Building a Legacy by Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Building a Legacy by Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

A lack of backwards compatibility creates an amnesiac development cycle, where lessons from the past are forgotten or ignored, and genres become stale.

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°Elitist remark: MGS is still better then Infinite's story°

OT: excellent article. Consoles are 100 percent dead to me till they get backwards compatibility (and modding).
I too have noticed these stupid names in games. Thief... DooM... Wolfenstein(strangeley it is a sequel???? Not a reboot)

Metal Gear Solid isn't clinging to an era so much as Kojima is just continuing to do whatever he wants with the franchise, with little to no regard for trends of the time. That its bizarre storytelling was fairly typical of gaming in 1998 is mostly a coincidence; if he were to get into game development today and the first MGS game were only just beginning development right now, the story would probably turn out exactly the same.

On-topic: We all remember what TotalBiscuit had to say about Medal of Honor: Warfighter? Or what Yahtzee had to say about Thief? Right now, there's a serious problem of tearing down the mechanics that made a franchise good in the first place, because they get in the way of showing off the graphics, actors, etc. that the studio invests so much money in. I suspect the reason that studios are so quick to reboot franchises, to ignore the past, is because they don't want people to be exposed to things that worked great and still hold up today, for fear that they'll be too spoiled to accept dumbed down sequels and reboots.

P.S. Thanks

Charcharo:
°Elitist remark: MGS is still better then Infinite's story°

MGS is an excellent comedy series.

Excellent article, with points that need to be made over and over and over.

I do, however, think that reboots _could_ be a good thing. The whole notion of comics being unapproachable to new folk is one good example as to why. And a compelling universe with mileage of exploration left in it could benefit from the freedom that comes from removing previous built-up storyline, or from refreshed takes on mechanics. Unfortunately, reboots are often used for the lazy reasons Yahtzee mentioned. I just think we shouldn't forget that reboots have _potential_, however unrealized it may currently be.

That mention of massive meat cleaver made me think of Psychonauts which I half expected to be mentioned in this article. I guess even an off-hand if unintentional (or subconsious) gesture is better than nothing. Still waiting for THAT sequel, but I suppose if Costume Quest can get one, hope springs eternal, as they say.

Hang in there, Metal Gear Solid! We believe in you!

. . . I think?

"Building a Legacy by Standing on the Shoulders of Giants"
Or: 'If we don't remember history we're bound to make the same mistakes over and over again.'...

It's longer, but more negative whilst being the exact same message in basis. ;)

Resident Evil 4 is probably my favourite example of reinventing or rebooting a series. Does it make Resident Evil 1-3 seem obsolete or their stories not matter? Nope. But is it wonderful and is capable of being played by itself? Hell yes, it is!

The ditching of BC in new consoles (with Nintendo being the anomalous result) does make me sad. Maybe publishers and developers would like us to forget great games or something that was great about them so they can give us their inferior, weaker stuff.

How Thief is suddenly being about running to the objective marker rather than stealing shit. Or how Battlefield is becoming a horrendous mess trying to defeat Call of Duty, which could only be brought down by entropy. Or Remember Me using God Hand's combat system because the PS3 dropped PS2 BC.

Microsoft and 343 wants to write crappy Halo fan fiction instead of progressing the story? Fine, I guess.
Microsoft and 343 want to take Bungie's work and put their fan fiction into the empty spots to make it look like their story was the one Bungie intended to tell? Fuck. Off.

Kenjitsuka:
"Building a Legacy by Standing on the Shoulders of Giants"
Or: 'If we don't remember history we're bound to make the same mistakes over and over again.'...

It's longer, but more negative whilst being the exact same message in basis. ;)

Indeed; gaming seems to have a passive-aggressive disdain for its past history as time goes on. Instead of acknowledging the past and building upon it, designers seem to take every chance they get to say that all those games people spent countless hours playing and getting invested in were only good because our standards were a lot lower. I mean there's nothing wrong with not being shackled to the past and moving forward but then there's outright being hostile to what got you there in the first place.

Good article, this!

The whole rebooting thing has me feeling kind of mixed. One the one hand, there are several games and franchises that I would love seen rebooted to current graphical and gameplay standards (the first two Elder Scrolls games come to mind, or that could just be the fanboy in me clamouring after lost causes), however at the same time I get the sense that these reboots have a higher likelihood of tarnishing the memories (or as Yahtzee put it, legacies) of the original entries in the franchise as opposed to improving them. And, of course, thanks to the general disregard for backward compatibility, many new gamers would need a reboot, an enhanced edition, or something along those lines in order to have a reason to enjoy some of the great hallmarks of gaming history.

'Tis a sad situation for this industry indeed.

This seems more like an argument for systems being backward-compatible with rival platforms as well as their own predecessors, since we can just as often get games copying older games that were exclusive to other platforms. Or for consoles to disappear entirely so that every game can be re-released on PC.

Wait, we already knew that Yahtzee wants that. Hell, who doesn't, really?

Good article, and Yahtzee congratulations on your 666th post.

I find this to be an interesting perspective that doesn't really hold much water. If you look at videogames in a vacuum, sure, it makes sense. But if you actually look at all artistic entertainment media, it doesn't really hold up. TV, movies, music, heck even books get rehashed and redone on regular basis and there's no such technical wall stopping anyone from revisiting most of those. In fact, most of the classics (and not so classics) get re-released in pretty much their original forms all the time and yet we still get new versions all the time. Being able to revisit "the classics" at any time doesn't stop genres from getting stale, ideas from being overused or unnecessary reboots/remakes from being made.

I can support backwards compatibility as being important from the perspective of the preservation of gaming history but that has little to do with what games are being made now.

StriderShinryu:
I find this to be an interesting perspective that doesn't really hold much water. If you look at videogames in a vacuum, sure, it makes sense. But if you actually look at all artistic entertainment media, it doesn't really hold up. TV, movies, music, heck even books get rehashed and redone on regular basis and there's no such technical wall stopping anyone from revisiting most of those. In fact, most of the classics (and not so classics) get re-released in pretty much their original forms all the time and yet we still get new versions all the time. Being able to revisit "the classics" at any time doesn't stop genres from getting stale, ideas from being overused or unnecessary reboots/remakes from being made.

Exactly. The moment Yatzhee mentioned the games industry as being egregious in this because of technological differences my first thought was "wait... what about the new 52? Has drawings on paper go over a new technological advancement that I am not aware of?".
How about movies? At least the games industry has the technological side as an excuse for lack of backward compatibility, but its not like the projector's technology for screening Wolverine Origins was obsolete by the time Hollywood decided to make First Class.

Catasros:
Hang in there, Metal Gear Solid! We believe in you!

. . . I think?

You have to respect a series that keeps on going and going and doing its own thing, and not giving a damn about current trends. Even though it sometimes makes some STRANGE turns. Reboots sharing their title with the series its rebooting just feel sleazy to me (glares suspiciously at Tomb Raider). I too support backwards compatibility for older games. I mean, it's not like we can find everything on Steam, right? Right?

Seems to me the movie industry is just as bad as the games industry in rebooting/remaking franchises DESPITE the ready availability of the originals. Conan the Barbarian, Robocop, Total Recall, Carrie etc.
Just take a look at this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_film_remakes_A-M and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_film_remakes_N-Z\

I'm still not seeing the link between the lack of backwards compatibility in the new consoles and the homogenisation of games. Surely backwards compatibility is more of a convenience issue rather than a historical one. After all, the switch from vinyl to CDs did not erase records from existence, it just meant you needed to own two different machines to play everything. I'm not saying that's not a problem, but the art does not die with the medium, especially not in the modern age where everything is constantly being re-released.

If game developers aren't learning anything from the past, that's their problem. The old games are still around, in the memories of the people who played them if nothing else. It's not like there weren't poor or homogenised games on backwards-compatible consoles or the PC.

BUT YAHTZEE!!!

if you judge comics by only the super heros theres a whole bunch youre missing out on! do you not know Vertigo or Image?

BlueJoneleth:

Charcharo:
°Elitist remark: MGS is still better then Infinite's story°

MGS is an excellent comedy series.

At least it does what it does WELL.
More then some other games can be proud of...

Aiddon:

Kenjitsuka:
"Building a Legacy by Standing on the Shoulders of Giants"
Or: 'If we don't remember history we're bound to make the same mistakes over and over again.'...

It's longer, but more negative whilst being the exact same message in basis. ;)

Indeed; gaming seems to have a passive-aggressive disdain for its past history as time goes on. Instead of acknowledging the past and building upon it, designers seem to take every chance they get to say that all those games people spent countless hours playing and getting invested in were only good because our standards were a lot lower. I mean there's nothing wrong with not being shackled to the past and moving forward but then there's outright being hostile to what got you there in the first place.

I think some of the reason why is because building a videogame atop all the lessons learned from previous ones is much, much more difficult than doing the same thing in any other medium. Replicating a technique in a film is much, much easier than doing so in a videogame. Movies and other mediums that aren't videogames don't have long strings of code that need a ton of manhours just so you can jump around without getting stuck on the terrain.

Darth_Payn:

Catasros:
Hang in there, Metal Gear Solid! We believe in you!

. . . I think?

You have to respect a series that keeps on going and going and doing its own thing, and not giving a damn about current trends. Even though it sometimes makes some STRANGE turns. Reboots sharing their title with the series its rebooting just feel sleazy to me (glares suspiciously at Tomb Raider). I too support backwards compatibility for older games. I mean, it's not like we can find everything on Steam, right? Right?

Darth_Payn:

Catasros:
Hang in there, Metal Gear Solid! We believe in you!

. . . I think?

You have to respect a series that keeps on going and going and doing its own thing, and not giving a damn about current trends. Even though it sometimes makes some STRANGE turns. Reboots sharing their title with the series its rebooting just feel sleazy to me (glares suspiciously at Tomb Raider). I too support backwards compatibility for older games. I mean, it's not like we can find everything on Steam, right? Right?

Well, give the game industry a year or two...

It strikes me as odd that the current conversation as to things that the industry needs to move towards is almost the exact same shit that Nintendo has been doing and snubbed for doing for years now. Backwards compatibility, making older games accessible, showing representative gameplay trailers of their games etc.

For the record I jumped ship from console to PC three years ago so this is a perspective of someone who games on the BC PC platform.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
The reboot doesn't have to have any connection to its predecessors but a tangentially similar theme. It doesn't have to make sure the plot is consistent with the plot already established,

Sorry I completely disagree here. A reboot should follow the original story as close as possible but with modern tech creating and running it. after the reboot then you move on to new and more innovative ideas ignoring the sequel's to the original if the original had any. A good reboot does not stray from the original because the original was good enough to warrant a reboot so changing it is just asking to fuck it up. You lose old fans because it was changed and new fans may enjoy it but not enough that it would be asking for a reboot in 10 years, enjoy it and forget when the next title comes out so to speak.

A good reboot follows the original as close as possible and major plot points do not deviate, that keeps the fans of the original work interested and buying and the original story was good enough to create those fans so anyone new will enjoy it as well. sequels of the original on the other hand can be skipped altogether after the reboot, they do not need to be made and if they are they really should follow the same theme as the original. Best to diverge the story after the reboot for new innovative ideas and story for all the fans, new and old.

But for fucks sake do not reboot the IP everytime you make one and change it like you suggest! reboot in 10 years and make all new sequels of the reboot and new fans will buy the original sequals as well as the new completely new and maybe after buy the one that started them all. That would be far better than the 3,000.000,000,000.00th reboot of Batman fighting the same Joker with different art and theme. C'mon how many Batman and Jokers do we need before we are sick of them?

As somebody who has just started getting into (Superhero) comics, I have to say I actually like having the sprawling continuity. I love the sense of a living world that comes from having hundreds of characters where you can see each of their individual backstories stretching across decades. It's a method with drawbacks, yes, but superhero comics would be a lot less noteworthy if things stayed in stasis or went in circles forever. (Although DC seems determined to make that happen with New 52)

The trick is making it all accessible. This is actually where comics fall down: Short of having a friend with a collection or resorting to illegitimate acquisition, there's no way to go through backstory without spending hundreds on digital issues or just spending a bunch of time reading plot summaries on Wikipedia. This gets to be a problem faster with video games: I can tear through an issue of comics in 5-15 minutes depending on the book, but a game takes 5-20 hours to do even a main-story-only run.

The problem isn't complex continuity: It's not doing a good job of isolating individual stories (possibly by seeding references to past events when they're relevant) and not making it easy to experience new continuity without trawling through Wikipedia. A new reader/gamer/watcher shouldn't find that Wikipedia is the best way to get into the series.

 

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