Episodic Content Not Necessarily the Future at Valve, Newell Says

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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Episodic Content Not Necessarily the Future at Valve, Newell Says


Gabe Newell has suggested that episodic content may be coming to an end at Valve [http://www.valvesoftware.com/]following the conclusion of Half-Life 2 Episode Three.

Speaking in an as-yet-unpublished interview with TF2 [http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=172604]and then the third part of the trilogy, and then sit down with the community and say, 'OK, so what do you want? Do you want us to do more episodes? Do you want us to really tighten down the time frames and look at the scope of what we're doing so that that's possible, for us to go back to the large monolithic projects?'"

Newell also said he would like to "share experiences" with Blizzard [http://www.telltalegames.com/], which he described as delivering game updates in an episode-like fashion. Half-Life 2 Episode Two is set for release on October 10; Half-Life 2 Episode Three has no announced schedule. The full text of the interview will be published over the next few days.


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Tom Edwards

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Oct 3, 2006
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This has been their position all along. Not that I'm trying to put TE down, but it isn't quite the U-Turn it might appear. :)
 

Narcogen

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Jul 26, 2006
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I'd have not thought that the goal of episodic content would be to deliver technology faster. In fact, that seems to be looking at the opportunity backwards.

The problem with the long development cycles needed for long form content is that they outstrip the market viability of the technology they are built on. When cycles get too long, you get situations where the developer is changing or upgrading engines out from under themselves.

I'd have thought the advantage of episodic content would be to establish a viable technological platform for the delivery of content, along with an abbreviated piece of content, in order to establish a beachhead. Then, be able to, at shorter and more regular intervals, deliver additional content on that same platform (perhaps with bug fixes or slight feature enhancements) in such a way that would both provide recurring revenue for the developer and make the end user feel more positive about their initial investment in the technological platform.

I realize that's not really what Valve has done, but I think that's because they've slipped back into a mode where they've treated their episodes as if they were monolithic releases.

I'm sure that plenty of developers would not like this method, anyway, as it would necessarily mean holding back new technology into episodic releases, and falling further behind the bleeding edge.

As such, perhaps this is more appropriate for a console-centric developer; after all, given that console hardware remains static over the lifetime of the platform, committing to a semi-static software platform like a particular engine would not be too much of an additional burden.
 

Tom Edwards

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Oct 3, 2006
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Narcogen said:
I'd have thought the advantage of episodic content would be to establish a viable technological platform for the delivery of content, along with an abbreviated piece of content, in order to establish a beachhead. Then, be able to, at shorter and more regular intervals, deliver additional content on that same platform (perhaps with bug fixes or slight feature enhancements) in such a way that would both provide recurring revenue for the developer and make the end user feel more positive about their initial investment in the technological platform.

I realize that's not really what Valve has done, but I think that's because they've slipped back into a mode where they've treated their episodes as if they were monolithic releases.
That is what they've done, as far as I can tell. Valve's ideas of short development cycles just aren't the same as most gamers'!