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Valve on Episodes

Gabe Newell tells Develop that Valve has moved past episodic gaming. "We went through the episodes phase, and now we're going towards shorter and even shorter cycles," the Valve Managing Director tells them. "For me, ‘entertainment as a service’ is a clear distillation of the episodic content model." He expands his explanation with quotes that are sure to be re-clarified at some future point (see Portal 2 will probably be Valve's last game with an isolated single-player experience versus not that we’re not doing single player games). "Team Fortress 2 is the fastest frequency we work on with comparatively fast updates. Er, Half-Life is apparently the slowest! [Laughs] Although, from the outside world, we have no evidence that Half-Life is working on any frequency at all. [Laughs]" He does add that this does not mean they are done with longer projects: "You want to distribute your choices. Right now there’s a bunch of pressures to have shorter and shorter development cycles. But that could change. I’d have to find a reason for it to change, but it could. I don’t want to be caught completely off-guard and overly invested in one area. I think you’ll still see projects from us that are huge in scale, simply because we have the ability to do that." The full interview with Gabe can be read in the Free Develop digital edition.

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15. Re: Valve on Episodes May 9, 2011, 15:17 Creston
Graham wrote on May 9, 2011, 14:52:
Creston wrote on May 9, 2011, 14:20:
Er, what? They took 3 years to release two episodes, and it was obvious they were utterly unable to release anything faster. So now they're going to even shorter dev cycles?

What exactly can they do with an even shorter dev cycle? One hour games?

But yeah, great move, Gabe. Obviously you guys have been tremendously unsuccesful with your previous releases, so it's definitely high time to shake things up??


Left 4 Dead 2 was generated on a 1 year cycle and has seen weekly updates with mutations since release. Team Fortress 2 is putting out content every few weeks. Portal 2 launched in April and will have sizeable chunk of free DLC in July.

This is what he's talking about. It may be that a game is released in a polished state with less content, and then that content will evolve over time. If Valve sticks with the "free for content that matters, pay for content that doesn't" route of charging for weapons, hats, and flags (that unlock for free if you play the game) then I think this is something I can support.

Until such time as they make a game that I don't enjoy I think they'll do well to carry on with their own business plans, instead of adopting yours.

Left 4 Dead 2 was really the ONLY game they've ever been able to develop so quickly, however. And even that came about because they just took Left 4 Dead and built a few new maps and some new zombies. In many ways it's just a marginal expansion on the original game.

I have no problem with them supporting their games as well as TF2 (obviously), but they do need to release actual GAMES in order to be able to do so.

And they're incapable of developing these games at anything but an absolutely glacial pace. Simply saying you're "going to do things faster" isn't miraculously going to make these games show up anytime sooner. In fact, with the way that Valve works, it's kind of strange for Gabe to say something like that anyways, because apparently everyone just works at their own tempo, and shit will be done when it's done. It makes very little sense.

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