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How To Make a Good Gaming Sequel

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the forward-to-square-enix dept.

Games 150

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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150 comments

Fristy Shatner (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34751400)

Frosty. You KNOW. It.

Take note! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34751490)

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

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

Re:Take note! (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752052)

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 argue it's a bad decision to put a game out too soon, and that too has nothing to do with lengthy development.

If you're making a gigantic game at a reasonable pace, has one unifying, competent visionary guiding it throughout development, and manages to not feel dated when it finally comes out, I don't see why there would be a time limit for whether a game is going to be good or not. Half life 2 for example, took forever to get here, but was worth the wait.

The reverse is true too. Under the good examples section, the article mentions Uncharted, and the first 2 things it says the sequel did right are

"1) This took only two years to make; nowhere near six.
2) Two years, and they still improved the engine. It was also developed in-house, so Naughty Dog knew how to use it."

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.

In DNF's case, it really depends on what happens with the development. I liked Gearbox's "Borderlands," but that had very little to do with the plot or characters. If they throw out all the ancient junk and start fresh, maybe it won't be bad. If they try to use art that 3d realms made in the 90's, that doesn't seem like it could possibly work. If they try to use an old game engine, the game might be broken on arrival. In any case, I think it has very little to do with time directly.

Re:Take note! (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752536)

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, easter eggs and game aspects which were probabaly the brainchild of one or 2 level designers.

Then along comes some management type who thinks he "knows games" because he liked arcades as a kid and insists on "contributing" or some marketing drone who did some focus groups or more accuratly decided the game needs whatever craptastic feature EA has been including in their games recently or the parent company is deathly afraid of controversy or making the game a hair too racey or missing out on a market segment by making the humor too intelligent.

and so the humor gets watered down
the inuendos get removed for fear of getting a higher age rating,
the in-jokes get cut because the marketing drone doesn't get them,
the easter eggs get banned because with the bigger dev team they might cause bugs as do the little additions some team member might decide to add off the cuff because they'd be cool.

The management type keeps making sugestions like
"hey, we should have quick time events"
"hey we should have limited lives"
  "hey we should have limited saves"
"hey you know what's cool? when you're playing a sandbox game and every 2 minutes you get called to come defend your teritory/empire/home (I'm looking at you spore/GTA)"
and to avoid pissing him off they end up including some of the crap, then finally the new parent company also has decided that the game HAS to be finished in time for christmas so it gets shoveled out the door with the last few levels slapped together and a pile of bugs still unfixed.

Re:Take note! (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753436)

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 factions. Go around shooting one faction enough, you make enemies of another. Your actions actually have an effect on how quests can be completed; your choices, even as simple as which town you visit first or whether or not you jump the jerk from Caesar's Legion wearing the wolf pelt hat when you first catch him monologuing, have consequences.

Of course, this means you can't do *all* the quests on a single playthrough. And a lot of simpleminded gamers would downrate the game just for that.

I loved this little gem:
Oh, and while we're on this point, don't let another developer use your engine. Ever.

Given that so many companies out there make engines for a living, and the games come out just fine? This has to be some kind of a stupid joke comment.

Re:Take note! (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753698)

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.

It's all very easy (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751500)

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.

Re:It's all very easy (1)

mattventura (1408229) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751548)

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 the new weapons and upgrades in ME2. It feels like its not a true RPG.

Re:It's all very easy (1)

Therilith (1306561) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751604)

SC2 has no lan play, no chat channels at launch, etc. BNet 2.0 is completely different.

That doesn't have much to do with actual gameplay, but rather the overall user experience.

Re:It's all very easy (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753284)

No LAN play doesn't have much to do with actual gameplay!? Do you even know what SC2 stands for!?

Re:It's all very easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34753032)

eh ME2 was good except for they made it less of a 'RPG' which in my opinion was a bad idea.

1. Nothing to explore... at all. ME1 at least let you go back to most of the places and wander around. ME2 you can't even wander around the citadel, no no, you HAVE TO use the transport, and there's no way of walking to places that existed in ME1. The map was completely utterly useless.
2. Ammo system, wtf, no go back to ME1's system, or combine the two where if there's no 'heatsinks' it behaves like ME1's weapons with a cooldown. Admitedly there weren't a whole lot of places where this was useful except if your favorite weapon of choice was the sniper rifle. The upgrade system however was a pain in the ass in both. Especially on the Xbox360.
3. "Mission Summary" ...ok this was completely unnecessary and should have been thrown out of the way like the codex, Final Fantasy X vs Final Fantasy X-2, same problem, it makes the game feel more like stupid arcade game where you're supposed to be going for points. Yes, having a way to review something... that you can re-play to figure out where to get more points is fine, but almost none of the missions in ME2 can be re-played.
4. Compared to other CRPG's, did the levels even matter? Other than "achieve level 30" as an achievement (do people even give a shit about achievements when it's a single player game?) there's no incentive to "grind" as there isn't even anything to "grind" on.

ME1 felt a lot more seamless, you were allowed to go back to places, and Mass Effect itself as a IP looks like it was originally setup to only have one game "in case we can't make a sequel" but they turned around and made a sequel...

My wishlist for ME3 over ME1/2:

1. Seamless worlds to explore. Some of the people who worked on ME1/ME2 also worked on StarControl 2 and Starflight... pull a few ideas from those games and make the damned planets explorable, weather it's for resources, abduct alien lifeforms/plants/animals, or to just rob/kill the natives and buy/trade/steal their tech, I don't care. Just don't do ME1's Mako-shopping-cart with 1 or 2 things to find per planet that take forever to get to, and don't do ME2's "resource probes" that are boring.
2. Throw in a few ship to ship battles. I mean good god Star Trek online uses the same engine and they pulled it off marginally. The first thing that happens in ME2 is that the ship from ME1 is blown up... what did I think of? Wing Commander 2, 3, 4 . Yes they blew up the ship from the previous game 3 times. Let's not blow up the Normandy again thanks, but it is armed, and the reapers are ships, so this is within reason.
3. Less stupid upgrades. Somewhere between ME1 and ME2. Select the weapon to upgrade, and everyone that has that weapon gets those upgrades. The one stupid thing I didn't do the first time I played ME2 was I didn't use the "advanced training" bit... The second time I played it I realized I could give my soldier class a biotic slam... cool, so I started using that on the zerg^H^H^H^HHusk rushes. For the character upgrades, select the skill "to train" and let it auto-train it until a different skill is selected. ME1 I never bought weapons, so this worked for me, in ME2 I bought the upgrades that I didn't find before I did the IFF quest, because I knew that was the point of no return.

and no I don't want more of a space-flight-sim/trader game, I just want these logical things to be addressed, even if they are not a major part of the game. Space-trading/mining/resource-getting, is something that should not be a major part of the game as it just wastes too much time. There was no need to gather this stuff in ME1, you just got money for finding things, that is how it should be... find something, take it to the ship, and then sell it in port. You don't "have to" go find these unless you want more money.

And to borrow a few elements I liked from other games:
1. Day/Night effects, including shop closing/opening (no characters standing glued to one spot all day) and planets with different solar days (like that one planet that burns your shields, maybe only does that during DAY) and maybe different gravity.
2. Actual consequences for Renegade/Paragon actions. While the cinematic versions were better in ME2, they could have still gone one more (as most the actions had no bearing except to those you acquired for your crew) step and made it so that certain NPC's are hostile/friendly depending on who you piss off/kill. All we had in ME1 was the colonists shooting at you that you could turn around and shoot yourself, and the one employee that I seemed to kill no matter what. What would be an improvement is that some of these people you pissoff/killoff/help actually come back in ME3 to help or ... try and kill you.
3. Quick-travel... both games kinda had this, but this needs to be extended to literately "click a spot on the map" or "go directly to next objective" to avoid wasting minutes trying to find someone who you already know is "somewhere here" and may have already passed.

Re:It's all very easy (1)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751572)

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:It's all very easy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34752022)

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.

Re:It's all very easy (2)

tuffy (10202) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753036)

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.

Re:It's all very easy (2)

grumbel (592662) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753078)

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.

Re:It's all very easy (2)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751614)


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.

Re:It's all very easy (2)

Hunter0000 (1600071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751694)

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 turn-based, overhead tactics to more of a first person action-rpgish thing with a turn-based homage thrown in. Since the time gap is so huge it is less of an issue since theres no recent memory of 1 & 2.

Personally I was really annoyed that Fallout 3 was basically 'oblivion with guns' but I think they did a better job with it in New Vegas (not pretending your not a shooter and making the aim button actually aim improved the game a LOT for me).

Re:It's all very easy (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751876)

I played both fallout 1 and 2 when they were new.

I still say fallout 3 is far better.

If it helps, I still play X-Com.

Re:It's all very easy (0)

del_diablo (1747634) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752042)

I played trough Fallout 1 & 2 after I had finished Fallout 3.
The story and the gameplay mechanics are far superior, the idiot plot which Beth threw in is not helping it either.
The only thing Fallout 3 did well was the wandering aspect, something which Fallout never had in the first place. So the criterial it is judged on, it something else entirely together.

Re:It's all very easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34752044)

Like Hunter0000 wrote it's apples to oranges comparison between original Fallouts and Fallout 3.

I did not like Fallout 3, but New Vegas was a lot better. It at least had some of the atmosphere from the originals, while being in a different genre.

Re:It's all very easy (1)

Viperpete (1261530) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752184)

I played FO 1 & 2 as they came out and loved them, being more of a RTS/TBS and overhead RPG gamer. I am not as big a fan of the FPS games, I was quite disappointed by the ads and reviews I could find about FO 3 and so far have avoided it.

I am hoping they do not screw up Diablo 3, I have already read that they are making changes to item sets, attributes and the skill web. Seems like a bad idea to me, those were some of the best features created in Diablo 2.

Re:It's all very easy (5, Interesting)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752256)

Fallout 3 is like if a hardcore Oblivion fan/modder were told about Fallout 1 & 2 over lunch with a friend, then decided to make a Fallout total conversion for Oblivion without actually playing the first game--maybe just reading Wikipedia and watching the intro video on Youtube. Like Morrowind and Oblivion it's sorely lacking in actual role-playing, aside from a handful of good sidequests it's full poor writing and dull fetch quests, and its overall narrative structure is Bethesda-ish rather than Fallout-ish.

I wouldn't say it sucks considered on its own and once heavily modded (it's mediocre pre-mods), but it jettisons so many of the core attributes of the Fallout games (while keeping much of the incidental shit) that it is a very poor entry in the series.

Fallout: New Vegas, on the other hand, is excellent. It's 3D Fallout done right. Great Fallout-style breadcrumb trail of a main quest that leads you through one quest hub after another, damn near every side quest is interesting, stuff you do matters for the ending (how the hell Bethesda screwed that up in F3 I have no idea--it's a voiceover and some stills, FFS!), even the most mundane quest can turn out to be far more than it seemed or take a weird twist, skill specialization is more-or-less restored, etc.

If you're a fan of Fallout 1 & 2, you'll probably like New Vegas. I'd say just skip F3--I doubt I'll ever play it again, as New Vegas is so much better, and far more to my liking as a Fallout fan. You say you don't like FPS games, and that might still turn you off as there is still a significant FPS element (obviously) but I would say it relies less on real-time combat and twitch shooting than even Mass Effect does unless you choose to play it as a pure FPS, so if you could stand ME then you can probably stomach New Vegas' combat.

Re:It's all very easy (1)

Viperpete (1261530) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752448)

Thanks for the info, I will definitely try FO:NV.

It's not like I hate FPS's (it's pretty much all my friends play) it's just that I have been military trained to do a lot of the stuff for real and just do not care for the re-spawning, weapons positions limitations and health regeneration. I did really enjoy the New Medal of Honor Zombie mod.

My friends suggested that I would probably prefer deathmatch w/ friendly fire vs. CTF (softcore) that most people seem to play. Generally, I enjoy the Empire Earth style RTS games (where decisions per minute/hotkeys make a winner) vs. FPS (fast twitch, mouse/joystick control.) Anymore, I have difficulty finding anyone who wants to LAN up a good RTS. It also makes a big difference to me about team coordination vs. run and gun, I recently played 4 player same screen co/op COD (Xbox) at a buddies place vs. max bots on hardest lvl and we had a blast. Although, I am primarily a PC gamer.

Re:It's all very easy (2)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752550)

Fallout: New Vegas, on the other hand, is excellent. It's 3D Fallout done right. Great Fallout-style breadcrumb trail of a main quest that leads you through one quest hub after another, damn near every side quest is interesting, stuff you do matters for the ending (how the hell Bethesda screwed that up in F3 I have no idea--it's a voiceover and some stills, FFS!), even the most mundane quest can turn out to be far more than it seemed or take a weird twist, skill specialization is more-or-less restored, etc.

I agree. I agree with pretty much everything you wrote and yet ... why do I enjoy playing Fallout 3 so much more than New Vegas? I've played through Fallout 3 half a dozen times by now. New Vegas? I finished the main quest early, and I've not really been able to summon the enthusiasm to play through and chase down some of the alternate paths. I'd like to side with the NCR or the Legion, even just faithfully side with Mr. House ... but somehow my enthusiasm for the project evaporates bout the time I get to New Vegas. I don't really understand it.

I think you're right in so far as New Vegas is a better Fallout game. But I think Bethseda must have been doing something right, because I think Fallout 3 is the better game overall.

Re:It's all very easy (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753524)

why do I enjoy playing Fallout 3 so much more than New Vegas?
If I had to venture a guess it's the combat, after the third time you run into a gang of Deathclaws or cazadores and get your ass handed to you it becomes dumb. Hell, radscorpions which in the original 2 were not a challenging MOB have become a real pain in the ass. Whereas Fallout3 w/ the appropriate DLC after level 7 you could wander the wasteland and not wind up dead in 3 steps.

Re:It's all very easy (1)

DaveGod (703167) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753566)

Having combed the southern 2/3rd's of the map below the Strip area, so far everything in NV seems samey and frankly bland. The only points of any interest have been, well maybe Goldsprings, REPCONN Test Site and Helios One.

With FO3 there was a constant feel of adventure. Starting off in Vault 101, out into Springvale (a dull town but a "whoa" moment), on to Megaton... I even remember the SuperDuperMart. TenPenny Tower? And it keeps it up from there. Travelling above ground or Metro?

With FO3 it's easy to imagine they had dozens of little teams to design each point and all wanted to leave their mark on the game. NV feels more like one uninspired team endlessly churning out areas of mediocrity. Half the points are shacks, or might as well be.

Investigating the maps a little makes it extremely clear in my mind which was the more enjoyable game:
FO3 [wikia.com], NV [wikia.com].

Then there's the characters, the humour, the music...

Re:It's all very easy (1)

Hoplite3 (671379) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753134)

I didn't think Fallout 3 was a good Fallout, but it was a good TES game. I really hate the rules for TES, and the voice acting, and the quests ... But (ab)using the rules from Fallout did wonders for their game.

I like New Vegas a great deal. It's a better role-playing game, and the rules are improved (being less open-handed with perks and skill points is the right thing to do). I still miss turn-based combat, though. I always feel that these new run-and-gun stat-building games just aren't as fun as the old turn-based tactical play. But I get the impression that I'm the last person on earth who feels this way.

Re:It's all very easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34752524)

Starcraft 2 story is possibly the worst blizzard ever made. Maybe SC1 was not the nobel prize effort but SC2 is so bad it's not even funny. Poor dialogues are made primarily of cheesy oneliners. Narrative content of SC2 is an incoherent garbage that throws old lore out the window. It's all about a boy and a girl, it defies all logic in that scope and on top of that all it reeks of warcraft like fantasy with prophecies and great unseen dangers to the whole galaxy. It severely lacks substance too - seriously, maybe 10 out of 26 missions are not worthless filler story-wise.

Bottle.neck 2.0, supposedly the best thing since sliced bread and a justification for lan not being there (it supposed to rock so much you don't need lan), sucks too. Map making and custom map system with its popularity rankings are a disaster. You don't really own the map, you have to upload it every time to test it for something more than simple singleplayer triggers, blizzard can ban your map if they feel like it and even if you manage to reupload your map again all the popularity your map farmed is zeroed so you lost either way - nobody will ever play the map again, because with 0 popularity it will be somewhere around the 20th page where nobody ever looks.

Re:It's all very easy (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34751652)

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'.

Re:It's all very easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34751760)

Thief 3 was ravaged by puritans. So they removed the no-kill restriction, big deal. People have been playing Thief with far stricter rules than needed (eg: Ghosting) for a long time. As best as I can recall there's no need to murder any innocents in T3, so you're still free to play it sneaky-tricksy and not smashy-smashy. I admit, a lot of other things were sacrificed (or at least deformed) at the console-altar, but on the whole I still found it entertaining despite the flaws.

Also, the Shalebridge Cradle is quite possibly the creepiest video game local in history.

Re:It's all very easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34751918)

Amen.

Throw in a clunky UI, take away the great briefing videos, throw in the city's pointless faction status improving tasks (you're not supposed to be buddying with the pagans and hammers, you're supposed to sneak under their noses), and you've got a bad example of a good sequel.

Re:It's all very easy (1)

Grygus (1143095) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751690)

I don't see how you can call Mass Effect 2 a good sequel and not like Deus Ex: Invisible War. They made pretty much the same changes.

Re:It's all very easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34751790)

Difference is, IW's story sucked. ME2's story is just as good or better.
Personally I prefer ME2 to ME1 simply because the RPG system, while a noble attempt, sucked great big donkey balls in ME1. Shuffling through giant piles of useless gear, debating over meaningless (without consulting an outside source) stats, and having to jump between several screens just to equip your useless tag-along morons... hideous. While ME2's gutting of the RPG elements is quite extreme, I have to concede that the game simply flows so much better without all that garbage in the way. Hopefully ME3 finds some way of reintroducing RPG flavor without feeling like the game is towing a boat anchor

Re:It's all very easy (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751904)

Difference is, IW's story sucked. ME2's story is just as good or better.

To each his own I guess... I thought ME1's story was rather better. Maybe because it was setting up the arc while I can't really tell what ME2 is doing to the overall story. Maybe because I found the ending to ME2, for lack of a better word, dumb. Maybe it's because I put too much weight on the conversations with Soverign and Vigil in ME1 and didn't think ME2 had anything like it. I dunno.

I'm not saying it was a bad story, just a step down.

Personally I prefer ME2 to ME1 simply because the RPG system, while a noble attempt, sucked great big donkey balls in ME1. Shuffling through giant piles of useless gear, debating over meaningless (without consulting an outside source) stats, and having to jump between several screens just to equip your useless tag-along morons... hideous.

It is too bad that the inventory system in ME1 was as horrid as it was, because that really was pretty awful. However, I disagree a little on the stats. I guess I can't say with confidence that I would have been able to make good use of all of the differing stats in ME1, but I did feel like ME2 went way overboard in oversimplifying. The best example of this is the removal of one of the decisions you have to make in almost all the Bioware RPGs: do I put character points into the "persuade/intimidate" skill, and thus achieve (among other things) the ability to avert some conflicts, or do I put my character points into skills that will help me better deal with the conflicts?

I probably put too much weight in that decision too considering that you're not exactly going to be devoid of conflicts in any case, but it is a case where I feel they removed an interesting decision you used to have to make.

Re:It's all very easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34751764)

I have to disagree with you on Thief 3. The controls were clunky, and it didn't have the same level of tension that Thieves 1 and 2 had.

Re:It's all very easy (1)

AstrumPreliator (708436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752106)

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 compared to Mass Effect 1. ME1 had problems no doubt, but most people looked past it because the storyline was so good. ME2 didn't fix those problems though, they largely replaced them with new problems. I could go into detail but I'm sure you'll find it all on the internet anyway. Also, the storyline in ME2 was not nearly as good and the Terminator near the end drew a collective "wtf?" from my friends and I. I get that it's the middle child and can't go straight to the epic conclusion, but there were just so many things off with the storyline. Although I will say the characters were generally much more enjoyable in ME2.

Re:It's all very easy (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752514)

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)

Re:It's all very easy (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752278)

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 macho he man type so they put out Jack which as you put it pissed in the face of the fans. Generic hero meets generic bad guys with generic guns...yawn. The closest they got to an original idea was the space attack, which was just a rail shooter in the end.

But in the end it comes down to keeping what the audience liked and building on it, not "pulling a Lucas" and trying to cover the stench with SFX. I mean I play some of these sequels like Deus Ex II and think "Did the designers even bother to WATCH, much less play the first one?" because it is like they brought in a completely unrelated team and just through a few basic ideas from the first in a Hollywood "high concept" fashion instead of actually knowing and caring about the franchise.

"pwufessuh haiwypheet" of ITT Tech BLOWN AWAY 7x? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34752668)

Especially in the 1st URL below:

---

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1930156&cid=34734160

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1930330&cid=34737526

http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1916240&cid=34612834

http://mobile.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1930156&cid=34719276

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1930330&cid=34737308

http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1916240&cid=34647708

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1931788&cid=34747678

---

(ROTFLMAO!)

I seriously wouldn't listen to "pwufessuh haiwypheet" guys, he's only an ITT Tech student.

Re:It's all very easy (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753722)

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.

Ice Station Evil is still one of my favorite levels in any game though.

Re:It's all very easy (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753034)

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 other side fixed a lot of issues and was received much butter.

Lame article (5, Insightful)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751578)

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:Lame article (2, Insightful)

Undead Waffle (1447615) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751660)

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 "you have 30 seconds to screw up this game for everyone" timer. Finding custom games is ok but the rest of it you would think they could at least improve over Warcraft 3.

Half-life 2 had no multi-player out of the box. Their reasoning was that Counter-Strike: Source was the multi-player. I spent countless hours playing the classic Half-Life at LAN parties. Not to mention the weapons in HL2 overall were not as fun for multi-player aside from the gravity gun. So yeah it had a great single player experience, but if you were interested in multi-player it was a disappointment.

Re:Lame article (2)

Squapper (787068) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751818)

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 all i know, we used some quite instable and often non-revolutionary tech to piece together a game that looks different from others.

Re:Lame article (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752940)

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.

Re:Lame article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34751936)

I couldn't agree more with the parent post. Using Metacritic scores like this is ridiculous. Different sources are used for each games Metacritic score and each of these sources are a review made by a critic, not always the same one for the same source. Thus we have a multitude of sources each reviewing subjectively. When are people realizing that critics do not have a scientific method of objectively determining ratings for something?

Also, the original article author makes a HUGE logical mistake. He assumes that digging up ONE example gives validity to and proves a rule he himself came up with. For example, unless he can show that the majority of sequels using different lead designers were bad, it is little more than a loosely based hypothesis.

I call the article BS. It is a nice attempt to try to dig into what makes a good sequel, but fails as it tries to boil down to strict rules something that is next to impossible to do when you deal with subjective judgements. Not all gamers/consumers are alike, and while some may like Mass Effect 2 over Mass Effect there are also many that feel the other way around.

The only lesson I can agree on is number four, but just as the parent post points out, most consumers will not be able to tell beforhand what they like, although it is easy when you have something to compare to.

Lame formatting (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752918)

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?

Re:Lame article (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752926)

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 play it! I doubt that can be said about the other games I mentioned, at least I dare you to find a multiplayer session without first contacting a few old friends and convincing them to install those games again (or rather, find out where they put their CDs).

Re:Lame article (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753086)

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 going to give us a game that's basically micromanagement based on database reporting, how about some decent database reporting tools?

SC has lived a long, long life for a computer game, it was still popular years after its release. Hell, people still play it! I doubt that can be said about the other games I mentioned,

and that's why they are shitty examples, and you should have mentioned something like Alpha Centauri or Tie Fighter.

Re:Lame article (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753896)

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.

Re:Lame article (1)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752972)

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 a sequel unless one is announced. GT5 has been in pipeline for about five years, while Starcraft 2 about three.

The game engine can mean a lot for the development of a game. Look at Duke Nukem Forever. It switched engines so many times because there were all these great games powered by more advanced engines. You don't want release a game with an outdated engine - it makes a game look dated compared to similar games.

As for Lesson 3, well duh, different studio, different designer. You can't underestimate the importance of a lead designer, although that alone doesn't guarantee a good sequel (remember the last King's Quest game?). But retaining the lead designer is still pretty important. Ninja Gaiden II was dumbed down when Itagaki left Team Ninja and the article rightly points out DMC and Mikami.

Lesson 4 is a pretty bad example since Force Unleashed wasn't good to begin with. And no one said anything about "putting the exact same game out." There's also a decent example for Lesson 5.

Not sure where the gripe is for lesson 6. Just because you improve everything, doesn't mean you change everything as well.

Uh... the whole article defines a good sequel - that is, a game with all those characteristics. Yes, quoting Metacritic is foolish. But then again, who else can you quote? If you discount the subjectivity of all game criticism, then it would render the objective of defining a "good" sequel, or indeed a "good" game entirely pointless.

For the most part, I agree (1)

Nialin (570647) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751586)

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 same, especially if the original was good.
Also agreed.

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.

5) Don't try to evolve too much and forget what made the original great.
Addendum to #4

6) Improve everything, because one bad aspect can bring the whole game crashing down.
I can only conclude that "improve" means "don't change it, only make it better." Unfortunately, this gets lost in translation at times.

Re:For the most part, I agree (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752878)

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 easily mastered and usually also very easy to follow (bombers good vs. ground units, fighters good vs bombers, air defense good vs fighters... quite straightforward). Else, it was a pretty "normal" RTS game that allowed easy progress.

EE2 was overloaded with research features, heaps of resources to keep track of (that changed as your civilization kept evolving, today you need copper, tomorrow uranium is interesting), research trees that you had to do before progressing in time (or being unable to research them), land being split into "territories" that you had to conquer and control... it was simply too "much" to make the experience enjoyable for most that liked EE1 for its simple approach.

EE2 might have been a good sequel for a more complicated original game, no doubt. But you have to keep the "how hard to play" factor roughly the same. If you make it easier, your fans will reject the sequel because you "dumbed it down" (Supreme Commander vs. SC2), if you make it much harder to learn, the opposite effect sets in.

Re:For the most part, I agree (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753664)

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 gobbled up by consolers who prefer easier combat.

The first rule (1)

DarthBart (640519) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751588)

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.

Re:The first rule (2)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751646)

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 balance of the magic system. Yes, Gran Turismo 5 may have been a disappointment, but if you go back to the series's roots, Gran Turismo 2 was a huge step up from the original. More recently, the Forza Motorsport series has improved beyond recognition with each sequel, going from an original which was a poor man's Gran Turismo 4, to a third installment that blows Gran Turismo 5 out of the water in most respects. The Fable series has evolved from a bad joke of an original into a pretty passable and unusual RPG. There are many more examples I could point at here.

If anything, I think the exact opposite of what you said is usually true. Original games, based on a fresh IP, often seem to get pushed out the door because "upper management" (whatever you mean by that) don't want to put too much time and resource into a project that's seen as a risk. Once a game has been successful, allowing more time to polish the sequel is often a more attractive commercial proposition. Sure you'll always find exceptions, but I think this generally holds true.

Re:The first rule (1)

haystor (102186) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752214)

Sequels in the gaming world mean money going into development. Sequels in the movies mean that money doesn't have to go into development, it goes to the studios, actors, directors, basically everyone but the writers who are told, "more of the same."

Re:The first rule (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752838)

Sometimes "more money" in a movie is actually killing the mood. Especially in the horror genre.

For reference, see Cube vs. Hypercube.

Re:The first rule (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752552)

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, and i think i wont really like it, mostly since the RPG elements are once again dumbed down, and the storyline is rather constricted.

I think Fable 2 for me is the optimum, 3 just takes the dumbing down to far

I'm sick and tired... (1)

Exclamation mark! (1961328) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751594)

I am sick and tired of all these damn sequels and remakes and rehashes. When are we going to see something original for a change damnit! This game 5, Another game 3, some movie 7, Some other movie remade for the 5th time. I understand the motivation behind one or two sequels but are things really that bad that we need to go beyond 2 or three? Are we all out of damn ideas? Now forgive me as I go off and play Gran Turismo 5 while watching Police Academy 8 on my other TV

Re:I'm sick and tired... (4, Funny)

Undead Waffle (1447615) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751700)

EA bought everyone with an original idea and on top of crushing the dreams of great game developers they are holding the fun hostage.

Re:I'm sick and tired... / amen (2)

Nineteen-Delta (1892866) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751718)

Trouble is, remakes sell, even for diminishing returns. To the creators, thats the safest route, kinda like betting on the favourite in a horse-race. There's a lot of talent out there, but they're often unwilling to take a punt on it, just in case its a dog.

Re:I'm sick and tired... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34752596)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miegakure

??

In one easy step (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:In one easy step (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752834)

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.

notitle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34751688)

Splinter Cell, Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow, and then Splinter Cell Chaos Theory. Story is a bit abismal, but gameplay wise it is very solid. Like Solid Snake. Anything afterwards, is crap...

Re:notitle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34751912)

I've got to say that I think the Splinter Cell series was great for the most part. Except for the PC/PS3/X360 version of Double Agent. (The PS2/Xbox version is basically Chaos Theory with new maps and the same story as Double Agent). Conviction was pretty damn good. It was entirely different from the older games, but it had a good reason to.

A better list (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751716)

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 your production in your entire empire that you'll never recover. Everything became a tedious balance of not being able to attack enough even though the enemies defenses had crumbled and their cities were ripe for the taking. It doesn't even remotely come close to reality, if you played WWII in Civ 5 then Nazi Germany would have collapsed under it's own unhappiness before they even reached Paris. Your empire doesn't become happy by victories, they become depressed. What the fuck? The more I've played it, the more frustrating it becomes. I really hope that for Civ 6 they return to a sane model of war, because that sucks. They did make many other improvements to impress the reviewers, but in the end it's just not that good.

Re:A better list (4, Interesting)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:A better list (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752074)

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 luxury resources I can find and trading with city states for others I've found that my empire consumes it as quickly as I can find them and any large scale war - not just capturing a border town - is complete disaster.

Re:A better list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34752504)

Then you really ought not to let the enemy pillage your strategic resources. Troops are a heavy tax on economy, and in turn science, but happiness really isn't affected by warfare until you annex to many cities or have your resources cut off.

Re:A better list (2)

Maquis196 (535256) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752520)

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 taking over large parts of the stupid AI's empire and all of a sudden your empire is crying itself to sleep over all the happiness you have.

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.

Cheers,
Maq

Warcraft did it right (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#34751976)

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.

Re:Warcraft did it right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34752068)

I am going to have to both agree and disagree and I would even take it a step farther and put Starcraft in there for some comparisons, since it's part of Blizzard's evolution of the RTS genre.

Unfortunately though the main reason those games improved so much over the last is because the previous ones had a lot of things to fix. Not that this is wrong, but standards were lower back in the 90s.

In Warcraft, Humans and Orcs were almost exactly the same.

Warcraft 2 gave them some more unique units, though the uniqueness was primarily in spells rather than unit design. It also removed the whole road building thing.

Starcraft gave us the ability to queue up units and had 3 very different races. I wouldn't say the removal of sea battles was an improvement over Warcraft 2. Most maps didn't include oil so if you wanted to avoid ship battles it was just a matter of picking the right maps.

Warcraft 3 learned from Starcraft and gave us 4 distinct races, but went back to the Warcraft model of focusing more on micromanagement. It also added the whole RPG element which I thought was a great addition (though some disagree). It also had better AI for things like spellcasting. For example, select a group of ghosts in Starcraft and cast lockdown. They'll all cast, which is a waste of mana. Warcraft 3 fixed this.

Then Starcraft 2 came out and basically copied Starcraft (with Warcraft 3's engine improvements) but added units that can climb. I guess being able to choose between queueing up units and instant build with Protoss is an innovation, but there was nothing on the level of Starcraft to Warcraft 3 with the whole hero system. I don't know how much of this is because the genre has matured and how much is because Blizzard saw some easy money and was afraid to make Starcraft 2 too different.

Re:Warcraft did it right (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752600)

It also had better AI for things like spellcasting. For example, select a group of ghosts in Starcraft and cast lockdown. They'll all cast, which is a waste of mana.

They also fixed that in SC2, which pisses me off, if i want a group of battlecruisers to ALL fire their yamato cannon on say, the enemy command center, i have to select them one by one and trigger the yamato cannon, which SUCKS

Re:Warcraft did it right (1)

wertigon (1204486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753068)

You are aware that you can just select the entire fleet and press the hotkey numerous times I hope?

Re:Warcraft did it right (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753190)

no i wasnt, thanks for the tip! (just dabled with the demo since last week)

if i get some time of tonight i'll try that, still not as cool as having the entire fleet fire simultaniously though

Re:Warcraft did it right (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753988)

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.

Half-Life sequels *spoilers* (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752002)

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 ideas and did both in Episode 2.

Lastly, they didn't know where to quit. The storyline was effectively done at the end of episode 2, but they added a lame "But, wait there's more adventure to be had!" fork with the clumsily slapped on Borealis storyline. Then, at the same time they've waited an intolerable amount of time to wrap up the story they were so desperate to extend.

He's way off (1)

Andtalath (1074376) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752016)

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 failed miserably since they are something entirely different from the rest of the series.

Note that these point in a way contradict each other, especially 3 vs 1, and that is intentional, the point is that there is no winning recipy for any game.

Note that creating a good game isn't the same thing as creating a commercially viable game either.

Personally, I've noticed that creating a really fun game isn't what makes game popular these days, it's creating games which takes forever to finish for as little development time as possible.
People refuse to replay good games which is really sad since most of my favorite games ever are defined by the fact that one run-through isn't by any definition of the word enough.
The bad part is that I know people don't agree with me and prefer lame stories and lame gameplay that is built to be more repetitive than replaying the same game over and over.

My personal "favorite" - Deus Ex 2 (1)

GF678 (1453005) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752030)

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 different wants to accomplish a task, whether it be via the "rambo" approach, a silent-but-deadly assassin, a non-lethal stun prod master, or just a guy who wanted to avoid combat as much as possible so that the enemy never even knew he was there. Of course it has its problems. The AI is crap, the stealth is fun but flawed; if you are seen for a moment but then hide behind a desk, so long as you were only visible for a brief moment the enemy will forget you were there and not even bother to investigate. The graphics are OK but were somewhat dated at release, however all of its flaws don't take away from the quality of the game's design.

All people really wanted in Deus Ex 2 was more of the same as the original, but with the flaws removed, the graphics updated, and so on. What did we get? A game which was a shallow, pale imitation to its predecessor with all the heart stripped from it. The lead platform was the original XBox so levels had to be made far smaller. Some people would say this meant level design would be tighter, with more stuff densely packed to get rid of the empty large areas, but there was enough dense level design in the original that I don't see such qualities as being mutually exclusive. The game was streamlined to require less items overall, but there were other rubbish designs. You couldn't lean anymore, cameras showed a clear beam where they were looking which made them far easier to avoid (as if real cameras would do such a thing anyway), etc.

Making a game more accessible to people is not a bad decision in theory, but if it makes the game way too easy then where's the challenge? There's a reason why people remember the original game and not its sequel. Here's hoping Human Revolution will not make the same mistakes. It's still primarily a console game for the current generation of gamers so I don't expect it to be exactly like the original, but so long as they add enough depth and challenge to make it interesting, it should turn out alright.

Repeat the success (2)

steveha (103154) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752082)

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

Bungie (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752160)

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 tech and keeping a captive fan happy.

Data from GameRankings? Seriously? (1)

fleeped (1945926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752168)

Then you can definitely compute the relative marketing costs for each game - reviewer bribery included of course.

This article is stupid (2)

Sigvatr (1207234) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752220)

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.

Best Sequel Ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34752282)

Baldur's Gate 2

I don't think any other game to date has as much depth and immersion as BG2.

- It took me two months (playing almost every evening) to complete.
- It gives the player endless possibilities in character development
- Seriously good storytelling
- Open world, no artificial boundaries (i.e. it never tells you you cant go there because you need to level up or some shit)
- Everyone could be turned to stone
- The game was pretty difficult if you'd never played it before.

I doubt you can actually set rules for this (2)

partyguerrilla (1597357) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752408)

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 game of rochambeau with friends and make it enjoyable.

Don't make a sequel. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34752486)

There, I said it. Sequels fucking suck. Quit doing them.

How to make a good gamer squeel. (1)

splutty (43475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752508)

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?)

What the article missed (2)

Targon (17348) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:What the article missed (1)

wknoxwalker (901812) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752688)

The point to the minigames in ME2 is to delay your gratification - you have a "lock" on a chest to stop you getting to it easily. If you want to rush though without doing the puzzle then you miss out on what is inside the box.

Listen to your audience! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752808)

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 games. Nothing new here so far, but they both had a very unique way of incorporating it. SC was a game where you built with your "income", not your stockpiled resources. You could start any project at any time, build time was determined by whether your production kept pace with your use. They created VAST maps that made air transport feasible for maybe the first time in RTS history. It was no twitch game like most RTS are today (Starcraft, I'm looking at you!), it was not how well you memorized the keyboard shortcuts, it was whether you knew how to plan and whether you managed to decypher your opponent's plans in time. Recon was the key to success (and avoiding enemy recon in return).

Now, a lot of people liked that approach and SC was a hit. You can see that by the sales of its add on (addons are usually a good measure of how well the game was received). It had its weaknesses of course. First, the factions were too similar. Of course it's easier to balance if everyone gets the same units, but it's also fairly boring. That was one of the things that people pointed out on their boards numerous times. A hint better graphics would have gone a long way too. Some "research" options that allows you to put strengths (and maybe buy them with weaknesses) into your units and allows you to customize your army a little. More (multiplayer) maps maybe and a map editor. That's pretty much it, don't change anything else and you have a killer!

SC2 was announced. I was floating on air. If they only took a few of the ideas that were tossed about on the board and built them into the game, I'd have probably lost my job due to a lack of commitment.

SC2 came out and ... it was a weak C&C copy. Nothing left of the original SC spirit. It was NOTHING like the original. It was dumbed down, watered down and in general, at least for me and most other SC enthusiasts I play with, a huge disappointment. Of all the ideas on the boards, only research was added, but in a way that could not have been done worse. There is now one single path to victory (build bombers, research the crap out of them, let them rain on the enemy commander)... Strategy? Not even tactics are necessary anymore!

Let's look at Perimeter. An interesting concept. And the cuteness factor of the little nanobots building those shiny surfaces! Awesome! It was a new approach to the "build up, shoot down" genre. The units could have been done a bit better, a little more variety in your options, and we have a really new game here!

Perimeter 2... let's better not talk about it! No balance, questionable map layouts and "physics", generally a "WTF???" experience.

Listen to your players! Don't give in to all of their pipe dreams, but if you manage to pull of a hit, there is usually a reason, something that makes people like your game, something that makes it stand out against the rest of the genre (especially if you build a game for a flooded genre like FPS or RTS). If you have a hit in such an area, there's usually something about your game that people really like and that they didn't get in other games of the genre. Your sequel MUST have that feature!

Good rules to follow (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#34752872)

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 Hudson as lead designer on both games.

4) The game is still essentially story-driven. While focusing on the Collectors rather than the Reapers, they are still Reaper puppets and the initial story from the first game continues. 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.

5) All of the changes did not modify what was at the core of Mass Effect - a space opera about Commander Shepard who discovers the horrible truth of an impending galaxy-wide omnicide and being stuck as "the Jor-El" whom authorities in charge refuse to believe. And yet he/she must stop the incoming apocalypse somehow.

Re:Good rules to follow (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753246)

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.

Re:Good rules to follow (2)

grumbel (592662) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753956)

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).

Don't rush the time table either (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753638)

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 time to develop. KOTOR was a great game and KOTOR:2 was almost a great game, except Obsidian basically had 9 months to do the sequel. They were initially given 12 months, but then Lucasarts ran out of money and basically shipped an unfinished game.

In theory they could have taken their time with a third game and made up for the whole mess, except it looks like that will never happen now.

ugh. no. (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753880)

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 notes from Sirius are fun, but absolutely not necessary. Sure RB3's Keytar is nice, but, it wasn't necessary to make it a good sequel.

Avoid MOTS (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34753964)

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 historical stuff nor do they make the tech trees staggeringly complex...they just make prettier houses and faster clicking game-play. Shame, really. I don't blame the game copmanies though. Gamers want fast frenetic mindless game play most of the time and can't be bored with lore.

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