Kevin Bruner, the chief technology officer of Telltale Games, which produces the hit episodic series Sam and Max, spoke to Gamesindustry.biz about the advantages and potential pitfalls of an episodic release timetable.
Bruner said the schedule allows for taking more creative risk while placing the development team at less financial risk:
“At Telltale, we tend to stay about three episodes ahead of what’s on the market. That gives us a little time to course correct; we did that with Sam and Max, episode four was the first episode where we responded to consumer feedback. … So I think from a developers’ perspective, since the risk and cost can be lowered up front, you have a little more control over your game. You can be a little bit more experimental.”
He also highlighted the challenges of the model, describing the schedule as “unrelenting” and emphasizing the importance of delivering the episodes on time, later saying it is “like a TV show as opposed to a movie.”
Bruner added, “The games are much shorter and being able to get a complete feeling of beginning, middle and end in a four or five hour sitting is a big deal.”
He said his company was set to produce titles on an episodic timetable since its inception and is driven by the belief that current games are too big and too expensive, with disastrous results if something goes awry in the course of a two-year development cycle.