304: Where to Begin?

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Where to Begin?

Videogame sequels should be the perfect medium for telling massive, years-spanning epics, but technological advancements, unpredictable release schedules, and a fickle gaming public make it nearly impossible.

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Ahem, Bioshock 2 is not a good sequel. You see, Bioshock was originally intended to be a complete story. And then some unrelated to the game people created a sequel because 2K wanted more money. Duh...
You see, some games end with a cliffhanger(s), which allows you to create a sequel. For example, Quake 2, Jericho, Bloodrayne 2, Painkiller BooH are all games that ends with a cliffhanger, so it is reasonable to expect a sequel. But sometimes you have a game, that is a complete experience and a work of art...
You know, I have 2 copies of Bioshock - for PC and PS3. Naturally, I got PS3 one much later and when after the credits it showed that teaser for a sequel.. Something died inside me.

Our popular game magazines and websites focus mostly on reviews and previews, but less so on retrospectives or critiques.

I agree with you that this is a real shame; it often seems like, in the games industry, the only game that matters is the next one. People are rarely interested in talking about games that are even only a couple of years old, and this is a serious problem, in my opinion, for the growth of the medium, because its past is not preserved. Every other medium makes the effort to preserve its past: books get reprinted, films get released on Blu-ray, etc. The games industry doesn't do this.

Not only that, but it seems like game developers actively go out of their way to prevent their older games from standing the test of time, which is another casualty of the technological dependence of the medium: as technology advances, old classics become unplayable. Unfortunately, since so many developers care only about the latest technology, this leads to a lot of games being consigned to the history books and impossible to play without emulators. It's for reasons like this that I think websites like Good Old Games should be applauded, and why it puzzles me that publishers seem reluctant to put their back catalogues on them. They have literally nothing to lose, since you can't buy many of the games on GOG at retail for modern operating systems, they stand to make more money in the process, and gamers have the opportunity of playing classics that may have passed them by.

I so agree with the point about getting into series.

There are so many game series that are praised and loved, that I never ever will play. Why? Because the games themselves are outdated both in graphics and controls. I already have a hard time replaying games I personally love because of their old fashioned graphics and control schemes.

I personally believe in making new series every time you get a new platform. Alternatively making games that don't require you to have played the previous games (like final Fantasy... or Zelda)

damn!...I know thats not a spoiler...but I dont really want to KNOW if a game has a clif hanger ending...

anyway speaking of beyond good and evil (ive only played a little..AWSOME game so far..) its a shame because there are some serious technical issues (I think its ok though)

Something that bothers me is that sometimes even when everything is aligned to make jumping in easy, somehow it never really formulates. Imagine for example you're a Mac user who has been hearing of these Half-life games since 2000. Finally about a year ago Valve ports the Source Engine over to mac and you can finally get a taste of the games.. As long as you're willing to start from the second one.

Now with other developers you would go, well.. the first one is on a separate engine, we are not going to waste valuable time porting a ten year old engine to a new platform. However, that really isn't the case. See during the development of the Source Engine valve was trying to push how easy it was to move content over from their prior engine, and as a proof of concept the released Half-life: Source, a quick-and-slighty-less-dirty port of the original Half-life to their new Source Engine.

So the Source engine can run on Mac systems, and the Half-life levels and assets can be run on the Source Engine, but for some reason you still can not buy a version of Half-life that will run on the Mac. This from a company that has been pushing to improve accessibility of PC games for over 7 years now. Somehow it never crossed their minds to make their stories more accessible to their new Mac users.

Also, a small correction for the image credits: Half-life is Copyright of Valve, not EA.
The only involvement EA has with the series at this point is putting it in a box and shipping it to retailers. Hell, they didn't even get the rights to publish HL1 until after HL2 was released.

Valve, having been founded by millionaires never ran into the typical problem of having to sign away their intellectual property to get funding from a publisher. That still didn't stop them from running into some trouble with publishers, and getting fairly raw deals overall.. But they got to hang on to Half-life.

And that's why I am surprised that they would release a narrative heavy sequel to a narrative heavy game without first releasing the original as Bioware did with Mass Effect on the ps3. I started (never finished) playing the original on the pc and I would have to say even at this point that I wouldn't want to jump in in the middle of the story considering how important the story is to these games. Most games (and I just mentioned this on another article's comments) don't need to tie everything together story wise as long as the gameplay retains a good amount of what made the original great with a little bit of evolution and new features added.

Um, why does it feel like more and more articles around this site are written with casual gamers in mind? Who cares if series get long and complicated. Its part of the joy of following it for so long. If you are a fan who cares. I know people who work 40-50 hours a week and still find time to go back and catch up on older installments in a series just to catch up.

Hell this winter my brother went back and played the entire castlevania series, every installment, and he works full time. It can be done, it just have to have the resolve to do it.

I mean come on, how are game series any less ridiculous as TV's Lost series that was massively popular, long, and convoluted.

Breaking it into episodic content, like the author here suggests, would only drive prices up, lower quality, and serve to stifle and stale innovation. The investment in keeping a series going would be drastically cut by investors just to keep a cash flow coming in with minimal resources.

I do not agree.

I think the only real point I agree with in this article is the multi-platform issue that developers constantly screw fans with. In my opinion, all installments of a series should be on one platform, and progress to the next platform of its respective manufacturer. If your going to move platforms, port the others along with it. The investment might be high, but the return can prove worth it if the series is big enough, like Mass Effect 1 going to PS3.

That said though, exclusivity deals need to go the way of the dinosaur, and no one is more guilty of this than Microsoft and its studio killing exclusivity deals.

koroem:
BLAH BLAH Casual Gamers. Blah Blah Castlevania. Blah Blah Resolve.

Sorry, but you seem to be making the argument that if someone does not own every console made in the last 25+ years, that they are a "Casual gamer"

If I, as a long time PC gamer (and everyone knows PC gamers are by default eighty times more hardcore than console gamers) wanted to reproduce your brothers feat of playing every castlevania game ever, I would need to find and purchase the following systems.

an MSX2, PS2, Megadrive, Nintendo 64, Wii, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS and a Gameboy (normal, colour or advance)
Also, a full sized arcade cabinet imported from Japan or Europe for "Castlevania: The Arcade"

However that is of course assuming that all of the games on the virtual console are available in my region. If not then I may also need the following
an NES, SNES and/or PC Engine or PSP

Of course then there are a couple games that didn't come out in my region at all, I'd need to import another console to play those..

I guess I must be a "casual gamer" because I don't see the appeal of spending thousands of dollars buying all of those systems and all those games just so I can "get caught up." I'd much rather go watch Lost on netflix

I gotta say. Its hard enough to find new games these days that don't require me to go back several generations of consoles and play other games. For example, Yakuza started on PS2. To understand it completely, you have to play the first 2 on ps2. Thats annoying.

Front Mission is pretty bad for this also.

ooooh I've faced this very quandary so often!

great article
The MGS example hit home with me, as I love to get in to the universe of those games, but I don't want to drop $400 on a PSP just to explore their backstory in 2 games. Similarly I don't think I'd have much fun playing through the Nintendo-ERA MG1&2 because of their difficulty level and limited controls.

It's kind of sad that this industry is so scattershot and always pushing the latest and greatest. Another way in which it differs from most other forms of media, which just focus on the end product and don't have to be concerned with the driving force of technological developments.

It can be frustrating finding a proper setup for a game series that was created a long time ago, and try to enjoy the stories of all the games. It can get even worse if the series doesn't actually tie everything together(Fallout series), or if it tries to tie everything together over a very long time span(Metal Gear series).

Why should I try to join in a game series that's been going on forever if I can't figure out where I need to start at to enjoy the story? Why should I try to enjoy a series if I don't feel like spending large amounts of time and money trying to track down consoles, hope they work, and then play a game or two?

The reason why this industry is different is because there is no perfect vector for old games. Not all the studios that put together games is still around. Some of those studios are defunct, and the IP is owned by somebody who don't know what to do with them, or don't have the funds to be able to pay to upgrade and re-release them.

Movie or Television studios generally own the IP for movies and television series. They have the money to be able to release a series of whatever they want. If somebody was able to keep their IP, but doesn't have the resources to put it into a new, usable format, then we run into a problem. Sometimes a series might not be successful enough if it was re-released. There are reasons that not every game is re-released every generation, even if it should story wise.

Half-Life came out in 1998, not 2001.

But...Metal Gear Solid 3 was a prequel...

You don't need to play any other MGS to get that game. Unless of course you like to have those "tee hee I know a guy who will bang your daughter in the future" moment.

Aurgelmir:
I so agree with the point about getting into series.

There are so many game series that are praised and loved, that I never ever will play. Why? Because the games themselves are outdated both in graphics and controls. I already have a hard time replaying games I personally love because of their old fashioned graphics and control schemes.

I personally believe in making new series every time you get a new platform. Alternatively making games that don't require you to have played the previous games (like final Fantasy... or Zelda)

Well, if you can update and keep the series relevant on a given platform that might work.

Portal 2 seems like an accurate portrayal of just this. Also, the Black Mesa redo of HL1 should make it so more people can have access to Half Life in general without a crappy port of the original.

ThisNewGuy:
But...Metal Gear Solid 3 was a prequel...

You don't need to play any other MGS to get that game. Unless of course you like to have those "tee hee I know a guy who will bang your daughter in the future" moment.

Thank you for pointing that out. After all, MGS3, like DMC3, was the first of the series I played, and I could understand everything perfectly because they were both prequels. Hell, until 4, most of the Metal Gears Solids were this way (possibly not 2, but I can't really tell, though I'd say the tangled plot was entirely it's own problem, not because it was a sequel).

Gindil:

Aurgelmir:
I so agree with the point about getting into series.

There are so many game series that are praised and loved, that I never ever will play. Why? Because the games themselves are outdated both in graphics and controls. I already have a hard time replaying games I personally love because of their old fashioned graphics and control schemes.

I personally believe in making new series every time you get a new platform. Alternatively making games that don't require you to have played the previous games (like final Fantasy... or Zelda)

Well, if you can update and keep the series relevant on a given platform that might work.

Portal 2 seems like an accurate portrayal of just this. Also, the Black Mesa redo of HL1 should make it so more people can have access to Half Life in general without a crappy port of the original.

Just redoing HL1 will still make HL2 look dated though... Sadly it is an endless cycle.
My main reason to not get into HL is because Valve can't release their episodes in a timely manner, and I don't see a reason to get into the game at this moment.

Maybe if they do a God of War and release the whole shebang with updated graphics I could consider it

I'm okay with the idea of a continuing story over a game with a longer timeframe, like what they did with Dragon Age 2, God of War 2, and the actual Assassins Creed games (spinoffs don't count and you know it). As long as there's a reasonable chance of there being a sequel, and it being good, I'm okay with a little waiting.

Now, just to wait for inFamous 2...

Aurgelmir:

Just redoing HL1 will still make HL2 look dated though... Sadly it is an endless cycle.
My main reason to not get into HL is because Valve can't release their episodes in a timely manner, and I don't see a reason to get into the game at this moment.

Maybe if they do a God of War and release the whole shebang with updated graphics I could consider it

Uhm... I understand, but if the IP is released and people are allowed to rework it, there can be rewards in letting third parties work on your software for free.

Yes, I'm getting Black Mesa when it's officially released, for free. It should be a great upgrade to the current port of HL1.

Gindil:

Aurgelmir:

Just redoing HL1 will still make HL2 look dated though... Sadly it is an endless cycle.
My main reason to not get into HL is because Valve can't release their episodes in a timely manner, and I don't see a reason to get into the game at this moment.

Maybe if they do a God of War and release the whole shebang with updated graphics I could consider it

Uhm... I understand, but if the IP is released and people are allowed to rework it, there can be rewards in letting third parties work on your software for free.

Yes, I'm getting Black Mesa when it's officially released, for free. It should be a great upgrade to the current port of HL1.

So is Black Mesa automatically updated into any Steam version of HL1 I might have?
or do I have to install it myself?

Still I don't know its an what 10 year old IP? sort of not that interested in starting it... but it could be fun.

Metal Gear Solid would be a perfect example if anyone could fucking understand it.

Anachronism:

Our popular game magazines and websites focus mostly on reviews and previews, but less so on retrospectives or critiques.

I agree with you that this is a real shame; it often seems like, in the games industry, the only game that matters is the next one. People are rarely interested in talking about games that are even only a couple of years old, and this is a serious problem, in my opinion, for the growth of the medium, because its past is not preserved. Every other medium makes the effort to preserve its past: books get reprinted, films get released on Blu-ray, etc. The games industry doesn't do this.

While point taken, I'd have to disagree with this. And while they maybe aren't doing it with enough games, fast enough, Sony, MS and Nintendo have all made older generation games available for digital download.

Personally, I think one of the biggest hurdles to having more old games playable and available is almost gone. Now with cheap memory the need for large amounts of physical storage space for cartridges and discs has been eliminated. The next one, publishers releasing their back catalogues, is slowly crumbling as they realize that people will pay for a digital copy of an older game and if the publisher doesn't make it available legally, people will use ROMs.

Selvec:
I gotta say. Its hard enough to find new games these days that don't require me to go back several generations of consoles and play other games. For example, Yakuza started on PS2. To understand it completely, you have to play the first 2 on ps2. Thats annoying.

That's not entirely true. I've only played Yakuza 3, but the game provides fairly in depth synopses for both Yakuza 1 & 2 so that you don't have to go back and play them, if you don't want to.

whoops

Aurgelmir:

Gindil:

Aurgelmir:

Just redoing HL1 will still make HL2 look dated though... Sadly it is an endless cycle.
My main reason to not get into HL is because Valve can't release their episodes in a timely manner, and I don't see a reason to get into the game at this moment.

Maybe if they do a God of War and release the whole shebang with updated graphics I could consider it

Uhm... I understand, but if the IP is released and people are allowed to rework it, there can be rewards in letting third parties work on your software for free.

Yes, I'm getting Black Mesa when it's officially released, for free. It should be a great upgrade to the current port of HL1.

So is Black Mesa automatically updated into any Steam version of HL1 I might have?
or do I have to install it myself?

Still I don't know its an what 10 year old IP? sort of not that interested in starting it... but it could be fun.

Consider it like Alien Swarm. You'll have to download it through Steam since it uses the Source Engine but other than that, it seems like a fun take on the first game that started it all.

So long as it beats the god-awful port that Valve let Gearbox do, it should be much better to the eyes with all of the enhancements of the Source Engine. Now if only they would release it before the end of the century...

Yes, they still run on Valve Time and they're not Valve!

I laughed when I saw Half Life illustrating this article, since I'm currently inflicting the original HL on myself prior to playing HL2. Good god, 90s FPSs were so much harder than the current generation...

Still, only 2 levels to go. Just killed the Gonad Gonarch so the end is in sight.

Good article though. MGS has to be the ultimate example of impenetrable back story, but then at this point I think Kojima is making these things for himself and anyone who's managed to keep up throughout the history of the series. Somehow, making MGS accessible to newcomers at this point would take away the unique feel of the series.

Reminds me of this recent article:

http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2011/04/dead-media-beat-federico-giordano-almost-the-same-game/

The main issue here is that people (and the article) is talking about the games industry, which is something that necessarily only exists for the next sell.

As for anyone who really cares about the medium, they already have all the emulators/abandonwares/hacked consoles in the world to be able to experience as much of the medium as possible.

Delock:

ThisNewGuy:
But...Metal Gear Solid 3 was a prequel...

You don't need to play any other MGS to get that game. Unless of course you like to have those "tee hee I know a guy who will bang your daughter in the future" moment.

Thank you for pointing that out. After all, MGS3, like DMC3, was the first of the series I played, and I could understand everything perfectly because they were both prequels. Hell, until 4, most of the Metal Gears Solids were this way (possibly not 2, but I can't really tell, though I'd say the tangled plot was entirely it's own problem, not because it was a sequel).

ahaha. I agree. I wonder if Kojima understand the entire plot completely.

Lord_Gremlin:
Ahem, Bioshock 2 is not a good sequel. You see, Bioshock was originally intended to be a complete story. And then some unrelated to the game people created a sequel because 2K wanted more money. Duh...
You see, some games end with a cliffhanger(s), which allows you to create a sequel. For example, Quake 2, Jericho, Bloodrayne 2, Painkiller BooH are all games that ends with a cliffhanger, so it is reasonable to expect a sequel. But sometimes you have a game, that is a complete experience and a work of art...
You know, I have 2 copies of Bioshock - for PC and PS3. Naturally, I got PS3 one much later and when after the credits it showed that teaser for a sequel.. Something died inside me.

Quake 2 had a story?

"Beyond Good & Evil 2" that's the only thing that got stuck in my head out of this article !!! bouhouhouh!

Digital Devil Saga 1 & 2 were complete sequels, in the absolute truest sense of the word, and the problem with those(that other people had. I loved those games), is that coming to them after the initial party screws it up. Simply reading the box for number 2 is a HUGE spoiler for 1, and coming to number 2 first leaves you missing out story wise...

ThisNewGuy:
But...Metal Gear Solid 3 was a prequel...

You don't need to play any other MGS to get that game. Unless of course you like to have those "tee hee I know a guy who will bang your daughter in the future" moment.

I was thinking the same thing. Sure, there are some references that will go over your head if you haven't played the previous games (like Snake and SIGINT's conversation after hearing the preposterous idea of a "walking tank"), but it's really almost all entirely self contained. I mean, it has more significance if you know that it is Big Boss's Start of Darkness, but you can enjoy it without knowing what that means.

Video games are more of a schizophrenic amnesia patient who's doctor is experimenting with incrementally more powerful/dangerous medications.

case in point: Nintendo

Bioshock 2 wasn't a good sequel. It was just more of the same in terms of gameplay, which is not what a good sequel is supposed to be. They ripped the story right out of their asses, it lacked the same impact as the first one did and didn't really have a sense a continuity as Bioshock wasn't meant to have a sequel.

Wtf?! Half-Life was released in 1998 not 2001! FAIL.

Zom-B:

That's not entirely true. I've only played Yakuza 3, but the game provides fairly in depth synopses for both Yakuza 1 & 2 so that you don't have to go back and play them, if you don't want to.

Yep. And boy was I happy when I saw that. It caught you up to the story with a relevant reel of events from the first two in about 20 minutes.

On a similar note, I don't know why more companies don't do it. When I beat the eighth installment of the Harry Potter games I was treated to a video montage encompassing all of the previous games. Instead of this, it would have been nice to have a 20 minute video with the important highlights filling me in... or at least allow me to read it.

I think the problem is not only that of technology but because of the legal issues with IPs moving around between companies. I remember when there was an easter egg in a Ninja Turtles game allowing you to play the original arcade game (this was before the 360). It didn't have the music from the game because it had a separate license and so it sucked.

And yes, the OP is correct. There is a huge buy-in in some cases trying to figure out what is going on. This is what has actually done in the soap opera. No one really wants to try to figure out what is going on anymore because trying to understand what happens is mind-boggling to say the least.

This problem has similarly affected the comic book industry. This is why retcons and the whole reboot thing is becoming really popular recently. No one wanted to buy them since the investment in trying to learn the history is too daunting.

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