Extra Punctuation: Not All Sequels Suck

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Not All Sequels Suck

Yahtzee admits that some game sequels work.

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I think the DS sequels managed to make Castlevania: SOTN's formula even better. Well, and Aria of Sorrow on GBA. Added a new abilities system over sub-weapons for AoS and DoS, made a 2 member mage/warrior split for PoR while escaping the usual castle setting thanks to the portraits, and OoE split the line between "classic" and "Metroid"vania.

Minus the generic anime art style for character art in Dawn of Sorrow and Portrait of Ruin being a huge downside.

This:

image

That was an interesting little trip into the realm of Tangentia. We started talking about sequels and how one might improve on a formula, and ended up talking about programming code.

Well, done, sir. I enjoy stream of consciousness.

Just the other day, I was dreaming of a game dev tool exactly like the one Yahtzee suggests. Even GameMaker is too programming-intensive for most people.

I read a book years ago in undergrad by an English prof at MIT who claimed the holodeck (or simpler VR setup) would be the future of narrative. It's been over a decade but it might still be worth a read. Tabletop RPGs and choose-your-own-adventure style gamebooks are probably good training for non-coders who are interested in game design as well.

Not sure if anyone mentioned it first time around but Assassins Creed 2 was much much better than its predecessor, and yet you still had Desmond, Lucy and Vidic.

now this i wholeheartedly agree with. make the barrier of entry for development lower for those who want to make simple games without having to learn a shit-ton of programming.

that makes lots of sense to me.

Just because the story's good doesn't mean the game's good, of course. RPG Maker comes to mind.

Films: Alien/Aliens, Godfather II, Dawn of the Dead, Goldfinger (though that may be cheating), Star Trek 2, Terminator 2, Empire Strikes Back (Dodgy ground but it's a contender), The Dark Knight, Mad Max 2, The Toy Story Trilogy, Lethal Weapon 2, Addams Family Values

Novels: Dexter in the Dark, Barchester Towers (The Warden), Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer), War of the Worlds (The Crystal Egg), A lot of Lovecraft's "inspired by" works, Wild Cards.

Games: GTA 3 vs GTA 1 or 2? Street Fighter 2 vs Streetfighter? Dungeon Keeper 1/2?

It's a good rule of thumb, but it's not set in stone.

And just to annoy Yahtzee, Buffy (TV Series) beats Buffy (Movie).

NinjaDeathSlap:
Not sure if anyone mentioned it first time around but Assassins Creed 2 was much much better than its predecessor, and yet you still had Desmond, Lucy and Vidic.

But let's be honest here: AC's story was about Altair and AC2's was about Ezio. Diffrent characters, diffrent location, diffrent era. Desmond and friends are only an excuse to explain the "you're in a memory" mechanic so you can't just kill everyone during a mission.

The_root_of_all_evil:
Alien/Aliens

I would have to disagree with that. While I respect Cameroon's sequel for creating a number of popular tropes, it was largely underwhelming compared to Ridley Scott's tension-filled, well-paced narration. It's like comparing Amnesia to Dead Space.

RPG Maker VX is a fairly solid program for those who want to make RPG's. It takes some getting used to, but it's easily learned if you give it an afternoon or two. And there's a huge online community consisting of graphical artists, storytellers, musicians; you can easily post on a forum saying "I want to make a game, here is the concept" and then have a group of people working on your idea within a week. It's pretty cool.

One problem with the holodeck approach or the plain english approach to coding logic, is that as the complexity increases the ruleset starts to look more and more like spaghetti. Some technical conventions may have a high barrier to entry, but are often designed to make it easier to handle large projects.

Even if we have a magic wand that can grant us wishes (and modern development tools are very much like magic wands) the hard part is still defining exactly what we want.

A writer writing a game in plain English, would stil face the challenge of structuring the logic in a way that he can comprehend himself. I bet some writers actually make technical flowcharts or tables to visualize the flow of a traditional story.

I notice you didn't mention Baldurs Gate 2 again. That game isn't a technological sequel, and is much better then Baldurs Gate.

Yahtzee Croshaw:

But what if mainstream gaming took the Inform 7 approach? Create a deep, intuitive toolset designed for non-programmers that can let you create models, textures and game mechanics with dropdowns and a visual mouse-driven interface to as complex a level as the user desires, so that any lone developer, like ones who specialize more in aesthetics or story writing, can create a game that could then be sold in mainstream circles or over Steam to anyone who wants to look for it?

I actually think this is your strongest point in that entire article. I had been thinking about the same thing myself recently. All other forms of story-telling (books, movies, music) are all very easy to create. All you have to do is just pick up a pen and some paper/video camera/instrument and go at it. Video games are not at the point were they can do that (the closest thing is Game Maker, and even that needs a decent amount of technical expertise), and I think that is really hampering the medium. You hear that developers? Make a freeware program that makes creating games so stupidly simple my grandmother could do it! Get on it! >:(

Raiyan 1.0:

The_root_of_all_evil:
Alien/Aliens

I would have to disagree with that. While I respect Cameroon's sequel for creating a number of popular tropes, it was largely underwhelming compared to Ridley Scott's tension-filled, well-paced narration. It's like comparing Amnesia to Dead Space.

It's a different genre really, with the same main characters. It'd be like having Godfather 2 being all about gun-battles.

Hold on...

But yeah, Aliens is as good an action film as Alien was a psychological horror. Better?...that's purely conjecture.

First, I have to be Super-Ultra-Turbo-Mode nitpicky on this: Castlevania: SOTN didn't start the 'Metroidvania' trend that we saw later in the (IMO excellent) Aria/Dawn of Sorrow games on the DS, and others... the second Castlevania: Simon's Quest on the NES did that, though not quite to the same degree as SOTN did.

Anyway, excellent points both in this article and the one previous, and I personally thought of a few concepts that broke with the norm, but for the most part, Yahtzee had a point. And actually, someone making a more graphical 'version' of the Inform 7 creation engine would definitely be awesome, though one example of it I've seen is at http://www.newgrounds.com/wiki/creator-resources/game-dev-resources/the-games-factory-2... basically a Flash-game/movie program that you can download for free. Granted, you can only upload your creations to the Newgrounds.com site, but that's not exactly a bad place to have it hosted either.

(On the note of Inform 7 games, though, I'll also point out two of my favorites... 9:05 and Shrapnel by Adam Cadre, at http://adamcadre.ac/if.html. Both extremely good, and good examples of 'story-based' games, rather than puzzle ones, like what Yahtzee referred to.)

Intresting article. I disagree with a lot of it though.

NinjaDeathSlap:
Not sure if anyone mentioned it first time around but Assassins Creed 2 was much much better than its predecessor, and yet you still had Desmond, Lucy and Vidic.

Yes, but AC1 wasn't exactly a contained story.

The_root_of_all_evil:

Raiyan 1.0:

The_root_of_all_evil:
Alien/Aliens

I would have to disagree with that. While I respect Cameroon's sequel for creating a number of popular tropes, it was largely underwhelming compared to Ridley Scott's tension-filled, well-paced narration. It's like comparing Amnesia to Dead Space.

It's a different genre really, with the same main characters. It'd be like having Godfather 2 being all about gun-battles.

Hold on...

But yeah, Aliens is as good an action film as Alien was a psychological horror. Better?...that's purely conjecture.

I actually paused a little after clicking on Post on my original comment... I guess you have a point there - the two movies were basically different genres.

Raiyan 1.0:

I actually paused a little after clicking on Post on my original comment... I guess you have a point there - the two movies were basically different genres.

I think I recall reading once the original 'Alien' was meant to be a horror movie, but in space, yes... but it also helped that it was actually something of a metaphor about, ah, forced invasion, as it were: http://www.cracked.com/article_18932_alien-film-franchise-based-entirely-rape.html

You mentioned Inform! My life is complete! I can go all whiny fangirl and snobbishly complain that TADS is far superior if you'd like, though. ;)

Text adventures in general are awesome, though. They're much easier to put together than a graphical game, even if you use a more difficult language like TADS, so you can focus on creating good gameplay and story rather than worry about physics engines or graphics.

(for the uninitiated--Inform is more of a scripting language, while TADS is more of a complete programming language, just specifically geared toward the creation of text adventures. As the joke goes, TADS is so powerful, you could create Inform in TADS! Both are very powerful, however, and you can make complex, fascinating games in both. If you've never played a text adventure, first, I pity you. Second, check out Dreamhold by Andrew Plotkin--it's a great introduction to the whole thing, and it's a wee bit easier to figure out than something impossible like Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. When you're done with that, there's thousands more at the IF Archive (as it's rather a large place, you might be better served by looking at Baf's Guide to the IF Archive, which categorizes and reviews many of the games in the Archive).

If you're interested in writing interactive fiction on your own, why not check out TADS, Inform, ADRIFT, or one of the other many free IF creation tools out there? If you'd like to learn about TADS, check out the official site, where you can download it for free and get some really great literature/tutorials to introduce you to it. Inform can be found here and ADRIFT (another relatively simple system) is here. If you want advice on writing text adventures, there's some great articles over at The Brass Lantern. Enjoy!)

I'm a little obsessed with these things, can you tell? :D

Shannon Spencer Fox:

Raiyan 1.0:

I actually paused a little after clicking on Post on my original comment... I guess you have a point there - the two movies were basically different genres.

I think I recall reading once the original 'Alien' was meant to be a horror movie, but in space, yes... but it also helped that it was actually something of a metaphor about, ah, forced invasion, as it were: http://www.cracked.com/article_18932_alien-film-franchise-based-entirely-rape.html

Ah, a fellow Cracked reader! Yes, I'm quite... aware... of that article.

I would point out Symphony of the Night and ask if it isn't better to spread out into new ideas than concentrate eternally on spinning the same straw into gold.

Really? What about that time Nintendo did experiment with a beloved franchise and tried to introduce a new tool in the form of an "asinine water pistol" said character could use for different ways to get around and as an extra game mechanic, "clean up huge piles of semi-liquid shit". Or when they eschewed heavy graphics for a more colorful aesthetic with a travel mechanic that effectively instilled the sense of a truly huge open world without rendering 800 square miles they don't care about.

Yeah, it be a pity if the raw backlash of the unpleasable left such a bad taste in their mouth it cemented the idea that fans clamoring for changes and new ideas is so much speech via highly controlled farts and all we really want is more stylish versions of what we've nostalgia'd to the point of deifying.

The Unity3D engine already does this to a certain extent, seriously, look it up if your at all interested in making games, its free as well!

Isn't that technically how the professional game designer's job works?

"Here's my ideas, written out in excruciating detail, now game design team, I COMMAND YOU TO BRING THEM TO LIFE!"

The designer doesn't actually HAVE to know much programming :P

Create a deep, intuitive toolset designed for non-programmers that can let you create models, textures and game mechanics with dropdowns and a visual mouse-driven interface to as complex a level as the user desires, so that any lone developer, like ones who specialize more in aesthetics or story writing, can create a game that could then be sold in mainstream circles or over Steam to anyone who wants to look for it? Would that not spark the same creative renaissance in gaming that inexpensive digital cameras created in the film industry?

"You may say that I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one..."

Raiyan 1.0:
Ah, a fellow Cracked reader! Yes, I'm quite... aware... of that article.

Indeed! Very nice site, since it's usually both funny and very informative.

Back on-topic, I did forget to mention something else: there was always SCUMM too, or 'Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion', in case anyone's not familiar with the term. It was, naturally, what was used to make the first two Monkey Island games, the Indiana Jones games, and lots of others, though I'm not sure how complex it was, and I'm almost positive it wasn't ever released in any non-commercial fashion. Then there's the AGS, or Adventure Game Studio, which frankly I'm surprised Yahtzee didn't mention, having made a handful of games with it... assuming he even wants to remember those. Which is a shame, since, in my opinion, they were all quite good, flaws and all.

BreakfastMan:

Yahtzee Croshaw:

But what if mainstream gaming took the Inform 7 approach? Create a deep, intuitive toolset designed for non-programmers that can let you create models, textures and game mechanics with dropdowns and a visual mouse-driven interface to as complex a level as the user desires, so that any lone developer, like ones who specialize more in aesthetics or story writing, can create a game that could then be sold in mainstream circles or over Steam to anyone who wants to look for it?

I actually think this is your strongest point in that entire article. I had been thinking about the same thing myself recently. All other forms of story-telling (books, movies, music) are all very easy to create. All you have to do is just pick up a pen and some paper/video camera/instrument and go at it. Video games are not at the point were they can do that (the closest thing is Game Maker, and even that needs a decent amount of technical expertise), and I think that is really hampering the medium. You hear that developers? Make a freeware program that makes creating games so stupidly simple my grandmother could do it! Get on it! >:(

Apologies for the giant quote, but...

The "toolset designed for non-programmers" which Yahtzee describes sounds rather like the Unreal Development Kit, which I fear is destined to do more harm than good. In his Little Big Planet review, Yahtzee made the point that the average person playing the game is not a creative genius who can make a fantastic level just because they have the right tools at their disposal. Game development has long been somewhat elitist, there being relatively few people capable of making anything noteworthy out of the millions of people with access to current tools and hardware. Personally I feel this is how it should remain. Once you start making it "easy" to make games, you open the flood gates to the talentless hoards who want their five minutes of fame, and devalue the development process of all games.

In metaphorical terms, if you want to build a bridge, hire the trained engineer, not the guy with the DIY toolset who works at the scrap metal yard...

TheOneandOnly:
snip...

I actually think that is a bad thing. Let us look at books for example. Would it have really been good if writing books was so complicate that only a select few with years of training could write them? I think not. If that were so, we would not get amazing stories like The Umbrella Academy (written by the lead singer of My Chemical Romance), one of my favorite graphic novels of all time.

Or let us look at movies. How many film directors got there start doing very low budget indy films when they had little experience or training in directing? Make things more complicated and you loose a lot of the potential creators that are out there, simply because they cannot get into it. Would Sam Raimi have made Within the Woods if the simple act of making one took years upon years of very technical training? I think not.

I do not think making games easier to create would "open the flood gates to the talentless hoards who want their five minutes of fame" which would then "devalue the development process of all games". I mean, if that happens, then it would follow that the same happened with films and books, amirite? Yet it hasn't, so that leads me to believe that it won't.

NightmareTaco:
Just because the story's good doesn't mean the game's good, of course. RPG Maker comes to mind.

Some RPG Maker games are pretty incredible.

Leo and Leah Incredibly thought provoking story. (Especially after chapter 4)

Sunset over Imdahl Shows just why time travel is never a good idea...

Ara Fell Widely hailed as the most beautiful RPG Maker game.

Exit Fate Basically Suikoden

Edit: FEH! I completely inverted the point of your post. I apologize for that. RPG Maker game with a good battle system...? Well, the one that comes to mind is...

A Home Far Away Youtube up some gameplay videos.

Strongly disagree about SotN's merits, as it traded thoughtful level design and player character limitations with long boring hallways and a leveling/gear system that gives the player way too much power.

That's not to say SotN's premise is flawed, mind you. I just feel that Super Metroid and Cabe Story executed it much better.

I really wish more of those early 3d-era games had taken the "leper king" approach.
The awful low-polygon count blobs that made up so many games then are a complete turnoff for me, both at the time they came out, but more especially now when I want to go back and experience some of the ones I never played.
I know people love the shit out of FF7, but for me the hopping marshmallows that were the characters on environment maps that were super detailed made the game feel absurd. I always imagine how cool it would have been if they had stuck with 2D sprites for just one more iteration, and just made them super-detailed.

BreakfastMan:

I actually think that is a bad thing. Let us look at books for example. Would it have really been good if writing books was so complicate that only a select few with years of training could write them?

Well, actually, it already is. Writing takes both talent and experience, and is much more involved than "have a good idea and then write 400 pages of your characters diong things". Very few people actually write on a level that is publishable. See: Fanfiction.

BreakfastMan:

Yahtzee Croshaw:

But what if mainstream gaming took the Inform 7 approach? Create a deep, intuitive toolset designed for non-programmers that can let you create models, textures and game mechanics with dropdowns and a visual mouse-driven interface to as complex a level as the user desires, so that any lone developer, like ones who specialize more in aesthetics or story writing, can create a game that could then be sold in mainstream circles or over Steam to anyone who wants to look for it?

I actually think this is your strongest point in that entire article. I had been thinking about the same thing myself recently. All other forms of story-telling (books, movies, music) are all very easy to create. All you have to do is just pick up a pen and some paper/video camera/instrument and go at it. Video games are not at the point were they can do that (the closest thing is Game Maker, and even that needs a decent amount of technical expertise), and I think that is really hampering the medium. You hear that developers? Make a freeware program that makes creating games so stupidly simple my grandmother could do it! Get on it! >:(

I think the problem with this is that the more you simplify the language the less control you have over what you can create with it. Making a text adventure game is one thing, but when you start talking about more complicated games its a different story. While toolsets and specialized scripting languages can help remove complexity from programming and such, they tend to be rather focused in what you can do with them. So no matter how powerful your toolset you're always going to be limited by what its capable of, and generally speaking the simpler the toolset the less powerful it is.

So sure coming up with a simple intuitive language for creating text based games is one thing, but more complex games will always require more complex tools, and more complex tools will always require more technical knowledge.

Really I think the best route is to the kind of scenario being talked about here is through modding toolsets. You can take out a lot of the complexity due to the fact that most of the guts of the game are already put together.

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