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Classic Games (Games) Entertainment Games

EA Looking Into Reviving Classic Games? 142

Posted by Soulskill
from the easier-than-being-creative dept.
Gamasutra reports that Electronic Arts has filed for trademarks on several popular old franchises: Populous, Wing Commander, Theme Park, and Road Rash. This, along with comments from Harvey Elliot of EA's Bright Light Studio, have led many to suspect that we may see new titles for those IPs in the near future. Elliot said, "If you remember all the old classics you played, if you go back and play them now, they're not the same. They were right for their time, and the trick with those games is coming up with what's right for the time now. I'm going to look at them at some point; I think there's an opportunity to bring those back in the future, but only if it's right for the time and not just a 'remake' or something. We'd need to do it in a way that's true to the original values, but would still make a great game today."
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EA Looking Into Reviving Classic Games?

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  • Theme Hospital 2 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by omgarthas (1372603) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @05:53AM (#29049287)
    pretty please....
  • Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow (319597) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @05:59AM (#29049333) Homepage

    Or, they are just renewing their trademarks? Or they are planning to pump some old stuff out through Steam, etc.?

    Why does "trademark application" have to equal "writing a sequel"?

  • Sequels (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Carra (1220410) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @06:00AM (#29049337)
    Just what we need, more sequels... They'd better just rerelease the old classics or give them new graphics and rerelease them like Lucasarts did. Nothing wrong with a good remake, lots of people never played the originals.
  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Thursday August 13, 2009 @06:24AM (#29049471) Journal

    Let's assume that in each case, we're talking about a bona-fide sequel or franchise reboot, rather than just a port of the original to Steam/Xbox Live/PSN. Just how much of a gap in the market is there for the games named in the summary?

    Populous: This might work. However, the god-game genre has been through quite a few evolutionary steps since Populous kicked things off. I think a game that stuck too closely to the formula of the original (or Populous 2) would feel a bit dated and lacklustre now. A new installment in the series would need to either reflect the advances we've seen over the last couple of decades, or else have enough brand new ideas of its own that it could stand out from the crowd. If you're looking at old Bulldog franchises, I'd much rather they try to resurrect Syndicate.

    Wing Commander: Yes please. The space-combat-sim genre has been sadly dormant for many years now and this is one franchise where a full reboot would be highly desirable. Take it back to the Kilrathi war, spend a fortune on the FMV cutscenes and recreate the sinking "I'm going to need a new PC" series that the old games were known and loved for.

    Theme Park: This one I'm really not convinced by. There's been an absolute flood of Theme-Sim-Tycoon games in recent years, many of which have focussed around Theme Parks. The quality has varied wildly, and I'm not sure the genre's standing is particularly high. I'm really not sure that there's much room to reawaken this franchise without a distinct feeling that you're flogging a dead horse.

    Road Rash: Fun enough games in their day, but I'm not really sure the old Road Rash titles really stand comparison to the other 3 franchises named above. Still, if they want to make a fun, arcadey motorcycle combat game and stick the Road Rash name on it, it certainly wouldn't do any harm.

  • Ultima (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MatrixCubed (583402) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @06:45AM (#29049607) Homepage
    Ultima died years ago. If brought back with the panache found at its pinnacle (IV-VII), it would far surpass any current-day RPG.
  • Cinemaware (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jamesh (87723) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @06:48AM (#29049629)

    I was a kid when I played them, and the storylines were pretty linear, but I loved "It came from the desert", and "wings". It would be nice if they could be given an updated retelling...

  • Re:Sequels (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Delkster (820935) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @07:35AM (#29049815)

    I'm particularly sceptical about sequels to titles like Populous which were originally interesting because they did something that was a pretty new concept in games at the time: in Populous, for example, it was the modeling of behaviour of relatively large populations, and giving the player seemingly great powers to drive those. (SimCity did something similar in that sense at around the same time, but I don't know of many other mainstream games that did.) Many of these games relied pretty heavily just on those novel ideas.

    If you tried to make a new game now based on the same idea, it wouldn't be novel or exciting anymore. You'd have to make up a new and different concept in order to achieve a similar "wow" effect, but if it's going to be based on an entirely new concept and idea, why would you call it with the same name as an older title with a different concept, except for marketing purposes? That's a paradox -- you can't both be novel and retain the old idea. The only way it would make sense would be to use the original concept and develop it further so that it brings in an additional concept that is compatible with the original spirit but still novel enough *today* that it brings a new "wow" effect. I'm sure that's not impossible, but it's rarely seen, and probably rarely in the mind of people thinking up sequels.

    I've seen really good sequels. System Shock 2 comes to mind, as do Civilization games. These sequels did exactly that: took parts of what was central to the spirit of the original games and built a game on top of it that brought in something else that made the combination interesting.

    On the other hand, Populous 3 wasn't particularly interesting, IMHO, probably because it didn't have any particularly novel ideas anymore. It just shared the name and a loosely connected background story, neither of which made the original games interesting.

  • Re:Sequels (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NervousNerd (1190935) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @07:37AM (#29049827) Journal

    They'd better just rerelease the old classics or give them new graphics and rerelease them like Lucasarts did.

    Yeah, like what they did with Tomb Raider: Anniversary. I felt that Anniversary was a rare case where the remake was better than the original. Though, I doubt EA is innovative enough, and we'll just end up with Road Rash 2010.. Road Rash 2011 and so on..

  • by castironpigeon (1056188) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @08:05AM (#29049989)
    Nothing good can come of this. If they do start churning out sequels it'll only be to cash in on old names.
  • Re:Sequels (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zoney_ie (740061) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @09:11AM (#29050647)

    I just started up Civ 4 again in the last day or two - it is I think a particularly interesting "sequel" because it's not just about new concepts - it also tries to offer the central ideas of the past games with improvements based on experience since then. A lot of items are redesigned to offer smoother and less annoying gameplay. All previous Civ games had myriad things that were genuine annoyances in the game. Civ 4, almost none. And, on top of all of that it's got modern 3D graphics and nice animations without compromising the essential isometric-style view.

    If the attempted reworking of EA classics are anything like Civ 4, then that's a worthwhile endeavour in my view and something that will be genuinely nice to play. The summary is right about the old games unless you're a hardcore enthusiast. Even Diablo II, that I sunk hours into and is a formative game for any number of copycats, I can't go back to even after an imitation like Titan Quest. I enjoyed the updated version of Monkey Island far more than I would have going back and playing the original. However, like the updated version of Monkey Island, I'd only probably be interested in spending 10 on these.

  • by JSBiff (87824) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @09:23AM (#29050809) Journal

    There are great reasons to make new games in 'old' franchises, or to re-do earlier games. Graphics is only one of those. There's also issues of the ability to do much more with sound now than some of the early games were able to do with the PC speakers, but even more importantly. . .

    * Network/Internet multiplayer (ok, for some games multiplayer would make no sense, but for others, there's great potential

    * More memory and faster CPUs means that not only can you update graphics, but you can create universes/worlds populated by more planets, stations, NPCs, ships, etc (how many of those really old games which were supposed to have 'epic' scope, ended up feeling a bit small or empty because of the memory and processing constraints of having 4M or less of memory? There's great opportunity to go back and have much 'bigger' worlds now that most 'gaming' machines have >= 1G of RAM.

  • by Hatta (162192) * on Thursday August 13, 2009 @09:58AM (#29051359) Journal

    Mission based Road Rash wouldn't really be Road Rash. Road Rash is arcadey motorcycle racing with weapons. If I have to think about where I'm headed, it's not Road Rash. Not that there's anything wrong with a mission based motorcycle game. I just don't think they should revive a franchise and make substantial changes to the formula that made that franchise a success.

  • Re:Or... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vell0cet (1055494) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @10:58AM (#29052423)
    That was in NO WAY a Wing Commander game. It was as much a Wing Commander game as the Star Wars Christmas Special was a Star Wars movie.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:40PM (#29054833)

    But of course they're outraged at piracy! Fewer and fewer people buy their products, so it has to be due to piracy! It can't be that people refuse to rent software at buying prices.

  • Re:Or... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bertoelcon (1557907) <[berto.el.con] [at] [gmail.com]> on Thursday August 13, 2009 @02:37PM (#29055665)

    As far as I am concerned, the more stuff that gets pumped out through STEAM, the better. I pretty much refuse to buy games these days unless its through STEAM, because I am afraid that I will lose the discs or CD-Keys but STEAM will likely at least outlive my game-playing days.

    But if STEAM does fall you get screwed over backwards. I can't believe that people that hate drm so much love STEAM, because its still a form of drm.

  • by Gaian-Orlanthii (1032980) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @03:34PM (#29056337)
    I think you're confusing abstraction with realisation. Yeah, it's true that a lot of older games had incredible depth. Lords Of Midnight on the 48k Spectrum could take weeks to complete. Ultima VII could take months (and it did when I played it) but most of that sense of freedom was engineered through your imagination. It usually wasn't possible to add the graphics and art to show you the scope of these worlds - you just imagined it when you suspended your sense of disbelief and followed the story and the characters.
    It's also true that most modern games (even the 'sandbox' games) really are too restrictive. Call Of Duty 1 - 5 for example, still forces you to accept the tedious bullshit that you, the near-invulnerable superhero, capable of winning the war all on your own, can't climb over a metre high fence.
    But it's not because the hardware can't make it so, it's obviously because the developers are being conservative and/or just plainly lazy. They want you on a track because they don't want to bother with all that game-testing and possible bug-fixing and they want the ga- sorry, product out on the market asap.
    And that's the nub of the problem. EA set the standard/plumbed new depths (take your pick) in safe, derivative, marketshare seeking populist drivel around the time that most of the great games mentioned here came out. Clearly, it didn't hurt them financially one little bit, so anyone thinking that they'll show any respect now for the artistic sensibilities and originality of games like X-Com or Alien Legacy, is kind of misguided.

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