Fun fact: when it was first conceived, Dreamfall Chapters was going to be an episodic series. Thus, the name Dreamfall Chapters. Before long, however, man of so many yarns that cats are magnetically drawn to his face, Ragnar Tornquist, decided the plot necessitated "one big meaty game with a fully story and a full conclusion." Apparently, though, the game outgrew that model too, so now it's back to episodic. I know, I know. Let Tornquist explain it below. It makes a lot more sense when he says it, that linguistic Viking demigod.
First things first: if you backed the game, this changes very little aside from when everything will come together. You get all five episodes free of any additional charge, each one as it's released.
So then, why the sudden change? Basically Red Thread started running low on time and money, and the team realized it'd either have to make big cuts in order to just barely cross the finish line or pace things out a bit. It chose the latter. The result:
"We could have made deep cuts, removed a lot of the characters, story-lines and locations - but we would have ended up with a different game than the one that's played inside our heads for the better part of a decade, a different game than the one we've promised our backers. We would have lost much of the magic and narrative depth. And we would've still had to delay our release into next year."
"We’ve also realised that while, as a small studio, we are capable of producing a massively ambitious game like Dreamfall Chapters, we’re not satisfied with our ability to properly finish, polish and bug fix the whole game in one go. The amount of work that goes into every chapter of every book is enormous, and we do not want to compromise on the quality of our game and our story."
"By releasing Book One this autumn, we hope to start generating income, all of which will go right back into improving the quality and scope of subsequent books. And by dividing our work into five standalone releases, we’re able to give each book the focus, polish and attention it needs."
Tornquist and co are adamant that this will not in any way change the story, and they hope to have new episodes out as quickly as possible. Apparently Book Two is already in alpha, and Book Three will follow in short order. On the upside, Book One: Reborn will actually be out before Chapters' originally planned November release date.
So yeah, this is kinda a shame in that we were promised one thing and then got another, but it seems like Red Thread is doing everything in its power to make the change as low-impact as possible. Tornquist fully admitted that this constitutes "breaking promises and letting our supporters down," which is something you rarely see owned up to, even when That Unpredictable Hydra, Game Development rears its seven million ugly heads. Even if there is now cause for concern, that's certainly better than making the announcement and pretending like nothing happened, like this is still exactly what people signed on for.
Here's hoping the end result is all worth it. Adam got to try (pre-episodic) Chapters' first few hours, and he came away quite impressed. That's probably a good sign, given that Adam's opinions are fierce and decisive, like a tiger on the prowl. A really well-read tiger who went to a great university and can sew a sentence like a surgeon knits skin. You know, that kind of tiger.