My opinion of the episodic style

Recently we have begun to play The Walking Dead, which is an episodic drama game made by TellTale Games. An episodic video game is different than a regular launched video game in that episodic games are not release all at once but in segments. Episodic games are shorter in length and therefore feature less content per episode than a standard released game, however the episodic games of a series release much more frequently than the regular released games of a series; for example, The Walking Dead season 1 had an episode (game) release about every two weeks, while there was a two year wait between Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, and usually a year wait between games such as Call of Duty. Episodic games are meant to mimic the release style that television shows and series follow, with a new episode once every week or every two weeks, and usually a year between each season. TellTale Games seems to have mastered and concentrate in the style of episodic games, as they produced The Walking Dead seasons one and two (with three coming soon), Tales From the Borderlands, and Game of Thrones (along with several other titles) all of which follow the episodic game style.

 

Personally, I do not like this style of game. Don’t get me wrong, I loved playing The Walking Dead series, in fact I had played it well before this class, and I love most of the episodic titles that Telltale makes. However, I do not like waiting, and with an episodic game series the player tends to wait a lot; this waiting only happens if users are playing the games when they come out, because if they wait until all the episodes are released they can just buy them all at once and play them all in one sitting. When I first played The Walking Dead season 1, I was frustrated that these games would basically allow for two to three hours of gameplay per episode, and then I would need to wait two weeks until the next game came out. Sure, each episode has a quick recap at the beginning to make sure players remember what was happening in an attempt to keep everyone immersed, but I grew frustrated with waiting to play the next episode. When I play a video game, I am not looking for the experience of watching TV; if I was I would just watch The Walking Dead on TV and ignore the game. However, watching The Walking Dead and playing The Walking Dead are completely different activities that involve completely different levels of participation and engagement. In my opinion, playing The Walking Dead in its intended format (buying the episodes every two weeks when they release) creates a constant break in the immersion and the narrative for me; just as I was beginning to get into the atmosphere and story of the game, which usually occurred around an hour into playing, the short episode would end and I would have to wait two weeks for the next episode, but the same pattern would repeat again when playing the new episode two weeks later.

For the first season, I purchased all the episodes as they came out, so I was left waiting at the end of each episode for two weeks to play the two hours of the next episode. When the second season released, I decided to wait until they were all out and purchase them all at once. Playing season 2 this way did allow for a much deeper level of immersion, as the narrative did not have the harsh breaks and waiting period in between each episode like in season 1. However, because this game was meant to be released in segments, the immersion did falter in between each episode as I was shown a preview of the next episode and then kicked back to the main menu to choose the next episode to play; there is no fluid way to play each episode in succession, which, in my opinion, hurts the general immersion of the series.

In summary, I do no like episodic games because I do not like waiting in between sessions of gameplay to play again. I also do not enjoy how the immersion of each episode was constantly broken because of the nature of episodic games. If I wanted to be entertained for two hours and then have to wait for a week or more to be entertained by the same story I would just watch a TV show. What do you think? Did you enjoy the episodic style of The Walking Dead, or would you have enjoyed the game more if it was released all at one in the style of regular video game?

0 thoughts on “My opinion of the episodic style

  1. I agree with you! Waiting for each episode to come out can be very frustrating and I also prefer to wait until everything is out to start playing the game. Another problem is when the options you made on a previous episode are not saved correctly, changing how the next episode would actually be. An advantage of episodic gaming, though, is how developers can make improvements for the next episode according to the users feedback.

  2. I have a lot of mixed feelings about the episodic genre. On the one hand, I love it because I feel like there’s more character development coming out of these games than there would be from a regular game from a series whose releases are far apart.
    But on the other hand I agree with you and I hate the waiting game that comes with episodic games. I actually did the opposite of you and bought the first season of The Walking Dead once all of it was out and bought a season pass for the second season so that I could play as they were released. I was sucked out of the experience the second time because of that, which was really unfortunate because I had been waiting so long to play it only to end up disappointed because I was taken out of the experience so much. I also had that experience as I was playing The Wolf Among Us and had to wait months between episodes 1 & 2 supposedly due to some rewrites that had to happen for the second episode.
    I do think that there’s totally room for improvement, like maybe releasing all the episodes at once and programming it so that the recaps only come up after you’ve been away from the series for a while. That way it doesn’t feel like immersion’s totally lost and the player isn’t left frustrated by any of the wait time. But maybe, hopefully they can come up with something and make it a little bit more of an enjoyable experience.

Leave a Reply