304: Evolution, Not Deviation

 Pages 1 2 3 NEXT
 

Evolution, Not Deviation

Chuck Wendig considers the delicate balance of innovation and imitation that turns one sequel into an emblem of betrayal and another into a beloved successor.

Read Full Article

If this happens to industry it will truly be dead. We need new ideas that people can take in. Overall it is us, the consumers, who have the responsibility to latch on to new ideas so companies no longer see it as a "no broken don't fix it(waste money)' situation. Lets do our part and buy indie games and support new AAA titles when they do release. Who knows, we may find our next Portal, Half Life or Halo but we have to provide confidence for developers and publishers.

Interesting read. I think for a perfect example of your ideas one should look to Final Fantasy. That series put sequels to a ridiculous extent before I'd even heard of them with 8 being the new one when I discovered the series and 7 being the first one I played.

And although they had totally different worlds and characters, there was definitely a defining 'something' that made then Final Fantasy games. This has been, in my mind, irrevocably lost with every addition since 10-2, and looks set to continue.

Sometimes formula shifts work though, I mean, look at Resident Evil 4.

Perhaps we'll see a repeat of film history, where the AAA studios buy up all of the indie studios to take risks for them. Perhaps.

A really good read.

While there definitely needs to be those crazy random games where the idea, story, gameplay, and entire game is new and exciting (take Portal for instance), I think innovation is ultimately better than outright creation.
Take Final Fantasy for example. Each game is different from the last. The combat changes, the leveling changes, the equipment changes, the story changes, etc. While all those changes may or may not work, the development team still learns from their success' and failures to make the next one better.
Resident Evil is another good example. RE1-3 were all very similar in play style, but when RE4 came out, everyone was blown away. By building on the strong blocks they laid in the past, and chopping down the ones that were weak, they could make a much better game.

TL;DR
Humanity got to where it is by adding to what we learned from the past. While this is essential to our growth, those random bursts of ingenuity are awesome and keep us from getting bored.

Loved to read this, and made me think a lot, also reminded me about the extra credits video about metrics, since it works game companies will try the same giving sequels or more of the same instead of trying new things, sometimes they do try new things but inside the parameters of the saga, the ultima example you gave, but at the end it only works to divide the fans of the game, sometimes in equals sometimes different enough to make it a good change, but never a total acceptance of the change, tho you could also say the same about any new game, people will love it, people will hate it and there will be people who ultimately ignore it.

Tin Man:
In this author's not-so-humble opinion, the recently-released Dragon Age 2 is a game so worth loving that to be caught cradling the disc with one's pants down would not earn shame but rather, the understanding nods of passersby. And yet, many negative reviews cite the lack of a consistent set of characters between games as well as the far more personal and ultimately less epic storyline. With Dragon Age 2, BioWare chose not to go with a "more of the same" approach and, as a result, some fans cocked a suspicious eyebrow.

That's the key, isn't it? To make a sequel outside the comfort zone, beyond the "do the same thing, only bigger" attitude, you have to grab hold of what lies at the heart of a game property. And what lies at the heart isn't necessarily its mechanics, its characters, or its graphics. It can be, but every property is different. At the center of each game universe lurks a unique feel, a kernel of origin that, when maintained, can grow a whole separate game that still feels like a proper scion of the original. (For the record, this is why I think Dragon Age 2 works as a sequel despite its somewhat dramatic shift - it maintains that thing that makes the series what it is, which is to say, it continues to embrace the BioWare notion that the game doesn't merely have a story, but rather, the story is the game.)

Yeah, as soon as I started reading this article I knew where it was going.

The problem, of course, is that it's a lie. Dragon Age II wasn't about going outside the comfort zone, it was about stripping things out of the game that put CoD kiddies out of THEIR comfort zones. It was about turning an RPG into a simple action game.

This article is a general failure. The author just sort of vaguely tosses out the idea that there's good sequels and bad sequels, but doens't offer anything other than "I liked this sequel" and "I think I'm going to like this sequel based on this trailer" as support.

The real difference here is between evolution and dumbing down. It's about taking the ideas from the original and running with them versus trying to "streamline" the game into a more generic action game. It's about fixing the original game's flaws instead of just scrapping the systems that the flaws were a part of.

You know what I would like to see? More developers that do something with their older games to tie them to the newer games. I would like previous games in a series updated with the newer mechanics they introduce in a sequel. I would like things thrown in the new game where if you have their past game(s), you will be given (x) character or mechanic as an unlockable.

This would do a couple of things. People would be more inclined to go out and purchase an unplayed previous version of a game if it were "closer" to the game they just played, mechanics-wise. And people would also re-visit old games for a new play-through, keeping the game fresh in peoples' minds. People would hang onto their games just for an updated version to come along, rather than trade them in for a quick buck for the next big thing. It would make the online communities of multiplayer games more robust as well, rather than becoming a ghost town as soon as the newest game comes out; games that sell themselves on multiplayer play are more limited in lifespan right now. You have to play them here and now before they become irrelevant.

I want games to be more forward-compatable within a series. It's why I preferred Rock Band to the Guitar Hero series. I knew that my songs in each game would play in the next version with the new mechanics, so they were never "wasted" purchases. There are still licensing issues keeping me from playing some of the songs through the titles (it still irks me that I can't play "Enter Sandman" by Metallica or "Any Way You Want It" by Journey in the latest titles....). It was also the reason why I never wanted Rock Band Beatles...it wasn't cross compatable.

Imagine being able to play the oldest versions of Armored Core with the newest engine/mechanics. How about Grand Theft Auto 3? Diablo? Final Fantasy? Resident Evil in the above example? There are so many games that could be "strengthened" by doing this. Would it cost money? Sure it would. But not only would you get money from renewed sales (provided you still offered a way to purchase the game), it would tie more people to following developers throughout their career in a series (or across series...).

Deviation and making dangerous games is something that I think should happen. Did David Bowie have a long career because he was too timid to appear to be not deviating from his image or not appearing like a dangerous nonconformist?

I think that a big problem with follow up games, and Hollywood re-imaginings of franchises as well, is that they are boringly conformist and safe to the point where anyone with a pulse finds them disgusting. They look back at the originals which seem strange, unique and memorable compared to the mass of content that is made using the conventional wisdom of the day. Then a remake or sequel is planned but the people remaking arrogantly think they can do better by sensibly applying current conventional wisdom and the essence is lost.

This is exactly what happened with Deus Ex, the leads are on record as saying so. They made the original as something dangerous and crazy to shame their fellow developers who were taking the safe option and gamers loved it. But one person complaining is louder than ten happy people so they lost their nerve with the sequel and made the sequel safer. I would also say that Dragon Age 2 is a significantly safer game than Dragon Age: Origins, at least in design if not in the end result in terms of public opinion.

What is the spirit of the original games that needs to be preserved? I would say that with some games if you ask ten different people you will get ten different answers so that a game re-imagined by one person is likely to disappoint a lot of people. In that case talking about the "spirit" of the game is only likely to anger people who think that the spirit of the original has been totally lost. You can't capture lightening in a bottle.

Well the answer to this kind of IP confusion isobviously to make a new IP. But that defeats the object of the recognition of a brand. Therefore i think the safest thing to do it for gods sake Manage Expectation. If you are going to make a weird offshoot of your game make it obvious simply by the title; remove it from the main series like was done with things like Halo Wars. Right opf the bat people were told "This is not a main halo game, it is an RTS off-shoot", stil had thr halo brand but expectations were at least partyl managed.

Say for example you wanted that Halo game, make it a series off-shoot. Call it, i don't know, "Halo _____". Make it obviously Halo but obviously not a main series endevour. And if you do want to utterly revolutionise your main series make sure you really stress what you are doing and WHY you are doing it. Innovation is much easier when you get epople on board first.

On the flip-side if you are going to make more of the same quantify that; "Stand-Alone Expansion" is a great word and is good option as long as you have the pricing to go with it. Example; "STALKER; Call of Pripyat" 15 game, Standalone Expansion. Right off the bat i know im paying a nice ammount less but for a game that sticks close to the original, after-all it is an expansion and is priced as such. Another good example is "Crysis; Warhead".

What im saying is that the weird and wonderful CAN exist and so can the familiar and cofortable. You just have to spell out to consumers which is which (and reflect that in your pricing) so expectations can mesh nicely with reality.

'At what point does "different" become synonymous with "dangerous"?' When activision is involved of course.

Tin Man:
Interesting read. I think for a perfect example of your ideas one should look to Final Fantasy. That series put sequels to a ridiculous extent before I'd even heard of them with 8 being the new one when I discovered the series and 7 being the first one I played.

And although they had totally different worlds and characters, there was definitely a defining 'something' that made then Final Fantasy games. This has been, in my mind, irrevocably lost with every addition since 10-2, and looks set to continue.

Sometimes formula shifts work though, I mean, look at Resident Evil 4.

Completely agree about Final Fantasy. I never played 7, but 8 through 10 share something that just makes them feel like a Final Fantasy game. Each one since then has just felt hollow, and definitely not right.

OT - A very interesting read, and I completely agree that that is how a sequel should be created. Of course, developers should still be encouraged to create completely original IP as often as possible. Good to see more of your articles on here Mr Wendig, I find them both interesting and amusing.

You bring up an interesting point about Dragon Age 2. Most of the people who seemed to dislike it the most were not big fans of the original game's setting/story, but liked the GAMEPLAY. (Gameplay in a Bioware game is usually not worth discussing even when they try to make improvements, at best, it manages to be only *slightly* annoying and repetitive.) And, yeah, DA2 had radically different gameplay. Or they liked some other cosmetic detail of the first game that was not reproduced in the sequel.

DA2...not a bad game? what an interesting thourght

Personally I've enjoyed DA2 quite a bit. I like playing as somebody who, while important, is really just out to try and make a place for him/herself with troubled and potentially disloyal NPC characters that have some very well discerned motivations. It was a nice departure from an Epic Fantasy story.

Gameplay wise, there are a lot of things that I like about both games. DA 2 can be very tactical, once you figure out the changes to the tactical equation. The only real difference (once I dug into it a bit) between the two to me is that you have to spam the attack button, and is that really worth trashing a game over?

Great read, just one thing... maybe you should put Custard's Revenge down for a while... just saying...

One of the problems as I see it with modern design is that there is a focus on uninterrupted action in games. Its like if you have to break and run to heal,loot or just explore its some kind of game breaking event that developers have to remove and make sure that levels are one way corridors with no nooks to make sure the cosoletards are not confused or frustrated.

And what do you know this fast and shallow development mindset has infected RPGs as Dragon age and Mass effect are crap-tastitic with its mundane and dumbed down design.

A very nice article that tries to delve into what the difference is between a beloved sequel and a hated update in gaming. A similar experience of evolution can be found in cinema, with the example of Star Wars A New Hope compared to The Empire Strikes Back. You begin with a simple movie that harkens back to the days of pulp cinema of flash gordon and by the second film it has matured a bit and is able to tell a more serious story with new and interesting characters while tantalizing us with hints of what was and what is to come. I also like the treatment of DA2. While I understand some of the games shortcomings (rehashed dungeon maps instead of new ones); it still doesn't take away from the fact that like its predecessor DA2 treats the story as the game and includes some interesting player/NPC interaction which is what most folks like about RPG's. The fact that it adds a few new tactical element to it is part of the evolution of the game.

There were good ideas here, but I feel like the article spent the whole time asking questions, and then just tangentially tossed in a half-answer at the very end: "Oh, it's how it feels." I would have liked some actual investigation of that answer: so what is the feel of a game? How do you identify something so nebulous? How do you capture it again? How does it work differently for different kinds of games?

I think this article would have been dramatically improved by spending more time on the meat of the Question-and-Answer than on making long-winded 2600 jokes. It's a decent start and with more research and investigation, could be very good.

Chuck Wendig:
Evolution, Not Deviation

Chuck Wendig considers the delicate balance of innovation and imitation that turns one sequel into an emblem of betrayal and another into a beloved successor.

Read Full Article

Certainly a very worthy topic when dealing with sequels, and I think you've framed it very well. To me, it all comes down to the idea of "player equity."

When we buy a game, we're trading currency for it. While we play, we're taking in many different kinds of alternate currency. It takes many forms: your mechanical knowledge of control schemes, menu layouts, HUD elements, combat and item mechanics; your character's advancement (in skills and equipment) from newbie to hero; your familiarity (and attachment) to the character(s) under your control; your knowledge of the lore, which both deepens the world and affords you advantages in solving puzzles and conflicts, or even just navigating...

Ideally, the sum of this "currency" will outweigh the original monetary cost of the game. You've built up equity in this game. And then we start talking sequels.

You've invested, say, $60 in the series so far. Now they're asking for $60 more. To a certain part of your brain, this new game is $120 total. You're expecting that a certain amount of that "player equity" is going to follow you into this new game. If the game is too great a departure in too many ways, you feel betrayed. Not because the game itself was bad (though it might be), but because it just invalidated all that built-up equity.

It's not only telling you that you have to start over from scratch in the new game. It's also telling you that your time in the other game was basically a waste. Is it completely true? Of course not. You enjoyed the hell out of that game when you played it. But when the new game frames the experience this way, it hollows out our memory of the earlier game. And, whether rational or not, this feeling informs how we experience the game (and how we spend our dollars in the future).

A game can get by with changing any of the areas I mentioned earlier, and the existing playerbase can deal with that slight loss of equity... but you just can't drop it all at once. Different control scheme? Trying keeping some of the characters around. New characters? Make sure the equipment and skills work pretty much the same way. The player's character is back to being a newbie? Make sure the player's knowledge of the controls and the lore give him an advantage in your game world. Make sure the player feels that this game builds on what they've gained from the previous installment in one way or another.

this is very true, and why i really can't get into indie games
either they're too out there or just sidescrolling clones of mario/contra/earthworm jim

EDIT: In other words, yes, evolution is the way to go. small subtle change, not huge upheaving ones that leave it so different from the previous that you can't even call it the same game.

Your points on DA2 didn't really resonate with me. I don't mind that they wanted to change the combat system, the one in DA1 was utterly dreadful. I don't mind that they wanted a change of cast and setting, that is pretty normal for RPGs (including changing the main character). I don't even mind that the game took the focus off the Grey Wardens.

What bothers me is the design choices. They set the game in a single city, but the city itself is very bland, almost entirely lacking in personality, and basically does not change for the entire ten years of the game. Then on top of that it is reusing the same three dungeons for absolutely everything in the entire game? You're right, I'm mad that DA2 is not "More of the same" in that regard, because DA:O certainly did not have such a hack-job world design, and if it did reuse dungeons it certainly did a better job of hiding it.

As for the change of story, well.. What story? I admit that DA:O was pretty upfront when it came to laying down your motivation (Kill them darkspawn) but I quit DA2 well over half way through the game and can not for the life of me tell you what the over-arching narrative was. As best as I can tell I was playing through some fantasy reinterpretation of the A-Team, a bunch of semi-shifty, but good hearted dudes running around solving everyones problems.

As for the combat, they replaced two second TPKs due to not spending 20 minutes planning beforehand with waves upon waves of cannon fodder materializing out of thin air, with no way of telling when they will actually stop, giving the player no concrete way of measuring their progress or success in battle until after the fight is over. As far as I am concerned both are pretty horrible mechanics, though the first one is more frustrating.. I guess that is an improvement, of sorts.

I'm not mad about change, I'm mad about all the things the game expects me to look past in order to get even a glimmer of enjoyment from it.
The game sold itself as an epic fantasy rpg, and it isn't. If the epic doesn't start in the first ten hours it isn't epic. Hell, if a game is released on a developer that prides themselves on providing 80+ hour single-player narratives is repeating content en mass within the first two hours, it is NOT epic.
It is a bad television serial.

Then there was the "ever-changing world" Bioware claimed we'd take part in. Somehow what we got was the complete opposite. Not only does the world never change, but it goes out of its way to feel completely the same everywhere you go, so much that caves situated twenty miles apart have the same god damned rock formations.
Really the only promise DA2 managed to keep was its "New visual style" which was a shocking transformation from "Extremely generic fantasy rpg" to "slightly less generic fantasy rpg"

I'm fine with studios wanting to do something different with their franchises, but when "something different" is inarguably rushed product*. Sure, it is impressive for how rushed it is, but impressive garbage is still garbage.

*Seriously, try to argue that all those repeated assets are not only not a product of the <12 month development cycle, but also that they are somehow a positive feature. Maybe you can base said argument on how players will never get lost

Oooh, I don't know about your Fallout 3 example. I mean, personally I agree with it, but I know there are a lot of people on here that will tell you you are completely f'ing insane for suggesting that, and that F3 is buffalo turd compared to 1 & 2.

Chuck Wendig:
General George Armstrong Custer will become 22% more racist than before.

lol
Why did they decide to use this throw-away joke as the pull-quote for page 1?? hahaha

Chuck Wendig:

festooned

Oh hell yes. I love that word. You get points for using it.

Weird that way the author kept referring to nipples.

No one else think that?
No one else curious about his nipple obsession?

Great article. And I'm not too worried. The people who cried over DA2 will always be crying about something, because they're old and think they're entitled to something because of that.

More Fun To Compute:
...

I think that a big problem with follow up games, and Hollywood re-imaginings of franchises as well, is that they are boringly conformist and safe to the point where anyone with a pulse finds them disgusting. They look back at the originals which seem strange, unique and memorable compared to the mass of content that is made using the conventional wisdom of the day. Then a remake or sequel is planned but the people remaking arrogantly think they can do better by sensibly applying current conventional wisdom and the essence is lost.

This is exactly what happened with Deus Ex, the leads are on record as saying so. They made the original as something dangerous and crazy to shame their fellow developers who were taking the safe option and gamers loved it. But one person complaining is louder than ten happy people so they lost their nerve with the sequel and made the sequel safer. I would also say that Dragon Age 2 is a significantly safer game than Dragon Age: Origins, at least in design if not in the end result in terms of public opinion.

What is the spirit of the original games that needs to be preserved? I would say that with some games if you ask ten different people you will get ten different answers so that a game re-imagined by one person is likely to disappoint a lot of people. In that case talking about the "spirit" of the game is only likely to anger people who think that the spirit of the original has been totally lost. You can't capture lightening in a bottle.

I think that another way to say "playing it safe" in this case is "how can we appeal to a larger audience?" I believe that's what happens when sequels seem much different than the original. The follow up to Deus Ex (Invisible War) was clearly an attempt to appeal to more people. It was nice enough not to call itself "Deus Ex 2" because it took out a lot of details from the first game that perhaps some players didn't like. But many that liked the original were disappointed.

Same goes for Dragon Age 2 (which should have at least followed Deus Ex's example and not used "2" in the title). It is not a sequel to DA:O. It is a shift in gears to a larger audience. And even if its combat changes made a lot of people happy, it was still a disappointment due to some of the trimming of the game to get it out of the door sooner (as previously mentioned by others -- reusing the same dungeon, etc). My personal opinion about Dragon Age: Don't hype DA:O as the spiritual successor to Baldurs Gate then make the sequel devoid of that spirit. I'm not saying don't make a game like DA2, just don't market it as a true sequel.

I understand that companies want to sell more copies. But when they take a game that was critically acclaimed and try to make it "more accessible" or appeal to a larger audience, it would be nice if they could be a little more clear about their intent. On the other hand, as a player, I won't go out and pre-order or blindly buy any more sequels. That way I can get a better understanding of a developer's intent through reviews.

"And yet, many negative reviews cite the lack of a consistent set of characters between games as well as the far more personal and ultimately less epic storyline. [Dragon Age 2]"

I hate the game because the combat was boring and repetitive and its reliance on Skinner Box quest design to overshadow the lack of a clear and compelling plot. Here's a game where I was never really interested in playing but couldn't put down once I started purely due to completest compulsion.

That being said, I wasn't really bothered by the different characters, in many ways I find them and their interactions to be superior to their Origins counterpart.

This example and its reasoning irked me, is all.

Yeah...I read the article.
I understand what the writer is saying, but his points about Dragon Age 2 were weak.
He's just doing the same thing as the Lead Designer of the game, blaming gamers for not enjoying it because it was "different". That was not the problem. I thought it would be, but it turns out there was bigger issues.

I didn't enjoy Dragon Age 2 because it was a poorly done, rushed game.
It reused environments, it had enemies appear out of nowhere right in front of you, it ignored your "choices", it's world was Tiny even without the reused environments, quests involved nothing but murdering people, and to top it off, was buggy as all hell.
This is just unacceptable from a AAA title. Its utterly lazy, sloppy design.

Did everyone working for the Escapist get some super special magic copy of the game that was twice as big, with variety in gameplay and had all the bugs fixed? Because all the sites staff seem to praise and defend it, always falling back on that silly defense, blaming gamers for not having fun. It's ridiculous.

While I would agree designers should try do different things, they should not mess with the core of what a franchise is. Start a new franchise is you want to try something wild that doesn't fit with a current one either in terms of gameplay, or lore.
(That or make it very clear that you are doing a deviation. Dont lie to people and trick them into thinking it's like the original)

Dragon Age 1, low fantasy RPG.
Dragon Age 2, High fantasy Action game with heavy RPG influence.

Final Fantasy used to be really good at innovation while maintaining the soul of the previous titles, but it all went downhill after 10-2, and all the talent left Square. Perhaps it had something to do with it becoming Square-Enix.
Regardless since then, it's just lost the magic that made it Final Fantasy. Now the franchise is just a big budget JPRG series.

Canadish:
Did everyone working for the Escapist get some super special magic copy of the game that was twice as big, with variety in gameplay and had all the bugs fixed? Because all the sites staff seem to praise and defend it, always falling back on that silly defense, blaming gamers for not having fun. It's ridiculous.

While I would agree designers should try do different things, they should not mess with the core of what a franchise is. Start a new franchise is you want to try something wild that doesn't fit with a current one either in terms of gameplay, or lore.
(That or make it very clear that you are doing a deviation. Dont lie to people and trick them into thinking it's like the original)

This is why I didn't buy the game myself. There were too many "uncertainties" about it. I loved the first one to death, and was upset that Bioware felt the need to "change it" for a mainstream feel. It was one of the more critically acclaimed games to come along in a while! Is that not a clue that they did something right when they created it? The only thing bad about it I ever heard was that being a spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate, people were disappointed that it wasn't multiplayer like its predecessor's were.

Then the second one comes along to "mainstream" the game, for a "wider audience". I started getting my first little nigglings of doubt when they said that, and rather than pre-order like I did the first one, I would wait to read reviews. And the giant mix between professionals and amateur reviews keeps me away. I'm not about to blow money on something that I may not like, and considering I can't return it if I don't, it keeps me away from buying it.

Bioware created too much doubt in me from the get-go by not staying "true" to the new IP they created, especially since from everything I have read, it is most definately a de-evolution from the first.

I agree that it needs to capture the essence of the game, the feel of it. What I find disappointing is when people insist that because there's one change they disagree with, IT TOTALLY RUINS EVERYTHING.

For instance, Silent Hill. I feel like all the entries so far--besides Homecoming, since I haven't played it--have captured Silent Hill in some form, whether it be psychological stories (particularly Shattered Memories) or the atmosphere (all the other games). Yet because they change things up even just a little bit, some of the fans complain, which quite honestly irritates me.

Theysaid:
I think that another way to say "playing it safe" in this case is "how can we appeal to a larger audience?"

That's not what I meant and it's not what the Ion Storm people thought thinking about the game in post mortem terms. The problem wasn't that they were asking what they could do to make the game appeal to more people but what they could do to make the game better in that their friends in the "village" of game developers and journalists respected it more rather than build directly on the original which was respected more by the "nation" of gamers than the "village" of insiders. I think that now, more of those gamers who loved it have entered the industry so it may be more respected.

Industry insiders sometimes say that certain things have to be done to make games "appeal to a wider audience." Other times they say things need to be done to advance the medium as art or just because it is good modern design. But too often it is just insular thinking by people who are not connected enough with the people who play the games. Don't you find it weird how game journalists and developers get really angry and paranoid when people carry on liking games that do what they always liked instead of whatever favourite industry trend or buzzword game they are in love with?

Interesting points. The thing with sequels being 'betrayals', you see, is that it's betraying people's expectations of it. I'm all for brand new innovative things, but if you want to be brand new and innovative, then why is there a 2 in your game's title? Innovation should be tackled from the beginning, not tacked in as a feature. And it's sad that I can understand the devs' motivation to slap their new ideas to a known franchise to calm down the fidgety investors, but once you're releasing an FPS as a sequel to an RTS my sympathy quickly vanishes. (I don't care if people prefer known quantities. I don't. I'll always choose the unpolished new idea over the polished well-threaded one. I don't deserve this.)

Then again, in an industry where even the new IPs are best described as <other big IP> except with <defining feature of yet other big IP> actual creativity is hard to come by.

There are two games that I would consider to be good games but bad sequels. The fist is Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. I loved the game, and loved the new prince's medieval Duke Nukem style. (Mostly because I had a 'Cube and didn't even know what God of War was.) But I couldn't enjoy it much because I knew it meant the Prince from the first game - the spoiled teenager who had a strange love-hate chemistry with the archer girl and who monologued while leaping from ledge to ledge - was gone. I liked both characters, but wouldn't trade one for the other given the choice; I wasn't given it.

And the other game is GTAIV. GTAIV is actually a game I hated while playing but now think fondly of. It was an attempt to push games as a medium as far as it could go, and it had some of the most humane characters I've seen in gamings, and it could rival those in many other media (even if to balance it out the rest of the caracters stepped right out of the Bag O' Stereotypes). It had an understated, grim tone that informed its visual and gameplay and created a truly hopeless world. It was great. But it wasn't GTA. GTA is the game in which you steal cars and drive them off cliffs. GTA is the game in which I would with much difficulty drive a hovercraft up a mountain and then drive off its cliff to see how long it would fly for and how many sections I could add to a luggage cart I would them tow with a tow truck. Eventually, I was resigned to the fact that GTAIV was the best Driver game I had ever played, and then went on to play my favourite GTA game, Saints' Row 2.

And I think at some point this year I'll add a third game to this list: Banjo-Kazooie Nuts and Bolts. Yeah I know it sold as well as sand on the desert. I don't care. Sandbox games in a Mario style world? That's a fucking awesome idea. But what the hell happened to my 3D platformers? I used to like those!

Canadish:
Did everyone working for the Escapist get some super special magic copy of the game that was twice as big, with variety in gameplay and had all the bugs fixed? Because all the sites staff seem to praise and defend it, always falling back on that silly defense, blaming gamers for not having fun. It's ridiculous.

While I would agree designers should try do different things, they should not mess with the core of what a franchise is. Start a new franchise is you want to try something wild that doesn't fit with a current one either in terms of gameplay, or lore.
(That or make it very clear that you are doing a deviation. Dont lie to people and trick them into thinking it's like the original)

Dragon Age 1, low fantasy RPG.
Dragon Age 2, High fantasy Action game with heavy RPG influence.

I am one of the people who thought DA2 was a betrayal because Bioware marketed DA:O as an RPG (they marketed it so hard they based a pen and paper game on it) and DA2 seemed to have most of the RPG elements pulled out of it.

Now, having said that, I do not begrudge game designers changing franchises. Warcraft is one of my favorite franchises and there is a huge difference between Orcs & Humans and WoW. Blizzard did it right though - they slowly changed their franchise from an RTS to an MMO. And it worked.

Another franchise whose sequel worked is Portal. There is much more character development in Portal 2 than there is in Portal, more history, different types of areas to explore... It is a beautiful, practically perfect sequel.

I actually was hoping for more Portal and less Dragon Age in this article.

I'm reminded of the contrast between Legend of Zelda and Legend of Zelda II: The Adventures of Link. Mind you I believe both are good games. But I think more games should do games like this.

Or rather, do more spin-off games, so to speak. For example:

Hell, even taking an FPS engine and trying different things with it. In the end, you still have a first person game, but you might have something greater.

Portal - First Person Puzzle Platformer
Amnesia - First Person Survival Horror, with no weaponry
Condemned - First Person "Shooter", with a strong focus on melee combat

After all this I have been thinking about my game buying habits. If I like a series, I like being able to know roughly what to expect before I buy it. But I would like my new games to add something new to the table. Even though it really isn't necessary (See Uncharted 2, I thought it was a pretty good game, despite not pushing any envelopes)

I'm sorry, but I've played Deus Ex 2 and it was really bad. I didn't feel any betrayal, I knew what I was getting into and prepared myself for the badness. It still was horrible to play.

This article reminded me of something. I hope I am not flamed into ashes for mentioning this, but the Socom franchise suffers from a debilitating form of addiction: Socom 2ism. Every person that has invested time in the Socom franchise seems to say the same thing: "Give us an HD version of Socom 2. Stop trying to reinvent the wheel. Just give us what we want." I feel like so many die-hard fans ignore the advancements in the series because it's "Not Socom 2 HD." I feel like the developers are held hostage by we, the gamers in this case. I was happy to see that Socom 4 took a step towards increasing the accessiblity of the series, but was dissapointed that the game no longer has that kernal of familiarity I want from a Socom title. The article mentions how a game needs that kernal to not feel like a betrayal. I think that's why die-hards have been clamoring for Socom 2 HD for so long. Socom 2 was the last title that truly "felt" like a Socom title. I would like that magic I felt the first time I played Socom 2 to be recreated, not necessarily in an HD remix, but in a sequel that truly develops the series.

 Pages 1 2 3 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here