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In response to "The Reset Button" from The Escapist forums:
Good food for thought.
It's true, doing something familiar gives people a sense of comfort and joy, but there's also joy in completely new discovery. Unfortunately with games, a lot of times the completely new discovery is that the game is a pile of crap.
I think there are ways to provide familiar experiences with every iteration of a franchise that lets people feel this way, but also to make the game different and innovative enough that it's not a cardboard copy.
Still, I can think of some well-respected franchises where with every iteration, I almost hope that they don't change much, simply because I just want more of the old game, perhaps only with a new story/extension to the story. Games like Fallout, STALKER, and even the new Batman "Arkham" series. If Arkham City is drastically different from Arkham Asylum, I think I will be mad. I want more of Arkham Asylum because it was THAT f'ing good.
The extent that the COD franchises of the world are doing this repetition to is on the extreme, though. Their rapid release cycle makes it even more disconcerting.
That's basically it, yes. It's like new edition of a card game or an updated rulebook for a tabletop miniatures title.
Balance and strategy, the variations on how you move, how guns handle... all these things add subtle variation which alters how the metagame works.
Multiplayer competitive is about more then who can shoot straight and the quickest, team work is an integral part of being successful. I admit the single player gets old, it has been done a hundred times and no matter how many Hollywood script writers and actors you get on board it is still move from one set piece to another shooting from cover. I wouldn't buy the games for the single player.
A multiplayer only subscription based model with regular content upgrades (not paying for map packs) would be a viable alternative to the twelve month release schedule.
In response to "Play It Again" from The Escapist forums:
Loved the article, I do enjoy that games are allowed to reinvent themselves in sequels in a way that just is not possible in movies or books. Having series defined by general mechanics and themes rather than a long form narrative is one way that games are distinctive from many other forms of media, it isn't entirely unique.
Series such as Discworld or Redwall function in very similar ways to The Elder Scrolls. They are an array of different stories, some placed hundreds of years apart, bound together by the common elements of the world itself. The worlds history, lore and magic tie Skyrim to Morrowind in much the same way they tie Guards! Guards! to The Colour of Magic.
To some degree, yes, books and movies have reached a sort of plateau in terms of presentation, while games can still continue to evolve and improve, the fast and loose sequel structure many game series use is not particularly unique to gaming.
There was a minor thing though that bugged me.. Probably more than it should have; using the updated Portal ending as an example for a Retcon.
It isn't retroactive when there is nothing you are going backwards from. The game ended with you blacking out in a parking lot as debris fell all around you. There was no particular implication that you actually truly escaped. Had Chell gotten up and walked through the gates, and then the ending was changed to have you dragged away, then it would be a retcon. Things would be erased, or changed. But that didn't happen, which is understandable due to Chells escape method, standing next to a massive explosion. The view of the parking lot was always meant as sort of hollow victory, that the act of overcoming your jailer had left you physically incapable of making the final steps to freedom.
However with no further continuity (Past the point of Chell blacking out) you can't really call adding an extra 5 seconds at the very end an example of retroactive continuity. Yes, the addition was retroactive, coming years after the games release, but in terms of the continuity that moment was still the present. There was nothing after that. Any moments taking place in the present continuity are by definition not retroactive.