The Good, the Bad, and the Sequel

Extra Consideration

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hermes200 said:
mjc0961 said:
Another big problem I can instantly see with the new IPs not being $60 is this: Super Fun Game comes out for $40 and is a huge hit. So they make Super Fun Game 2 but now that it's an established brand, here comes the $60 price point, followed swiftly by ranting gamers promising boycotts and other nonsense. "The first one was $40 but now they're just in it for the money and not the games!" or other shit like that.
Because boycotting a sequel always works. If half the people that were constantly saying they would boycott MW2 actually wouldn't bought it, there would be no MW3. Unsurprising enough, it was the best selling game of the year.
I actually like the idea. Gamers would be more interested in taking risks with Darksiders, Portal, Singularity or Valkirie Chronicles if those games were released at a lower price point. That is why many of those games get a lot more sales during black friday or discounts.
OutrageousEmu said:
Fuck it, if you took any list of best games of all time, any list at all, lists qualifed as the creme de la creme, the games that make up the best of the best of the best this industry has ever produced, sequels will make at least 90%. At least. On the other hand? You look at the worst games ever made. Daikatanna. Naughty Bear. Deadly Towers. Original IPs.
There is a reason for that. As they say in the article, its hard to mess up a sequel. They just have to build on top of the original and they already have a base following already into the next game... One would argue that MK9 is better than MK1, SF4 is better than SF2 and COD7 is better than COD1, but it is pointless to compare a game without the proper historical context. "Playing MK1 and MK9 now, at the same time, I realize MK9 is better" is not the same as "Playing MK1 was it was released and MK9 when it was released, I realize MK9 is better".
On the other hand, every sequel you praise so much, the real creme de la creme games, every single one of those sequels started as new IP. At one point in history they tried something new and were rewarded for it with a successful franchise and a legacy. And every new IP that you loathe about, that are so bad that are horrible; are not bad because they are new IPs, they are just bad; and the reason they are unlikely to get sequels is because they are bad.
By the way, you are wrong if you believe original IPs are the only games that can be bad: Link The Faces of Evil, Bubsy 3D, Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust, Final Fantasy XIV and Tony Hawk: Ride are among the worst games ever done. Every one of them was a sequel to a successful franchise.
I'd wager there are more flat out terrible new IP's than sequels, but it would depend what we're counting liscenced games as.

Of course a sequel needs an IP first, but that doesn't mean every single game has to be a new IP. I think of it as a flower in a garden. Creating a new IP is the planting of the seeds and watching the first shoots of green emerge. With love and care, this flower can blossom into something beautiful with its sequels. Of course, even the best kept flower needs to die eventually. What we need to ask ourselves is "when have these flowers bloomed to their fullest and are ready to die?". Any man who says after its just sprouted is an idiot.
 

hermes

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AJey said:
WTF? Jim, you serious? "Game can be good with a weak story"! Are you F-ing serious?! Most pathetic piece of argument ever! wow! Show me a good game that has a weak story! You gonna use Angry Birds maybe?! Show me a single good game without or with weak story!
Let me put it this way. You show me any game from the 80s or earlier that has a good story. Any game...
Now think of any game released during that time that were actually good: Mario 1 and 2, Megaman 1 and 2, Street Fighter 1 and 2, Wolfestein, Pacman, Galaga, Tetris, etc. Any game in that group is an example of games that are good but have almost no story. And that not even counting more modern games.
Story is games is almost always weak... Other than RPG, most games stories is more like a premise (save your girlfriend, get the MacGuffin, shoot everyone before they shoot you). Most modern games focus on setting to set them apart, more than story.
 

hermes

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OutrageousEmu said:
hermes200 said:
I'd wager there are more flat out terrible new IP's than sequels, but it would depend what we're counting liscenced games as.
Of course a sequel needs an IP first, but that doesn't mean every single game has to be a new IP. I think of it as a flower in a garden. Creating a new IP is the planting of the seeds and watching the first shoots of green emerge. With love and care, this flower can blossom into something beautiful with its sequels. Of course, even the best kept flower needs to die eventually. What we need to ask ourselves is "when have these flowers bloomed to their fullest and are ready to die?". Any man who says after its just sprouted is an idiot.
I would say there are more bad sequels than bad new IPs, because there are more sequels than new IPs anyway, but that discussion would get us nowhere.
I think of game IPs the same way I think of movie IPs and book IPs. Unless a story is meant to be told as a series, the idea of continuing something beyond his welcoming point is diluting the impact of the original.
Would it make any good if someone decided to make a sequel of Fight Club? Maybe invent some contrived way to make Brad Pitt's character return... Would that make the original any good, or would it actually retroactively hurt its impact? Didn't we learn something from the Matrix sequels? Was the franchise improved by the introduction of the Vampires in the Matrix or the midiclorians in Star Wars? Or was it cheapen? The moment Tom Hanks dies in Philadelphia is a powerful moment. Does it makes sense to make him return in Philadelphia 2? Maybe Romeo and Juliet 2 would be a good idea.
My point is, some games (Final Fantasy X, God of War, etc) are made to be one time only experiences, and either executive meddling or fanbase hunger for more makes them jam a sequel, hurting the original idea in the process. My point is: I liked Bioshock, and I liked that the main character ends up dying in the end... even if it means I would never return to Rapture, ever...
 

DRD 1812

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I find the idea of trusting designers over franchises to be a backwards notion. True it saves you the heartache of discovering something like Bioshock 2 is a shadow of the original because superstar Ken Levine wasn't involved, but a specific designer's involvement is NO guarantee that a game will be good.

It's even more confusing because Yahtzee himself has seen this happen several times.

Warren Spector - Co-creator of several legendary games for the PC made Epic Mickey a showcase of mediocrity. What's worse is he tried defending legitimate criticism after the fact.

Tim Schafer - One of Yahtzee's bomb shelter mates come the apocolypse made Brutal Legend, which isn't necessarily a bad game but you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who would say it was exactly what they wanted OR what they thought they'd get from Double Fine.

Goichi Suda (ugh, Suda 51) - Has been slowly eroding away whatever creativity existed in Killer 7 by making 1) a bland sequel to No More Heroes and 2) a bland collaboration with other 'superstars'. Speaking of,

Shinji Mikami - You could argue that his games only became really good with Resident Evil 4. That's a lot of tripe to slop through to get to the tenderloin.

Hideo Kojima- Has been slowly going mad for over a decade.

Peter Molyneux - ...Does anything more need to be said?

The point is, every designer will eventually make at least one bad game eventually. What's more is that when they do it usually stings more than if a team (or more likely a publisher) is to blame.
 

lord.jeff

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Yahtzee:

There has never been a case of a sequel being better than the original if the original had an entirely self-contained story and no sequel hook, unless (in the case of games) there's a significant technology upgrade between titles that allows for stronger gameplay.




That is so true because books aren't completely narrative based and are one of the form of entertainment that not only regularly has good sequels(Disc World for example) but sequels are openly cheered and encouraged. I mean without game play mechanics there is just no way to improve in a sequel, it's not like Terminator 2, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, Army of Darkness, or the Dark Knight were any good. I'm done with sarcasm story can improve in sequels, in fact it's nice to be able to watch something that doesn't have to spend to much time in the first act. Sure sequels commonly suck but so do most stories in general. Also for examples of better then the first story or at least equal in game sequels, Devil May Cry 3, any Mario game, Monkey Treasure Island, Mass Effect.
 

beetrain

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I agree with Jim regarding prices; I have a policy of never paying more than £20 pounds for a game. Unless it's a "first day must buy" from one of my favorite developers, I'll just wait for the price to go down.
 

chriswolvie

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If you are no longer showing "Extra Credits" (even the past ones), Escapist, I *strongly* suggest you change the name of this segment, as the "Extra" part was no doubt used because of James Portnow's appearance. While you're at it, Escapist, I also suggest that you remove all "Extra Credits" badges from peoples' profiles. You had them for a year, you and them had a misunderstanding and now...they don't belong to you anymore...so let them go. I may get banned for this, but whatever.
 

cymonsgames

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What amazes me is none of these 3 so called experts mentioned the first thing about technical advancements in sequels. It's too bad the Escapist mishandled Extra Credits because James would have been perfect to point out that developers never really get to finish commerical games. Not in their own mind. There's always that feature that had to get cut, that idea that couldn't be implemented, or code that wasn't optimized. To a developer a sequel represents the opportunity to do what couldn't be done the first time. Forget about continuing the story or keeping the characters. Those artists and writers should go to hollywood if they want to tell a story. To a developer a sequel is a chance to get right what went wrong.

And by developer I mean software developer, not story or artistic developer. Like I said, those guys should go make movies.

Spygon said:
Sorry but the more Jim talks about games around people that actually know about games.In my eyes just makes him seem not in touch with the gaming medium
I'm with you on this one. I avoid everything I know this dufus is going to be in.
 

Oliver Sadler

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Did anyone else instantly realise Yahtzee would jizz his pants when Jim called Silent Hill 2: "my favorite game of all time." ?
 

Extra Consideration

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I liked what Bob and Yahtzee said (could give 2 shits about Jim though) and I too have issues with the whole "sequel thing".

A sequel (on it's own) can neither be good or bad; It's how it is applied that makes that distinction.

Some companies use it as a definite "cash grab" (Madden), others use it as a way of broadening the players experience (more story) and others use it as a way of showing off their new tech (same great game now with physics!).

The only way you can say AYE or NAY is to play, then make your own decision.
 

Mike Fang

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Sequels are a dicey subject because there are many stories that do well when continued. However, there are plenty that follow the Bioshock 2 example and tack arbitrary and unnecessary length to a storyline that just doesn't need it. As has been said, the best ones are sequels with their own stories that are related to but not direct continuations of the very same plotline of its predecessors. They should be like a book series; they can have some of the same characters and maybe the same setting, but they need to have new events and new characters introduced. Bioshock 2 gave us new characters, but the setting was the same, the story was essentially the same (a faceless, voiceless protagonist being used by the people in rapture to try and further their own ends while he himself just wants to survive) and the gameplay was essentially the same.

Actually that is one point I think should be made. If it comes down to a choice, it's better to keep gameplay the same and let the story/setting/characters evolve and change. Why? Because gameplay is the area of a game that can stay the same and not have people judging it poorly as a result. It comes down to the "if it's not broken, don't fix it," philosophy. The Jak & Daxter series is a good example, same gameplay (for the most part) but the story and locations are varied and different each time.

But story/setting/characters doesn't operate by that same reasoning. Telling the exact same (or unavoidably familiar) story through the same medium with only a slightly different method doesn't do much to enhance the experience. It's like reading a book then reading the same story on a Kindle; you get the same experience, just in a flashier setup. And for some stories this can be a good thing, having replay value. But if you're playing a SEQUEL, you naturally expect something new to experience besides a different vehicle through which to see the same old sights.
 

teh_gunslinger

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krellen said:
As with films and TV, when I get into a sequel it's because I want more of the same. If I'm getting something similar but somewhat different, that's a rebranding - Stargate: Atlantis instead of SG1, for instance. If it's something completely new, it should be a new franchise.

I hate when sequels reinvent the gameplay. Tweaks to things that didn't work are okay - Fallout 2 is an excellent sequel to Fallout, because it keeps the same gameplay elements and adds tweaks and minor features that caused annoyance with the first. Fallout 3, on the other hand, is a horrible sequel, because it bears only very passing resemblance to the titles that came before. Fallout: New Vegas, while being basically a true sequel to Fallout 3, nevertheless exists as a rebranding off the originals, and thus fit expectations much more.

Sid Meier's Civilization did similar things - 4 has many resemblances to 3, which has many resemblances to 2, which has many resemblances to 1, though 1 and 4 are still very different because of the separation. When Sid Meier wanted to try some radical changes to the makeup (which eventually were worked into Civ 4 because they worked), he didn't call it Civilization 2 - he called it Alpha Centauri.

In this sense, I view Mass Effect 2 has a colossal failure; both in terms of story and in terms of gameplay, there are only peripheral similarities to Mass Effect. Mass Effect 2 should have been a rebranding, because it wasn't really a continuation of Mass Effect at all, except for the superficial presence of a "Captain Shepard" and a few other characters.
I tend to agree with all that you said. Especially about Fallout 3.

And off topic: do you post at Twentysided as well?
 

Extra Consideration

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I'm sorry, but as great as this discussion was, I really need to call Moviebob out on something:

Moviebob said:
I can agree up to a point with Yahtzee re: "franchises" getting too much focus - or, rather, developers not getting enough... though I wonder how you go about "fixing" that problem. I hear people in and around the games business often talk of wishing there were more "name-brand" developers or "superstar" developers; but I'm not sure that's THAT much better - game-development being such a heavily collaborative process, is following one "name" (like Peter Molynuex, for example) from game to game so different from following Master Chief or Sonic?
Film is a medium heavily based on collaboration. On an average blockbuster, the studio will be employing a staff force many many times greater than your average game development team. There are all the different filming units, the production team, the special effects guys, the marketing team, all the actors and extras... hundreds nd hundreds, if not thousands, of people all working together on the same movie. And yet:

Steven Spielberg. James Cameron. Christopher Nolan. Martin Scorsese. Peter Jackson. George Lucas. Christopher Nolan. Tim Burton. Stanley Kubrick.

These are all names that even people only casually interested in film recognise. None of these men ever made their films single-handedly. They all had to collaborate with their production teams and their filming crews. And yet, they got their names out there. Because they were heading the projects, they got their names out there, and got people to nto just recognise the films, but the hard-work that went into making the films. People didn't flock to see Avatar just because it was a pretty CGI film. They flocked because it was a James Cameron film. They'd seen his previous films, they knew the legendary amount of work he puts into his job as a director, and thus they got excited about the potential of his latest. Of course, opinion differs on how that one actually panned out...

My point is, games are no more or less collaborative than films. Spielberg sure as heck didn't write all the lines for Jaws, Peter Jackson didn't design every sword and axe for Lord Of The Rings, and Christopher Nolan didn't redesign the Batsuit all by himself. And yet, people flock to see films by these guys because the name usually acts as some kind of stamp of quality.

That is what's missing in games. That is why we're mired up to the armpits in needless sequels. We need to focus less on the franchises themselves, and more on the developers who make them. Gears Of War was a huge success, a graphical leap forward, and kick-started a new wave of third-person shooters. That's a heck of a compliment about the game, but what does it say about the guys at Epic? They managed to breathe new life into a tired genre, and squeeze visuals out of the 360 that no-one thought possible. Doesn't that at least suggest a little bit of outside-the-box thinking at Epic headquarters? If one team of developers were able to do so much with a third-person space marine shooter, should we not be interested in that they could achieve if their imaginations were given freer reign, as opposed to being chained to a single franchise.

That's the problem with the industry now. Developers aren't known for their talent, or artistic skill. By and large, they're known for the single, sometimes couple, of franchises that they're chained to. Ubisoft is cranking out yearly Assassin's Creed sequels, Infinity Ward hasn't done anything outside of Call Of Duty for years, and even Bioware has been unable to move out of the sci-fi/fantasy trench they've been dug into for the past few decades. We need to allow our developers freer reign over their own creations, and stop shackling them to franchises that are way overdue a quiet death. If we don't, we're going to kill our own medium. It's as simple as that. A medium cannot survive by rehashing the same stuff forever, and if new properties are not forthcoming, people will eventually get bored and move on to something else.
 

MB202

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I'm miss James Portnow, but Jim Sterling is a decent replacement and good for a collaborative article like this.
 

uzo

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I almost never buy games when they're at full price. The only game I've bought at full price & new release was DoW2:Redemption. I am wrestling with myself about buying Space Marine as a new release too - it's tied to 40K fluff I think.

If you consider the last few games I've bought:

Mount & Blade: With Fire And Sword A$15 - taleworlds.com

Caesar IV A$10 - EB Games

Fallout 3 GOTY A$35 - Dick Smith

MS Combat Flight Simulator (Europe) A$20 - EB Games

Ryu ga Gotoku IV (Yakuza 4; Japanese version) - JPY3000+JPY1500 postage (approx A$60) - amazon.jp

DOW2:Redemption A$70 - EB Games

Machigai Museum II (JP game) JPY1500 (approx A$20) - Sofmap Nipponbashi


Only one of these are 'new releases'.

But the key thing is I never pirate PC games ... unless I have already bought it on a different system. In which case I consider it acceptable (not legally, but to my own conscience). C'mon ... I've paid for the property! With music, whether I listen to it as an mp3 on my iPod, a cassette in my car, a CD in my stereo, or have a vinyl pressed of it, I still paid for the IP - not the form it comes in, nor the device it plays on.
 

Harry Mason

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Two things...

1 - Fuck you, Jim. Silent Hill 1 was amazing.

2 - The reality of Extra Credits leaving The Escapist is all the more sad when I read this.
 

I forgot

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Wow. This just proves how freakin out of the loop Yahtzee is. Sorry but I'm with Jim and Bob.

"Well, why don't I kick this one off by saying that sequels often represent a lot of what I hate about the games industry today."
Let's see if what you hate is at all reasonable.

"Too often the decision to make one is rooted entirely in business than any consideration of whether or not the story demands it."
How about if there's no story. Also, business shouldn't be used in a negative connotation because every a business decision means one that'll satisfy its customers which is a GOOD THING.

"There has never been a case of a sequel being better than the original if the original had an entirely self-contained story and no sequel hook, unless (in the case of games) there's a significant technology upgrade between titles that allows for stronger gameplay. And that's just gameplay, not story."
What if the game has no story. Story is not a requirement for a game. Do you even care at all about the gameplay because all this crap has to do with story which, regardless of quality, doesn't make a good game.

"Sequels are a symptom of a larger problem within the games industry, which is that the fans latch onto franchises rather than developers."
This is just stupid. Of course people will follow franchises they like. If anything we shouldn't latch onto developers as if they were rockstars.

"It's a result of an increasingly corporate culture that designs more and more games by committee and has less and less emphasis on exposing or crediting individual creators. Most people tend to go "Oh, another Gears of War, I will check it out because I liked previous Gears of War." Rather than "Oh, a game by Cliffy B. I will check it out because I enjoyed Cliffy B's previous works.""
Well, yeah. Most games CANNOT be credited to individual creators when they have 60 people helping them.

"It shackles creators to single properties rather than giving them opportunities to explore their other big ideas. And this doesn't seem to happen as much in the film industry. Everyone knew that Inception was by Christopher Nolan, and everyone went to see it because The Dark Knight was good"
WE DO NOT PLAY GAMES FOR DEVELOPER CREATIVITY, we play games for fun. Developers are not damn rockstars and they can't do whatever they want. They have to make games for people, not themselves. This is the real cancer killing the industry. So what you hate isn't at all reasonable.
 

Dhatz

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people change because they must, but if industry seen no change people get stuck, don't you understand it? every change has a beginning.