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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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34 Replies. 2 pages. Viewing page 1.
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34. Re: Valve on Episodes May 10, 2011, 10:03 rlknight66
 
I'm still waitin on the second SIN episode dammit!  
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33. Re: Valve on Episodes May 10, 2011, 03:18 loomy
 
in other words: they make so much money from steam, what they do with games doesn't matter.  
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32. Re: Valve on Episodes May 10, 2011, 00:47 Graham
 
Dev wrote on May 10, 2011, 00:19:
Graham wrote on May 9, 2011, 19:26:
Finally: Fuck Valve sounds like a hilarious command from Leisure Suit Larry. I miss Al Lowe. Has he done anything lately?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Lowe

What is this oracle that tells of the lives of videogame developers?

It's a shame... I'll have to take a look and see what the Two Guys from Andromeda are up to. With Al Lowe out of the game I suppose my hopes of a Freddy Pharkas sequel have been forever dashed.
 
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31. Re: Valve on Episodes May 10, 2011, 00:19 Dev
 
Graham wrote on May 9, 2011, 19:26:
Finally: Fuck Valve sounds like a hilarious command from Leisure Suit Larry. I miss Al Lowe. Has he done anything lately?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Lowe
 
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30. Re: Valve on Episodes May 9, 2011, 22:03 Riker
 
E3 2011.

Half-Life 3.

Be there.
 
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29. Re: Valve on Episodes May 9, 2011, 19:26 Graham
 
RollinThundr wrote on May 9, 2011, 18:47:
LOL moved past episodic gaming? What happened to the "Releases will come quicker if we do episodes" I figured that was a line of bullshit then too.

Or how about "Steam will cut out the retail middle man and make games so much cheaper!" yeah that didn't pan out so well either but hey use our DRM because noone complains about Valve DRM even though thats pretty much what Steam is.

Fuck Valve.

You know, I can see hammering on Valve for a lot of things... but price? Steam sales leach me dry $5 at a time, and my backlog of games grows at a geometric rate.

Maybe you're talking about day-of releases, but even there they tend to do at least 10% off for pre-ordering, along with including bonus content like a traditional B&M store.

I'd get the DRM thing if I'd ever really run into a problem, but I've got three PCs at home an two Macs... and all five have Steam installed with a multitude of games from my library. My better quarter (she's short, not quite a better half. Maybe a better third) and I can bounce from machine to machine whenever we need to, and play. We even have guests over, and because games are installed in a common library folder it's just a matter of them logging in to play. Maybe I'm missing something on the DRM front... what's it stopping me from doing?

Finally: Fuck Valve sounds like a hilarious command from Leisure Suit Larry. I miss Al Lowe. Has he done anything lately?
 
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28. Re: Valve on Episodes May 9, 2011, 18:47 RollinThundr
 
LOL moved past episodic gaming? What happened to the "Releases will come quicker if we do episodes" I figured that was a line of bullshit then too.

Or how about "Steam will cut out the retail middle man and make games so much cheaper!" yeah that didn't pan out so well either but hey use our DRM because noone complains about Valve DRM even though thats pretty much what Steam is.

Fuck Valve.
 
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27. Re: Valve on Episodes May 9, 2011, 18:42 descender
 
Valve could write you a goodbye note in money, ship it in a money envelop with extra money in it and still not care.  
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26. Re: Valve on Episodes May 9, 2011, 17:17 Marvin T. Martian
 
Finish Half-Life or
Say goodbye to my wallet valve.
Infact just say goodbye!
 
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25. Re: Star Wars: The Old Republic Interviews May 9, 2011, 17:06 Dev
 
entr0py wrote on May 9, 2011, 16:51:
"We went through the episodes phase"

No you really didn't. You went through making a couple of short expansion packs for HL2 over 3 years, and naming them episodes.
And you know what? Things over the years now like that are clear to me why they did it. Its because of how they work on stuff "interesting" to them. Those 2 episodes were interesting to them at the time but not enough so to make them into a full games, so they took breaks in the meantime and did other things. They decided to call them episodes so they could sell them, maybe they even thought they were going to go episodic. It would appeal as a more "interesting" thing to valve, keeping it more fresh with more breaks.

Making ep3 is obviously not even approaching episode level of interest to them now.
 
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24. Re: Star Wars: The Old Republic Interviews May 9, 2011, 16:51 entr0py
 
"We went through the episodes phase"

No you really didn't. You went through making a couple of short expansion packs for HL2 over 3 years, and naming them episodes. That's a world apart from the actual episodic gaming that companies like Telltale games have managed to pull off.

Maybe that's not such a bad thing, I would rather have quality over quantity.

Frequent minor patches and additions, as in TF2, don't qualify either. If anything that's akin to the MMO model. Again, that's not bad, it's just a different thing than episodes.
 
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23. Re: Valve on Episodes May 9, 2011, 16:50 Graham
 
Episodic gaming is dead?

Someone better tell Telltale. I keep buying their episodic adventure games, which clearly have no place in this world. ABOMINATION!
 
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22. Re: Valve on Episodes May 9, 2011, 16:37 bhcompy
 
Chairman Kaga wrote on May 9, 2011, 15:14:
Silicon Avatar wrote on May 9, 2011, 14:30:
He doesn't sound like a pod person, he just sounds like a creative person who needs barriers put around him so he will focus and not wander off into la-la land.

This is typical of the "artist's studio" -- nothing ever gets finished because the creative people are always being creative and want to throw everything in. A business always needs at least one solid business person that's able to keep things in check. So long as you avoid going off the deep end with the whole Bobby Kotick "we want to drain all the fun out of game development" brand of crazy.

I'm reminded of a clip from the recent Blizzard 20th anniversary retrospective, where they had the option to sell out to Interplay (the "creative" game company) or to Davidson and Associates (the "business guys"). In the end they chose Davidson, for precisely the reasons outlined above.

(And yes, I do find it ironic that Blizzard ended up married to Activision.)

Basically, Valve is Stephen King and the Dark Tower
 
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21. Re: Valve on Episodes May 9, 2011, 16:28 Dev
 
Nameless Again wrote on May 9, 2011, 16:15:
Episodic gaming is dead. We all the knew this. Now bring on the '3' box!!! HL3, L4D3, Portal3.
You mean L4D3 since its multiplayer, portal 3 co-op without single player campaign and no HL3 since its single player.
 
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20. Re: Valve on Episodes May 9, 2011, 16:15 Nameless Again
 
Episodic gaming is dead. We all the knew this. Now bring on the '3' box!!! HL3, L4D3, Portal3.  
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19. Re: Valve on Episodes May 9, 2011, 15:36 Darks
 
Funny how Valve and other developers have finally figured out what we all knew years ago that Episodic releases we not the way to go. We will probably never see HL EP 3 now. SINS fell the same way. We got one episode and that was it. Valve has pretty much confirmed that HL may never have an ending.  
Avatar 20498
 
Creator of the Neverwnter Nights Eye of the Beholder Series of Mods.

http://nwvault.ign.com/View.php?view=Modules.Detail&id=6375
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18. Re: Valve on Episodes May 9, 2011, 15:28 Creston
 
KAG wrote on May 9, 2011, 15:25:
Sad to hear this. I buy games the week they're released if they have long development cycles and huge, content-rich free-roaming worlds. If most developers want to churn out short "on the rails" console ports it looks like I'll be waiting for bargain bin clearance pricing.

There will always be dev that build big, open world games, because there's a huge demand for games like that. (look at sales numbers for Oblivion, GTA, RDR etc.)

As long as there's demand of that level, SOMEONE will build those games. I'm not that worried.

Creston
 
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17. Re: Valve on Episodes May 9, 2011, 15:25 KAG
 
Sad to hear this. I buy games the week they're released if they have long development cycles and huge, content-rich free-roaming worlds. If most developers want to churn out short "on the rails" console ports it looks like I'll be waiting for bargain bin clearance pricing.  
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16. Re: Valve on Episodes May 9, 2011, 15:18 Dev
 
Chairman Kaga wrote on May 9, 2011, 15:14:
Silicon Avatar wrote on May 9, 2011, 14:30:
He doesn't sound like a pod person, he just sounds like a creative person who needs barriers put around him so he will focus and not wander off into la-la land.

This is typical of the "artist's studio" -- nothing ever gets finished because the creative people are always being creative and want to throw everything in. A business always needs at least one solid business person that's able to keep things in check.
Exactly, and I don't think that have that at valve since its Gabe who is setting this attitude and motivation at the company and making sure thats the kinda people they hire. Hence the "we pretty much only work on interesting things" stuff.

Seriously, if they don't find HL interesting anymore, farm it out! I'm sure a bunch of studios would welcome the chance. As I recall, didn't gearbox do some of those add-ons for HL1?
Creston wrote on May 9, 2011, 15:17:
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.
A slight clarification, it was quick since it was all planned to be DLC for L4D1, then they decided to make it a sequel that was more like a marginal expansion
 
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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??

Creston

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.

Creston
 
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