Jimquisition: A Game By Any Other Name

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"dont be a nazi"
indeed words of wisdom oh great one!

"Because a new game is trying something else, it doesn't destroy what came before." Not exactly the best wording that could have been put in but wise words nonetheless. This is something people should always try to remember. When a new version of something people love comes out and it doesn't look exactly how they want it to they act like everything that came before is some how corrupted and they'll never be able to experience the old games again. Obviously, it's nonsense.

But there is something to a game's name. In a perfect world quality would be completely separate from the name, but we don't live in a perfect world. A title does unfortunately colour people's expectations about a game, and any new game in a series will be judged against those expectations. It becomes somewhat of a metric to judge how good a game is. We see how well other games in the series did the same things and compare. Sometimes new things come in or old things get taken out, but it's still all judged by this over-arching expectation we have.

Of course that doesn't mean there should be no such things as spin-offs, or that franchises can never change away from one select idea. Although I think an important part of the appeal of survival horror games is their mood and tone. When people feel they want to play Silent Hill or Dead Space it's because they want to be immersed in the atmosphere that those games create. The mood created by the style of game of Book of Memories is in complete conflict with the mood of the rest of the series, so much so people see it as an affront to what people want from the series. That doesn't necessarily mean Book of Memories will be bad, or that it shouldn't exist or be called a Silent Hill game, but I think it makes the complaints of the fans somewhat valid.

The title of a series comes to represent what that series is and what it's about. Book of Memories is not what Silent Hill is about, and is therefore technically not a good "Silent Hill" game. It does a bad job of living up to the title that it's been given. As much as it sucks that this is part of how people judge a game's qualities, it just is. We associate certain things with certain names, and if a certain game cannot give us what we associate and want from the name it has it's understandable that people will judge it harshly. It doesn't mean the game will be bad purely as a game, but it does mean that it's a bad Silent Hill game.

P.S - When I mention that Book of Memories is or will be "bad" I'm talking in a hypothetical sense. I have no idea how good the game will be, and I have no interest in the game or the Silent Hill series. I'm just making a point about the identity of a game and people's expectations of a name.

The Deadpool:
I'm not so sure the Fallout 3 complaint was that it was different per se, just that it went from a story focused RPG to a shooting focused RPG.

The problem with Bethesda's Fallout 3 isn't just that it wasn't like the older ones but that it did keep a Fallout 3 that was more in line with the old Fallout games from being made.

Jimmy , I fucking hate the intro song , please change it

Jimmy(?), I fucking love the intro song, please keep it for a decade. Then it might get old, so change it.

The problem with many franchises, especially those will long suffering and loyal fanbases, is that people begin to too narrowly define what makes a games in the series ). To be honest publishers are a little to blame here, often shoe-horing an unrelated game into a series for name recognition (Halo-Wars anyone?). Honestly a LOT of spinoff games do suck BUT the example you have here is of a community very obviously just vomiting hate on a new and different idea.

You know if people are going to bitch so much about modern Silent Hill games sucking donkey dicks then maybe they should give new ideas a shot?

What was wrong with halo wars :O.

unfortunately, Dragon age 2 got this kind of treatment. I absolutely loved origins it was a gem, and in this case its slightly worse because dragon age 2 was a direct sequel, But I Really, Really loved DA2, despite its flaws. Was origins better, yes I think so, but DA2 was still a very good Bioware game.

Also, Seeing as Bioware are planning a trilogy, starting with DA 2, doesn't that make origins the spin off. Not quite, but I think the game was intended to lay the ground work and tell a separate story, than the trilogy is going to. Also for this reason I expect proceeding games in the DA franchise will be similar to DA2

"Don't judge a book by it's cover" who would of thought that old proverb still holds water.

There are not too many *survival* horror games out there so fans being disgruntled about that silent hill game being something entirely action-y is understandable.
Imagine a re-boot of dungeon keeper but instead of being a, you know, dungeon building sim (there are just fucking none of those out there nowadays), it is an action rpg or a squad based dragon age 2 esque... thing.
Same principle applied to X-com.

I don't think fans associating a brand with certain gameplay is strange at all.
Nor is it strange for fans to get high strung if their, in these days, rare preferred type of gameplay gets changed into something completely different that appeals to a "broader audience".
If you get a final fantasy or zelda game, you don't expect an egoshooter.

As for the DMC thing, it's a silly outrage but has little to do with the topic at hand since they don't seem to deviate from the devil may cry genre gameplay with that one at all.

I agree with this. The only exception to the rules I could see is if the game is heavily story driven (or has a unique universe) and the spinoff game would just shit all over it with loopholes or whatever.

A direct sequel to The Fifth Element! Yay!
Canonical indeed.

All joking aside, Jim makes a strong case as usual.
Only thing is... fan is short for FANatic (really).
Combine this with the general human fear of change (the unknown), and you can easily explain all the fanboy pre-hate on changes/new directions.

Not that it makes the whining any less excruciatingly stupid, but still... it's good to keep in mind and quickly ignore the rabid ramblings!

I am getting so sick of gamers acting so damn entitled as if they own an certain IP and as if they should have a say in what direction developers take with a franchise, without even experiencing the new concepts. Just striking down things on sight, complaining and demanding it going back to the old roots without even trying the new fresh take. Even after this video people still complain in the comments dear god.

Fuck yeah. DMC looks fucking awesome, silliness and over the top and all the jazz. The haters can whine all they like, they'll probably buy it and like it anyway.

The only time I got ticked off about a game being different than it's predecessor was Syndicate. I for one would have preferred a RTS, not some mediocre stupid ass shooter. Though if the shooter was actually good, I might have a different opinion.

i don't get what you were trying to say about prey 2.

This episode really got me meditating on my own feelings about games such as DmC, the new Silent Hill Games, hell, even the newest Final Fantasy games. People hating on a sequel, spin-off, or remake because it wasn't exactly like what came before it is a tradition that has seemingly existed since the dawn of entertainment and it doesn't look like it's going anywhere. But how far can a creator change a franchise before you might as well call it something different?

I think the biggest issue with drastically changing a franchise while keeping the same name is that it often reeks of corporate cash-in. While I am all for franchises evolving and trying different things (Wind Waker, Final Fantasy VII, Mario RPG, just to name a few) I think that a lot of these drastic changes to well established franchises come as a result of the developer's desire to try something different and the publisher's reluctance to stray away from name recognition.

The problem with many franchises, especially those will long suffering and loyal fanbases, is that people begin to too narrowly define what makes a games in the series ). To be honest publishers are a little to blame here, often shoe-horing an unrelated game into a series for name recognition (Halo-Wars anyone?). Honestly a LOT of spinoff games do suck BUT the example you have here is of a community very obviously just vomiting hate on a new and different idea.

You know if people are going to bitch so much about modern Silent Hill games sucking donkey dicks then maybe they should give new ideas a shot?

Fun factoid time: Halo was originally intended as an RTS Game. If fact:

"Bungie Studios later stated an even earlier development build of the game centered on real-time strategy and was "basically Myth in a sci-fi universe."" (Source). Halo Wars was merely the revival of an old concept...and actually wasn't that bad (when you've played Stormrise, you KNOW how much worse it could have been).

OT: I side with Jim, to a degree. As you pointed out with X-COM and Syndicate, sometimes a Publisher prints whatever name they want on it as a marketing gimmick. Of course, said gimmick nine times out of ten backfires (BEEETRAYAAAAAL! Anyone?), so I think this point can be debated back and forth.

Though I should point out this is nothing new, and even goes back to around/slightly before the turn of the century, and that it's really the expansion of the internet that makes the trend more noticeable...and annoying in many cases.

Small tangent here, but over the years it's become something of a common occurrence that any game series that attaches a pseudo-biblical subtitle to their game (Revelations, Reckoning, Genesis, ect) is sending off gigantic whirling sirens and klaxons that are telling you it's going to be a painful experience for everyone involved.

Back on point, the DMC thing struck a cord with me. The reason I dislike it is simply because it's a reboot. The game looks like a blast to play, don't get me wrong, and I have every intention of playing it, but I do have a fondness for the older iterations of the characters of that series. Campy and ridiculous as they pretty much constantly were, they were enjoyable to see in action and many times I found myself playing through the stages simply motivated by a desire to see what kind of crazy cutscene the level would end with. And this being a reboot means, at least to me, that we will no longer see these characters we've previously grown attached to. It feels that this new Dante is a different person, replacing the old one. And the cast of colorful characters we're familiar with are just gone now, replaced with an unfamiliar world. We're gaining something, but it feels like we're losing something too, and unnecessarily so.

Now, if it weren't a Devil May Cry game and was instead renamed to something else entirely, that would leave the door open to more adventures with the cast we know, and still allow the new characters a chance to shine on their own. As it is now, the fanbase is split between those that see the game as a replacement and the end of the characters from the previous series, and those that are willing to give the game a go regardless.

"Like a paedophile or a BP executive"

Loving the fact I had to sit through a 30 second advert for BP (on mute obviously) before watching the video.

Thanks for your opinion of not liking others opinions

No one understands the pros and cons of this idea better than a fan of Final Fantasy. On the one hand, yes, you'd miss some great experiences if you avoided anything too different from the past. On the other, there are more than a few games that just toss in a chocobo or moogle and think that should be enough to be called Final Fantasy,

Unlike sequels, spin-offs can be very exploitive in their existance. Fans get irate because we see DMC or the new Silent Hill, not as things meant to appeal to the fans, but things re-named or re-skinned in order to make a quick buck off fans that buy on the name, and impartialness goes out the window. And in fairness, it's not as though it's unearned fear. If anything, it's the next evolution from the days whre things like The Simpsons, Ninja Turtles, or comic characters were slapped into (often bad) games on the fly to spur sales. I won't say the fear is entirely rational, , but it's easy to assume the games aren't going to be that good and are just leaching off the name to have any credibility.

Syndicate on the other hand was stupid. With no plans to resurrect the original franchise, it couldn't be called a spin-off and bar the odd weapons the FPS only used the name of the original to lure people to it. It used no game mechanics or ideas from the original game. It used nothing from the old game to it's advantage.
If it had been called something else, no one would have been the wiser about it's "origins". They turned that franchise in to something massively run-on-the-mill and average.

Yeah, that example's really my only quibble with Jim's argument. The original Syndicate was renowned as one of the greatest RTS games of its era. So why would you bother resurrecting a property with that pedigree as just another run-of-the-mill FPS? All you do is piss off the fans of the original, while offering nothing special to sell it to new customers.

Otherwise, I'm all for spin-offs in different genres. E.g., if either of the two big space opera settings out there right now, Halo or Mass Effect, were to bring back the mid-90s space combat sim as a $15 downloadable spin-off title on XBLA/PSN/Steam/etc., that would be awesome.

You know what video this reminds me of? Metroid: Other M. It's not a spin-off, and it's a disgrace to everything previously established about the Metroid series.

Exactly. And thats why people hate a games name being used in this fashion. A series is a series because of the way the gameplay is. I mean, imagine if the next doom was suddenly a RTS. Oh, it will have space marines and demons but still a RTS. THATS NOT WHAT A DOOM GAME IS.

I think there is a difference between an inevitable sequel being shit and a dead franchise reinventing itself. I love GTA IV, it is my favourite game in the franchise, in part because it is a departure from previous titles. If GTA V opts to go down a San Andreas/Saints Row route of cartoon violence and absurdity over the somber tone of IV I reserve the right to be fucked off. Conversely if they make a sequel to Street Racer (SNES and possibly Mega Drive/Genesis) and it is shit I would be dissapointed but not fucked off as such. The next iteration in the franchise was not inevitable so I will not feel I have lost out or had my hopes dashed.

Casual Shinji:
The problem with certain of these titles is that they create an expectation, especially if they're horror games. And in regards to Silent Hill, the issue isn't "it's called Silent Hill" or even "it's being developed by Americans", but that the new games can't create an identity of their own. They're constantly calling back to the actuall good SH games by putting in Pyramid Head and the sexy nurses with a mentallity that just screams, "Look, look, see, it's still Silent Hill." That footage you showed during this episode of this new SH entry again featured Pyramid Head lumbering around, and I just can't help but sigh at the sight of him.

That's my problem with the latest Silent Hill games, and this one too, they don't have their own personality, and are just using fan nostalgia to get people interested. I will give Downpour credit for trying, and I will give the funny ending kudos for being weird and making me laugh, but for the rest of the game it did nothing for me. I don't care if it's a spin-off, and good on them for trying something different, but I just don't care anymore.

OT: I have nothing against the new Devil May Cry and I really want to play it. It might be because I've never played one before, and I don't have context for the changes, but it looks pretty bitchin'.

Even though the video hit a little too close for comfort, I agree with most of it. I really think some fans just need to chill out, and thank God he didn't bring up the Final Fantasy fans. That would've been messy.


"Like a paedophile or a BP executive"

Loving the fact I had to sit through a 30 second advert for BP (on mute obviously) before watching the video.

ad blocker pro.

Get it. Like a pro. And a boss.

I'm in a computer lab at uni, I doubt they would be to pleased if I tried to install software (I imagine I would need admin rights).

To avoid the banhammer I am sure you do not use such software yourself!

P.S. I don't hate the new Silent Hill games because they try new things (I liked Downpour's more open environments with mini-quests...), I hate them because ever since Homecoming, it's ALWAYS been about f***ing amnesia (HC, SM, DP,...)

I agree with you in principle Jim, a good game is a good game. But you miss a few points.

One of the reasons people often want games that are similar to previous games in the same franchise is that they really loved those games but many games have not aged well at all. For example, I didn't enjoy Warcraft 3 at all, and I dont play MMORPGs so WoW did nothing for me. So my only recourse as a huge warcraft-fan is going back to playing a 17 year old game that has such a low resolution that I can hardly see 10 units at the same time. This is the case with many complaints about sequels that veer away from the formula.

I didn't become a Syndicate-fan because I liked generic shooters, I became a fan because I really enjoyed that style of Action-tactical-RPG set in a dystopic cyberpunk-environment. But when discussing this on various forums I was often told that if I didn't like the game I should just go back and play the original and keep my mouth shut, but the thing is that I can't can I?Syndicate is virtually unplayable today because of its old graphics and difficulties of getting it to run on old hardware. The reason I was upset that the new Syndicate was an FPS was that I WANTED an updated version of the old game. Same goes for X-com (where we thankfully will get an updated version of the old game).

These are extreme examples but even games just 6+ years old often has not aged well at all. For every Zelda: Wind Waker that is as beautiful today as when it was released there are 10 Knights of the old Republic 2 that feels almost unplayable today due to bad graphics and old UI. (dont get me wrong, I enjoy old games as much as any gamer that has been around since pre-nes times, but some earlier 3D-games have REALLY not aged well. A game like FF6 does not feel as aged as FF7 for example).

As for DMC I just think it looks like a crappy game and the way Ninja Theory has handled this whole New-Dante-affair just puts the nail in the coffin. Also I havent liked any of Ninja Theorys games so far, Enslaved was nice but the combat was super-boring and Heavenly Sword was just stupid and bad. So I dont think they will somehow magically revitalize DMC, but I may be wrong.

i don't get what you were trying to say about prey 2.

I think it's that even though it has almost nothing to do with the first game they are giving it the Prey name so people won't be worried about buying a brand new IP that might suck. It's the same attitude that publishers had with the Syndicate and XCOM reboots, except perhaps a bit misguided. Prey doesn't have a long legacy and devoted fanbase like those old franchises do, but I guess they thought having it belong to any old franchise makes it less risky than giving it a brand new name.

All I personally have to say on this entire topic is: Command & Conquer 4.

Perhaps the haters of this particular Silent Hill though, haven't quite grasped the meaning of "spin-off".

I don't know. As a quasi-graphic designer, I have to partially disagree with this.

Branding and customer perceptions are a big deal. A series that sells itself as a horror franchise has no business selling a title in that franchise that removes the horror. That's just business suicide and false advertising. Like most people, I buy Silent Hills (not anymore) for the horror, not the hack and slash.

While the name doesn't change how good or bad a game is, it's the publishers own fault if a game fails or does poorly because of that backlash of perception. If a series changes it's course and nature in a significant way, it deserves a new name to allow new perceptions to be built.

Of course there are exceptions like Wind Waker, but that's still the same Zelda we're all used to if you just look at its underlining mechanics.

I dissagree wholeheartedly

1. We don't think a game's gonna be bad because of the name, we think the series is going to affected because of the game
2. Changing a game genre is NOT a minor change, making a cell shaded Legend of Zelda is not the same as changing a games genre, cell shaded LoZ is still an adventure game (or whatever it is). Making SH an MRPG is like making Street Fighter V a racing game or Madden 13 a point and click game. I gave SH Shattered a chance and liked it even if they removed fighting from it.
3. As you/he mentioned the option we currently have for playing Silent Hill sucks donkey ass. So new gamers technically aren't able to play the good versions.
4. As someone already mentioned franchises are there for fans to know what to expect.

Guess I'm a nazi.

You know what video this reminds me of? Metroid: Other M. It's not a spin-off, and it's a disgrace to everything previously established about the Metroid series.

I think the difference between MOM (Ohhhh NOW I see what they did there) and Book of Memories is that Metroid: Other M is trying to be a canonical story and fit in within the overall narrative of the Metroid world whereas Book of Memories is more like an in-name-only stand alone spinoff that might have some fun puzzles but in the end be some generic dungeon crawler you could have replaced any of the monsters with Diablo demons and you'd be none the wiser.

All this talk of spinoffs and name mixing is making me wonder why the Mortal Kombat developers didn't add Pyramid Head to the roster, he would have been more fun than Freddy!


the developer that has DmC is Ninja Theory, not Team Ninja, though both are, or where, run by douche bags (last i heard Team Ninja got rid of theirs)

Jim Sterling:

hi, Jim, lemme level with you.

its not the design of Dante that pisses me off about DmC, its the people developing it, the redesign sucks with out question, but i can get over that, or could, if Ninja Theory hadn't been utter dicks about the fan back lash they should have known was coming. and because its a Devil May Cry game the fact the frame rate was cut from 60 to 30 IS a big concern for me, that, and the sudden need for Dante, as well as the walls, to swear now, seems childlish.

yes, I'm aware of the irony there, given Devil May Cry has always been tongue and cheek or just campy (the scene where he gets Lucifer in DMC4 is one of the funniest things in the series) which is another valid concern, this new Dante doesn't seen to have a sense of humor, which was a big part of the original Dante's charm.

and that's with out getting into Ninja Theory's lack luster record

so there are valid reasons to be concerned, but I'll agree with you on one thing, any one still saying it'll suck JUST because Dante looks different, if a retard in need of a helmet

Jim, please hold a competition for your next theme song!

I don't outright dismiss a game based on it being a completly diffent game with the same name.

I do tend to be more sceptical about it because far too often they have tried selling a shitty game under a good title simply to pull more sales out of it.

I have a weird question on a similar vein to what the video covered. Here is the context for it: I loved Dragon Age Origins, was really hyped for Dragon Age 2, and was let down in the playing of it. I went in with high expectations rather than reservations, and found that I did not enjoy the game as much as I had the first one. The weird thing is they "fixed" many of the underlying issues of the first game. I played them both on the 360, and admittedly the mechanical transition from a PC based tactical RPG to a console made much of the control clunky, and the originals brown=realism design aesthetics was, lets just say a bit bland. Ugly armor and all that aside, I was expecting them to refine all that for the sequel.

Instead I'd say they went the Dead Space 3 route and homogenized it rather than expand on what made it unique. But here is the thing, I was a good game. Not great, not unique but flawed like the first one, but well done and workmanlike, a solid effort. Jettison the baggage and expectation of the Dragon Age moniker and I would have thoroughly enjoyed it. Hell, offer it as a spin-off rather than a sequel and I probably would have embraced it. But I felt exhausted when I finished it, disappointed and let down. I never bought any of the DLC, and traded it in. Hell, I now own the Ultimate Edition of DA:O on both PC and 360 and replay them all the time, comparing and contrasting what I like about each, but I never have the inclination to revisit Hawke and company.

I love Fallout 3, played the originals and found that they captured what the game was about really well even with the transition to first person. But here is the thing, fallout was always sold on the humor, the world and your interactions with people. A game like Dragon Age Origins was sold on the mechanics, a return to the "old-school" days of isometric dungeon crawlers with expansive stories and epic battles. At least, that's how they marketed it to me. I went in not caring who I was fighting but how, and they sucked me in and towed me along with their great storytelling and characterization.

Here is the question then. Can a name be a detriment when a game departs from it's core focus? If the focus is the world, then can the mechanics change and it still be the same shared space, or conversely if the mechanics are the focus, like with a real time strategy game or claustrophobic survival horror, how far can a developer stray before it stops feeling like game belongs to the name?

Stuff like this makes me wonder how the publisher/Developer/Consumer expectations interact. To give an example, I was really interested in the idea of an Elder Scrolls MMO because my expectations of a game that bears the Elder Scrolls title is one of a classless, open exploration game. I could care less about the story, to me TES games are about freedom, and I was looking forward to seeing how they implement that. I still have Redguard and Battlemage, I've seen their experiments in the past how they've diverged from the core series. I was very disappointed when I read that they are doing a bog-standard class based WoW style MMORPG, and all the big hype was how it interacted with "the Lore" and the different factions and whatnot. To me that wasn't representative of what I think of when I hear the Elder Scrolls name.

But if I were to hear that they are doing a Mass Effect fist-person multiplayer shooter? That wouldn't bother me, because I think of storyline and the shared world. Hell I don't even play multiplayer shooters and I might pick that up, just to see how they fit it into the world and setting they have built. I might be a bit peeved if it was called Mass Effect 4, but as a side project, I think the core engagement could still be there because when I hear Mass Effect I hear story not mechanics in my head. I also block out the last 15 minutes of the last one, but that's beside the point.

Sorry for the wall of text, great episode.

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