Overly Original Sequels Upset Gamers

| 9 May 2011 19:00

Gamers get jumpy when developers change their favorite games too much.

Making videogame sequels is a little like walking a tightrope. Not only will gamers be unhappy if the sequel is too much like the games that came before it, but they also won't be pleased if it's too different either. In Issue 304 of The Escapist, Chuck Wendig looks at the difficulties involved in making big changes in sequels without the developer alienating its audience.

The majority of these sequels, the prognosticators say, will firmly fall into the category of, "More of the same" ... If it ain't broke, they'll say, don't fix it ... But from an artistic point of view? The approach feels hollow. Why not exercise those game design and storytelling muscles?

Ah, but there's the rub. It's all well and good for an audience to appreciate the effort to bring something genuinely new to the table, but if they just spent sixty bucks on your game and feel cheated because the eighth iteration of Halo is a side-scrolling puzzle-RPG hybrid with Master Chief's 12-year-old daughter as the protagonist, then that appreciation is flushed down the toilet faster than you can say I Miss The M6D Pistol From Halo: Combat Evolved. (For the record, I'd play that version of Halo 8.)

Sequels are in many ways about comfort: comfort for the players and comfort for the financial bottom line of those that produce the sequel. But where, then, lies artfulness and innovation? How far can one deviate, and what marks the lines that shouldn't be crossed?

At what point does "different" become synonymous with "dangerous?"

During a thorough discussion of story, sequels and star nipples, Wendig talks about his own experiences with sequels that were just too different, and the secret to making changes without losing your audience. You can read more about it in his article, "Evolution, Not Deviation."

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