Yeah, it could be like playing a great game that was set up for a sequel, but one was never made because it didn''t sell well. Except this would be even worse cause you wouldn''t even learn how it ended.
If all episodes are freeware (or at least the first) I wouldn''t think of it as a waste of time, though. I mean, a game is a game, even if you don''t see the end. Studies show most people don''t finish most games anyway.
But chances are I would only play an episode game where I had to pay if it was made by a credible and very big company. That would at least give me some assurance.
And also, if a company charges $9.95 for each episode, I''m assuming there will only be about 3 episodes. I mean, if there were 10 and I liked the game enough to buy em all I''d end up paying nearly twice of what a normal computer game costs...to me that goes against the whole POINT of episodic gaming.
ah well, more food for thought, I guess.
Alex Atypical Interactive www.atypical-interactive.com
well... hows this for an idea.. episodic distribution using the same plot but different genres.. eg., say the first episode is an adventure game or an rpg.. it ends with, lets say, the hero finding a space ship that he needs to return home. the next episode is a space flight sim, ending in our hero returning home and recovering his nearly lost title of head honcho of a tribe of goat herders (whatever).. next episode is a strategy game where you conquer the neighborhood village or whatever. now, since the premise is following the story line and anticipating the next episode or whatever, the actual game quality does not need to be all that good - as long as the gameplay is consistent. hell, you could sell a tennis game under this premise as long as it fits into the scenario.
come to think of it - hey, i wouldn''t mind assembling a team of experienced people to work on this as a shareware type thing.
I think the key thing here is trust. If you don''t have the consumer''s trust, nobody will buy the game. I think the best (but not the only) model for epesodic gaming would go like this:
Create a freeware game in three to five "Chapters". Have them all finished (or at least more than one) before distribution. The player should no there''s no financial obligation, and that the entire series already exists.
The only reason to make it episodic in this model is so the consumer will return to the site, allowing you to build a loyal player base and make more from banner ads (well, not so much anymore with the ads.) I know this seems like it isn''t much, but if the download site includes info on commercial products for the same team, or a newsletter for the team''s releases... well, can you say "Permission Marketing?
I think the only way a game such as this would realy take off is if it were a really killer app. The game would need to be AT LEAST as immersive as Everquest, and probably more so. The real survival rate of a game of this type would also only be good if each episode was genuinely unique. The repetition is what kills most series: i.e. Wing Commander vs. Final Fantasy. Wing Commander was a good series when it started, but over time the repetition just became to much for the average gamer. Final Fantasy on the other hand has enjoyed extreme success because each new entry in the series is much different from the one prior. I think this same concept would work well for a serial game. Keeping the users in suspense is probably more helpful than anything though: look at Stephen King''s "The Green Mile". That book was able to sell millions of copies of each part because it kept the readers interest and had them wanting to find out what happens next.
you gotta realize, gameplay is the most important aspect here.. quality is secondary. given two more programmers, 3-4 artists and animators and a really good design department, i could crank out new episodes every three months, new genre each time.
here''s an example, and i''m going to omit the names of the participant parties in order not to get sued . when i was working at a certain company, we wanted to do a 3D sequel for a certain bestseller RPG that we were working on at the time. the time it took to throw together a 3d demo of our combat system using the textures and meshes from our iso engine was two weeks flat.
I think the idea of episodic releases is a good one. Maybe the first episode + the engine could be free, to entice people into buying later episodes? I think a system like this would run well online, with people paying to be able to download the next episode, although there''d always be a problem of security.