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 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