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Posted by l4wd0g

I've replayed some of my favorite NES games recently, and I've discovered something I find truly interesting. A lot of those famous video games (Mario, Metal Gear, Castlevania. Zelda, and to some extent Metroid) all had sequels that were radically different from the original. Ryan Davis has said on multiple occasions that the gaming industry is heavily driven by sequels. It was great that developers were taking risks (even if they weren't necessarily risks at the time).

Now we are presented with more Uncharted, Gears of War, Halo, Call of Duty, and the like. Why aren't game developers taking risks on dramatically changing their game designs? Would be be OK if Vincent van Gogh had made Starry Nights 2 and 3, but subtly changed the way the stars were colored or arranged? At some point people would right off van Gogh as a "one trick pony."

Zelda 2 was divisive, and that's OK. Maybe developers need to stop worrying about reselling me on the next Call of Duty, and work harder on moving the industry forward developing new gameplay, storytelling, mechanics, user interface, and much more can be radically improved.

Look at the jump from Mass Effect to Mass Effect 2. While not as stifling a jump as Zelda to Zelda 2, it was a huge change and it made the game that much better for it.

Posted by Akrid

Back then, games were really goddamn long and were milked for all they were worth because they were cheap and easy to make. These days, the deadline prevents a wealth of great content and interesting ideas from ever being realized, which eventually culminates into a sequel.
 
Plus, people rarely finished those old ultra-long games. Why would they want more of the same if they hadn't even finished what they got? With modern games being as short as they are, I'm usually left with a feeling of "Man, I could sure go for more of that in 6-12 months time".
 
Just going off the top of my head here.

Posted by Joru
@l4wd0g: Games do these jumps all the time. You already mentioned Mass Effect, Assassin's Creed, Rock Band, The Elder Scrolls series... In fact most of the games that change very very little are either games like Call of Duty, which are being milked for money, or games like Gears of War, which is more about refinements to the formula and a continuation of the story. 
 
Most of the more interesting innovation is happening in downloadable games, since they are much cheaper to make (their budgets are definitely much closer to the one's all of the old famous games had). When there's less money on the line, more risks can be taken. 
 
In terms of these really expensive, blockbuster titles, I think we will get more innovation when the next generation rolls around. Right now everyone is on a two-year release cycle, there isn't enough time to sit down and think about what can be changed up. When new hardware comes around, all of the tech guys will be making new engines and then game designers will have an extra year or two to figure out what they want to do next. If you think about it, something like Assassin's Creed is a very innovative game - that idea was probably in someone's head before, but it was never executed to it's full potential until AC. And it came around after the hardware change.
Edited by SomeDeliCook

@l4wd0g said:

Why aren't game developers taking risks on dramatically changing their game designs?

If you mean why aren't the sequels drastically different, its partly because of the fans. If the formula for a game they love is changed in a sequel, they will go up in arms before they even see it or play it themselves. You piss off the biggest fanbase you could've had because you changed the formula so much. Look how many people hate the new XCom. Not a direct sequel or anything, but its still radically changing the formula, and you can't escape reading about it without seeing people complaining. Same thing with the new Devil May Cry. Gameplay hadn't even been released, yet people were up in arms because of Dante's now black colored haircut.

Sometimes the risk is worth it though. Resident Evil 4 was the start of the 3rd person behind the shoulder style for RE, and lots of people look at it as best in series. Quake and Quake 2 share nothing in common except for their name, yet people love both. Assassin's Creed was a huge disappointment for a lot of people, yet they didn't try to completely change the formula with the sequel, they tweaked it and updated it and added some more variety. And people love it more now.

Also, with the development costs of today, the risk is a lot higher. Creating a new IP is a huge risk. Making a sequel thats drastically different is a huge risk. Then again making a sequel thats the exact same thing just gets stale (but its the safest bet you'll make a lot of money off it, though you're disappointing off fans).

Posted by valrog

Mass Effect 2 is a rather poor example.

Posted by tourgen

@l4wd0g said:

Look at the jump from Mass Effect to Mass Effect 2. While not as stifling a jump as Zelda to Zelda 2, it was a huge change and it made the game that much better for it.

Ddebatable! Mass Effect 2 was a great game, but not all the changes from ME1 to ME2 were good. Much of the greatness of that series was stripped away in ME2. Any sense of exploration for instance.

Posted by l4wd0g

Thanks for all the comments. I'll reply to each of you here.
@Akrid
said:

Back then, games were really goddamn long and were milked for all they were worth because they were cheap and easy to make. These days, the deadline prevents a wealth of great content and interesting ideas from ever being realized, which eventually culminates into a sequel.

Plus, people rarely finished those old ultra-long games. Why would they want more of the same if they hadn't even finished what they got? With modern games being as short as they are, I'm usually left with a feeling of "Man, I could sure go for more of that in 6-12 months time". Just going off the top of my head here.

Were they cheap and easy to make? I really don't know. I do know a lot of crap was released back then.


I don't don't know enough about Nintendo or game development; however, I do know that the "Nintendo Seal of Quality" means basically nothing anymore.

Castlevania was kind of F^cked up in how difficult it was. Without friends or a Nintendo Power is was damn well near impossible to know that to do.
I'm not sure length was the issue, but rather the developers didn't know what would stick, and the fans didn't have the same information about sequels we do know. They liked the first Zelda and the saw Zelda 2 and bought it.@Joru said:

@l4wd0g: Games do these jumps all the time. You already mentioned Mass Effect, Assassin's Creed, Rock Band, The Elder Scrolls series... In fact most of the games that change very very little are either games like Call of Duty, which are being milked for money, or games like Gears of War, which is more about refinements to the formula and a continuation of the story. Most of the more interesting innovation is happening in downloadable games, since they are much cheaper to make (their budgets are definitely much closer to the one's all of the old famous games had). When there's less money on the line, more risks can be taken. In terms of these really expensive, blockbuster titles, I think we will get more innovation when the next generation rolls around. Right now everyone is on a two-year release cycle, there isn't enough time to sit down and think about what can be changed up. When new hardware comes around, all of the tech guys will be making new engines and then game designers will have an extra year or two to figure out what they want to do next. If you think about it, something like Assassin's Creed is a very innovative game - that idea was probably in someone's head before, but it was never executed to it's full potential until AC. And it came around after the hardware change.

Downloadable titles are doing it, but the ones with sequels aren't necessarily making huge differences. I hope the next generation of consoles will help, but I have my doubts (maybe my next blog as sub 720p games at the end of a consoles generation are unexceptionable).

I'm not bashing game sequels, I'm upset by some of the lack any type of innovation. The innovation can't just be in multilayer. The jump Assassins Creed to Assassins Creed 2 were fairly significant as they changed a lot of what didn't work, and they took risks with the combat and story. Bit what risks are the Uncharted or Gears of War developers taking? Why should I buy those games? Don't say story because I have no idea what the story is in Uncharted. I know the characters, but not the story, and I can say the same about Gears of War.

@SomeDeliCook said:

@l4wd0g said:

Why aren't game developers taking risks on dramatically changing their game designs?

If you mean why aren't the sequels drastically different, its partly because of the fans. If the formula for a game they love is changed in a sequel, they will go up in arms before they even see it or play it themselves. You piss off the biggest fanbase you could've had because you changed the formula so much. Look how many people hate the new XCom. Not a direct sequel or anything, but its still radically changing the formula, and you can't escape reading about it without seeing people complaining. Same thing with the new Devil May Cry. Gameplay hadn't even been released, yet people were up in arms because of Dante's now black colored haircut.

Sometimes the risk is worth it though. Resident Evil 4 was the start of the 3rd person behind the shoulder style for RE, and lots of people look at it as best in series. Quake and Quake 2 share nothing in common except for their name, yet people love both. Assassin's Creed was a huge disappointment for a lot of people, yet they didn't try to completely change the formula with the sequel, they tweaked it and updated it and added some more variety. And people love it more now.

Also, with the development costs of today, the risk is a lot higher. Creating a new IP is a huge risk. Making a sequel thats drastically different is a huge risk. Then again making a sequel thats the exact same thing just gets stale (but its the safest bet you'll make a lot of money off it, though you're disappointing off fans).

You're right, but should fans be affecting the product? I think fans are a part of the problem. They want more of the same. It's not bad, but they aren't willing to give games a chance (which I can understand at $60 a pop). I loved the original Fallout games, but Fallout 3 was great too, for different reasons. I remember fans freaking out about the change to Cole in inFAMOUS 2, and the developer changed the character design back to the original.

Resident Evil 4 was fantastic, (kind of dated mechanics now, but still a great game). What if Resident Evil 4 was the same clunky game that 0-3 were? They made a great game and knew it. Maybe developers need to put some faith in their work or find another line of work.

I have nothing against sequels, It's when they lose sight of being a great game and choose profit over art (which they can do, it's their IP), that I have a problem with.

@valrog said:

Mass Effect 2 is a rather poor example.

Yeah, you're right, but the change it made moving forward are significant enough. The other options I had were Castlevania: Lord of Shadow, which was a huge change in direction, but not enough people played it for it to be relevant, and Call of Duty 4: Mordern Warfare, which really only modernized multiplayer.

@tourgen said:

@l4wd0g said:

Look at the jump from Mass Effect to Mass Effect 2. While not as stifling a jump as Zelda to Zelda 2, it was a huge change and it made the game that much better for it.

Ddebatable! Mass Effect 2 was a great game, but not all the changes from ME1 to ME2 were good. Much of the greatness of that series was stripped away in ME2. Any sense of exploration for instance.

I do miss things from ME to ME2 for sure. I hate them for making me scan planets. I really hate them for that. But they did improve a lot (or dumb down a lot depending on your view point). They were mild at best, but they were risks. About Mass Effect 3 From what I understand, they'll be making it even more of a shooter and bring back grenades. But that isn't why I play the Mass Effect games.

I guess I could have used Dragon Age as another example.

If I miss typed anything (grammar of spelling) I apologize. It's late where I am, and I need sex and sleep.

Edited by Jurney

The budget of Uncharted would make 50 to 100 Zelda 2s.