On Sequels

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JimmyBassatti:
Why do we even need sequels? Can't they just release a game in the same universe as the one they just made, but not a sequel?

So it would be something like Stargate Atlantis compared to Stargate SG1, based in the same universe, but parallel to the original (or another example, something like Blue Shift and Opposing Force compared to Half life 1?)

Hmm, imho that feels a bit arbitrarily (is that even a real word ?) restrictive, it's like tv shows being able to have only one season.

oppp7:
Fractals?... Those are just shapes, not another dimension. 2 or 3d shapes. Space is space whether it's full or not.

Well, no, not exactly. A highly imprecise discussion of the subject might go like this:

Consider this famous fractal curve. As it is composed of one-dimensional line segments, the area occupied by the curve is zero, making it a one-dimensional figure. (Although the curve may meander through a larger two-dimensional space, the curve topologically remains one-dimensional, and the area actually consumed by the curve lines themselves is zero.)

As you recursively subdivide the curve, the path it takes starts to become more twisted and complex. As you approach a recursion level of infinity, the one-dimensional line becomes so infinitesimally fractured and twisted and is passing through so many points in the two-dimensional plane that it becomes useful to think of this one-dimensional zero-area curve as actually consuming some portion of the 2D space -- occupying a fractional dimension.

So, there ya go.

You know, the idea can be taken a bit further and wondering why we keep making games for the same teen audience instead of, say, housewives or the elderly and maybe we should have games designed by people who hate all current games... Then we've got something like the Wii that's the sequel to gaming for people who hated gaming and all the gaming fans scream that their beloved series is being destroyed...

More on topic, I think Contra 4 and Megaman 9 are examples of these balls-in-mouth fanboy sequels and both fall flat compared to their ancestors. Now Contra Rebirth comes along and kicks Contra 4 in the balls by doing away with all the extra complexity that was vomited over the series and keeping it nice, simple and accessible instead of a massive fanwank that only the obsessive I-beat-Contra-on-one-life-every-week people can enjoy. A big warning sign for things like that is repeated themes with a twist like that base with the glowing weak spot, in Contra 4 after you beat it it rises up and forms a new boss, in Contra Rebirth it just falls over and lets you walk past (i.e. it doesn't add any stupid twists beyond being a miniboss instead of an end boss). Megaman 9 throws massively complex vanishing block patterns at the player that earlier games wouldn't even dare to place in a Wily stage, pretty much assuming the player is already on board with that concept and has had his introduction from all the earlier games while missing that people don't like the vanishing blocks either way.

ewhac:

oppp7:
Fractals?... Those are just shapes, not another dimension. 2 or 3d shapes. Space is space whether it's full or not.

Well, no, not exactly. A highly imprecise discussion of the subject might go like this:

Consider this famous fractal curve. As it is composed of one-dimensional line segments, the area occupied by the curve is zero, making it a one-dimensional figure. (Although the curve may meander through a larger two-dimensional space, the curve topologically remains one-dimensional, and the area actually consumed by the curve lines themselves is zero.)

As you recursively subdivide the curve, the path it takes starts to become more twisted and complex. As you approach a recursion level of infinity, the one-dimensional line becomes so infinitesimally fractured and twisted and is passing through so many points in the two-dimensional plane that it becomes useful to think of this one-dimensional zero-area curve as actually consuming some portion of the 2D space -- occupying a fractional dimension.

So, there ya go.

I get it. Thank you for explaining that to me.

wildpeaks:

JimmyBassatti:
Why do we even need sequels? Can't they just release a game in the same universe as the one they just made, but not a sequel?

So it would be something like Stargate Atlantis compared to Stargate SG1, based in the same universe, but parallel to the original (or another example, something like Blue Shift and Opposing Force compared to Half life 1?)

Hmm, imho that feels a bit arbitrarily (is that even a real word ?) restrictive, it's like tv shows being able to have only one season.

Yeah, like Blue Shift. You can tie them in, but give us a different perspective. Halo 3 ODST would be another example.

Yea, people on here, myself included, are incredibly eager to point out the wrong in others logic, fucking bastards.

ALRIGHT! SHUT UP! Jesus, if I'd known this was so important to all you motherfuckers I'd have just made a fucking knob gag.

What did you expect, Yahtzee.

This whole forum is filled with nerds...

There's guaranteed to be someone who'll call foul on an ill-considered statement, however anal it is to do so.

Ahem. That reminds me...

oppp7:
Fractals?... Those are just shapes, not another dimension. 2 or 3d shapes. Space is space whether it's full or not.

Space in the sense of dimensions is an entirely mathematical construct to begin with.

The 'dimensionality' of a fractal relates to how it folds in on itself.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractal_dimension

But since the whole concept of Dimensions is an abstract one to begin with, the point of wether fractals count or not is moot.

I think it's not a matter of who writes it, but what it is they are offering to the franchise.

Let's take the Alien franchise, for example. This first film turns what people expected of a horror flick around. Every time they expect something to happen, something different happens. When they expect a character to die, they are fooled until finally they actually bite it. It's a classic film and arguably the best of the series.

Then James Cameron comes along what...six years later? Maybe even more? And he decides "hey, let's have MULTIPLE aliens this time!" Only he does more than that. While the main draw is "guess what? This time there's marines fighting aliens!", there's also a lot of depth added into the universe. "The Company" is given a name and purpose: Weyland Yutani. In the director's cut, we discover that Ripley had a daughter back home, but now she is dead. This adds to her relationship with Newt, who has lost her entire family. Androids have been changed, but due to Ripley's previous experience her character has difficulty trusting Bishop. So on and so forth.

In other words, the Aliens franchise not only promised the untrustworthy "BIGGER AND MORE BAD ASS!" exclamations, but also provided more depth to the universe. Even Predator 2 managed to delve into the culture more. It's not only non-combatants that the Predator doesn't face, but pregnant women as well. There's a shit ton more weaponry. At the end, we discover that the Predators have been coming since the Revolutionary War and probably even earlier than that. Plus, if you defeat a Predator, then you are no longer prey but instead accepted into one of their own (all of this added depth is, ultimately, why I prefer Predator 2 over the first film, despite "worse acting" and a "lame story"....even though the first wasn't that great in those departments either).

Alien 3 is debatable. It was demanded by Fox so they could make more money, and it didn't add to the universe in any way. It was, overall, pointless. However, it still remains my favorite because the the director, David Fincher, took the script and got some writers to help turn it into something much more interesting. The movie is now about Ripley becoming her own worst enemy, and she is now in a situation the other films hadn't tackled: a woman alone in a prison of Double-Y chromosome males that have found God and are struggling with redemption. Sure, it's back to one Alien, but at least they defeated it in a different manner than tossing it out into space. Ripley's death was also intended to put a definite end on the series so Fox couldn't clamor for more cash.

Too bad. They got Joss Whedon, a fan, to write another script, and his was better than what the asshole French director did to it (why would you get a romantic artistic director to tackle an Aliens film?), but it added nothing to the franchise. It merely played with what we knew of the universe and revived Ripley.

There is nothing wrong with fans writing a sequel, as James Cameron was clearly a fan of Alien but managed to make a fantastic follow-up that expanded the universe. There is also nothing wrong with a company trying to milk a franchise if the right person is put in charge (Alien 3 is not the best, but as a film it IS good and continues to be my favorite, but if you won't accept that then I present the old kid's show Mighty Max. A guy was told to create a show for a new line of toys, and instead of creating a mere commercial the guy created an entire universe that explored all kinds of cultures, ancient legends and paranormal theory. It was also the first kids cartoon to actually have people die since I watched Robotech, which was bad ass).

I think the biggest problem isn't necessarily a fault of fans. It is people trying to make a sequel without having a purpose. James Cameron had a purpose in returning to the Aliens franchise, and it shows. David Fincher created a purpose, albeit a rather weak one (then again, that's what happens when Fox demands a sequel). No purpose, and it'll just be absolutely worthless as a game or film.

Interestingly enough, I couldn't play through the first F.E.A.R. game. I found it rather...boring? I dunno. I think I didn't like how it controlled or something, but overall despite having some cool ideas it never grabbed me. I really enjoyed F.E.A.R. 2 though, even if the story was...well, it was there.

regarding sequels,

I believe that fan made sequels can and should exist. But if the content is fan made i don't think it should tie in to the original content in the way, say, a sequel should. What I'm saying is that sequels are usually takeoffs of the original featuring characters and expansions on the plot from the original. A fanmade sequel should use the themes and characters to its advantage, but it should be tangent to the original. a creators vision of his own themes and visuals using the universe already set out by the original creator. that would be a lot more interesting.

:D

SHODANFreeman:
Erm.... Tales of Monkey Island's design director is Dave Grossman, one of the "big three" to work on the first two MI games you apparently worship.

Tales isn't made by "fanboys," it's made by one of the three original writers of the series.

Maybe that's it--that's the middle ground. Maybe sequels are more acceptable if made by the same creators. This isn't foolproof (q.v. George Lucas), and any concept can be beaten to death with too much repetition, but if the original creators are involved there's a greater chance of staying true to the original character of the game without devolving into fanboy-worship.

wildpeaks:

JimmyBassatti:
Why do we even need sequels? Can't they just release a game in the same universe as the one they just made, but not a sequel?

So it would be something like Stargate Atlantis compared to Stargate SG1, based in the same universe, but parallel to the original (or another example, something like Blue Shift and Opposing Force compared to Half life 1?)

Hmm, imho that feels a bit arbitrarily (is that even a real word ?) restrictive, it's like tv shows being able to have only one season.

Lately, there have been some shows that should have only had one season. I'm looking at you, Heroes and Veronica Mars! The writing on some of these shows is so good now, they tend to shoot their wad early on, then try to extent things beyond their initial plan.

Zenode:
Well it makes perfect sense....but you also said in your SPORE review that if someone has made a masterpiece they have to attempt to live up to that reputation but never do, so in a way it's a lose:lose situation

That's his point. Fans try to put the original on a pedastal and compare their own game to it, with generally negative results. What he's saying is that to improve the game, you need a dev who hates it and visualises something so much better.

I was under the impression that a good deal of Tell-Tale Games' employees were former employees of Lucasarts, not fans.

I would place a fairly wide line between "fan" and "fanboy" here, and the explanation of the difference is thus: A "fan" is someone who enjoys the franchise, who has interest in seeing it succeed but has a frank view of the pitfalls and shortcomings where improvement could be had. A "fanboy" is someone whose feelings about the franchise have become so monomanaical that his/her favorite iteration is "the best ever", and all future efforts should contain nothing that deviates from that, or it will "ruin" the franchise.

A sequel written by a fan can definitely do well by the franchise. In a best-case scenario, they'll want to expand its world, combine the best of what the franchise already offers with new ideas and better technology, and create a game that could stand alone on its own yet gives other fans of the franchise an even deeper experience. I'll point to Half-Life 2 and its episodes for an example of this done mostly right; Yahtzee is a professed fan of the series, though he rightfully points out some flaws (repetitive set pieces being a primary culprit).

A sequel written by fanboys, however... well. For a while I was a member of a rather lively forum that included a large section dealing with the Thief series. When Thief: Deadly Shadows was announced, there was quite a bit of discussion as the details slowly came to light. Many of us were hopeful, some of us were a bit upset about certain issues (concurrent development for the XBox, design decisions, etc.), and a few adamantly decried it as a sure failure destined to "ruin" the entire series. They picked apart every last piece of information, comparing it (almsot always unfavorably) to the first two games in the series, coining derisive names like "Deadly Blue Shadows". Almost in unison, when asked what they would prefer to see in development, their answers: "I want more of the old games, because they were perfect."

Now, T:DS was definitely what I'd call a "diamond in the rough", but despite its flaws I am not at all sad that I bought it on release day. (XBox players may disagree with me, as there was a serious bug involving difficulty settings that was never patched for that version, but I digress.) The experience I had with missions like Robbing the Cradle, St. Edgar's Eve and The House of Widow Moira just couldn't have been managed on the older games, and if the fanboys had had their way, we might never have seen those missions.

Fanboys take their chosen obsession personally, and any criticism regarding it is seen as an attack on them. Letting them have ANY say in the development of sequels is a bad, bad idea, because given their druthers, they would have us in a game-development Groundhog Day scenario, where release day is the same thing over and over again, only with higher polygon counts and more chances to scream "BOOM HEADSHOT!" into a microphone. Fans, however, can give a sequel the respect that will help it succeed while turning a critical eye to the original's flaws.

I personally would view FEAR 2 (and both non-canon expansions to the original, for that matter) as an example of what you get when you let someone who doesn't like the original head up efforts for a sequel. Just by playing FEAR 2's demo, I could tell that the design committee had some guy with a clipboard saying, "Bullet-time- check, creepy girl that kills with her mind- check, cloned soldiers- check... let's throw in regenerating health and self-reparing robots, the kids like those some day. Now let's go snort some cocaine."

Sequels aren't always just developers/publishers (I'm looking at you, Universal...) trying to milk their cows for all their worth. Some companies felt that they didn't do everything they could with the original game.

A few years ago I read an article in Game Informer magazine about the game Jak II on the PS2, and in it they mentioned about how they hadn't intended for Jak and Daxter to be so collection-based. Jak II was much more mission-oriented, and while stylistically it seemed to be copy-pasting GTA3 shamelessly, they only really took a few of the basic ideas to make gameplay more smooth than it likely would have been. And it doesn't matter as much that the design director was on the original team, it matters that the original team dissolved. My own favorite company, Insomniac, has built itself mostly around the Ratchet & Clank universe. They are also responsible for the three good Spyro the Dragon games, before Universal dropped Insomniac and Naughty Dog for whatever reason. Insomniac's games, while being new stories with the same characters sometimes in the same locations, are still fresh and original and always making improvements where they can (in spite of the fact that there are still races in them).

I think that another factor in the whole sequel business is the old console vs. computer war. Console games are much more self contained, and for developers to maximize their potential within a series, sequels are necessary so that they don't fall into the Duke Nukem Forever trap. Computer game content can be continually upgraded and expanded (as long as it doesn't go into cataclysmic proportions) to fully realize the potential.

The bottom line may very well be something Yahtzee has already stated in an earlier review: "...if the original creators of something don't want to continue it, maybe you should listen to them..." A new team may come in with all sorts of wonderful ideas, and be so full of vim and vigor that the whole building feels like getting up and dancing to some salsa music, but putting any franchise/series name on something not originally their own comes with so much of its own baggage that no matter what they do they're pissing somebody off, and hopefully somebody's trying to avoid that.

My personal feelings on the subject can be summarized as such:

"The best person to add to a mythos is one who enjoys it, delights in it, but observes glaring flaws in it and hopes to fix them."

That's a summary, mind you. I like several games and movies, and I like to write, but I wouldn't touch most of them. And if I did, I'd use the same general universe, but leave the individuals alone unless they reached fame within their universe during their original appearance.

I've read enough fanfiction to know full well how horribly something can be mangled once fans get ahold of it.

Like that one with Trilby and that kid 'reminiscing' about the horror of the DeFoe manor.

So by that logic, is Transformers 2 good? Michael Bay was never a Transformers fan and seems to have no respect for the mythology.
But I guess he didn't really let it evolve.
Hm...

BAAAAAALLLLLLSSSSSSSSSSSSS

B-B-B-B-B-BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLSSSSSSSSS

Enlighten me. If Yahtzee hates sequels, why is his favorite game Silent Hill 2?

Because he does what he wants.

The problem with "time is half a dimension" thing, especially as applied to gaming, is that *all* games suddenly become 2.5 or 3.5 dimensional games. Unless you make a game that never progresses in time, which kind of limits interactivity. Maybe MS Paint would fit the bill.

Does that mean that games with time manipulation mechanics are 4-dimensional?

Macgyvercas:
Enlighten me. If Yahtzee hates sequels, why is his favorite game Silent Hill 2?

Watch his Fear 2 review. He recognizes that there are good sequels, but thinks that sequels produce more overall negative than positive.

SantoUno:
I don't care what the fuck he says: sequels being banned is just plain stupid. Sure there are many pointless sequels out there that the gaming world could do without, but many of our favorite games are sequels so fuck that idea 'till its dead. I still think Halo 3 is a great sequel, KOTOR 2, SH 2, and RE 2 are my favorite sequels of all time, and if franchises didn't exist I wouldn't have played LoZ Ocarina of Time or any of the Castlevania GBA games.

i hate the halo sequals. it's just the pointless continuation of something for the sake of money. h2 was OK. i just think the 3rd one was stupid... then there's halo wars... *VOMITS*

HOWEVER, i do like your display pic, arch enemy XD

SHODANFreeman:
Erm.... Tales of Monkey Island's design director is Dave Grossman, one of the "big three" to work on the first two MI games you apparently worship.

Tales isn't made by "fanboys," it's made by one of the three original writers of the series.

Exactly what confuses me. The guys at Telltale aren't fans of old Lucasarts games, a lot of them are the same guys that used to work on the originals back in the day. While I agree that both the Sam & Max episodes AND Tales aren't quite on par with the old ones, I still think that they managed to capture a lot of the old atmosphere.

Okay, okay, I agree with the main point. Fans usually have a very differing views of what they love about a game franchise so usually what comes of it is them making their dream game and then slapping the franchise name onto it. And often times it just doesn't work.

Well, I'd have to say that while Yahtzee has a point, it isn't nessecarily one I agree with.

Yes, there are some horrid sequels out there, and there are pieces of a franchise that should have every copy burned until there's naught left but bitter ashes (I'm looking at you, Castlevania Judgement), there are plenty of good sequels out there, provided the developers hit their stride- in this case, I'd solidly point at TellTale's Sam & Max games as an example of hitting said stride.

Missing it...well, let's just say it can range from bad (How I tend to view most of the recent GTA games) to George Lucas Interfered Horrible (The aforementioned Castlevania Judgement).

I'd like to say it's mostly in the eye of the beholder as to whether a sequel is bad or good. While that's true, I don't think Yahtzee will ever get his wish of having sequels banned. Not so long as the corporations keep making money from them.

I think that, in sequels, there is a general tendency of cutting corners and inertia. The lack of new concepts usually means deficiency of worthy ideas and inspiration which will ultimately lead to mediocrity.

Fightgarr:
I was under the impression that a good deal of Tell-Tale Games' employees were former employees of Lucasarts, not fans. Though I suppose that's quickly discounted because none of them happen to be the mastermind behind the humor of the first two.

Do I need to mention Dave Grossman again? Man, Dave gets no respect. Everyone's all "oh Ron Gilbert Ron Gilbert!" or "oh Tim Schafer Tim Schafer!" but Dave Grossman was just as big a part of these classic franchises as they were.

Ron initially intended Monkey Island to be totally serious, it was Dave and Tim writing funny filler lines into the dialogue trees that ultimately turned the game into a comedy.

In addition to Dave, they also have Mike Stemmle on the design team, who was a project lead on Sam and Max Hit the Road, so they have big names from both series.

Not to mention that Ron Gilbert himself consulted on the design document for Tales of Monkey Island, and Steve Purcell painted the cover art for the first time since MI2, and Michael Land himself is even back to do the music. In many ways, Tales is the "truest" Monkey Island since MI2.

Dear Yahtzee,

See? This is what you get for reading the comments.

Love
DG

thegreatmilenko:
B-B-B-B-B-BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLSSSSSSSSS

That wasn't as good as the original.

In a recent interview with Good Game (Australian video game show on the ABC), Gabe Newell explained how when he was given the quake engine, he created Half Life as a fan of Quake.

"Trying to think like a fan is a super valuable thing to any developer".

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/goodgame/webexclusives/

The only good sequel is a canceled sequel.

Those are the ones that combine 3 important things that a successful sequel needs:

- agonised and hurt fans bawwing on the internet (I love using the word schaudenfreude);

- NOTHING reused from the first game creating a unique experience (since there's no game its an completely difference experience from the first game, which was absolutely a game of some kind or other)

- and thirdly a sense of closure for the series that stupid fans clearly had not have picked up upon when the credits rolled on the first game.

Like so many other things about entertainment and media, sequels should be approached with a sculptor's approach: remove everything that isn't needed. If a story doesn't absolutely require another chapter, then it should not be written. If the chapter is only going to repeat and glorify stuff that happened in a previous chapter, then it is not required, and therefore should not be written.

Imagine transposing this idea to another medium--books. Now, there are a lot of differences between books and games, but if you'll stay with me I do in fact have a point I'm working towards. If an author wrote an absolutely fabulous first chapter of a book, and then spent the next 20 chapters referring back to the excellent first chapter and making sickening little in-jokes about it, would the book be considered good? It wouldn't go anywhere, and the brilliance of the first chapter would be diluted across the pages. The book would be better if it was just the first chapter--instead of being a novel, it would be better as a novella, or a short-story, or whatever. People expect a novel, so even if the author doesn't have a novel's worth of stuff to say he or she will still crank out a novel. People's expectations seem to be increasing as time goes on, and therefore people now expect trilogies instead of single titles, even though many things would be much improved if they were simply short little experiments. Portal was amazing, but if it had been any longer its amazingness would have been greatly diminished because any more would have just weighed it down. If they made Portal 2 it would probably not be very good because the story was completed in the first one. There's nothing left to tell. Calling it a 'sequel' would probably be incorrect--it would be more of an 'encore' than a 'sequel.'

The danger with simply repeating past brilliance is that eventually you get to the point where you stop caring about what made the original brilliant, and instead only see it as familiar. You laugh at the jokes not because they're funny, but because you recognize them, and you remember laughing at them before. Generally, on a quick, visceral, impulsive level humans respond better to things that are familiar as opposed to things that are new and strange, because of some deep-seated evolutionary hard wiring. Game designers, movie makers, and many other producers are learning this fact. But if we want something that will be more to us than a quick, visceral, impulsive flash in the pan, we will have to be more selective about what we choose to spend our money on, because as long as we are willing to pay big bucks to see the same thing twice or more, fewer and fewer people are going to take the trouble to try something new.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
The last game was Monkey Island 2, which ended the story about as thoroughly as it could, without sawing its own legs off.

Were you playing the same Monkey Island 2 as the rest of us? The ending was left wide fucking open for a sequel; otherwise, you have to believe that the designers intended to end the story with their hero under a voodoo curse at the mercy of his arch-nemesis, while his lady love stands around waiting for him to come back to her for all eternity. What's going to happen next?

Nothing. That's it. Sorry if you were expecting closure, but thanks for playing all the same.

That makes no damn sense at all. Even if you interpret it as a "sad ending," that still doesn't make sense, because what kind of idiot would try to end a comedy series on a sad ending when there were absolutely no sad bits preceding it? It would be like trying to end The Naked Gun with a heart-wrenching death scene, or Oedipus Rex with a pie fight.

Grampy_bone:
Wow, I didn't think I could disagree with every single word in an article so strongly and completely; yet, here we are.

Actually in many ways it makes sense to me, but whatever. The reason I do is that he seems to be demanding that if someone is going to make a sequel to something, it should be someone who has the intention to bring new things to the table rather than just rerelease the same game but with better graphics, and a slightly different story.

CoD4 is a sequel, Sure its the FORTH one, But its completely different too.

Ok, There are exceptions, But in a world where there are no sequels we wouldn't get the odd gem like this.

I think for the number of turkeys that are out there its easy to have a "all sequels are crap" attitude, but i personally think sequels are a necessary evil.

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