Episodic Releases - Pros and Cons

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DarkClaymore
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Episodic Releases - Pros and Cons

#1 Post by DarkClaymore » Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:35 am

I have an idea for a slice-of-life VN, which I happen to plan in an episodic manner right now. It's not episodic in the sense that every episodes restarts from zero, but rather that each episode is told from a different character's perspective and therefore delivers a somewhat different experience (different take on the situation, different conflicts etc). The POV basically rotates through the characters as the time in the setting itself constantly flows onward, for example something like:
Day 1 - A's perspective
Day 2 - B's perspective
Day 3 - C's perspective
Day 4 - A's perspective again


What I currently have in mind, is to periodically release a story episode as a short VN (probably 5~10K words). It sounded nice at first, but then I began wondering: Is this practical?

I'd like to know what others think of this format. Would you bother to play a "series" of VNs released in such a way? Are you familiar with any VN that was released that way and did it good?

Any insight/tip/opinion on this topic would be gladly appreciated. Right now I'm torn between going forward with it, or scrapping the idea altogether to try a different one.

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Re: Episodic Releases - Pros and Cons

#2 Post by ColaCat » Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:33 am

I think that might be a good idea, as long as each different perspective adds more detail to the main picture. If it were me, I might pick and choose at which character's POV I wanted to read, but if I knew that each POV gave more info about the story, maybe some different scenes, etc. then I might be more open to play them all.
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Re: Episodic Releases - Pros and Cons

#3 Post by trooper6 » Tue Feb 17, 2015 12:17 pm

Would I play it?
Yes if it were free and the first episode is interesting.

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Re: Episodic Releases - Pros and Cons

#4 Post by CrimsonMoon » Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:27 pm

Personally, I like a game without episodic release, even though it's long. I actually like longer KNs/VNs than shorter ones. If I see a short game that takes only 5 minutes of playing, I'd skip downloading it. I like the concept that you have in mind, but to release it in shorter episodes will be daunting. I wouldn't recommend it. Plus it can be frustrating to wait for the story to be released. I tend to just skip things if I feel that it's taking too long. Maybe it's just me. x.x
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Re: Episodic Releases - Pros and Cons

#5 Post by DarkClaymore » Wed Feb 18, 2015 5:06 am

ColaCat wrote:If it were me, I might pick and choose at which character's POV I wanted to read, but if I knew that each POV gave more info about the story, maybe some different scenes, etc. then I might be more open to play them all.
The idea is that the episodes don't retell the same story (at least most of the time), but rather keep going with the flow of events, only from a different POV. Just an example from the top of my head: Character A is run over by a car by the end of its episode and the ending is a cliffhanger. The next episode is told from character B's POV, and may show B visiting A in the hospital, thus also revealing that A survived the car accident.

CrimsonMoon wrote:Personally, I like a game without episodic release, even though it's long. I actually like longer KNs/VNs than shorter ones. If I see a short game that takes only 5 minutes of playing, I'd skip downloading it. I like the concept that you have in mind, but to release it in shorter episodes will be daunting. I wouldn't recommend it. Plus it can be frustrating to wait for the story to be released. I tend to just skip things if I feel that it's taking too long. Maybe it's just me.
Ironically, for the most part I approach things in a similar way to what you described here; thus the worry that I'm trying to do something which won't work out. I still consider this an option though, because I know that not everybody have the same mentality regarding these things.

You said you wouldn't bother with a 5 minutes game, but I think that each episode would be at least 5K words, which should draw closer to 15~30 minutes. Would that make it something you are more likely to pick up? Or does the episode length pale in comparison to the other factors you mentioned?

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Re: Episodic Releases - Pros and Cons

#6 Post by CrimsonMoon » Wed Feb 18, 2015 5:41 am

Yes, more likely I'll pick it up. But like most people, I take into account the word count, graphics, genre, etc. But I'm more inclined to download an entire game rather than episode game. So if it's episodic, I'd download it after the creator has said that all the episodes are released (because I don't like to play cliffhanger games x.x) or I may skip the game entirely.
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Re: Episodic Releases - Pros and Cons

#7 Post by Harliqueen » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:57 am

I don't tend to go for episodic games either. I'm not a very patient person, so like things all in one go :D Same goes for TV series, I tend to wait until they're all released until I watch them. But then you run the risk of people forgetting about it.

For example, I might think that I want to play it, notice it's episodic and decide to wait until they're all out. Yet, even after bookmarking, I would probably forget my intention. Not out of spite or anything :D Just because other things catch my interest.

But then again, tons of people enjoy episodic stuff, and it's becoming popular in gaming.

In the end, I guess it's up to you and what you feel comfortable with releasing :)
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Re: Episodic Releases - Pros and Cons

#8 Post by ColaCat » Wed Feb 18, 2015 10:36 pm

Well in that case I'd certainly want to play them all, it's just, like Harliqueen mentioned, I would probably wait until they were all out. >_<
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Re: Episodic Releases - Pros and Cons

#9 Post by Aviala » Thu Feb 19, 2015 7:08 pm

What do you guys think of longer episodic releases? Like.. Something that comes in 3 parts and each part is about 50k words? *ahem*likemycurrentproject*ahem*

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Re: Episodic Releases - Pros and Cons

#10 Post by ColaCat » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:17 am

My opinion is really the same. If it's good, I'll play it! But I'd be more likely to wait until they had all been released. >_<
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Re: Episodic Releases - Pros and Cons

#11 Post by Rosstin » Sat Feb 21, 2015 6:43 am

I tried this once, and I don't do it anymore. The story should be complete in the first release. Then do a sequel instead of another episode. It's too unsatisfying for players and it creates more work as a developer, I think.

I'd look at the episodes and say, what am I trying to say? I'd remove all the extra characters and anything that isn't rising action or climax. Then I'd bang out the ending, the beginning, and the middle in that order. And release it as one, smaller game.

Episodic CAN work, you just have to have the right personality for it. I didn't when I tried it five years ago. Maybe I could do it now. Companies like Telltale certainly pull it off with aplomb, although I have to say that I have a really hard time playing Episode 1 of The Walking Dead when Episode 4 or 5 hasn't come out yet. Painful.

DarkClaymore, your methodology could work though. If you tell a complete story 4 times. Think of it as episodes of one of those anime that are meant to be picked up in the middle, each episode stands alone but can build a continuity nonetheless.

However-- I'd write the 4th episode early in your process. My advice is to get the arc of your story ready, write things down and plot them. When you are actually putting pen to paper later on feel free to change your idea if it's natural. What I'm trying to say, is, I would draft the 4th episode before I finished writing the 3rd or maybe even 2nd episode. Just so you know where you are going. Also, allow short-circuiting. What if you can't finish episode 3? Can you cut it?
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Re: Episodic Releases - Pros and Cons

#12 Post by trooper6 » Sat Feb 21, 2015 12:04 pm

I suppose I should probably expand on *why* I am skeptical of episodic games:
I don't trust that you'll finish them.

I have played and paid for episodic games before...but they were done by professional game makers who I trust to actually finish what they have started (TellTale, the Cause of Death folks, Red Thread Games).
I have also paid for a season pass to an episodic game...that I think will never be finished. Which is irritating because I really wanted to finish that game! I'm not too bent out of shape because I supported that game with money for two reasons: 1) I wanted to play the game, 2) it was a form of activism on my part to support that company. So...the activism part is still valid. But I'm very unlikely to *buy* your episodic game if I don't trust you a lot. If the game is free and very, very, very interesting...I'll try it.

But episodic generally makes me distrustful.
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Re: Episodic Releases - Pros and Cons

#13 Post by Rosstin2 » Sat Feb 21, 2015 9:13 pm

+1 to trooper6. In fact, I wasn't sure Telltale would ever finish some of their series. They have struggled.

I have never completed an episodic game series. That's why I don't try anymore.

I've also never done a sequel to anything ever.
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Re: Episodic Releases - Pros and Cons

#14 Post by Godline » Sat Feb 21, 2015 11:00 pm

At least it's better to wait until a few episodes are out to get into games like this. But it depends. I applaud people doing episodic VNs because it's something different. It's a risk, but it's a nice feeling to get into a game and then realize that more have been made. How great is that?

I am tempted to change Kaitlyn in Chinaland into something episodic just because there's so much more that can be done with it than just one game (I already have ideas for the sequel!). But of course we'll get this one out first and see if I can find more people to help - because there's no way we can make it episodic alone! Haha.

Just take it one morsel at a time, because if you plan for something episodic and don't finish it, it looks bad on you. It's better not to leave games on a cliffhanger that may never get finished. Make it stand alone first and then do more if possible.

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Re: Episodic Releases - Pros and Cons

#15 Post by sbester » Fri Mar 06, 2015 8:33 pm

I did something "kinda" similar with my Mafiosi novels. Each novel is 24 chapters long, and I have a new release of it posted every 6 chapters (each of which is told by a different character). I don't have them re-tread previously told events though, it's all sequentially told. Each sequel is an actual sequel too, taking place 8-10 years in the future (ex. Mafiosi 2 is set 9 years after Mafiosi 1 but told by most of the same characters).

In all honesty, I think you could pull off your idea if you really commit to it. My only suggestion would be having some crazy plot twists that only become apparent when reading from a new narrator's perspective. If you've read Higurashi all the way through, you'll already have a good idea what I'm talking about.

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