Ovi's Blog on technology and the web

Sam and Max, video game or interactive tv show?

Sam and Max is a video game series that originally started back in 1993. It made a comeback a couple of years ago in the form of episodic gaming, releasing one ‘episode’ each month for a ‘season’ of six episodes. It’s sorta like a tv show where each episode can be played on its own, but with an overall storyline that connects the episodes together.

Sam and Max is the first successful episode-based video game series. Part of its success is based its interesting plot and characters which is what made the original 1993 version a cult classic. And part of the reason the writing is such an important aspect is because of the ‘adventure’ format of gaming which typically relies on the storyline.

The way adventure video games work is sort of like watching a movie you can interact with at certain points. It’s a little more complex as it also lets you interact with the environment and your interactions don’t always have to be made in a certain order. But unlike other video games, your goal isn’t to earn points or shoot your way through levels, it’s to solve a problem. You watch the story unfold then interact with the environment and its characters to get clues on how to further develop the storyline. And that’s why the writing is so important. And with good writing is how the episode format can work, since it basically turns into a good television show you interact with.

Originally published June 30th, 2008