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Future of Ritual, Sin Episodes In Question 39

The Escapist blog is reporting that several key employees have left Ritual. With the ongoing episodic title Sin Episodes up in the air, one has to wonder if any additional installments will follow the somewhat tepidly received first entry. From the article: "After five and a half years as the CEO of Ritual, Steve Nix turned up on the official id Software site as the new Director of Business Development. His reasons for leaving Ritual were not made public. Over two months ago on September 16th, Shawn Ketcherside also left Ritual after nearly six years with the company. He was the lead designer on Sin Episodes: Emergence. Today, former QA lead Michael Russell updated his blog with word that he was also looking for a new job. Last week, Russell had made a post calling out poor QA practices at Sony. He claims that the article was not the reason for his leaving the company."
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Future of Ritual, Sin Episodes In Question

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  • Ding, Ding, Ding (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShadowsHawk ( 916454 ) on Friday December 08, 2006 @02:57PM (#17165306)
    And the winner is... Episodic content. Remind me how this benefits gamers?
    • by spun ( 1352 ) <> on Friday December 08, 2006 @03:03PM (#17165392) Journal
      You get to be relieved of the terrible burden of excess cash.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rwven ( 663186 )
      It would work fine if the episodes were longer than three hours long and if they werent complete crap on top of it. Sin EP1 was one of the most craptastic fits of gaming idiocy I've ever played. It was a massive step backwards in "fun factor" compared to most things out on the market.
      • by MojoBox ( 985651 )
        It was about on par with the average amatuer mod coming out for Half-Life in 2001. Reminded me a lot of Chemical Existance actually, which is a good deal for free, but crap at $19.99
      • "Sin EP1 was one of the most craptastic fits of gaming idiocy I've ever played"

        The original SiN wasn't anything to write home about either.. it was ok for a bargin bin pick up, but if I had bought it at full retail price I would have felt ripped off...
        • by Pojut ( 1027544 )
          I think SiN is the ONLY, I repeat ONLY franchise whose anime was substantially better than it's video game.

          That is, starting from a video game and THEN moving on to anime.
        • by lgw ( 121541 )
          The,err, Original Sin wasn't at all bad for it's time. Not much story line, but that was normal for shooters. I played it agian recently, and it was fine (allowing for its age). Sin EP1 was just total crap. The enemies were just aimbots, almost no AI at all, and they'd fire directly at you even when they couldn't see you.

          Any FPS these days should bring the AI up at least to the level of the original Half Life!

          Also, of course, there was very little variety: only a couple of weapons, only a couple of oppo
          • Sin was okay for its time, but unfortunately Half-Life came out at the same time and Sin dated quick.
            • by lgw ( 121541 )
              Half-Life certainly raised the bar, but I'd say that Sin was as good as anything else out that year except Half-Life. The graphics were fine, the level design was interesting, etc. Heck, in terms of everything except graphics it was better than Sin EP1!
      • by stg ( 43177 )
        I played the whole thing, and while I don't think it was *that* bad, it certainly wasn't good.

        That has nothing to do with being episodic though, I got Half-life 2 Episode 1 too and it was great, I can hardly wait for the next episode of it. It was perfectly good value for my money.
        • by lgw ( 121541 )
          Well, I didn't like HL2 EP 1 much, but I agree the problem isn't the "episode" format. Sin EP1 suffered not from lack of play time so much as lack of complexity.

          HL2 Ep1 at least felt like the first third of a complete game design, though IMO they shouldn't call a game "Half Life" when you don't have the crowbar (and, in general, it was more of a puzzle game than a shooter, which I guess is fine for many people).
      • by Ahnteis ( 746045 ) on Friday December 08, 2006 @04:17PM (#17166282)
        So you paid $20 and didn't like what you got, and won't buy more episodes.


        So how is this worse then paying $50 and getting MORE of what you don't like but at a higher cost?
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          PC games generally have a demo. You usually get to try out the first "episode" for free.
        • by rwven ( 663186 )
          I see no problem with what you said...but it really doesn't anything to do with my comment.
      • I agree the Sin Episode 1 wasn't very good. However, the Arena mode that they added afterwards is quite fun. ratchet down the difficulty and it is quite fun to run around a map killing bots until the time runs out.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I bought it as soon as it was available on Steam, as I very much enjoyed the original Sin game.
        My CD of Sin has received some scratches over the years, and when I tried to install it the other day it wouldn't: So since Sin: Emergence also came with the original Sin as an extra, I thought it to be quite a bargain for 17-something dollars (pre-release price on Steam).

        Whereas I enjoyed the (very outdated) original Sin, I didn't quite get into the main game: Somehow I got really annoyed by being limited to t
    • The new Sam and Max episodic series sold very well and its next episode is due out in January. For $9 you get a new episode every 2 months, or for $35 you get all 6 (plus shipping if you want the optional CD at the end of the season). At about 2 hours per episode this works out to be quite a bargain.

      Half Life 2: Episode One is the best episode/expansion/add-on for any game ever. Period. It's so great that I actually wrote my first ever game review [] shortly after my second run-through. HL2:E1 sells fo
      • by Thansal ( 999464 )
        These are all the key points

        Epesodic CAN work. So can full game, in a retail box, on the store shelf. They can also both create horrible games! (SiN EP1 and SiN1 are good example of these).

        Sometihng that is interesting to me is that the Fun:NotAsFun ratio was much better in HL2:EP1 then in HL2 (to me). Was this something to do with the fact that it was a bitesizes bit of gaming that could avoide some of the problems that longer games run into? I dono, we will probably only find out as more episodic conte
    • I think if it was done right episodic gaming could be a real benefit to certain types of games. If you enjoy games that tell stories (different from "interactive fiction"...still a game), you don't really have anything in the game world to choose from except the "novel". There's no short story format for games. If you go the visual entertainment route for your analogy, all we have are gigantic epic films. There's no half-hour sitcom. (Say what you will about the sit-com, there's a few out there that ar
      • If you enjoy games that tell stories (different from "interactive fiction"...still a game), you don't really have anything in the game world to choose from except the "novel".

        Do you mean like those old "Choose your own adventure" paperbacks that presented a choice and had you flip to a certain page based on that choice?

        "If you want to watch Alyx dance around the fire pole, goto Episode 1.1. If you want to hang out with Barney and drinks beers, goto Episode 1.2"

        That would be pretty amusing, lol.

        • How about those old Tex Murphy games? Somewhat cheezy, but they had fun puzzles and storylines. They suffered a bit from the "OMG CD-ROM interactive movies!" phase, but they were still fun none-the-less. The adventure genre has always benefited from interesting and compelling storylines. (Let's face it, you can replace the story from HalfLife/Halo/Doom/etc with any sciencefiction/horror plotline and it will remain just as fun a game). When the pace of a game is a bit slower, there's a little more you c
    • by Sigma 7 ( 266129 )
      Do you have a points of comparison?

      - .HACK [] uses episodic content in four episodes. How well would it work in a single edition, especially when you consider how well things can pack on a single disk? Also, why should a person be forced to read all the "prequels" to a given story to read the current one?
      - Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross follow a different type of episodic content known as sequels.
      - Doom 3 is the main game that is used as an engine demo. The developers released an "expansion pack" for the g
  • I'm not surprised if someone leaves a company after five or six years. Seems like normal turnover. Whether Ritual can maintain its own business after key members left is a good question. Was it built around personalities or a solid business plan?

    (On a related note, I'm still bitter that I never got a write up in Slashdot after being at Accolade/Infogrames/Atari for six years. I guess lead testers don't count for anything.)
  • That's not fair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MojoBox ( 985651 ) on Friday December 08, 2006 @03:10PM (#17165498)
    I don't think you can call your game "Episodic" until you've, you know, released more than 1 episode. Until then it's just a really short game.
  • New CEO (Score:3, Informative)

    by ZombieNormality ( 1037408 ) on Friday December 08, 2006 @03:24PM (#17165664) [] We made a press release announcing our new CEO this week.
  • Having a couple to several months between is just crazy, and doesn't really appeal. I bought HL2:E1 and even SIN:E1, The HL2:E1 was great and I was sorry to see it end so quickly. SIN:E1 I started up watched the openning sequence screwed with it for a couple minutes in game play and then pretty much tucked away as a waste of the more of the same.

    I like the Idea, I thinl HL2:E2, and E3 are going to be great, but the delays are killing me. I think the problem and solution are paradoxical. HL is
    • What we really need is something that can randomly generate new levels and story elements, with the developers tossing in new content elements from time to time in updates. Infinately playablity.

      So you're still playing Diablo, right?

      What we need is not random content. What we need is better ways of generating non-random content. That's procedural generation, that's better dev tools, tighter dev practices, and better software overall. Then we get the same kind of thing -- developers toss in new content fro

      • Definitely agree with you. I think one of the biggest issues game development is facing is the spiraling cost of generating mass amounts of highly-detailed hand-generated content (take a look at Gears of War for a good example of this). I think a good deal of programming effort is going to be focused on creating smarter tools and algorithms to automatically create "filler" area interspersed with hand-crafted details.

        This is definitely an area of interest at our studio. Although some minor functionality i
        • Although some minor functionality in our world editor is automated / algorithmic, too much still requires explicit hand-crafting by a level designer.

          Build it into your engine, not your world editor. Of course both will have to support it, but the filler content should be generated on the end-user's machine, allowing it all to scale up more.

          And it's not all "filler". Do it for your main content, too. Hire people who make interesting WinAmp visualisations and such, get shader people, have them think of ways

          • We already do some of that. The game I'm working on is a network/MMO game, and when we download some data, we actually use a lot of advanced generation techniques to reduce download size. For instance, we actually use the video card hardware to expand some of the data on the user's machine.

            I agree, the best algorithms would be supported in the engine. That way, an entire world could be nothing more than a transmitted seed number (plus the content to build it from). We're still a ways out from this sort
            • an entire world could be nothing more than a transmitted seed number (plus the content to build it from).

              What do you mean by "the content to build it from"?

              I'll refer you to .kkreiger, an FPS in 96 kilobytes, as well as many of the other fun things from demoscene -- if by "content" you mean "reusable textures/materials and models", realize that those, too, can be generated.

              The only content you should have to send is where you're deliberately changing a world generated from a scene. For instance, generate

              • Yes, theoretically you could build a world completely out of algorithms. I've put a lot of thought the same processes that you've described, and I definitely feel this is the way of the future. Games are getting so massive that we need to find new ways of generating the huge amount of content for these virtual worlds.

                But quite honestly, I think what you're envisioning is not really all that practical quite yet - at least for our technology / game. The goal for us, at least in the near term, is to find a
                • A simple example - office furniture could likely be described algorithmically, but doing so would be a huge waste of programmer time. An artist can create a large library of furniture for a higher-level algorithm to place in office buildings, and the furniture can be tagged with logical descriptions for these algorithms to use.

                  True enough. I do believe that there could be tools which would help with this kind of thing, though. For instance, an artist (not a programmer) could create a generic-looking chair

Would you people stop playing these stupid games?!?!?!!!!