent of that the main problem with episodic content is that Valve feels that they cannot just deliver more content. There has to be new technological enhancements for each episode. Episode 1 had HDR, Episode 2 will have DX10, and episode 3 will presumably be beamed into your brain.
    Valve is taking a technology first approach to the episodes, rather than a story first. I would have loved to have seen episodes take place from other people’s POV using the exact same technology as the similar episode.
    Like for instance, a story of the G-man convincing and bringing Adrian Shepard out of the cooler to try to clean up the mess caused by the Vorginnauts interfering and taking Gordon Freeman from him. Shepard’s story was just as cool as Freeman’s in HL1 and deserve’s to be continued.
    A story about a Combine CP who breaks free of the presumed mental conditioning that comes with Combine service. She wakes up after the Citadel goes ka-blooey and decides that this isn’t what she signed on for. She escapes and is aided by other CPs who are waking up, trying to leave the city while being targeted heavily by the Overwatch. And along the way, comes back into contact with her humanity, risking her own life to help other people escape.
    A story about a member of the resistance, which is used to fill in the missing two weeks from Half-Life 2. Make it a story about certain members of the resistance being equipped with Hazard Suits, to be symbols of the resistance in Gordon Freeman’s absence.
    I just came up within five minutes. I consider these three interesting stories, all compelling deliverable with HL2 technology. The second one is particularly compelling to me. Imagine a HL game with a series of flashbacks, delivered as her remembering the events that caused her to make the desperate choice to become a CP in the first place. (My take, her surviving everything with her daughter, and the two of them starving in city 17, with her finally leaving her daughter with brother, and joining the CPs, so that the two of them can get a ration bonus because of her joining.)
    Part of the problem is that Valve sees Half-Life as the Gordon Freeman saga, rather than a persistent universe. I would love to see them expand on that universe, telling more stories, enriching the Gordon Freeman story by enriching the world it takes place in. I do hope they expand to having more stories about the Half Life universe. Until they decide to let the story lead and the technology follow, we will continue to see these long delays between valve games, rather than seeing a consistent, higher revenue earning of selling by volume, frequently.

    I do think that the whole “Sin episodes” thing falling apart bares mentioning, but I do no know the details, so I cannot provide informed comment on the matter, If anyone else can, please do, because I would like to know the details.

    -Oopla

    Episodic content: IMHO

  25. macc

    Anyway. Valve canceled the Black Box! That made me mad. Valve is one of the few companies I actually spend my money on. But thats about to change!

    Valve didn’t cancel the Black Box. The publishers did, because the shops don’t want multiple copies of the same game, because they want to shelf out as many games as possible.
    The newest generation consoles don’t have copies of HL2 en Ep1 yet, so deleting the Black Box instead of the Orange box is the obvious choice.

    I think the problem with episodic content from Valve is that they want to put all newest technologies in the episodes to stay at the top, which is not a bad thing, but then there’s no way of predicting how long it’s gonna take to finish every episode.
    Yes the gaps are too large if you want to make episodic gaming to work. But then again, you do get some awesome stuff, so I am not complaining too much.

    I can replay the HL games multiple times, so I don’t lose the story after a while. HL is one of the few games I can play multiple times and still enjoy very much.

    On one point it does suck you buy games you already have, on the other hand the Orange Box is really not a bad deal, if you consider a lot of other games they ask 50 buks for. And if my memory serves me well, the Orange Box wasn’t a lot more expensive than the Black Box should have been.

    To make it short, the Orange Box is certainly a good deal if you’re also interested in TF2 and Portal, but everybody should make up his own mind if he finds it a worthy investment or not.

  26. cubedude89

    Valve didn’t cancel the Black Box. The publishers did, because the shops don’t want multiple copies of the same game, because they want to shelf out as many games as possible.
    The newest generation consoles don’t have copies of HL2 en Ep1 yet, so deleting the Black Box instead of the Orange box is the obvious choice.

    Good point and now that I think about it. It is a good deal. As a developer myself I know how much work goes into this stuff.

    I have preorded and preloaded the orange box haha.

  27. Anonymous

    re. #26, Oopia, you’ve got some great prompts for stories there. It’d be cool if modders or Valve took up some of your ideas. Interestingly, Valve have hinted that the way we perceive Freeman will shift in episode 2. A trailer shows Alyx clinging for life from a girder (a bridge support?), saying “Gordon?” Interesting.

    As for why Sin episodes fell apart, I understand it was because Sin:Emergence didn’t garner great reviews and/or didn’t reach sales targets. I bought Emergence but I doubt I would have bothered with a Sin:ep.2.

  28. Oopla

    re. #26, Oopia, you’ve got some great prompts for stories there. It’d be cool if modders or Valve took up some of your ideas. Interestingly, Valve have hinted that the way we perceive Freeman will shift in episode 2. A trailer shows Alyx clinging for life from a girder (a bridge support?), saying “Gordon?” Interesting.

    As for why Sin episodes fell apart, I understand it was because Sin:Emergence didn’t garner great reviews and/or didn’t reach sales targets. I bought Emergence but I doubt I would have bothered with a Sin:ep.2.

    Thanks Anon. I am very interested by the whole Alyx dying possibility. If you as Gordon have to make a choice about saving Alyx, and letting others die, that would be memorable game play.

  29. vashts1985

    honestly I think something is fishy at play dot com.

    i looked and what you said is true. 26.99 for both.

    but

    here, on steam, TOB is being sold for almost twice as much as episode 2 (ep2:29.99 and TOB:44.99 after a discount)

    i am also upset with the wait we had to endure, and to make matters worse these 3 episodes are technically HL3.

    fine you want to release little mini plots and storys? whatever new content is welcomed. if its at the cost of a full fledged game though (HL3 SHOULD be a full game damnit) then your now steppin on my toes and pissing me right off

    something isint right

  30. vashts1985

    one more thing too, before you totally thrash episodic gaming, take a look at the recent sam and max six-ology (i guess thats the word for it lol) it is great example of proof of concept

    i think because valve hasent focused on what is the prime importance of Episodic releases (STORY STORY STORY!!!) but rather trying to tack as much new tech onto a now aging source engin, that they are really shooting themselves in the foot. once again that ties into the whole expansion vs full game thing.

    i think if valve plays this smart they can still make a come back. leave the latest buzzwords for a REborn HL3 and just finish the gdam HL2 story as quickly as possable

  31. Wesp5

    “Valve didn’t cancel the Black Box. The publishers did, because the shops don’t want multiple copies of the same game, because they want to shelf out as many games as possible.”

    I just don’t believe that. In my favorite shop there are several versions of HL and HL2 around and nobody cares because they sell. Even if this was true, Valve could have chosen the black box for the PC because everyone interested in HL2:EP2 surely has HL2 and EP1. That’s an unfair way of milking the customer, nothing more!

    “The newest generation consoles don’t have copies of HL2 en Ep1 yet, so deleting the Black Box instead of the Orange box is the obvious choice.”

    No, offer the orange box for the consoles and the black box for the PC then. Also it seems that even on Steam directly it is not possible to buy any of the new games on their own :(.

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