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Old 02-10-2005, 01:30 PM   #1
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Thanks, Jack, for the very interesting feature.

I'm curious what people think about Gumshoe's business model. Will you buy episodes? I stay away from any kind of pay-as-you-go games because I'd spend way too much money. I know this kind of thing has been batted around before, but I'm not sure it's ever been really successful... wasn't there talk about an episodic Tex Murphy game with a similar model?

Anyone played Gumshoe besides Jack? Is it worth the few bucks per episode?

-emily
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Old 02-10-2005, 01:48 PM   #2
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I'm also leery of an episode pay-structure for games--at least, not at the prices (around $5 per game) Gumshoe is charging. I'd think about it if it were much cheaper--more like the price of a song download from a music service. And I'm not sure it'd be worth it to a game developer to pursue that kind of revenue . . .

I can't say I played the game. In a massive fit of procrastination one night, I loaded up a few minutes of the free tutorial, couldn't figure anything out because I had my popup blocker on, and quit in total frustration. But I thought Jack's piece was an accurate description of the first ten minutes of . . . my non-experience. A really fair feature.

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Old 02-10-2005, 06:04 PM   #3
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I've actually been very opposed (for personal preference only) to episodic gaming all along. But playing Gumshoe, I started thinking that the right game could really make it work. I don't think Gumshoe is there yet, which I tried to make clear, but if they could clean up some of the fundamental design flaws and then go nuts with quality writing, it's a pretty low maintenance vehicle for creating small value games...

... Heh. That italicized line looks like what I say about pretty much every game.
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Old 02-10-2005, 06:15 PM   #4
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That italicized line looks like what I say about pretty much every game.
Yup, fairly close to what I have been thinking about most games lately myself.

but....that's about to change with something I am writing on *whistle*

On Gumshoe, I do think they have a good idea in theory and even in execution for some parts. [getridofthetimer] but sure, with some tweaking, and sparking up some of the details [getridofthetimer] then I see with the pricing and what appears to be a steady content stream - they will have a solid product.

I was surprised at how much I liked the gameplay in most respects. I think the stories are fairly good as long as they give the player the option to stroll rather than watch the clock.

Last edited by LauraMac; 02-10-2005 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 02-10-2005, 07:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LauraMac
On Gumshoe, I do think they have a good idea in theory and even in execution for some parts. [getridofthetimer] but sure, with some tweaking, and sparking up some of the details [getridofthetimer] then I see with the pricing and what appears to be a steady content stream - they will have a solid product.
Okay, yeah, I agree, not everyone is as stingy facing the same game budget constraints I am. I wonder Laura what you think about this--or any of you guys: does it matter how many episodes are in the series? I would be more likely to pay $5 for four episodes to complete a series than $5 each for one of 20 episodes, even if the episodes were of comparable length and quality.

Yes, that is weird, but maybe also psychology 101--the urge to "own the set" or feel like you've completed some meta-game would be I think pretty compelling. Thoughts? I guess that's why I was suggesting a lower price . . . if a company is out to make a serial, it seems like they should price accordingly. But I suppose the whole point with Gumshoe is that the episodes really can be stand-alone games . . . Hm. Would still want them all if I got into them, though. That collecting urge . . .

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Old 02-10-2005, 07:17 PM   #6
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But I suppose the whole point with Gumshoe is that the episodes really can be stand-alone games . . . Hm. Would still want them all if I got into them, though. That collecting urge . . .
I think that's a very good point. AGON is episodic and have now released a 3 episode set on CD in their Hungary, their home country. I am sure they intend to mass market it in other places with publishing support.

Broken Saints was episodic (free) but then once the series was completed was made available in a DVD format.

I would assume tha down the road GumShoe would at least entertain the idea of packaging a set of the cases on CD format. This new Delaware St. Johns game coming out is also going to be episodic. I thought back when AGON came out, that here was a way for a Developer to put out a commercially viable game on a thin budget. They were the first "commercial" quality product to go this route and stay in there (even if their new content release got stretched a bit thin) Then after a time you package 3 or 4 of the episodes and sell the set on CD/DVD.
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Old 02-10-2005, 07:48 PM   #7
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I'm seeing comparisons of different models here. Gumshoe is not the same as AGON. First of all, AGON is intended to be a complete series, with a defined beginning and end. Sure, theoretically you can skip episodes, but not by design. There's an over-arching plot, and each episode fleshes out one part of it. AGON is also downloadable content - something that you can "collect". It makes sense for them to offer CD bundles, and even downloadable bundles for slightly cheaper (though both of these entail the risk of having people begin waiting and NOT buying the new episodes individually).

Gumshoe is pure online, standalone content. There is no major plot tying the cases together. There's nothing to download, nothing to bundle on a CD. You may still be tempted to pay for them all, but that's stretching the definition of a "collection", as you never actually HAVE anything to show for it.

I don't think $5 is unreasonable. In fact, it's probably a decent target that benefits both developer and player. But the content has to be worth it.
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Old 02-10-2005, 08:06 PM   #8
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True, I had overlooked the fact that the content and progress is entirely contained online. Must have been so engrossed I forgot where I was when I was playing.

Hypothetically speaking, being originally online doesn't preclude re-fitting a game for stand alone use. URU was originally conceived, designed and tested as online only. But that's just a musing, definitely a far fetched scenario for GumShoe. Fortunately, it doesn't have the Myst cachet pushing it in wrong directions.

I agree about the value of the game for the $5.00 - Having played through a large portion available now, I think it is a reasonable amount - assuming they fine tune the game through successive content releases.

Last edited by LauraMac; 02-10-2005 at 08:13 PM.
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Old 02-10-2005, 08:15 PM   #9
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Not quite, but you're getting there. Uru was meant to be PLAYED online only, but it was always going to be a downloadable/physical product. There's no way that game could work (not that it did much, anyway ) without the data already on your hard drive. So again, it's still a little different.

Anyway, yes, it'd be easy to throw Gumshoe (or another online serial) cases on a CD eventually. But as a random collection of low-budget cases, I'm not sure it would attract much audience as a retail product.
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Old 02-10-2005, 08:17 PM   #10
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Supposedly Sam & Max: FP was going to have some episodic content released, with standalone "cases" released every now and then. Of course, those would have been free to those who'd bought the game. Still, for something like that, I know I would pay another five bucks.
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Old 02-10-2005, 08:26 PM   #11
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Anyway, yes, it'd be easy to throw Gumshoe (or another online serial) cases on a CD eventually. But as a random collection of low-budget cases, I'm not sure it would attract much audience as a retail product.
You have a good point about the low-budget nature of the cases, due to the simplistic presentation and other factors. But it occurred to me, that this does make GumShoe a natural for the mobile gaming market. Since the small phone/hand held screens feature better gaming when they are these very simple old school looking games. The pop up puzzle interfaces, recording of details in the notebook [IFTHERESNOTIMER] -- all might make GumShoe translate very well to that new market. Hmmmm
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Old 02-10-2005, 09:14 PM   #12
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See, that's the thing. I regularly pay $5 for full games that I buy used at the thrift shop. Why would I pay the same amount for just one episode, and not even end up with a physical product in the end?

That may just be me being cheap, but still. I have about 100 games on my shelf and most of them I paid $5 or less for. I think I'd have to burn through those before I spent the next $5 on a Gumshoe episode.

I personally see the episode-with-continuity-and-eventual-conclusion as a different thing. If Jane Jensen announced tomorrow that she'd be doing GK4 in 10 chapters and each one cost $2 each (or even $5 each), hell yeah I'd buy each and every one. But that's because I know what the payoff will be. In this case, why spend the $5 for a few hours of ("casual") entertainment when I could just pluck one of the games off my shelf that I paid the same amount (or less) for?

(On the other hand, from a casual game standpoint, the price IS a lot more reasonable than the prices of some casual / adventure-esque games I've seen.)

-emily
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Old 02-10-2005, 09:40 PM   #13
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I think that in the end it depends on the quality of the product I'm getting, no matter how it's delivered to me. For me personally if each and every episode of a streamed game is unique and high quality enough it would be worth it. The problem, however, lies in replayability. What if, a year from now, I want to replay a few episodes but the game never came out on cd but is still available to stream? I don't want to pay to play again. Sure, the devs would be protecting themselves from piracy by never offering to put the game in my hard drive, but they would also lose potential sales if the customer can't simply put the game in their system to play whenever they want after the initial payment.
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Old 02-11-2005, 12:27 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fov
That may just be me being cheap, but still.
You can say that again.

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On the other hand, from a casual game standpoint, the price IS a lot more reasonable than the prices of some casual / adventure-esque games I've seen.
Yeah, you really can't compare new retail products to old thrift pickups, so this is the better comparison. Whether something is worth $5 will be completely dependent on an individual, but I see it as pretty reasonable if the content delivers.

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Originally Posted by Trep
What if, a year from now, I want to replay a few episodes but the game never came out on cd but is still available to stream? I don't want to pay to play again.
This is actually a really good question, though it doesn't exactly relate to Gumshoe. In this case, you only pay once and then "own" the case, and can replay it as often as you want (and will probably have to! ). So as long as it's streamable, you can keep playing it. But it does still raise the issue of losing access down the road, and left with no game at all.
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Old 02-11-2005, 09:21 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Jackal
Yeah, you really can't compare new retail products to old thrift pickups, so this is the better comparison. Whether something is worth $5 will be completely dependent on an individual, but I see it as pretty reasonable if the content delivers.
I can't say I agree with that - if the graphics of the new retail product are only so so, the gameplay is annoying, and the story is lukewarm, then an "old thrift store pickup" with good gameplay and a great story comes out ahead.

I understand that the business models can't be compared from a business perspective, but from the player's perspective, it doesn't matter if it's a new retail game, what matters is if it's worth the money. I suppose there are those who go around buying brand new games all the time, but there are a lot of adventure gamers who don't -- maybe because the industry has led us to get used to price cuts and bargain bins and because so many of the old games have withstood the test of time so they ARE worth picking up at a thrift shop -- or if not a lot of adventure gamers, at least some. I can't be the only cheapskate among us.

Which brings me back to the casual gaming issue. If the target is casual gamers, not adventure gamers, can anyone tell me anything about the buying habits of casual games? Are there non story based casual games that cost money? My perception is that they're free, which is why this idea that the casual gaming market is ripe for (fee-based) adventure type games doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but I really don't know much about what's out there.

-emily
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Old 02-11-2005, 09:38 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by fov
I can't say I agree with that - if the graphics of the new retail product are only so so, the gameplay is annoying, and the story is lukewarm, then an "old thrift store pickup" with good gameplay and a great story comes out ahead.
This isn't really disagreeing with what I said, though. I think everyone would agree with your statement above, and the more costly the new release, the higher the standard. I'm wasn't trying to compare old and good with new and crap.

Quote:
Which brings me back to the casual gaming issue. If the target is casual gamers, not adventure gamers, can anyone tell me anything about the buying habits of casual games? Are there non story based casual games that cost money? My perception is that they're free, which is why this idea that the casual gaming market is ripe for (fee-based) adventure type games doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but I really don't know much about what's out there.
I think this is the $64,000 question. I agree with you that the notion of the casual gamer, currently playing free repetition/addiction games online, suddenly jumping into paying for story-driven adventure lite is a leap.

Although, as I said in the article, I'm not actually sure this is who Gumshoe best targets. It may be more adventure fans that don't always have the time or inclination to dig into a full-fledged game, but wouldn't mind playing a standalone game in maybe 3-5 hours of playtime.
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Old 02-11-2005, 09:56 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackal
I think this is the $64,000 question. I agree with you that the notion of the casual gamer, currently playing free repetition/addiction games online, suddenly jumping into paying for story-driven adventure lite is a leap.

Although, as I said in the article, I'm not actually sure this is who Gumshoe best targets. It may be more adventure fans that don't always have the time or inclination to dig into a full-fledged game, but wouldn't mind playing a standalone game in maybe 3-5 hours of playtime.
The casual gaming market is actually commercially robust. Even tough you can play the games for free online, you only get to experience only a small portion of the game so many people actually pay to get the full game. Games like Be Jeweled, Zuma, and Book Worm have been commercially successful. Isn't attracting the casual gamers to story-driven adventure lite was what Jane Jensen intended with Be Trapped? Granted that Be Trapped isn't an adventure lite yet but it was intended as a stepping stone to link the casual gaming market to adventure lites.

Considering that the females in 30s and 40s make up a large portion of the casual gaming market, I can easily see the success in the casual gaming market translating into adventure lite and then to episodic adventure games like Gumshoe. The biggest selling point of the casual games so far has been that they make a wonderful time killers. They are designed so that you can pick it up and play whenever you have spare time, 10, 30 minutes, an hour, or whatever, at a time. This may also be another selling point for games like Gumshoe to the casual gaming market.
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Old 02-11-2005, 10:10 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by gillyruless
The casual gaming market is actually commercially robust. Even tough you can play the games for free online, you only get to experience only a small portion of the game so many people actually pay to get the full game.
Ah, OK. So that's one question at least partially answered. There IS money being spent on the existing casual games.

Quote:
Isn't attracting the casual gamers to story-driven adventure lite was what Jane Jensen intended with Be Trapped? Granted that Be Trapped isn't an adventure lite yet but it was intended as a stepping stone to link the casual gaming market to adventure lites.
Yep, I'd say that's exactly what she had in mind.

Quote:
I can easily see the success in the casual gaming market translating into adventure lite and then to episodic adventure games like Gumshoe. The biggest selling point of the casual games so far has been that they make a wonderful time killers. They are designed so that you can pick it up and play whenever you have spare time, 10, 30 minutes, an hour, or whatever, at a time. This may also be another selling point for games like Gumshoe to the casual gaming market.
See, this is where I'm not convinced. The notion is that it's a transition from one thing (casual puzzle games) into something similar (adventure lite). But to me that's a big leap. I'm not sure that isn't changing something from one thing into something else. You know... like changing adventures into action-adventures.

Seriously, there seems to me to be a gap there that can only be bridged by wishful thinking. An adventure game really CAN'T be played in 10-30 minute blocks (by virtue of having an ongoing narrative), which changes the very nature of a casual game.
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Old 02-11-2005, 10:18 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackal
Seriously, there seems to me to be a gap there that can only be bridged by wishful thinking. An adventure game really CAN'T be played in 10-30 minute blocks (by virtue of having an ongoing narrative), which changes the very nature of a casual game.
But surely if a game is divided into chapters then it could be like film scenes (or even levels from, say, an FPS) - they can be played one at a time (ie. in 10-30 minute sessions), and yet there's still an overarching story. I'm not quite sure how an ongoing narrative and a game played in small chunks need be mutually exclusive...
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Old 02-11-2005, 10:26 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by RLacey
But surely if a game is divided into chapters then it could be like film scenes (or even levels from, say, an FPS) - they can be played one at a time (ie. in 10-30 minute sessions), and yet there's still an overarching story. I'm not quite sure how an ongoing narrative and a game played in small chunks need be mutually exclusive...
Except that, by its very nature, a *good* story is one that makes you want to keep reading (or playing). In a good novel, the last page of the chapter leaves you hanging so you want to start the next chapter and find out what happens next. I think what you say about self-contained chunks makes sense in theory, but in practice, any game that's unintersting enough at the end of the chapter that you don't want/need to keep playing doesn't sound like it's building to a climax very effectively.

-emily
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