Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Valve Reevaluates Episodic Gaming

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the loose-definition-of-working dept.

PC Games (Games) 142

Dr. Eggman writes "CVG has a recent article on Valve's future plans for episodic gaming. After the third episode of Half-Life 2 is out, Valve plans to sit down with the community and figure out what is working and what's not. Gabe Newell also wants to spend time with Telltale Games and Blizzard, both developers of episodic and episodic-like game content. It it worth it to try to release content on an episodic basis? 'We just want to sit down with three examples in front of us and talk it over with gamers to find out what they would like us to do next.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

The problem with episodic gaming... (5, Insightful)

nojjynb (1003593) | about 7 years ago | (#20766205)

... isn't that we aren't getting a full game, or that they're spreading out the story over 3 or 4 games. No, the problem is when they say they'll release them between 9 and 12 months apart, and they don't release the second episode for 2 years.

I'm a fan of the quick, 8 hour episodes, released yearly. I'm not a fan of having to wait 2 years for that type of content when many games put out full blown sequels. Honestly, either work on upgrading the engine, or work on the episodic content, not both at the same time. Besides, why should what is essentially an overgrown expansion pack run on a different engine than the original? Bang out the new content while you have another team working on upgrading the engine, then you could go back and make the old content run on the new engine, or not, as you please.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (1)

lupis42 (1048492) | about 7 years ago | (#20766331)

It gets particularly annoying when an 8 hour episode can cost as much as a 20 hour expansion pack, more than half as much as a 40 hour game. I'm not just looking at Valve here, although their bundling plans do frustrate me.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (1)

GeckoX (259575) | about 7 years ago | (#20768961)

Why do the bundles frustrate you? You can buy the episodes without the bundle, or get a great deal on the bundled content. I fail to see the problem. $45 for an 8 hr episode, TF, and Portal is a very good deal.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (1)

Poromenos1 (830658) | about 7 years ago | (#20771013)

The pack also contains HL2 and episode 1, don't forget those. Honestly, I think TF2 alone is worth $45, it's the most fun I've ever had gaming.

Hey, libertarians! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20766637)

Guess what, you insufferable nincompoops? Our government is itself the product of a market system. Cities like New York, London, and San Francisco are successful precisely *because* of their enormous governments--they compete for capital, talent, and prestige against cities with small, ineffectual governments that are unable to effectively lure and corral said capital, talent, and prestige. And as goes the city, so go city-states and nations: Somalia, being a libertarian paradise, is a rather unpleasant place to live for non-ideologues. Somalians, those who can, vote with their feet and leave.

Now go suckle Ayn Rand's rotten tits some more and leave the rest of us alone, you stupid fucking Paultards.

Re:Hey, libertarians! (-1, Offtopic)

nojjynb (1003593) | about 7 years ago | (#20766945)

^^ Did you read the wrong article? :P

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (5, Insightful)

*weasel (174362) | about 7 years ago | (#20766775)


Valve re-evaluating episodic gaming is like me re-evaluating my relationship with Salma Hayek.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (2, Interesting)

dyslexicbunny (940925) | about 7 years ago | (#20767377)

That's pretty much the same problem I've had with the episodic gaming. They promised new content every 6 months, which was nice since I got to play new parts to the franchise every 6 months instead of every two years. I always considered the perk being that I never really forgot about the series and kept wanting to play.

Like you, I always saw episodic content in the sense of we release episodes on release A. Keep working on release B and integrate it for a major release (like HL3). I think Valve lost focus on what they needed to do to keep episodes releasing on schedule. Perhaps someone kept saying that major changes were almost done or adding them would make this XX% better. I suppose it could be construed as mismanagement since I think you have to reign that sort of thinking it if it's causing problems.

But since I'm not in charge of one of the most successful franchises, I'm not really in a position to do anything but give my opinion and think it's good. Perhaps if I were their shoes, I'd know something different.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (4, Interesting)

happyemoticon (543015) | about 7 years ago | (#20768427)

I am really skeptical of any engine improvements for one big reason: HDR/Bloom slows my computer down to a crawl. Yeah, it looks awesome, but I can't justify spending the money to get a system that handle that level of graphical glitz.

You bring up an important point, though: do engine improvements make a game better? No more than special effects improve a movie's plot. In fact, if I had a dime for every time showing off some CGI bullshit actually made a movie's cinematography worse, I'd have about ten bucks thanks to the Star Wars prequel trilogy alone. I'd say that graphical glamor should never be so grandiose that it slows down a game's user interface (if it has one as such), and that, in many cases, cartoonish graphics and fewer frills actually make a game more playable, and thus a better game. Other elements of a "blockbuster" game, such as extensive plot development and cutscenage, are also anti-game in the sense that they distract you from the actual point of the game which is to, uh, play the game. I was playing FFX for the first time earlier this week, and I just couldn't stand it. You take away all the atrocious yammering and soulful gazes, and all you're left with is too little of a fairly banal game.

Of course, the caveat to this is that, in many cases, engine improvements can contribute to sales, and a game can't really sell itself on its gaming merits. And, as Ken Levine pointed out on that talk show he was on recently, politics can lead to business decisions being made for purely b2b-related reasons, and I'm sure it only gets worse when you're a titan of a company like Valve. This isn't too hard for me to imagine:

Valve Exec: ... Yeah, so we're not too hot on the whole "Bloom" thing. I mean, it's cool and all, but implementing it properly presents a challenge, and it adds another variable for the level designers and artists to think about, and it's just going to slow down production.
Nvidia Rep: Oh? Really? Gee, that's really disappointing...
Valve Exec: What do you mean?
Nvidia Rep: Oh, I don't know. I mean, you know, if all of the game companies in the world stopped pushing technology, we'd basically be out of business.
Valve Exec: We're not talking about bloom never, just not for this quick episodic release business plan we're having. When we come out with our next major title, it's definitely got bloom.
Nvidia Rep: Yeah, and when's that gonna be? 2010 or 2011 if we take into account your last hit. Look, you're one of the big developers. One of the only big developers. Who's going to do it if you don't? Bethesda? Shit, come on. And we do a lot of nice things for you in terms of features and API support. I mean, I guess we might just have to stop doing those if you're not going to play ball. Valve Exec: Okay, hang on. *picks up phone* Yeah, hey, you know, I'd really like you to try to get that bloom stuff into Episode 2. What? Yeah, I know it'll delay it, that's fine. But we're just talking a few months, right?

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (1)

Xian97 (714198) | about 7 years ago | (#20767485)

is the same problem I had with episodic novels. A prime example was Stephen King's "The Green Mile". You ended up paying more for 6 paperback novellas than the hardcover containing the full story would have cost you up front. I didn't like getting involved in the story then having to put it on hold waiting for the next episode to come out either.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (1)

GeckoX (259575) | about 7 years ago | (#20768919)

Don't think it has to be that way, but Stephen King is a particularly good example of the wrong way to do it. The Green Mile was definitely a milk job. The other was the gunslinger series. OK, not exactly episodic, but similar...started off ok, but he clearly had NO idea where it was going, just a hook to get through the first few 'episodes' knowing fans would want closure to the story and would basically buy anything. The rest was complete and utter crap.

I haven't read a single thing from SK since he royally pissed me off with destroying that particular series. I know I'm not the only one.

So back on topic: Lesson to be learned here is that your episodes MUST be a part of the whole, and you had better not milk the customer for each one. Keep continuity and flow in to the whole, and offer the pieces at a reasonable price.

All in all, I think Valve has done a fairly good job, my only complaint being like most others...too much time between episodes. But I'm willing to overlook that given the additional content they offer with each as a bundle. (TF, Portal etc)

I think Valve has proven that the formula can work and there is a solid market for it. They just need to refine the process a bit, and DON'T do what SK did...or they will most certainly kill the franchise.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (1)

zoggins (17967) | about 7 years ago | (#20770643)

Ummm, just cause you didn't like the way the Dark Tower books unfolded doesn't mean SK didn't have a plan. If you read anything about the "development" of the Dark Tower you will know that he had the entire series outlined on the same pastal colored paper he started writing the Gunslinger on in the late '70s.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (2, Informative)

GeckoX (259575) | about 7 years ago | (#20770903)

Sorry, you're right:

Step 1: Come up with general idea for grand magnum opus.
Step 2: Decide it'll be in 7 parts.
Step 3: Plan out first 3 parts.
Step 4: Write and sell first 3 parts.
Step 5: ?
Step 6: Profit!

I DO know quite a bit about it. I was a HUGE SK fan thank you very much. It is well know that other than a very loose idea of the 7 books, there was almost no initial planning beyond the first 3 other than an overarching idea.

Reading the entire series, it's all but impossible to miss this. There's the first 3 books...and then there's the other 4 books. They are so incredibly different that they could have been written by completely different authors with completely different visions.

Regardless, it's not exactly a good example of quality 'episodic content' now is it? Most people would agree with that...though very often people become very apologetic when defending something they've spent so much time waiting to come to it's conclusion.

Anyways, you know what my point was, so instead of attacking the example based on your own feelings...both being all but irrelevant to the point at about addressing the point that was being made?

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (5, Insightful)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | about 7 years ago | (#20767547)

Not to mention that episodic gaming as a whole has been one thinly veiled attempt at milking more money out of consumers "per episode" than it would normally cost for the game. Remember way back in the day when companies used to release free content patches? Yeah, that'll never happen again. Episodic content will ensure you get nickle and dimed for everything you've got.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 7 years ago | (#20768745)

The episodes cost $20 each. There are three of them. Together they constitute what, ~18 hours of FPS gameplay? That's about the length of a full game. Three episodic games, $60 total. That's also about the cost of a full game.

So, all told, you're getting about the same amount of gameplay as a full game for about the same cost. How is that "milking more money out of consumers"?

Besides, Valve tends to also release episodes with other content bundled in. Episode two, for example, will also be available in a package called "The Orange Box", which includes (for $45) Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2 Episode 1, Half-Life 2 Episode 2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal. Even for me, who already owns the first two items in that list, $45 for Episode 2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal, that's a very good deal. I'd easily spend the $45 just on Team Fortress alone.

If anything, episodic content is the OPPOSITE of milking more money from consumers. In a similar way to the Shareware days of old, a gamer can purchase the first episode, and use that to decide if he likes it enough to buy the rest of the episodes. If they don't like it, they're saving money they would have otherwise already spent.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (2, Insightful)

ShadowsHawk (916454) | about 7 years ago | (#20770729)

Except their NOT $20 each. Ep1 was $20 and Ep2 will be $30. We're already at $50, so unless Ep3 is $10, we're not getting what was promised. As for the 'Orange box'; I already own Half-Life 2 and Ep1. They should be rewarding loyal fans rather than punishing them.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (1)

Poromenos1 (830658) | about 7 years ago | (#20771051)

You will be able to give away (sell?) the duplicate games you already have.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (1)

ShadowsHawk (916454) | about 7 years ago | (#20771169)

Everyone that I know that would be interested in HL2 already owns it. I would prefer that they charge a reasonable amount instead of screwing their existing customers. It's simply bad customer service.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20770009)

Remember way back in the day when companies used to release free content patches? Yeah, that'll never happen again.

What the hell are you talking about? When HL2Ep1 came out, all the engine upgrades got pushed to HL2 automatically. I remember being especially bummed because it effectively upped the sysreqs of HL2 without my consent.

I have no problem with paying for something I see value in. The problem with Valve is they're not actually releasing anything! I'll buy the orange box when it comes out, but for Portal more than anything else. My emotional attachment to HL2 is long gone.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (1)

ahoehn (301327) | about 7 years ago | (#20771735)

I agree in some cases I agree: I feel like if I'm paying $18/mo to subscribe to WOW, than my addons should be free.

But, in the case of the Half Life 2 episodes, I didn't feel at all like Half Life 2 was shorter than it should have been. And I just got Episode 2 nearly free bundled with "The Orange Box".

Which brings me to my next point: That Team Fortress 2 is awesome. Completely awesome.

Wait, did I just go completely off topic? Bugger.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (3, Insightful)

BeanBagKing (1151733) | about 7 years ago | (#20767607)

I for one will not chastise a company that pushes a release date back, even this far, in order to make a quality product. I've played far too many games that are bugged, crash, some won't even install correctly. I've played several that are easier to pirate because piracy removed a lot of the problems I was having (I still own a copy however). I've said it before and I'll say it again. If the product is worth it (as half-life 2 certainly is), I'm willing to wait the time it takes to make it perfect. Do I wish that they could release every 6 months? of course. Do I want them to rush it out the door in 6 months the way a lot of companies would do? No, that would kill the game, and I hope most people here realize it. Failing them meeting the 6 month date, do I wish they could have given me an accurate time line to begin with? again, of course, but as someone who dabbles in code and computers myself, I know the unexpected pops up. Way to go Valve for making one of the few games I've enjoyed enough to play through to the end, and leaving me still wanting more.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (2, Informative)

JayDot (920899) | about 7 years ago | (#20767655)

So far my favorite "episodic" release has been Guild Wars. They've released three major, stand-alone titles in 18 months, plus a high-level "expansion pack". All have been top-quality.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (1)

ACS Solver (1068112) | about 7 years ago | (#20767853)

Yep. Even before, Valve as good as admitted before that episodes aren't working as they expected. They wanted to put release them at 6-9 month intervals. Ep2 now comes at about 15 months after Ep1, which was itself delayed twice.

I don't mind the slow development. Episode One featured improved graphics and top-notch gameplay, was well worth it. I'd much rather have that than a mediocre episode after 6 months. But then again, maybe it'd be better to delay even further and create a full sequel. There's a trilogy of episodes for HL2. Ep3 won't be out earlier than late 2008. It could even be 2009 - at any rate, it'll be about 4 years after the release of Half-Life 2, a timeframe in which sequels can and are made.

By all means Valve, keep the quality and keep delaying releases if that's what the quality requires - just don't pretend to really have episodic gaming.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (1)

Kelbear (870538) | about 7 years ago | (#20770811)

I don't think 15 months is required to generate the content for 6-odd hours of gameplay on a completed engine. I think the extra time stems from the technology updates they've been incorporating and in the case of Ep2, bundling it with two ofter software products that have all-new implementations, so the the timing here is all wrong.

If they had just made content, I suspect they would have met their original timeline, but trying to cram in additional engine work on this product and bundled products has bogged it down. I think they could still deliver comparable quality in the shorter intervals if they saved the new tech for later.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (1)

RealErmine (621439) | about 7 years ago | (#20768217)

either work on upgrading the engine, or work on the episodic content, not both at the same time

You're right on the money here. The story mentions Valve meeting with Telltale and Blizzard like there's some secret weapon to releasing episodic content on time. There is no secret weapon, Valve, there's just common sense and effective time management. In both cases, the companies stuck with an established engine and concentrated only on content between episode releases. This obviates the need for numerous, time consuming processes like exhaustive play testing and generation of complicated graphics/audio/scripting code.

Valve tried to take their normal, 2-3 year development process, chop down the time to complete to 9 months, and call it episodic. Now they're wondering what went wrong?

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about 7 years ago | (#20768605)

I think Valve's main problem is that they were working on OTHER projects too (Portal, TF2).

I mean, I PREFER having more games from Valve, but I think the proper way to do episodic content is to channel as much energy (ie staff working on it) as possible to shorten the development time. But like I said, I'm really looking forward to Portal and TF2 is a lot of fun. Quite frankly, it's harder to do episodic with a FPS rather than something like Sam and Max. Sam and Max reuses some of its main locations, which cuts down some of the work Telltale has to do, whereas Half-Life 2 Episodes have all been about trying NEW things... concepts, puzzles... with completely NEW areas and enemies. Alyx sticking by you the whole game. The scene with the "thing" in a pod. Reprogramming roller mines. Stalkers as enemies. The awesome ending cutscene.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 7 years ago | (#20768901)

Valve isn't a small company. They have multiple teams, and they work on different projects. TF2 was ready before Episode 2, and it would seem that Portal was finished quite some time ago. Episode 2 is what has been holding everything back, so it would seem that not having TF2/Portal probably wouldn't have sped up the release.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (1)

akypoon (258201) | about 7 years ago | (#20770315)

Agree. I still remember I bought HL2 + CS Source a year ago for $29.99. I was anticipating a bundled release of both Ep.1 and Ep.2, so I didn't bother to buy Ep.1 from store or get it from Steam. But another year passed and still no sign of Ep.2. (What gives?)

I liked Valve's release model at the beginning since $19.99 per year for a renewable experience of HL2 is a reasonable deal to me. But now that Valve fails to deliver, I wonder if I should even bother with Ep.1 now.

Re:The problem with episodic gaming... (1)

Chabo (880571) | about 7 years ago | (#20771119)

I think you don't realize that they have different employees doing different jobs already. The engine coders aren't going to be doing any map design in the near future, or vice versa.

I've heard this one before. (5, Funny)

DarrenBaker (322210) | about 7 years ago | (#20766265)

Valve plans to sit down with the community and figure out what is working and what's not.
Are... Are you breaking up with me?

Re:Maybe (1)

sethstorm (512897) | about 7 years ago | (#20766359)

I wouldn't call that relationship sultry by any means. The stockholders seem to think it was nothing more than a torrid affair.

The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (3, Interesting)

Trevelyan (535381) | about 7 years ago | (#20766269)

All I can say that the Orange Box promotion is a slap in the face for those of us that already have Half-Life 2 and Episode 1.

I see no sign of a Episode 2+Portal+Team Fortress (ie no HL2+E1) promotion (and pre-order discount), and who wants to pay for the same content twice?

I maybe wrong, but if so, then Steam has done a poor job of advertising any alternative promotions. Especially considering it already knows what games I own.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (2, Informative)

W2k (540424) | about 7 years ago | (#20766311)

When you buy the OB, you get gift certificates for HL2 and HL2:Ep1 if you already own those games. I would probably have bought it even if it meant paying for those games twice; the $45 it cost are easily worth it for HL2:Ep2, Portal and TF2 alone.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20766621)

And to forestall the inevitable post from the grandparent:

If you have Half-Life 2 and Episode 1 licenses that you don't want and can't give away, I'm sure someone on Slashdot will be more than happy to have it.

(Not me; I've got licenses of my own to give out...)

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20766673)

It isn't worth it if you are one of those people who already has both HL2 and Episode 1 but doesn't care about TF2.
This 'gift certificate' argument is a classic attempt to misdirect you from one simple fact: you will be paying for the same content twice. Steam is a *digital* distribution system FFS, why do Valve feel the need to give you Hobson's choice when it comes to Episode 2? It isn't like they'd be pressing different runs of installation DVDs to add to the cost of distribution.
I'd like to think it's more than just me who won't be buying Episode 2 until they sell it either on its own or with Portal but realistically that isn't likely to happen.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (2, Insightful)

W2k (540424) | about 7 years ago | (#20766805)

I'm certain they'll offer Episode 2 on its own once it's out. Likely it'll be priced the same as Ep1 was on release, which was about $30 if I remember incorrectly. So some people will no doubt whine that they are being ripped off when TOB, which contains the full game in addition to lots of other goodies, is only $15 more.

So let them whine. It's a bundle; the whole point of a bundle is that you get more value for less money. If this includes some stuff you don't want, do a simple cost/benefit and decide if it's worth it anyway; if not, don't buy the bundle. It's STUPIDLY SIMPLE. Yet some people will still whine, like Valve should be obligated to provide a good deal that fits their needs precisely. Childish and immature.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

bateleur (814657) | about 7 years ago | (#20766865)

In general I agree with your point, but in this case what happens if I want to play (say) Team Fortress 2 but none of the other stuff in the box? Is there another way to buy it? Because if not I can see how that might annoy some people.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | about 7 years ago | (#20767281)

I did check this out - you can buy each part of the box seperately on Steam for $19.99.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

toolie (22684) | about 7 years ago | (#20769037)

I did check this out - you can buy each part of the box seperately on Steam for $19.99.
Not quite [] .

HalfLife 2: $29.95
Episode 1: $19.95
Episode 2: $29.95
Portal: $19.95
Team Fortress 2: $29.95

Individual price $129.75
Package price $49.95
pre-purchase discount - $5.00
Cost to you $44.95

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

Sosarian (39969) | about 7 years ago | (#20769377)

You know that's all number games and mechanics at some level. It's obvious that the real price of those titles is way less then what they are selling them for.

The real price of those titles is closer to half of of their listed prices. It's about $10/game, if you agree that TF2 and HL2 are worth more then those are worth about $15 and the rest are worth about $6-7 each. Even marking them up unbundled so they are $19.95 and $9.95 it would be about $70. That's the price they really should be selling these games for.

I didn't buy Episode 1 because I thought it was a crap deal considering it's length. Remeber that with HL2 I got HL2 Deathmatch and CounterStrike Source and I figured when Episode Two came out I could get a great deal on a bundle of some sort...amazing what a little patience did for me.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

Araxen (561411) | about 7 years ago | (#20766847)

I'm not buying the orange box either because this bundling is absurd. Till they come out with them separately at reasonable prices for EP2/Portal or TF2 I will not buy either.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

desenz (687520) | about 7 years ago | (#20768681)

They are available separately on steam. Episode2 and Team Fortess2 are $29.95 each. Portal goes for 19.95 by itself. If you wanted just one of them, go for it. But the bundle isn't so bad...its currently $45. They also give you a free license for HL2 and Episode 1 that you can give away(assuming you already have a copy), so there must be someone you know who could use one.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (4, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | about 7 years ago | (#20766335)

It's only an insult if you let it be. You -knew- that the price would come down if you waited. If you wait long enough, the price comes to down almost nothing. In this case, it came down to exactly nothing, if you purchase the Orange Box. (Orange Box is $50, the price of a new game, and includes 3 new games, even if one is just an episode.)

You paid to play it when it came out, and all the time up until Orange Box is released. If you feel like you were cheated, DON'T BUY NEW GAMES. This will happen every single time. The price ALWAYS comes down eventually. You will, of course, miss the best years of the product's life, especially online. That's up to you.

So buy it or don't, but don't claim you've been cheated. No, the truth is, the people that waited have a small bonus.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

Darundal (891860) | about 7 years ago | (#20767201)

You were aware of the black box and what happened to that BEFORE you wrote your post defending the Orange Box, weren't you?

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

Aladrin (926209) | about 7 years ago | (#20767589)

No, but I don't really see that it matters. At the time Black Box was cancelled, Orange Box was scheduled for $60. Now it's $50. (For PC, which is the only place Black Box was going to exist anyhow.)

The fact that you can't buy just Ep2 does show that either Valve has given up on episodic content, or they really have no bloody idea what it means. Since this article is about them begging customers and competitors for information on what they're doing wrong, I'm going to guess it's the latter.

I don't like episodic content. I thought I would, and then Half Life and Sam & Max proved me wrong. Luckily, Sam & Max is distributed with GameTap and I didn't waste any extra money on it. It was fun, but the constant waiting and monthly disappointment was stressful. The monthly disappointment was that each episode was too much the same as the last (though I see what they were doing there) and while there was a little plot, it was nothing like the original Sam & Max game in terms of depth.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 7 years ago | (#20768967)

You can buy just Episode 2, or at least you will once it's out. Steam lists the price as $30. That would seem to invalidate your main point.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

ShadowsHawk (916454) | about 7 years ago | (#20771125)

The fact that they're charging $30 for an EPISODE shows that they have no clue as to what they should charge or how often new content should be released.

Count me a disappointed former valve fan.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

Cius (918707) | about 7 years ago | (#20767415)

Yea, good idea man! Let's all wait till the price comes down to buy new games! If we all wait, then the best years of that game's online life will be when it costs us next to nothing and we can *all* get in on the pwnage! And we'll also show these greedy corporations what for, because they'll get no sales on that 5+ development years, multi-billion dollar project they're pushing! Next time they'll *know* not to price it so high at launch and pretty soon *all* games will come out at bargain basement prices! When we finally get to this golden age of producer/consumer harmony everyone will be fan-dandy-tastic! We will never again have to worry about large corporations giving a big, slimy stiffy to the people that supported them in years past!

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

Aladrin (926209) | about 7 years ago | (#20767691)

Go ahead, but don't bitch when nobody follows you. The rest of us find the prices acceptable and will continue to pay them. That's how the free market works.

I was tempted to find your post to be sarcastic, but that would mean you hadn't bothered to actually read more than a few words of mine... So I had to choose ignorant and sarcastic, or just plain stupid. I chose the latter.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

Kelz (611260) | about 7 years ago | (#20766385)

Meh, I've pre-ordered it and I can say I'd personally pay $50 for just TF2 (being a broke college student, that does kinda have some weight). Its fun, and its a lot of fucking content for $50. Can't wait for portal.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20766541)

Maybe rather than spending $50 on a game, you should go join a gym or just go outside and run around a bit. That might help with your weight issue.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | about 7 years ago | (#20767641)

I was thinking the same thing, that TF2 is worth the $50. It is weird that everyone is bitching so much. TF2 will cost $60 by itself on the consoles, so would Portal if released for consoles. I may not like the way they bundled the games, but the fact is, the price is cheap for everything you are getting. Damn cheap, AND you can give away two games and yes, so they can drum up new biz.

Still: What you pay vs. what you get, it is a very good deal. Perhaps their marketing of the price is bad, but the deal isn't.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

Nos. (179609) | about 7 years ago | (#20768357)

It was a bit of a slap in the face. From one point of view, people without HL2 are getting more benefit. That being said, I did purchase the Orange Box and am loving the beta of TF2. I'm anxiously awaiting Portal as well, but $45 for TF2 is not an outrageous price, and bundled with two other games (okay, one is an episode), just makes it that much better.

For some, that may be too steep for what's included. That's fine. Heck, even some people who've paid are having issues with lockups, though last nights patch will hopefully have cleared up some of that.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20766445)

Are you complaining about 3 games for 45usd? I had bought hl2 before, which included hl2:deathmatch and counterstrike:source, and hl2:lost coast. I paid 100nzd when this was released.. Now they're offering hl2, hl2 ep1, hl2 ep2, portal, team fortress II for 45usd(which equates to 65nzd). However way I look at it, I don't feel I'm paying for hl2, again. If I had bought hl2 ep1, I wouldn't feel like I was paying for that either.

If I bought hl2 ep2, portal and team fortress II separately, it would cost me 80usd. If I just wanted team fortress II and portal it would still cost me 50usd. 5usd more than the preorder orange box.

What exactly are you complaining about? It surely can't be the price, as it's fucking excellent compared to every other new game package in the world. What kind of price did you expect for hl2 ep2, portal and team fortress II?

I think of it like valve are just giving away hl2 and ep1. No point owning two copies of the same thing, so why not give away the extra copies to someone who hasn't played the game, thus getting them into steam, and by doing that valve hopes they buy other content.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (2, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | about 7 years ago | (#20766733)

I just want to go on the record and say that Lost Coast hardly counts as a game or an episode. Any semi-talented HL2 player could run the entire map in under a half an hour. It was more like a demo and, IMHO, I think that's what Valve meant it as; a demo of their new rendering techniques.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

_xeno_ (155264) | about 7 years ago | (#20769467)

It was more like a demo and, IMHO, I think that's what Valve meant it as; a demo of their new rendering techniques.

Try playing through with commentary enabled. That's exactly what it is, they're completely transparent about that. It's a tech demo of their new "high dynamic range" engine. The location and event are intended to show off the new engine and really nothing more.

In fact, I'd say that there's no point to playing it without commentary. It's very short and does nothing that effects the story. It's literally a tech demo.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20766493)

People keep saying this, and it keeps not making sense.

If you want 2 or more of the things bundled in the Orange Box, it's a good deal. Any 2. Look at the individual prices, and the bundle price... there are 3 new products there, for the price of 2. There are also two older products bundled in as well, which you may already own. They're not going to hurt you in any way -- they're free.

Imagine you're buying a car. It's a car you like, and it's on sale for 30% off, and they give you a free hat with it. But you already HAVE a hat! Holy crap! What a slap in the face to hat owners! Those bastards!

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20766567)

IIRC, episode 2 is $25, TF2 is $25, and Portal is $25. The Orange Box gives you all three, plus HL2 and Episode 1, for $45.

Even if all you want is two of the three new games, you're getting a discount!

Plus, as other people have said, if your account already has HL2 and Ep1 registered, you get 'friend keys' which allow you to give the games to someone who doesn't have them yet - give them away for free or charge someone ten bucks for them, you're still getting a bargain!

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20766669)

If it's such a horrible deal, speak with your wallet and don't buy it.

You're an idiot if you think that though, it's the best deal in gaming possibly EVER. Try and find a better deal for any newly released game, you won't.

Seriously, you could have only owned Half Life 2 & Episode 1 on a PC previously. This is the first XBox 360 release for Valve as well as the first Playstation 3 release.

So you can only be whining if you are a PC owner. The previously announced "Black Box" was announced at a price of $40.00, right now you can buy the Orange Box for $45.00 and you also get Peggle Extreme!

So for that $5 you're sooooooo desperate to save and sooooooo angry about being ripped off by Valve you're getting two new licenses of Half Life 2 & Episode 1 you can give to anyone you want and you also get a license for Peggle Extreme which normally sells for more than $5.00 if you buy it from PopCap via steam.

Not all sales of Valve products are through steam and I am sure when Valve calculated the costs of retail preparation and shipping of two separate SKUs for nearly the same product, it wasn't worth it in the end.

Some people, like yourself, seem to be angered by this but I think Valve has bent over backwards for the hard core gamers to make it up. As someone else said as well, Valve always lowers its prices over time, so if you can't afford that $5 now, wait, next year it'll be cheaper.

Ooooh, Valve, what money grubbing evil pricks. hahahahahaha. Slap in the face my ass.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (4, Insightful)

adagioforstrings (192285) | about 7 years ago | (#20766731)

Well, unlike the other folks here, I agree with you. The "Black Box" was the set that contained only the three games you mentioned. Valve eliminated it because stores apparently didn't want two SKUs for basically the same thing. The list price for the three we don't have is $80, but consider that Episode 2 is priced $10 (50%!) higher than Episode 1, and the other two games are arguably $5-$10 higher than similar products in the past. I probably won't play TF2 much just because I don't have time for multiplayer anymore. Who knows how much of a game Portal is. I've prepurchased all the new Valve games in the past, but this time it's just a little hard for me to swallow. I may actually wait for reviews this time before purchasing. If someone else feels like they get the value out of it, then fine, but I'm not sure I will.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

Darundal (891860) | about 7 years ago | (#20767237)

I somehow don't buy that argument because of Vista/XP.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | about 7 years ago | (#20766837)

Honestly, there is the "Black Box" on Steam. Though, I don't care. Steam is horrible. Not being able to play a game because I don't have internet that is Single Player is evil. Also, what if they go out of business? (I hope not, but it happens) Will they send us all a CD/DVD version of every game I bought from them? What if my machine then crashes and I don't have the content anymore? I would much rather buy a CD/DVD version of a game than download it. I don't know if I'm going to get EP2 when it comes out now. I'll probably wait for it to drop down to $20-30 and get the Orange Box then.

Valve has really lost a lot of my respect because of that Black Box move. Steam isn't helping.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20767025)

Among your complaints, the only one that holds any water is your concern about Valve going out of business. Of course it won't happen within the next 5+ years, as you acknowledge, but at least that makes sense. As for your other concerns, they're just the standard boilerplate from ignorant Steam detractors. I respect opposing Steam on privacy grounds, but that's (apparently) not the basis of your opposition; no, the basis of your opposition seems to be sheer fantasy.

In short, yes, you can play Steam games offline. It's widely documented, including on Steam itself. As for reinstalling if your computer crashes, well, it's ridiculously easy. Yes, it will take longer than installing from physical media; on the other hand, Steam literally saturates my 10Mb connection, so it probably won't take nearly as long as you think. And I honestly find that a pretty decent tradeoff, because game *backups* with Steam are far, far easier than when dealing with physical media. You don't have to futz with the Windows Registry or any other junk. Rather, you can just move a single directory from the old disk to the new one, and you're finished; that's the sum total of all steps required for "reinstalling" all of your Steam games on a new machine, which will put you hours and hours ahead of reinstalling, say, 80GB from physical media (not to mention hunting down all of those CD keys again!).

In other words, there may be good reasons to be concerned about Steam, but you don't seem to know about many of them.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

dupont54 (857462) | about 7 years ago | (#20767565)

You cannot install Steam "offline games" offline, that's the problem.
Whether you can play these games online or offline afterwards is irrelevant.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20767851)

So where is it? I just looked at Steam and found no Black Box or anything with just HL2:EP2, TF2 and Portal.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

Lord Crc (151920) | about 7 years ago | (#20769219)

Not being able to play a game because I don't have internet that is Single Player is evil.

Apparently they have this offline [] mode which allows you to do just that...

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20768209)

You do realize that valve is letting you gift hl2 and hl2:ep1 to another person if you already own them and buy the orange box? No of course you didn't know that, that would imply you are an informed consumer and as we've all seen the average american consumer is an idiot how would rather whine about the great deal he's getting than actually know anything. Oh yeah did you even do the math and realize 5 games for 45$ is 9$ a piece? If you already have the other 2 consider it 15$ a piece and u get to gift 2 great games to somebody who doesn't have them. The only insult here is you thinking you have a clue.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

Rhaban (987410) | about 7 years ago | (#20768297)

I felt exactly the same way ten years ago, when I bought Duke Nukem 3D and there was duke nukem I & II included in the box, and I already had both. I wanted to buy only one game for a third of the box price, but it was not possible. Greedy bastards. More recently, I wanted a refund for a cd I bought, because almost every single note had already been used by the same group on they previous album. They said I could not buy only the new notes.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | about 7 years ago | (#20769535)

I recently had a similar experience with a Rembrandt I purchased at the Louvre.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

Chabo (880571) | about 7 years ago | (#20771527)

You bought a painting, and it came with a free print? :)

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (1)

antdude (79039) | about 7 years ago | (#20769269)

I posted a newgroup thread about this recently. You can see the conversation on Google Groups [] . I am going to hold off my purchase unless I see it for really cheap. I am also upset with this bundle.

Re:The Orange box insult to existing HL2 owners. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20769563)

I agree it is a slap in the face. The fact is that when they originally announced the trio of new stuff, they said they would be offered as a package. The black box was the ticket for all of us that already own HL2 and Ep1. Yeah it would of only been $10-15 cheaper, which isn't much, but it's still annoying - it's the principality. I would have been perfectly happy paying $35, maybe even $40 for the whole package, and I would have already pre-purchased. As it is I saw $50 and that I was rebuying stuff I already bought and I said screw that.
I don't see any reason that retailers not wanting the black box means it cannot be offered on steam. I do see a brilliant means for getting more users on steam with the gifting of games we already own. It's not a horrible deal but it is a step in the wrong direction imho. Up until now they've done a nice job of not appearing as profit-centric as say, EA. In my mind they're now one step closer to that. There is a happy medium Valve. Profits are necessary but so are happy customers.

Regarding distribution (1, Interesting)

sethstorm (512897) | about 7 years ago | (#20766299)

As long as there's a full no-Steam way to get/use it, frequently updated (or just less than the TF to sequel) content is fine.

Its a difficult question... (2, Interesting)

PJ1216 (1063738) | about 7 years ago | (#20766547)

In my opinion, fewer original games are coming out. Episodic content for great games is fine. Half-Life is an example of this. However, I think thats an exception in an ongoing trend in video games. I think fewer and fewer games are coming out that are even worthwhile purchasing as opposed to renting. There just aren't that many games that are coming out that are newsworthy. Bio-shock and Halo 3 are some examples of games worth buying. PS3 hasn't had any yet in my opinion (and if they don't real soon, they might as well go the way of sega). Even Wii doesn't have that many (It's doing so well just because of the gameplay, but when it comes down to it, it just has a bunch of games that are fun, but not that many that are as engrossing as Bio-shock or to name a classic, Final Fantasy VII.)

It just seems like gaming has gone the same route as movies. Yea, some sequels are decent, but a majority of the ones that come out are never as great as the original. Then on top of that, there are fewer and fewer movies being made that are worth seeing more than once. yea, they're entertaining the first time, but no replay value.

Unfortunately, I think we've hit a downward slope in terms of games as an art.

I think they need to get to more original content. yea, some people might be upset because some of these continuing stories are really great, but I can't see anyone ever keeping that up. Eventually they'll start making bad ones because only so much can happen in a storyline that is exciting. Writers eventually run out of ideas. Then the franchise is ruined and everybody will complain. Its better leaving on a high note, then dragging it out until no one wants it.

Hopefully I got my point across. Kind of tired and I may have rambled a bit. =P

Its a difficult season... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20766617)

Did you think that the reason you're not seeing much is that the christmas season isn't here?

Re:Its a difficult season... (1)

Chabo (880571) | about 7 years ago | (#20771625)

Or maybe he's the type of gamer that doesn't need new games every 5 minutes, and therefore hasn't noticed a seasonal decline, but rather a long-term one.

You're like the guy who screams "GLOBAL WARMING IS FALSE" whenever snowfall occurs. Try looking at the overall trend.

Re:Its a difficult question... (1)

Vulva R. Thompson, P (1060828) | about 7 years ago | (#20767181)

As a casual gamer, I don't necessarily mind that gameplay isn't progressing that fast. The problem in my mind is the price. There are many "non-blockbuster" games on Steam that I've come close to purchasing but decided not to at the last minute. Around $20 would be get me to complete the transaction. $40-$50 always seems to break the deal. There would probably be 15 games in my online account instead of two if the price was lower.

The decision isn't due to factors like the delivery method; whether the online content is cheaper than a physical DVD doesn't matter, imho. And if development costs are so high that the producer needs to charge that much, well, then the whole issue is simply just my problem/loss.

So the point is that for some folks, content isn't the only deal-breaker in a game's success. Product pricing is a major factor too.

Re:Its a difficult question... (1)

hocrap (167178) | about 7 years ago | (#20767521)


The Game industry is mature now and the players are known. The game industry, just like the movie and the music industry, tries to lower their risks or at least controls it because they are run by technocrats. The passionates or the craftsmans are not in control anymore, it's the technocrats' turn and they are trying to improve the bottom line by tuning the processes and sticking to things they know work (duplicating the same recipes).
  Over time, new players will arrive to grab some part of the market left by the process standardization of theses industries but in the short term, expect the same kind of game, movie and music recipes.
my 2 cents.

Re:Its a difficult question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20768077)

... or to name a classic, Final Fantasy VII.)

I feel old.

Re:Its a difficult question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20770721)

It's annoying that you keep saying 'yea' when you really mean 'yeah'. The two words mean completely different things. Other than that, your points are good.

My input (1)

Xenolith (538304) | about 7 years ago | (#20766975)

Six month release cycle. Three hours of content. $10 / episode. Stand-alone (no package deals).

I still can't finish Half-Life 2: Episode One (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20767029)

The game always crashes minutes after starting with some sort of DirectX flaw. It happened once in a while during HL2, and I read that there was interference from Thunderbird so I made sure not to run it during (or before using) the game.

However, Episode One's errors are caused so often that I can't even go a few hundred meters before it crashes again. And despite finding the newest version of DirectX and looking for game updates, I can't find a fix.

I don't mind if the game is shorter, just make it PLAYABLE! I refuse to purchase more games if they won't work (for obvious reasons) so for that reason I'd prefer a longer development cycle for longer games.

Re:I still can't finish Half-Life 2: Episode One (1)

Creepy (93888) | about 7 years ago | (#20768399)

a newer version of DirectX probably won't fix many crashing problems - usually the installer will make sure you have a valid minimum level and that's been tested fairly thoroughly. Try to find a newer version of the graphics driver for your system (from nVidia, ATI, Intel, etc). A DX error doesn't always mean DirectX itself failed, as DX interfaces with various hardware drivers.

    I had similar issues with Oblivion caused by bugs in the nVidia driver that were fixed in a later driver (relating to shadows - turning off shadows limited crashes [still had memory related crashes after 4-5 hours], but I still had corrupted shadows, which I'm not sure if they ever fixed). Also try turning down graphics settings, or disabling newer features in the graphics settings - these are more prone to bugs. It doesn't sound like this happens on other games, so its unlikely an overheating problem like when the GPU fan dies (you will more likely have graphics lock up in this case).

Telltale has it right (2, Interesting)

spyrochaete (707033) | about 7 years ago | (#20767393)

I much prefer the way Telltale did their episodic series to Valve's. If I recall, the second Sam and Max episode came out a little late, but all the rest were either on time or early. A month between episodes was the perfect length - my excitement from the last episode hadn't cooled by the time the next one came out. Having the option to buy all episodes in advance for a greatly reduced price was a much better idea than Orange box, which would have been a great deal 3 years ago. Telltale even made a gorgeous retail DVD box available to season subscribers for merely the cost of shipping, and it was packed with tons of content not included in the digital downloads. Very timely, classy, and professional.

I love Half Life and I really love Episode One. I hate how long it was in development and would rather have played it a year sooner with no HDR. The again, Valve's releases are near-immaculate and the developer commentary hints at how much painstaking care they put into their games, so I've learned not to wish too hard that they rush their releases. Still, it's been YEARS since the last episode and if for some reason Episode Two never came out I'd hardly miss it at this point.

Re:Telltale has it right (2, Interesting)

Bieeanda (961632) | about 7 years ago | (#20768993)

I imagine that Telltale is also a smaller outfit and coming up with jokes and storylines aside, the S&M engine is easier to bolt things onto and script for. Scene-based adventure games are doubtlessly easier to develop on a technical level, since there are far fewer places for the player to sneak under the world or exploit AI.

That said, something like S&M, or the CSI games that Telltale puts out too, are [i]perfect[/i] for episodic gaming. Shooters have gone so far beyond the days of Wolf3D and Doom, that developing in chunks like that is counterproductive at best. Blizzard's quasi-episodic updates (or Cryptic's "Issue #" updates for City of Foozles) are a similarly unfair comparison: Valve's entire staff could probably fit comfortably in one of Blizzard's meeting rooms. They have sheer manpower to throw at testing, modular components like AI and pathing, or discrete chunks of map, or quest writing, that Valve or a dedicated modding team doesn't.

Valve's stuck in the same tight spot that killed Sin: Episodes' developer. A graphically attractive, well-balanced shooter takes a lot more man-hours to develop than the shooters of yesteryear did. Short chapters with cliffhanger endings only work well if you've got the next chapter lined up for release before the audience gets bored. WoW has a ton of content to begin with, and S&M episodes come out just often enough to make the player base excited. Waiting a year or more for a few hours of same-game play and middling exposition is not something that enthuses the average player. Waiting a year or more for a full-blown expansion or sequel, is another matter entirely.

Re:Telltale has it right (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | about 7 years ago | (#20770371)

Very good points. Some genres lend themselves better to episodic serials than others, and I'd much rather play a good shooter than a merely recent one. It's really the label "episode" that frustrates me when it comes to Half Life. I wish they'd developed episodes one through three as Half Life 3 or as an expansion pack. Instead I'll have ended up spending about $80 on expansions that combined are shorter than the $50 original.

Re:Telltale has it right (1)

Chabo (880571) | about 7 years ago | (#20771723)

Then you would've ended up with HL2 coming out in 2004, and HL3 coming out in 2008 or 2009. Personally, I'm happier with Ep1 in 2006 and Ep2 in 2007.

Re:Telltale has it right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20769441)

If I recall, the second Sam and Max episode came out a little late, but all the rest were either on time or early.

No, they were on time for each release. They said that there would be two months between the first and second episodes, and one month between the rest. They are going to do the same with the second season.

Re:Telltale has it right (1)

GarfBond (565331) | about 7 years ago | (#20769957)

Uh, it's been only a little over 1 year since Episode 1 came out, and Episode 2 comes out in under 2 weeks.

Episode 2 was promised to us on a much more aggressive schedule, but if you've played TF2 you can see the amount of care they've put into it. Well worth the wait IMO, even if the TF2 wait was agonizing.

Re:Telltale has it right (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | about 7 years ago | (#20770477)

You're right - it's only been a bit more than a year. I had my dates confused since Episode 2 was due to come out before Episode 1 ended up being released. I was incredibly impressed with Ep1 and vowed to never wish that Valve would hurry up and release after thoroughly enjoying the fine polish on that expansion and all their games. Still, even a year is a hell of a long time to wait for the continuation of the story which will, I'm sure, pose more new questions than it answers.

And I'm with you 100% on your TF2 comment. I haven't enjoyed multiplayer FPS deathmatch since Doom 1 but I gave TF2 a try and it's a really fun, fantastic game. I was especially amazed at the motion blur effect you see when you whip the camera around! Oddly, I noticed it right away but 10 minutes later I could hardly notice it. I think motion blur will become a standard bullet point (no pun intended) in FPS games from now on.

Re:Telltale has it right (1)

Chabo (880571) | about 7 years ago | (#20771689)

I doubt that the release date could've been moved up simply with the non-inclusion of HDR.

Two problems with episodic games (1)

Aneurism75 (1048530) | about 7 years ago | (#20767549)

1st problem: Developer and/or Publisher fail to commit to the series over the long haul, for example Ritual entertainment was sold off before a second episode of SIN could be made, its a shame to because the first episode was pretty good in my opinion. I basically feel ripped off that I paid for SIN: Emergence, and will never get to complete the full game. 2nd problem: Episodic games are not being delivered in a timely manner. If I am going to pay a premium for continous episodes... I want one every 6 months or less. If the developers can't release an episode every 6 months or less, just make a regular non-episodic game.

Sell engines like consoles (1)

Loosifur (954968) | about 7 years ago | (#20767849)

I reinstalled Half-Life 2 the other day and fired up Steam, and I'm finding that I really like the way it's set up, some small issues notwithstanding. I bought Episode One, and played through it while waiting for Bioshock, and I have to say I like the idea of episodic releases. The only problem is the cost. Half-Life 2 was about $60. Episode One ended up being around $20 or so. I would gladly pay $20 per 8-hour episode if the entry cost wasn't so high.

So here's an idea. Rather than sell a game like HL2 as-is at $60, for example, sell the engine with "Chapter 1", or whatever initial bit of the game plot for around $30 or so. Then, release subsequent episodes for $15, $20; for that matter, release different games using the same engine at the same pricing scheme. In other words, you buy the Unreal engine, for instance, with maybe a sampling of games, and then you buy the particular games that run on that engine separately. In the end, you're spending about as much as you would now, but there's modularity, and the business model is a little friendlier. If you buy Unreal and decide you don't like it, you're out $25 as opposed to $60. And let's say you don't like the game but the engine's nice, and a different game comes out using the same engine. All you spend is the $20-$30 for the new game which runs off the already-installed engine, rather than $60 for the whole thing.

It just occurs to me that it seems a little strange as a consumer to pay $60 for one game, and then pay $60 for another game that is using the exact same technology and is essentially a modification of existing software. By separating the two elements you can turn the somewhat daunting prospect of paying $60 for a game you might or might not like in to the much easier to swallow prospect of paying half of that for the guts of the game with the option to purchase the actual "game" parts that you want later. Consoles essentially work that way now, why not computer games?

Re:Sell engines like consoles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20768049)

Consoles essentially work that way now, why not computer games?


that'll work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20768377)

'We just want to sit down with three examples in front of us and talk it over with gamers to find out what they would like us to do next.'"

As if people actually know what they want, and are just waiting for someone to ask. If that were true it wouldn't be a secret, and those games would already be in development.
That's why it's art. You make what you think is good, and then people either like it or they don't. No great work was ever created by asking people what you should do.

Gave episodic a chance? (1)

Bob-taro (996889) | about 7 years ago | (#20768411)

Now don't get me wrong. Valve is great, HL and HL2 are my all-time favorite games, and I don't even mind the "orange box" package. That said, given the long wait for ep1 and ep2 (shorter, I admit, than the wait for hl2), and the bundling with ep2, I think it's a stretch for Valve to claim they have much experience with episodic releases. Maybe the discussion should be more centered around whether Value can even do episodic releases.

I love episodic gaming (2, Funny)

Baldrake (776287) | about 7 years ago | (#20770115)

I love episodic gaming, and am very much looking forward to Bioware's release of Witch's Wake episode 2 [] .

It's perhaps instructive to think about some of the things that happened in the world since episode 1 was released in Dec. 2004:

  • W. Mark Felt was confirmed to be Watergate's "Deep Throat"
  • Michael Jackson was found not guilty of child molestation charges
  • Lance Armstrong retired after winning his seventh Tour de France
  • The Xbox 360, PS 3 and Wii were released
And for those Bioware boys in Edmonton:
  • The NHL cancelled its 2004/05 season.

But there's nothing like a bit of a wait to build anticipation.

Obvious solutions. (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | about 7 years ago | (#20770781)

I think the problems Valve is having with episodic gaming are fairly obvious.

First, build a robust graphics engine and don't touch it at all over the course of the series. I don't really understand why people at Valve felt the need to start tinkering with the graphics engine for each episode. In essence what they've done is build a new game each time.

Secondly, I think they should be working off templates. From what I've seen it looks like the Half-Life episodes feature distinct environments from the original. That's all well and good, but it's going to increase production time dramatically. At the very least I'd say important assets should be produced during initial development so that it's ready to go once it's time to be featured.

Third, I think the series should be thoroughly planned well in advance. This means building out the story far in advance and possibly beginning work on some of that content from the start.

If they were developing standalone sequels this all would be irrelevant. However, if they claim to be producing episodic content they need to be prepared to release that content on a regular basis. Episodes should be released every 3 to 4 months, at the longest. Certainly not once a year.

I think they should look to MMOs as a guide on how to offer new content on a regular basis. One of the better examples I can think of this is City of Heroes. In the early days they were releasing two, sometimes three expansions per year. They weren't always significant, and heavily relied on templates, but it meant new content on a regular basis. They broke everything up into manageable pieces. It also helped that they basically had a bible that provided more than enough foundation for anything they might want to add to the game. From what I've read things have grown significantly more complicated since then, but for a time it seemed to work well.

Valve has been too ambitious with each episode. If they wanted to put this much effort into the episodes they might as well have just packaged these into a single game and offered it as a sequel.

Episodic Gaming... (1)

raahsnav (1149485) | about 7 years ago | (#20771181)

Is that what it means on the box?! Every time I see it I looked at it and said "only episode one? where is two?" I would see different box art. I really didn't know what to think, and I never looked into it. Seems like a confusing model from anyone but those following the gaming industry, specifically these titles. On a related note: It almost sounds like Blizzard. "We are going to charge you an arm and a leg for the first half of the game, and if you want to see how it "sort of ends" you will need to buy the expansion(s)." I quit playing blizzard games for such.

I remember this concept way back when I was growing up. I downloaded Doom and only got to play Episode one until I paid for the other two episodes. It was called shareware. Are we saying we now should pay for shareware? Seems like a lame model designed to nickel and dime. With hundreds of other games out there I'll skip half life for good now until they change their release model.

who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20771641)

I don't want to hear a peep from gabe or anyone at valve until I see team fortress 2 released!!
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?