Many valid points up there; allow me to nitpick on the few things that I do disagree with - or which incite intriguing questions about the way RTG intends to handle things. I do appreciate a whole lot that these are issues you do wish to clarify. Because other developers generally do not.
for the most part, companies are smart enough to recognise that they're better off keeping their customers happy and to avoid controversy. And if they do dumb things, it's mostly because of ignorance rather than malice. There isn't a whole lot of *evil* in the gaming industry.
Yes, there is scarcely any evil. But sometimes really bad decisions are made just because developers think customers will accept them anyway, and sometimes customers do accept those bad decisions because they think they have no other choice.
A game with multiplayer functionality, no matter how misplaced or insipid, will often do better than a game without it.
While that may definitely be true for genres like the FPS or RTS, it is not true for single player RPGs or adventure games. For example, I have no doubt whatsoever that the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer was primarily DRM; and it was well hated by players when it was announced.
Some online functionality is also to battle the second-hand market, which has hurt some bigger publishers. When retail chains like GameStop encourage customers to bring back their triple-A games as soon as they're done with them, in order to resell those games at *slightly* less than the RRP
I would strongly argue for the customer's right to resell his games. He'd never sell the perfect game anyway. However, I find a professional reselling machinery like GameStop about as needless as the frequent online Steam key resellers - who are desperately trying to be middlemen where ideally no additional middlemen should exist.
Take Chapters. If you've decided to share your choices with the world, the only thing we store [...]
So there actually is such a DECISION to be made in Chapters? (Because there sure as hell is none in Telltale's games) And that decision is not made by installing the game and consenting to the EULA? Can you actually deactivate any such kind of sharing AND collecting data in Chapters? Because, yeah, that would be an exception considering the state of the industry today.
With the option to switch it off, of course.
I'd rather have the option to switch it on. So it's "on" by default then?
If and when you decide to connect your game to Facebook or your Steam friends list, that data is stored,[...]
So the actual names we've seen displayed in the early gameplay video are collected from Facebook and Steam? Which is not really a problem for me of course, because I use neither.
This is a feature made for players, and not for us creating some sort of mythical database of players and their psychological profiles…
And no one has believed that, I guess. What I was primarily talking about were such features and their psychological capability as copy protection. To be more concrete: If gamers have come to believe that they can not play a game the way it's meant to be played if they're not online and connect their copy in some way to the developer's server repeatedly, then those features are effective copy protection. Or maybe Valve can describe what I'm after in a far more precise way:
Customers won't want to pirate a game that's connected to 20 million gamers and a feature-rich platform. Features like Steam Achievements, Anti-Cheat, Auto-Updating, and Steam Cloud simply dont exist outside of Steam.
Furthermore, constantly updating your game with upgrades and content leaves the pirates in the dust they are relegated to a featureless game with no community of players.
That's basically it. E.g. the necessity to constantly update a game is factually advertised as DRM... and I am so not OK with it.
2. As far as I know, most games that ping a game server — like Telltale's games, and Chapters — can also be played without being online.
SIDENOTE: Games bought from the Telltale Store still have DRM - supposedly a one time activation. However, recent Telltale games sometimes have trouble accepting that first and supposedly only online activation. Telltale says that shouldn't happen and it is not meant to be that way. Still, Telltale game players today often deal with heavy activation/connectivity issues and are often forced to be online. I suspect that this a result of faulty programming in connection with in game episode downloads, auto updates and auto statistics. They simply don't get those "features" under control.
Also, I suspect those functionalities to be the reason why Telltale's cooperation with GOG.com stopped beginning with The Walking Dead in 2012. They'd have to reprogram their games too much, so they don't even bother. To summarize: Lots of features not primarily meant to be DRM turn out to be heavy duty DRM.
The 'offline mode' today is an additional feature implemented for some nagging players, while 'online' is the uncontestable default even for single player games. This mode may or may not work, maybe it works on some machines and doesn't on others (Origin). The "what if the player isn't online?" is not really considered any more in many stages of game development, leading to bugs galore for the offline player.
If I did, I'd always browse with privacy on. Or game with my internet disconnected.
Welcome to my world. And you wouldn't believe how many doors are slammed in your face then without real reason.
3. There's absolutely no 'competitive' element to the decisions made in Telltale games [...]
Oh, I do agree here (but would then proceed to question percentage statistics). The competitive element comes with the whole achievement/badge/trophy shenannigans which, in my opinion, have zip to do with story based games and will potentially ruin immersion.
because it just feels like it matters a little more when that decision will affect a global statistic.
This is all personal preference, but in all honesty, I'm making choices for the protagonist in a story, not for any global statistic. Or to put it another way: What doesn't concern Zoë doesn't concern me.
No, no, god, no. That would NEVER be our goal. Ever. 50/50 is dull.
I agree to the fullest. However, Telltale has been particularly proud attempting to construct the 'perfect dilemma' in their games. Which certainly is one of the many wrong paths for episodic games, but they were so enthusiastically set on that stuff...
All those Telltale comparisons are not without their share of unfairness, I concede that. RTG has named them multiple times as a bit of a role model for Chapters though – and now that you're going episodic as well, a good deal of compare & contrast is inevitable, I guess... hopefully with a heavy emphasis on contrast.
Of course, if one of the Decision Points in Dreamfall Chapters ends up with 100/0 — with a choice that's spectacularly unpopular — then we've probably done something wrong.
In my book, individual players can still be very happy with that decision when they absolutely don't know that everyone else also chose that way. I guess a game designer could never be happy that no one sees the alternative path. All that work, for nothing.
Apologies to Vainamoinen for using HIS post for this long explanation/rant/outburst — it's not really directed at him
You're always cordial in your replies and I feel somewhat special for often having my posts disected as discussion material.