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How To Make a Good Gaming Sequel 150

Posted by Soulskill
from the forward-to-square-enix dept.
Kantor48 writes "In today's world of unimproved gaming sequels and saturated franchises, Arthur Kabrick looks at the best and worst sequels in recent history, and compares the changes they've made to the formulae of their franchises. By doing this, he comes up with a list of lessons that any game developer creating a sequel should follow, if at all possible, to ensure that the new game is a step up, rather than a step sideways or, as in some cases, a step down. The criteria include ensuring the game does not spend too much time in development, updating technology, and trying not to change the development team, as well as being wary of changing the basic formula so much that fans of the franchise are alienated."
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How To Make a Good Gaming Sequel

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    "The criteria include ensuring the game does not spend too much time in development"

    I'm looking at you Duke Nukem: Forever...

    • I think it's odd how this is taken as a cause rather than a symptom. If a game changes hands several times, it's going to be a mess when it comes out for -that- reason, and because it might have a dated feel, not simply because of the time. If the leaders of the project are idiots, it might take a lot longer than it should and won't be very good either, but that's because it had bad management, not because of the time. Longer development times makes the bean counters push to rush it out the door. I'd ar

      • I'd agree that a long dev time does not translate to "bad".
        Morrowind was in development for over 5 years and it was very good.

        I can think of more than a few other games which were in dev for more than half a decade which turned out great.

        I think part of the problem with sequels may be the "design by committee" aspect that creeps in after the company does well on the first game and either expands or gets bought up.

        The origional game might have kept the players attention with quirky humor, inuendos, injokes,

        • by Moryath (553296)

          You just hit the major reasons I loved Fallout: New Vegas more than Fallout 3, though.

          Despite what the (inane) article has to say - Fallout: New Vegas has bugs, but they aren't that much worse than those in FO3. The underlying Gamebryo engine's the problem, not the coding from Obsidian.

          However, FO3 gives you a wasteland to wander around in in which your character's actions are compartmentalized. Make friends with this guy, kill that guy, it all happens in a vacuum.

          New Vegas, on the other hand, has the facti

          • by Creepy (93888)

            The only problem with the factions in fallout 3 that I had was that if I kill 5 powder gangers and nobody is around to see it, how did they know I did it? Are they dusting my shell casings? It seemed a bit like the factions in Morrowind - if I backstab someone, how did the factions figure it out? Divination? I could see that happening if I were, say, bragging about it in a bar, but I don't do that in the game. Personally, I think the best implementation of factions was in Gothic (the first one), the fightin

      • by magarity (164372)

        Seems stupid to me to suggest that a 2 year development made the sequel good. I've never heard anyone rave about how Uncharted 2 was so good because they didn't have to wait very long after playing the first one to play it.

        The article is concerned that the opposite happens for long release cycles. It's not that customers are extra happy with a short cycle but they become extra unhappy with a long one. Two years of improvements sets reasonable expectations whereas really long development sets unreasonable expectations.

  • Good Sequels: Mass Effect 2, Starcraft 2, Thief 3
    Bad Sequels: Deus Ex 2, Fallout 3 (though Fallout: New Vegas is on the good-ish side)

    The trend is that good sequels are true to the original format while only fixing things that are genuinely broken, while bad sequels piss in the face of the fans of the original games by deviating from the original format so much that the connection to the original game(s) become questionable.

    • But most of those "good sequels" you mentioned do "[deviate] from the original format"
      SC2 has no lan play, no chat channels at launch, etc. BNet 2.0 is completely different.
      ME2 gameplay wise feels like a completely different game. It feels like I'm playing GoW in space, whereas the original was more run-in-and-shoot. Not to mention completely different, and arguably worse weapon and upgrade system.
      Granted, neither of these really qualifies as "pissing in the face of the fans" but I still can't stand th
    • So, what's your stance on the US Super Mario Bros. 2?

      That said, the guidelines are so vague that they boil down to "don't suck"

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        IMO, the US "Super Mario Bros. 2" (a Japanese came called "Doki Doki Panic" with Mario characters slapped in) sucked, but the game released in Japan as "Super Mario Bros. 2" (AKA "The Lost Levels" in the US) was great.

        • by tuffy (10202)

          And yet Miyamoto and Nintendo EAD spent more time and effort on Doki Doki Panic than they did on the quick-and-dirty expansion pack that was the Japanese "Super Mario Bros. 2". In fact, far more features from the former became mainstays to the series than anything from the latter.

        • by grumbel (592662)

          I'd say its the other way around. SMB2J was a lame level pack, had no involvement of Miyamoto and was crazy hard. It just felt amateurish.

          SMB2US on the other side was simply a great game, designed by Miyamoto, introduced a lot of fresh ideas and new enemies that actually got reused by later games. This is quite unlike SMB2J, everything that that game introduced has been basically completly forgotten and ignored.

          I'd say Nintendo did absolutely the right thing in going the sprite-swap route.


    • Good Sequels: Mass Effect 2, Starcraft 2, Thief 3
      Bad Sequels: Deus Ex 2, Fallout 3 (though Fallout: New Vegas is on the good-ish side)

      Fallout 3 is fantastic. much better than fallout 1 and 2

      Starcraft 2 I won't purchase until I can do Lan play at home without online servers - so massive fail for the sequel.

      • Fallout 3 is fantastic. much better than fallout 1 and 2

        Honestly, Fallout 1 & 2 are completely different games than Fallout 3, they are not even the same genre, which leads to the weird effect TFA says is undesirable. Most people I know (myself included) who played 1 & 2 when it was new like them better. The problem is when you attract people from previous games and then change what made it good (for them), which is this case was pretty much everything. All three of them are good games - but those who came from the first two have the transition from tu

      • by mcvos (645701)

        Fallout 3 is fantastic. much better than fallout 1 and 2

        You've got to be kidding me. Fallout 1 and 2 are classics. They're among the best games of the golden age of CRPGs. Fallout 3 is a completely different kind of game. As a sequel, it fails in several ways. In fact, although TFA's author loves Fallout 3, as a sequel, it fails many of his rules. So either Fallout 3 sucks as a sequel, or the author is full of crap.

        • by SpryGuy (206254)

          Fallout 3 might suck as a sequel to Fallout 2. I don't know. I don't care. Never played 1 or 2.

          But Fallout 3 is an awesome game in its own right. Bad sequel != Bad game.

          Now, I consider Fallout New Vegas to be a bad sequel to Fallout 3. It's boring. It's More-of-the-same, only less-so. It's buggy as hell. It's not nearly as engaging or as fun.

          • by mcvos (645701)

            What's interesting about this thread is that a lot of people who have played Fallout 1 & 2 say that Fallout 3 is bad, but New Vegas is better. People who haven't played the originals say Fallout 3 is better.

            So my guess is that Fallout 3 is a great game of a completely different genre, not worthy of the name Fallout, whereas New Vegas gets closer to the original in tone, story and RPG depth, but doesn't do so well as a generic post-apocalyptic story shooter (or whatever Fallout 3 is supposed to be).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Thief 3 was a terrible sequel. In Thief 1 and 2 you were a thief, not a murderer. In order to succeed on the higher levels of play you had to not kill anyone. Thief 3 had no such limitation - you could happily murder anyone who got in your way (a la every other first-person game out there). It took the spirit of the originals and crushed it. Instead of 'Thief', it should have been called 'Brigand'.

    • I'll have to disagree on Starcraft 2 and Mass Effect 2. I'll concede they are both good games, but not good sequels.

      Starcraft 2 had a very weak storyline compared to the first. To top it off the actual game hasn't really changed. There's minor tweaks here and there, but as TFS states, it was more of a step sideways, not a step up. I know it also states not to change the basic formula, but StarCraft 2 didn't really change anything, at least not for a casual person.

      Mass Effect 2 was a complete letdown compa
      • StarCraft 2 didn't really change anything, at least not for a casual person.

        my feelings exactly, i never played SC single player, but i have my fair share of lan hours, last week i downloaded the SC2 demo (finally!!!!), and my impression after a few hours is that it is SC, but with 3d graphics and some changes in the units (they gimped the wraith into the viking, the goliath got steroids etc..), but that is it...

        nice game though, i might consider picking it up once it hits a bargain bin (and when they release SC2: the real version, with all three campaigns)

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      I'd add No One Lives Forever 2 VS Contract J.A.C.K to that, as NOLF 2 made every single thing in the game BETTER while at the same time sticking to what made the game fun with a capital F, namely the cool gadgets and stealth mixed with the silly humor.

      Then Monolith decided that since NOLF 2 hadn't sold like they had hoped (I would argue it was pacing...they should have dropped the player into the thick quicker and then backed off, rather than such a slow build up) so it must be because the lead wasn't a ma

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        I'd add No One Lives Forever 2 VS Contract J.A.C.K to that, as NOLF 2 made every single thing in the game BETTER while at the same time sticking to what made the game fun with a capital F, namely the cool gadgets and stealth mixed with the silly humor.

        I have two words for you: respawning guards.

        That single lousy design choice totally ruined NOLF2 for me. For me to clear out an entire area and then get shot in the back by a guard who's spawned in an area I know was empty five seconds ago is simply retarded.

        Similarly the tornado level would have been great if the bad guys didn't spawn repeatedly just to burn down my health and ammo before I reached the end of the level. That felt like the level had been designed by a twelve-year-old... heck, maybe it was.

        I

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Actually I'd argue the respawning guards actually made it better as well, and here is why: In the original once you became proficient with a couple of weapons (the silenced 9mm and sniper silenced) even on the harder level it was simply TOO easy. Throw coin, lure guards, pop in head with dum dum, lather rinse repeat. But with NOLF 2 you had to actually take time to learn the patterns because those guards you popped would eventually come back.

          This really cranked up the stealth mechanic for me, as you REALLY

    • by grumbel (592662)

      I can't remember Thief3 being all that well received that I would put it into the "Good Sequel" category. Also Mass Effect 2 is pretty troublesome, they fixed a lot of things, sure, but they also removed a ton of stuff (Mako, large scale levels, RPG elements), also the main plot of Mass Effect 2 just plain out sucked, completly boring and uninteresting compared to the first one.

      Assassins Creed 2 seems a better candidate. Original showed a lot of promise, but was mostly received lukewarm, the second on the o

    • by mcvos (645701)

      Bad Sequels: Deus Ex 2, Fallout 3 (though Fallout: New Vegas is on the good-ish side)

      TFA disagrees with you. It mentions New Vegas as a good example of a bad sequel. (I have no opinion; I haven't played any Fallout after the original two.)

      • by Eudial (590661)

        New Vegas is a bad sequel to Fallout 3, but Fallout 3 is a bad Sequel to Fallout 2.

        If you look at New Vegas as a sequel to Fallout 2 and pretend Fallout 3 never happened, all is well.

    • by SpryGuy (206254)

      I loved Fallout 3.

      Fallout New Vegas is really lame, a luke-warm re-tread, more of a large DLC than a "sequel". I find it very disappointing. Almost boring to play.

      But then I never played Fallout 1 or 2.

      So Fallout 3 may have been a "bad sequel" in your eyes, but it was a great game. And Fallout New Vegas is a "bad sequel" to Fallout 3 for sure.

  • Lame article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <{elmuerte} {at} {drunksnipers.com}> on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @02:50AM (#34751578) Homepage

    Sorry, but this article is crap. It just mentions a few things without proper reasoning. What makes a good sequel is not an exact science, trying to reason about it in a generic what is just unfounded.

    Lesson 1: Starcraft 2 took a long time, and it's considered to be a good sequel. Same for Half Life 2. Development time is a dumb reason. Does it matter is a sequel needs 6 years of development, or simply 3 but still released 6 years after the original?

    Lesson 2: The gamebryo engine was also used by Morrowind, and Oblivion before it was used for Fallout 3. A lot of games use the same engine, and it generally leads to better software, but it has nothing to do with game quality. Story and game content don't have much to do with the engine.

    Lesson 3: BioShock 2 was made by a completely different studio, not just a different lead desginer. StarCraft 2 and Diablo 2 both had different lead desginers. There are also numerous examples of bad sequels that had the same lead designer.

    Lesson 4: Yes... obviously. But what exactly was that, people can tell you that the change you made is a bad one, but they can't beforehand tell you what they liked and why? Also, not everybody is the same. Putting the exact game out doesn't result in a good sequel either.

    Lesson 5: Don't evolve too much? What's too much? Also, doesn't have some overlap of lesson 4?

    Lesson 6: Improve everything? But, doesn't that violate lessen 4 and 5?

    But the worst part of the whole article, it doesn't even mention what defines a good sequel. He uses 4% difference in review score as listed by Metacritics. But reviews are not objective, review scores of games are also influenced by other games that were release before it. and of course, the reviews are generally written by different people, and different people tend to judge differently.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Not that I disagree with your overall point (in fact I am probably supporting it here), but with both Starcraft 2 and Half-Life 2 whether they are good sequels depends on what you want.

      Starcraft 2 has only a 3 star rating on Amazon. It's fine for normal games but they have some major screwups in the custom game system. 30 second countdown timer that starts as soon as the game fills up. During which the only "useful" thing you can do is leave the game, which doesn't even cancel the timer. So it's basically a

      • by Raenex (947668)

        Starcraft 2 has only a 3 star rating on Amazon.

        Looking at the reviews, their isn't much middle ground:

        5 star: (537)
        4 star: (133)
        3 star: (78)
        2 star: (106)
        1 star: (410)

        They really pissed off a lot of their fan base by making everything run through Battle.net (no LAN, persistent online activation). People were also pissed about the game being split into three, with the story for only 1 race. I think the people who were cool with that generally like the game.

    • by Squapper (787068)
      I am a game developer, and i fully agree. This article didn't teach me much...

      Also, it's funny how non-developers looks at the concept of a "game engine". Any time that a game studio releases a tech demo and proclaims "this is our new game engine!" it's almost always the old one with improvements. Might be as little as tweaked shaders and new 3d-art.
      A game i worked with got a "best technology" award from a magazine in the end of the last year. What the frak do the reviewers know about our tech anyway? For
      • To be blunt, often I get the idea a "new game engine" means "we changed the longs to ulongs so we can store four times the polys in them", in other words, relying on the customer having better hardware that can handle the additional polycount, instead of really "improving" anything.

    • Why do these web sites have to have a formatting that sucks so much? Just cut the useless sidebars and silly backgrounds, and format the text in a normal way. This is way beyond annoying. And these people try to give lessons to others?
    • I generally agree, but your lesson 1 omits a very important aspect: Starcraft is still popular. Imagine someone making a sequel to, say, Age of Empires, Dungeon Keeper, Caesar or Magic Carpet today. All games that are about as old as Starcraft. Would they be received as was SC2? My guess is that most "new" gamers of today do not even remember these games enough to consider the sequel a sequel.

      SC has lived a long, long life for a computer game, it was still popular years after its release. Hell, people still

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Imagine someone making a sequel to, say, Age of Empires, Dungeon Keeper, Caesar or Magic Carpet today.

        The only one of those that was ever as popular as SC was Age of Empires and that series got diluted by too many lame sequels already, so it's not directly comparable. Why don't you imagine someone making a sequel to Microsoft Flight Simulator today (since Microsoft stopped.) It would sell like fucking hotcakes. How about MOO3? It sold like mad in spite of the fact that it wrung all the joy out of the franchise. It turns out that people want to look at just a tiny bit more than a spreadsheet... If you're goi

        • Why don't you imagine someone making a sequel to Microsoft Flight Simulator today (since Microsoft stopped.)

          They did? [wikipedia.org]

          Besides which, the latest Microsoft Flight Simulator is only 4-ish years old.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Why don't you imagine someone making a sequel to Microsoft Flight Simulator today (since Microsoft stopped.)

            They did?
            Besides which, the latest Microsoft Flight Simulator is only 4-ish years old.

            Uh, that's my point. They could kick out ANOTHER release TODAY (well, if they had the ability, but bear with me in this hypothetical) and if it had some new graphics upgrades and support for more hardware devices they could sell it all over again.

    • by lyinhart (1352173)

      Sorry, but this article is crap. It just mentions a few things without proper reasoning. What makes a good sequel is not an exact science, trying to reason about it in a generic what is just unfounded.

      Lesson 1: Starcraft 2 took a long time, and it's considered to be a good sequel. Same for Half Life 2. Development time is a dumb reason. Does it matter is a sequel needs 6 years of development, or simply 3 but still released 6 years after the original?

      Lesson 2: The gamebryo engine was also used by Morrowind, and Oblivion before it was used for Fallout 3. A lot of games use the same engine, and it generally leads to better software, but it has nothing to do with game quality. Story and game content don't have much to do with the engine.

      Lesson 3: BioShock 2 was made by a completely different studio, not just a different lead desginer. StarCraft 2 and Diablo 2 both had different lead desginers. There are also numerous examples of bad sequels that had the same lead designer.

      Lesson 4: Yes... obviously. But what exactly was that, people can tell you that the change you made is a bad one, but they can't beforehand tell you what they liked and why? Also, not everybody is the same. Putting the exact game out doesn't result in a good sequel either.

      Lesson 5: Don't evolve too much? What's too much? Also, doesn't have some overlap of lesson 4?

      Lesson 6: Improve everything? But, doesn't that violate lessen 4 and 5?

      But the worst part of the whole article, it doesn't even mention what defines a good sequel. He uses 4% difference in review score as listed by Metacritics. But reviews are not objective, review scores of games are also influenced by other games that were release before it. and of course, the reviews are generally written by different people, and different people tend to judge differently.

      Actually, while the article isn't perfect, it does make some good points.

      For Lesson 1, the writer didn't say that a long development process means a bad sequel. Rather, he meant that expectations are set higher, sometimes almost impossibly high. So even if you come up with a quality game like GT5, it will never meet the expectations people hold. As for Starcraft 2, you really have to go back to when the game was first announced, not the time between the last game and the sequel. No one has expectations for

  • 1) Don't spend too much time on development.
    I'll agree AND disagree. Mostly because I'd like to not have to play some recycled piece of shit every 2 years. If there's enough re-playability in the game, then yeah, shoot for 5+ years, nothing wrong with that. BUT, because this is business we're talking about, we all know that shit ain't gonna happen...for the most part.

    2) Change your engine every so often, and if you can, use one that you've developed yourself.
    Agreed.

    3) Try to keep the [dev] team the
    • 5 is not just an addendum to 4, it's a very important aspect!

      Many games were popular because they were "easy". Not necessarily because they were easy to play or easy to "win", but because they were straightforward in what you had to do. No tutorial needed, you could sit down and play.

      Adding features is a nice idea, but DO NOT overdo it! For reference, take Empire Earth vs. EE2. EE1 was a pretty straightforward RTS game, with a very deep Rock-Scissor-Paper system that took a little to learn, but it was easil

    • 4) Don't get rid of the parts of the original that people loved. This should go without saying, but it needs to be said, sadly.
      Though the game isn't out yet, Dragon Age 2 appears to be an excellent test case for this. They dropped several character classes(Arcane Warrior, Battlemage, Keeper, Ranger etc.) and removed play style options(dual wielding talents for warriors, NPC's won't change weapons styles ever![ie. melee vs ranged]) so time will tell if the changes will sink the sequel or if it will be gobbl
  • Don't. You know that the whole thing is going to boil down to "Video Game 2: The Search for More Money". Upper management will be pressing so hard to get the game out while the original is still fresh in everyone's mind that plot development & bug testing go right out the window.

    • by RogueyWon (735973) *

      Disagree. While sequels in movie world (with a few rare exceptions) almost never live up to the original, the gaming world is littered with sequels that have surpassed the original.

      The original X-Wing back on the PC in the early 1990s was great, but TIE fighter smoothed off a lot of the rough edges and ended up the better game. Baldur's Gate 2 was a better game than the original because it took away some of the excessively sadistic design elements, gave a more content-rich game world and massively improved

      • The Fable series has evolved from a bad joke of an original into a pretty passable and unusual RPG.

        Personally i dont know what to make of the fable line, i loved the first game, granted, it was way more constricted then it was hyped up to be, but it was good. Then fable 2 came around and improved a LOT, but they gimped part of the character building by completely removing armor, leaving you just with your physical properties and weapons. (not to mention i like the look of my character in bad-ass armor a lot more then with some poncy shirt on)

        Fable 3, i havent played yet, but i watched my GF play a lot, a

  • In one easy step (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @03:16AM (#34751670)

    Step 1: Make a Good Game.

    If the game can't stand on it's own as a Good Game then it's not a Good Sequel.

    • Very, very true and often overlooked. As much as the sequel should include the "spirit" of the original game, as long as the game itself stinks, you can have the best sequel on paper, when balance, graphics and gameplay are not up to it, you will sell a few copies to people liking the franchise, but at the same time you will kill the franchise.

    • I disagree. Many sequels as stand alones are good games, perhaps even better then the original. However, sequels must be better (by some nebulous value of better) than the original and both different enough and same enough to succeed. It really isn't an easy thing to do, even when you're creating a direct sequel.

  • There's really only one rule about failed sequels:
    1) Don't ruin the parts that make it fun.

    Like for example recently in Civilization 5 one of the things that made it fun in Civ 1-4 was to go on military conquest. A war could be led roughly as long as you had troops, though you did have to deal with riots and rebellion and occupied cities liberating themselves. In Civ 5, they pretty much killed it. If you "charge up" your military to go on a large campaign, you'll go so far into unhappiness which kills all y

    • Re:A better list (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bigstrat2003 (1058574) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @03:43AM (#34751772)

      Your military has nothing to do with unhappiness in Civ V (notwithstanding that social policy that gives you +1 happiness for every city with a garrison). I honestly have no idea what you're talking about. It is true that if you overextend your military you can drive your economy into the ground for a while, but that is only reasonable (and you can recover from it). You shouldn't be able to build a massive, world-crushing force without a stable and sizable economy to support it.

      I've done plenty of warmongering in my games of Civ V without killing my empire, so I would venture to guess you're doing something wrong.

      I also completely disagree with your assessment of Civ V in general. While there are changes I'm not fond of (such as lack of culture flipping cities, or removal of religion and corporations), on the whole it is indeed a marked improvement over the previous entries in the series.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        I have a stable and sizable economy, right up until the enemy surrounds its first cities throwing me to way below -10 in unhappiness reducing production to 1/10th which is like a 90% drop in GDP. Since this makes it all but impossible to build happiness-improving structures or courthouses, your empire is basically dead in the water for 20-30 turns while everyone else builds buildings and units and wonders. Even building pretty much every happiness-generating building and wonder I can find, gathering all the

        • by Maquis196 (535256)

          I think your problem is and the reason I hate the game is that when you take over a village you get that option to either absorb it into your empire OR have it as some weird vassal state thing for a little while and incorporate it later. If you take over it straight away, that city's unhappiness will cause unhappiness in your empire so you have to wait until the AI builds some happiness buildings for you and the local people stop complaining that they were conquered.

          I've also had the problem where you start

          • Civ5 won't be touched by me again until about 4 patches OR a very good mod. Civ4 and Alpha Centauri still rule the roost in my eyes.

            +1 on this. IMHO, Civ 5 "simplified" almost all of the interesting choices out of the game. Now bribing city states and rolling an army over everyone is the best way to do everything -- and it's terrible for war to be the whole game, because the Civ 5 AI is terrible at it.

  • The original 2 sequels were absolute improvements on the preceding version. Even in Warcraft III where they not only added more content, but *removed* some annoying features that slowed down gameplay (like ship building). The Warcraft sequels were more like full-blown improvements than "sequels," but they've always been my benchmark on how to do it right.

    • I thought WarIII was just more of the same, with better graphics. WarII is actually more fun (but maybe that was just because at the time it was very fun). Had I not played WarII for a billion hours, I think I probably would have thought WarIII was the best game ever.

      That kind of really goes for any RTS. Whichever one you discovered first is most likely to have been the "best" in your recollection.

  • Two things I loved about these sequels were you didn't need to play preceding version to jump in on Half-Life 2 (which I played first), and for a while the story was very original and unpredictable. But, the luster was lost with Episode 2. I was waiting the entire series to Rescue the damsel in distress who turned out to be a self-reliant killing machine. And, her father was about as big a sacrificial-lamb-for-cheap-drama as you could ever find, but they never killed him. Of course, they ran out of idea

  • 1: Make an interesting game, with or without the first game, the second one has to stand on it's own feet.
    Especially true if it comes out years after the original since most of the buyers will in fact be too young to have played the first game.

    2: Analyze what made the first game great, think about which of those aspects are still in demand today.

    3: Think about whether the sequel should be an actual sequel or if it instead should be a different games, there are many games that where quite excellent but faile

  • It's not one of the game listed in the article, but my favorite example of a shitty sequel has to be Deus Ex 2 (Deus Ex - Invisible War).

    The original Deus Ex was, and still is, a masterpiece. Good storytelling, good dialog and writing in many areas, plus an immersive environment which rewarded exploration of every nook and cranny with extra equipment, datapads providing even more literature, and so on. The game is still fun to play because of its depth and the player's ability to explore and try out differe

  • by steveha (103154) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @05:13AM (#34752082) Homepage

    Here is my advice on how to make a good sequel: figure out what people like about the original, and make sure not to strip out those parts.

    You might think this is totally obvious. But I'm not much of a gamer, and I can still think of several cases where this simple rule was not followed. Here are a few:

    Doom vs. Doom 3: In Doom (and Doom II), most of the time you were surrounded by large numbers of monsters, sometimes ridiculously large numbers of monsters. Also, if you played it right, you could often get that ridiculously large crowd of monsters to start fighting amongst themselves, and I took an evil joy in doing that. Doom 3? Advanced 3D engine with detailed monsters, i.e. not very many monsters. It was a totally different game.

    Battlezone vs. Battlezone II: (These are the 1990's hybrid FPS/RTS games.) The most basic thing you had to do in Battlezone was send out "scrap collectors" to pick up "scrap", which you could use to build stuff. Also, when you blew up the enemy's stuff, it would turn into scrap you could collect. (But of course not at a 1:1 exchange rate; it would take about 3 enemy tanks to get enough scrap to build one tank.) In Battlezone II this mechanic was totally discarded; now your build units would drill into the ground and extract all the scrap they needed, making scrap just a function of time and not a resource you had to really manage.

    Spy Hunter vs. Spy Hunter 2: (These are the hybrid racing/FPS games, not the arcade games) The original Spy Hunter game was a blast. You really were racing the clock; you were shooting lots of bad guys, but you had to do it quickly. Your car was tough, so you could afford to focus on the racing and the killing. Spy Hunter 2 changed the gameplay completely: now your car was very vulnerable, and you had to focus on carefully keeping yourself alive. You also, inexplicably, now had to run over power-ups, and there were lots of boss battles.

    In both Battlezone and Spy Hunter, I really wish someone could take the original game engines and just make new maps. I would pay full price for sequels that were really just more maps for those game engines.

    steveha

  • Start with simple games on a sheltered, captive known platform - Mac.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pathways_into_Darkness [wikipedia.org]
    Get more creative http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marathon_(video_game) [wikipedia.org]
    Publish Weekend Warrior and get into 3D Myth.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_(series) [wikipedia.org]
    Think big structures with Oni and consoles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oni_(video_game) [wikipedia.org]
    Finally sell out to MS and dumb down to the reality of console hardware.
    Bungie offers a developer the vision of plot, keeping up with new
  • Reading this article made me cringe in much a similar fashion to how I respond to any particular artistic or entertainment based journalism; they are simply full of bullshit. The arts and enterinment industry in general have so little objectivity to comment on that anything but recitation of the facts is akin to heresy.
  • If the original game is entertaining and popular, you can pretty much develop bug fixes and an expansion pack for it, add a number or surname and release a groundbreaking sequel. Article should be about rules for good games and not for successful sequels, the concept is quite ridiculous. Bigger, better, more features, better graphics; They all mean diddly-squat if the first game was puke and you're working around it. The only exception to this rule is adding multiplayer, since you can pretty much play a gam
  • Well! That's easy. Just sit in front of his monitor, or steal his mouse/joystick/inputdevice.

    Easy!

    (Or was I the only one who with a sick and tired brain misread that headline?)

  • by Targon (17348) on Tuesday January 04, 2011 @08:07AM (#34752570)

    While the article showed some good examples of things that worked, one thing that is missing is WHY things either work or do not, and an understanding about why any given game is popular is more important than pointing out examples of good and bad sequels.

    In games that are clearly story driven, a key to making any sequel work is making sure the sequel has a good story. This may seem like common sense, but many games(and movies) have a great story for one game, but the sequel does not have a great story, so there is less interest in playing through to the end, or there is less satisfaction in playing due to the player not getting involved.

    You have the basic "is the game fun to PLAY" issue, where if the game isn't fun to play, it can drag things down a lot. First person shooters for example tend to have very similar gameplay mechanics, with ONLY game engine improvements to keep people interested, because when it comes right down to it, the games are very similar. This links to how good the story in the game is to keep some players interested, but if the engine isn't better, then why not keep playing the older generation of the game? Some games use mini-games that are not very good that cause people to be annoyed, and if the same ones are used over and over again, that does not help.

    You also have the issue where a game MUST have acceptable graphics and sound at the time it is released. It is typical that a full game, including engine will take four to six years to develop. Now, for a sequel, if the primary draw is the engine, it had better be more advanced and include improvements in ALL categories. Better here but worse there will end up with a lower score than the previous game in the series. Graphics and sound that is more typical of a game released in 2004 will result in lower popularity as well. For new games, DirectX 10 support as a minimum, taking full advantages of the technology is something of a requirement for graphics.

    There are some games that have been released in the past year that failed these things. Civilization 5 is the perfect example of better graphics and better maps not being enough to compensate for poor AI, poor diplomacy options, and a reduction in complexity in many areas(including the tech tree and number/type of units). The main draw in the SERIES has always been DEPTH, combined with how easy it is to learn and understand the basics of gameplay, and when a sequel goes away from that main draw, you end up with a failure.

    Now, game developers should not be afraid to try new gameplay elements, but DESIGN experiments can be done without spending all the time needed to perfect the graphics and animations and such, so it should not take four years of full development to discover that certain basic design elements will NOT be fun for players. Some things are fine in moderation, but don't force players to play a weak mini-game 200+ times in one playthrough since that detracts from the enjoyment of the game. Mass Effect 2 is a great sequel, but the mini-games get old VERY fast since the game does not increase or decrease difficulty based on advancement or character/party selection, so there is less of a point to them. The combat areas also are very linear in ME2, but at least the combat itself wasn't worse, and in some ways is better. The reason Mass Effect 2 didn't lose too many points due to the mini-games and poor combat areas is because the primary reasons for ME1 being popular are the characters and story, and the negatives do not cause the game to NOT be fun.

    So, to sum all of this up, look at why any given game is popular, and make sure you make those areas the top priority. No one cares if a game has better graphics if the gameplay sucks.

  • It's not like it's in any way complicated anymore, you have the internet, creating a board for people to come up with pipe dreams is trivial, DO IT!

    Allow me to use my sore points of the last year to demonstrate what I mean, i.e. how NOT to do it: Supreme Commander 2 and Perimeter 2.

    Both of their prequels managed to do something that hasn't been done by more or less major studios for a while: They dared to create something that's pushing the envelope more than just a little. Both games are real time strategy

  • Great observation, those rules clearly apply to another great example, Mass Effect:

    1) Only 2 years from the original to the sequel.

    2) Complete game mechanics overhaul. While retaining the third person shooter aspect, the game drops clunky and tedious inventory management also streamlines skill leveling. Addition of heat pack "ammunition" is a case of YMMV over the use of weapon overheating, though it is rarely cited as a negative beyond in-game physics.

    3) Bioware kept control through and through, with Casey

    • 2) Complete game mechanics overhaul. While retaining the third person shooter aspect, the game drops clunky and tedious inventory management also streamlines skill leveling.

      You mean "eliminates any importance of skill leveling". The game mechanics in ME2 suck (there's no RPG left), although the story is still good.

    • by grumbel (592662)

      Better yet, a multitude of decisions from the first game return to either help or haunt you if you import your original Shepard save file.

      That feature is kind of overrated a lot. Yes, quite a bit of stuff caries over, but all that means is that you get an mail every now and then or an extra line of dialog. It basically doesn't change anything important in the game, as all the the big decisions you made in the first game are written out of the story in the second one (doesn't matter if council is alive or dead if it has no screen time in the second game).

      • That feature is kind of overrated a lot. Yes, quite a bit of stuff caries over, but all that means is that you get an mail every now and then or an extra line of dialog. It basically doesn't change anything important in the game, as all the the big decisions you made in the first game are written out of the story in the second one (doesn't matter if council is alive or dead if it has no screen time in the second game).

        Not entirely true. You cannot get the discount on the weapons upgrade supplier on illium if the asari sales rep does not have access to the terminally naive Conrad Verner to try and con her way into the Eternity bar into selling her the deed. Without Conrad's identity theft, she has nothing to blackmail the bar owner and thus give you leverage into backing off.

  • The article suggests the longer you wait for the sequel, the higher the expectations. The problem is that a rushed time-table can be even worse. There is a reason some of the worst video gaames of all time are movie tie-ins. They are all on a rushed schedule to get the game out the same time as the movie. But while the movie has a lengthy pre-production process, the game isn't often green-lit until the movie starts filming because many movies never escape the pre-production development hell.

    A sequel needs t

  • Sure, they're right that sequels need to be done right. however, I don't think it's possible to quantify how to make a good sequel other than, "Don't make a game that sucks."

    For instance, some games, namely music games, largely, don't need innovation. We want more songs(Guitar Hero/Rock band could stand to use music that isn't rock though; I know "Rock" is in the name of RB, but, jesus the guitar and drums were used for more than just top 40's). Period. New mechanics are nice, beatmaniaIIDX's charge not

  • A good sequel avoids MOTS (more of the same) gameplay. After playing any one of the tens of RTS games of the mid/late 90s, all the sequels were just MOTS with better graphics. I really need to try Starcraft II to see if it breaks from the MOTS mold.

    Whereas WoW built greatly on the lore of Warcraft II, one needn't know a single thing about Warcraft II to enjoy WoW. This is the opposite of MOTS. The flipside to this sort of progession is Age of Empires type games where they do not capitalize on interesting h

  • Study everything the Duke Nukem Forever team did, and then do exactly the opposite!

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