Tales Of Monkey Island Demo, Pricing Difference

By John Walker on July 8th, 2009 at 8:52 am.

I want a spin-off where you play as Le Chuck.

The demo for the first Tales of Monkey Island episodic adventure is available now. As indeed is the game. It seems so soon after the first announcement that it exists. This time you don’t appear to be able to buy the episodes separately. Instead Telltale want you to commit to the full five episode series in one purchase.

But put your arms back down. It works out cheaper. Whereas buying each of the five chapters would usually cost you $44.25, as one they’re $34.95. (The Steam UK prices work out similarly, at £25 rather than £30.) Well, cheaper unless you decided you didn’t enjoy a chapter and wouldn’t buy any more, I guess. There’s no doubting it’s an odd approach to being episodic – certainly Telltale have meddled with purchasing options in the past (rather upsetting people with a sudden change in pricing policy for the final episode of the Strong Bad games), and they seem very keen to encourage people to buy the full load of Wallace & Gromit games in one go, only offering the bundle on Steam. But this seems to be the first time there’s been no option at all to pick up just the one chapter.

Of course, this might change in the next few days. Initial enthusiasm for people wanting to play the new Monkey Island content created by Dave Grossman and Mike Stemmle would likely see them buying it in whatever form is available. But then we’re not often impressed with this sort of thing. Of course, there’s also the rather strong argument that these are not going to be individual stories, but rather a five-part serial. It wouldn’t make sense to play episode 3 without playing the others, we’re assured. (Sell it as one full game, then?)

Any how, the point is, there’s a demo out so you can see whether this is going to raise your heart or see you ranting on forums about how they’ve ruined Guybrush’s hair, etc. I’ve not had a chance to play the full episode yet, annoyingly, but from a quick go at the demo I’m pleased to report the voice acting from the regular cast is superb, and the design is a happy compromise between Telltale’s familiar engine and a traditional LucasArts motif. In fact, it’s really rather lovely just to see the LucasArts logo at the beginning of a Telltale game. It’s like seeing Pepsi holding hands with Coke. Maybe, sniff, one day we’ll all get along.

__________________

« | »

, , , .

152 Comments »

  1. Dracko says:

    Actually, I take that back: It is a good idea, because people are falling for it.

  2. SanguineAngel says:

    @ Jalf

    “And how is that different from, say, Halflife 2? In both cases, you only get the content *after* you’ve bought it. At the time you decide to pay, you’ve seen none of it. (except the demo)”

    The difference is that Half Life 2 existed at the time of purchase. It was already complete. At no point were you paying up front for something that DID NOT EXIST.

    Sure you could pre-order the game, but that is a free choice.

    In addition, as the full product existed at the time it became available, it was able to be reviewed in full. if it DID suck after the first 20% then this is something you had the opportunity to know going in.

    Here, if you wish to purchase the pre-existing episode one, you must also agree to pay up front for the rest of the games wish does not even exist, cannot be evaluated and cannot be quality guaranteed. Indeed, it may never arrive at all and you have paid for nothing (although in this case a refund would likely be forthcoming.)

    “I simply don’t see the harm in it. Every game you buy, is basically bought on faith. You didn’t buy Half-Life, Oblivion, Dreamfall or Homeworld because you’d already played through them and knew you loved the full game”

    No I bought them because they actually existed, had been reviewed by many people and were presented by the developers themselves to boot. I made an INFORMED purchse.

  3. dragon says:

    “What they mean: “Our game sucks and we wish to sucker you into buying more than you would ever want based on brand strength.””

    And if sales are poor, they can always blame piracy.

    I fear this game will just be fan-service.

  4. jalf says:

    I didn’t ask “did you play the demo”. I said “did you play the game?”

    So the answer is no? I am not condoning anything, or saying you should buy the game. I am asking if you have played it, because if you have not, I think it is a bit rich to be so absolutely certain it sucks. You could say, you know, “the demo sucked”, or “those of Telltale’s games that I did play sucked”, or “the trailer sucked”. But “the game I haven’t actually played sucks” is a bit hard to take seriously.

    P.S. You know how a TV series is a different to a movie? Yeah, that’s what “designed as episodic” means.

    So you don’t know what you mean either?
    Well, let me know what you’ve found out. Let me know when you’re able to answer my very simple question, “what does it mean for something to be designed as an episodic series”.

    Until then, I think it’s pretty that you’re just trolling because you’ve decided that you want the game to be bad.

  5. Dracko says:

    Put another way: Would you buy a boxset of the complete series of, I don’t know Torchwood: The High School Musical Years before the pilot episode even aired?

  6. Lilliput King says:

    Yeah, I agree with you. It’s a pretty odd business practice, which I imagine is in place to take advantage of those players that want to get the product immediately, and as such, is pretty greedy.

    Your arguments merely annoy me because they don’t make sense.

    Carry on.

  7. jalf says:

    Ok, I’ll stop here. I’m losing track of which posts are deleted and which are not. :p

    In summary: I think the game is good. And if you don’t trust TTG with your money before the series is complete and fully reviewed, don’t give them your money until the series is complete and fully reviewed.

  8. SanguineAngel says:

    hah Jalf, I wish there was an edit function here. I feel your pain.

    Anyhoo, I accept your points. I am not debating whether I can buy the game later.

    The problem I have with TTG’s decision here is that this IS an episodic release. Intentionally releasing it as “mini games” short episodes. They are self contained code, even if the story spans the collective.

    In this situation, it seems ludicrous to me that I am not given the option to a) buy the single already existing game on it’s own or b) (presumably based on the current model) buy the episodes on a seperate basis.

    I do not have a problem with the single purchase option that they HAVE offered. I have a problem with the options that they HAVEN’T offered.

    Surely you must see that in a release format like this, it makes no sense to limit the purchasing options in the way they have?

  9. Demikaze says:

    I think this will only be temporary – when Episode 2 rolls out, you’ll be able to buy the first on its own.

  10. Sunjammer says:

    Anyway blah de blah. The game is worth your money.

    Also, it was awesome seeing the lucasarts logo in an adventure game, and it was completely awesome seeing an episode screen again.

    The controls are alright. Weird. But it’s good that they experiment with the interface. At least now we can examine objects and combine them.

  11. Buemba says:

    I enjoyed the first episode overall, but I still think the graphics look like crap. Telltale’s current engine isn’t suited to rendering humans at all (At least they emote well, though).

    And what’s with each Telltale series getting worse controls? S&M controlled really well, but both Wallace and Grommit and Monkey Island have been steps down from that.

  12. JKjoker says:

    @jalf: MI1 was a complete game on release, you cant even compare them.

    and for the other thing, i would need to see Tell Tale’s projections, how much do they expect to get initially ? 40~60% of expected money ? and how much once the 5 episodes are released together ? 20~40% with some extra per month from bargain bin purchases ?

    compare that to a game released completed out of the box which expects 70~90% the first month and the rest in the following 2 or 3 months with some change from the bargain bin purchases ?

    you really telling me they have the same incentive to finish the game ? depending on the initial sales and considering the production costs of the rest of the game they might actually make more money if they drop support after the first episode

    you get me now ? i’d like to see the contract, im pretty sure there is a clause that lets Tell Tale cancel the thing and screw the buyer over

  13. jalf says:

    @SanguineAngel:
    Yes and no. Of course, more options are always better. If they did offer individual episodes it’d be cool. My point is just that the episodes are far less self-contained than in their previous games (or at least it seems that way at the moment)

    So if we think of it as a series of self-contained episodes, then yes, I’d expect them to be up for sale individually. But if we consider it as one cohesive story, similar to how the original games were also divided into chapters, I don’t think the “single episode” purchase option is strictly necessary.

    After playing the first episode, I’m leaning towards thinking of it as the latter. It didn’t feel like a Sam & Max episode, say, which starts and ends basically in a status quo. It felt more like a chapter in the original MI games. Something it just doesn’t make sense to play alone.

    But yes, of course the more options and flexibility they offer, the better. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they offer that option in a month or two, like Demikaze said. It would make sense to first force all us impatient fanboys to pay for the whole thing, and then roll out individual episodes afterwards. ;)

  14. Igor Hardy says:

    @Dracko: The original games were hardly much more gritty and avantgardish than this one. They just had sharper writing.

  15. JKjoker says:

    ive read several publisher ceo interviews where they claim that many games are dropped on development (one from ea said that more get dropped than released iirc)

    now, imagine a world where you release a piece of the game, like a demo but instead of being free, you charge them the whole game and force the buyer to commit to the whole thing, but then an alarming % of these games get dropped along the way (either no published support or the developers just die), a pretty big % of the ones that get released entirely have much lower quality in the last few “parts” since they were rushed out of the door (either published pulled the plug and released the alpha version or they just wanted to focus on something else and get that thing out of their backs), and few other games are in developing FOREVER releasing maybe an part every 3 years (aka, the Valve strategy).

    Now, Tell Tale might be the coolest company in the world and completely deliver everything they promised and more, but by accepting this developing model we are opening a door that should stay closed and TT won’t be the only one, Blizzard guys already had their laugh with SC2′s “trilogy” and im sure we will start hearing many “crazy ideas” like these though the rest of the year.

    I’m putting my foot down early and saying NO now. maybe when the thing is completed, I *might* consider buying it, from the bargain bin.

  16. Sisyfos says:

    CONS
    Badly optimized
    Awful controls
    Hideous interface

    PROS
    AWESOME!

  17. AlabasterSlim says:

    Just finished it this morning. I loved it! Best Telltale release I’ve played yet.

    And it actually felt like a Monkey Island game.

    I suppose that unbreakable five game contract really held up.

  18. jalf says:

    It’s no secret that a lot of games get cancelled during development. But I don’t think we are “opening a door that should stay closed”. First, this business model and the “traditional” one are not mutually exclusive. You said it yourself, you can say NO now, and take a look when the thing is completed. You’ll always be able to do that.

    That’s unlike other slippery slopes/doors that should not be opened at all, like, say, DRM, where once the new business model is accepted, we customers have no way of asking for “the old way”. With Telltale’s model, you can still do that, you just have to wait until the product is completed – as you would do anyway. If their business model in any way prevented us from buying games the “traditional way”, I’d agree with you, it’d be a worrying trend. But it doesn’t seem to be the case here.

    But another angle that might be worth considering:
    The reason why so many games are cancelled during development is that they run out of funds. So a business model that allows them a gradual income while they’re developing it could actually solve the problem, rather than making it worse. This model gives TTG a bag of money at launch, and the promise of a further bag of money for each episode they complete. So they can afford to continue, and they’re motivated to continue.

  19. JKjoker says:

    @jalf: games also get canceled because they SUCK, worst of all, many get canceled because they don’t appeal to the x360 douchebag public, if you thought games are currently designed for the lowest common denominator just WAIT until they start with this dev model any game that just tries to be a little different will get axed without mercy

    and there are so many advantages to this way of developing that if it gets accepted you can be sure everyone except a few small dev houses will use it, you say they are not mutually exclusive and its true but just like DRM you should see how they tend to move in “waves” one does it, everyone does it then on changes, everyone changes

  20. TheColonel says:

    Man, that was the shortest thing since MGS2! Episodes may make sense somehow, but they are so annoying. I wish to know why it is that the game’s resolution is acceptable now, but it still has the same quality textures as the previous monkey island game! Surely computers are capable of more?

  21. Vinraith says:

    Is it just me or is there something really off-putting about the art style in the new game? I rather liked the 3D versions of characters in MI 4, but there’s something decidedly ugly about everyone in this one.

  22. JKjoker says:

    @Vinraith: its not just you (just check the older MI5 posts) but if you asked me if they suck more than MI4 i would have a really hard time to come out with an answer, they are both horrible, MI3 beating the crap out of them

  23. Elman says:

    @Adam

    I think I stopped playing around episode 4. I guess I should try to play the rest of them, if what you say is true.

  24. Erlam says:

    “So if I decided after playing the first 20% of Psychonauts that I didn’t like it, I should be able to get a refund for the remaining 80% as well?”

    How about if I paid for Psychonauts but could only play the first 20% until about six months had passed. How is that better?

    I have no opinion of the game as I haven’t even tried the demo, but only having the option to pay for a few ‘episodes’ in one bundle isn’t episodic content – it’s subscription.

  25. hydra9 says:

    Well, I need to retract an earlier comment: I was bitching and moaning about the ‘awful’ voice acting and lack of humor when I watched the trailer. Now I’ve played the demo and I’ve gotta say – It works. It’s good! I like it! Sure, there are some bad lines in there, but there are also plenty of good lines that made me smile. Not laugh – just smile: Like what happened with Monkey Island I & II. It has the right feeling, Guybrush doesn’t look mutated and the game as a whole looks *lovely*. Well done Telltale!

  26. Brulleks says:

    I’ll go one better – I actually did laugh at a couple of moments at least, which is something that has never happened in the demos of Telltale’s other games so far. I think (and hope) they may finally have hit the mark with this.

    But I must admit, being a total scrooge, I rarely buy any game until it hits the £10.00 mark, so it will be a while before I actually find out for certain.

  27. Vinraith says:

    Oh, and yes, this is a terrible sales model. Then again, I never get involved in these episodic adventure games until they’ve completed a season and I’ve seen reviews for the whole thing anyway.

  28. jalf says:

    Guybrush doesn’t look mutated

    You mean apart from the entire point in the game being that he does? (or at least his hand does) ;)

  29. hydra9 says:

    Alright, good point. Apart from the hand… :)

  30. A-Scale says:

    RPS gents, thank you very much for covering the issue of Telltale going from episodic purchases to a one time payment method. You have been the only gaming news org covering the issue consistently since Telltale dropped the system for the Strongbad games. Telltale pissed me off badly enough with the unannounced change from episodic pricing to a strictly season based system on Strongbad that they will never see another red cent out of me.

  31. mpuncekar says:

    Played through the episode last night. Loved every second of it. Smashed through every expectation I had for it based off of the gameplay vid. As you go the jokes get better, more references to previous MI games than you can shake a stick at, and the polish for such a quickly made game doesn’t drop.

    I don’t have a whole lot to say about the pricing model. I kind of raised an eyebrow when I saw that nothing changed upon release, but they really pushed the fact that the developers worked hard on tying it all together, and for the first time establishing a season lead in the VIP forums. It’s not as outlandish as some make it out to be. Thirty five bucks still isn’t the 60 dollar price tag it would be on an xbox or something, or the normal 45-50 a pc game would normally be. American dollars that is.

    And if episodic gaming is what their indie studio, and I repeat indie, is designed to run on, that is what they should do. This isn’t EA here, and in my opinion this has probably been one of my favorite releases I’ve seen with huge involvement from the devs and tweaking up until the digital release of the game. Including listening to the community to get some form of mouse control in there. Sidenote: as much as I love point and click, it would never work here unless you took out all of the cinematic camera angles and locked the camera on guybrush. It’s a symptom of 3d. They’ve handled it as best they can for now on such a crazy production schedule.

    Also, I hated the art style at first, but have come to love it a lot more than the other series. First I just had to realize, this isn’t the launch of MI2. I had to give the game a clean look, because reading text, and looking at 2d pixelated renders is a whole different thing. So it should be judged as a different thing. The devs went for a MI2 and Curse blended art style as they knew those were the fan favorites. I think they succeeded.

  32. Bobby says:

    TheColonel> RE textures: that’s the price to pay to keep the game at a reasonable download size. EMI had what, two CDs to work with? TMI episode 1 is less than 200 megabytes

  33. Seth says:

    Honestly the price point means I’ll probably wait until the entire thing is completed, but actively getting hostile about it is just plain bizarre.

  34. A-Scale says:

    TheColonel> RE textures: that’s the price to pay to keep the game at a reasonable download size. EMI had what, two CDs to work with? TMI episode 1 is less than 200 megabytes

    Why exactly do we need to keep downloads small again? This isn’t the 90s. Most people are on broadband, and even those who are not would only have to spent a little more time to download a 400 mb game vs a 200 mb one.

  35. Wulf says:

    [ Re: The self-entitled howls over pricing structure. ]

    Okay, this is truly ludicrous…

    To those who hold the opinion that the lump sum isn’t worth paying for the game, I say this: Don’t pay it, durrr.

    To call out Telltale over it though is ludicrous, because let’s not beat around the bush here, the reason they’re doing it is amazingly obvious. Their projects recently are bigger than anything they’ve undertook before, and they’re trying to offer us greater quality. That means they need money, so the lump sum is an advance so that they can continue to offer that quality for the rest of the season. If you put your thinking caps on and consider it, it’s like publisher funding. We’re paying now so that we can have a better game.

    If we were paying episodically, then the quality might not have been there. They might still have been good, but not quite as good as they are. And given the option between the wo, I’d honestly rather have the extra quality.

    Furthermore, the sense of entitlement emanating from some people is truly overpowering, they feel that Telltale owes them the right to buy these games episodically apparently, and this is evidenced by the call from some to have the media launch a Quixotic quest against Telltale. Say it on the blogs, they call, the corrupt magazines are stayin’ quiet about it!

    …oy vey.

    I have opinions regarding games, sometimes negative ones, but I really don’t have the sense of entitlement that some people do. I think Brutal Legend is a rather uninspired affront to rock and that it’s a horrible game overall and I could personally care less whether it comes to the PC or not, but you don’t see me going around and telling people not to run stories about it, do you?

    And that’s exactly what’s happening here, let’s not beat around the bush there either, some people really do have a vastly over-exaggerated sense of entitlement, and it says bad things about the individual.

    Bottom-line: If you don’t want to buy it, don’t. If you want to make ludicrous complaints and call for the media to charge Telltale with pitchforks and torches, then expect me to make fun of you. A lot.

    Good grief.

  36. hydra9 says:

    I just bought the season. £22 is what it cost me. Okay, so I don’t have it all yet. But that’s not fucking bad. And at the end, they’ll even send you a nice physical copy on DVD.

  37. Psychopomp says:

    I found it quite lovely.

    I really hate the “you’re only enjoying it because of nostalgia,” argument. Is it really so hard to believe that someone’s actually, y’know, *enjoying it?*

  38. T. Slothrop says:

    Guybrush should conclude Episode Five by having a Daniel-Day Lewis style confrontation with LeChuck similar to the end of ‘There Will Be Blood’; fed up with LeChuck’s constant meddling and purpose as a Deus Ex Machina in the series. I would.

    “If I have a grog, there it is. And you have a grog… and I have a silly straw, and my straw reaches acroooss the room… I drink your grog. I DRINK IT UP!”
    “DON’T BULLY ME GUYBRUSH.” {in Paul Dano’s perfect whine}
    “ARGH! DID YOU THINK YOUR VOODOO MAGIC AND YOUR SCHEMES WOULD SAVE YOU?! III AM THE REAL PIRATE! I’M YOUNGER AND I’M SMAAARTER THAN YOU!”
    “I’m your own BROTHER Guybrush!”
    “ARRRRGH!”

  39. Frank says:

    Error: “Telltale Games has encountered a problem and needs to close.” Did their funding dry up so fast? Oh well: at least the uninstall works.

  40. JKjoker says:

    @mpuncekar: Tell Tale stopped being indie the second they shook hands with the new Lucasarts Milk-The-Old-Franchises department

  41. Bobby says:

    Why exactly do we need to keep downloads small again? This isn’t the 90s. Most people are on broadband

    Well, hardcore gamers may be happy with gigantogames but not all normal people are ready to spend hours downloading and installing gigabytes of game when they could really be doing the whole of it in the span of 20 minutes. I for one was happy that I could install something new without first shifting around 3 gigs of data to make room.

  42. Wilson says:

    I played the demo and thought it was quite good. It made me smile or chuckle a few times, and cringe a few times. I’ll probably get it when the season is done, maybe when it becomes super-cheap.

    I don’t see the pricing thing as too big an issue. If they called it something other than episodic content then a lot of people wouldn’t have anything to moan about. As many wise people have said, if you think it’s a con, wait until the whole thing is done.

  43. geldonyetich says:

    I wonder if they’re ever going to bring it back to GameTap? I’m so poor I’m not sure I could even afford $35 for quality nostalgia at this point.

  44. A-Scale says:

    Has no one noted the fact that none of your text input seems to make a difference in what Guybrush says? I choose something silly like “My name is not important” and he says “My name is Guybrush Threepwood, might pirate!”, the most generic statement possible. This wasn’t an isolated incident either, it happens EVERY time I get the chance to choose my line. That takes a full half of the fun out of the interaction in the game, as I’m not really interacting at all!

  45. Serondal says:

    @A-Scale = That seriously sucks. Why give you a choice at all if it is going to ignore it ? Maybe it’s a bug that will be fixed?

  46. jalf says:

    @A-Scale: That only happens in a few conversations (mainly at the beginning, just when you wake up on Flotsam Island). I don’t know if it’s a bug, but that conversation really suffered from it. The rest of the game works as you’d expect though.

    The original games did the same thing once or twice, but in those cases, it was obvious that it was for comic effect only. Usually Guybrush being too scared to speak his mind or something.

    I’m not sure if ToMI attempted the same, if it’s a bug, or if they just ran out of time when doing the voiceovers.

    Don’t lose heart though, it’s only that conversation, basically, and maybe one or two lines elsewhere in the rest of the game.

  47. A-Scale says:

    Thanks kindly for the knowledge, Jalf. I was hoping for just such a response. In that case my only gripes are the walking system, Elaine’s voice (I’m used to the EMI voice) and Guybrush’s goatee.

  48. Skittles says:

    I find peoples complaints about the pricing of this game somewhat strange, if not downright hypocritical.

    So you are willing to go out and pay anywhere between $39 and $59.95 for a brand new game from a massive publisher, play it for 5 minutes decide its crap and never play it again. And then say oh well it was a crap game.

    Then telltale comes along asks you to pay $34 for a game, which is damn cheap compared to most publishers (and indeed cheaper then buying the episodes separately anyway). And you cry murder because this game you won’t be getting all at once, and if you decide after 5 minutes you hate it then you have apparently paid for another 4 games as well. Anyone else see a step of illogic here?

    Yes it is a marketing decision, however it is a smart marketing decision. You pay a premium to the publishers of a “AAA” game for something you find you dislike and shrug. So why should Telltale not have that same opportunity? Not everyone is going to like their game when they buy it, but offering a large demo (The first episode of Tales can be 8+ hours) for less then $10 is not something that the big publishers do, so indeed why should you complain when Telltale doesn’t either. For $34 you are getting 5 episodes which equate to a longer game then most full-priced adventures or games of other genres.

    The big publishers have the money and resources to offer large demos and often don’t, so shouldn’t you ask of it from them first before a smaller publisher like Telltale?

  49. A-Scale says:

    Anyone else see a step of illogic here?

    Yes, both of your premises are bullshit.

  50. GekkoX says:

    @Skittles:

    I doubt the people who are buying full priced games without knowing what they go into aren’t the ones complaining here.
    Basically, if the other games flop or if the company goes under, you’ve spent a good 34€ on a game that you only get to play about 5h.
    There are also people who base their buying oppinions solely on the review of the game, but since only 1/5th of the game has been released, there isn’t much to go by.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>