More links, more comments. Feel free to breeze on by, but there are some interesting nuggets in here, as well as a game recommendation.
The Rampant Coyote asks How to Fix Game Sequels? I lean to the Ivalice model, where there’s an overarching setting and a sense of place, complete with history and lore. That allows a strong brand and theme, and the actual game design and storytelling can be fairly divergent. Ivalice plays host to Final Fantasy Tactics and its two sequels, Vagrant Story and FFXII and its spinoffs. These games all have elements of RPG gaming, but fairly different approaches. I’m partial to the Tactics flavor myself, but I liked Vagrant Story well enough as a dungeon crawler with a great (albeit creepy) story. I’ve not played FFXII, but have enjoyed its predecessors.
Still, in a world where reboots and remixes pass for “creativity” and “innovation”, how can game devs justify sequels, and how can they make them interesting? TRC’s tangential discussion about how older games can still be interesting and valuable is a good direction to explore, too. The industry has a severe “future myopia”, and is very ignorant of the past, systemically speaking.
One thing that we could benefit from is looking for “Evergreen Games”, and trying to decipher why they are so good, and why they last. The Brainy Gamer calls for an exploration of design tenets that might be considered Evergreen. I’m still pondering this one, but I expect to come back to it.
Speaking of lasting game design principles, I’m a fan of long-term business strategies that would naturally take advantage of such principles. The Zen of Design blurb on EVE’s Slow Burn points out something that Mike Darga has written about before: retention and acquisition in MMOs are vital to business plans, and gearing for a sustainable adoption curve is likely a better long-term plan than the early adopter blitz followed by a “long tail” slow decline. Of course, we’ll see what happens to EVE in the next decade, but I suspect that it will have kinder time of it than the typical “boom and bust” of WAR or AoC.
I don’t mind being proven wrong, as I don’t wish either WAR or AoC ill, but I’m typically a strong supporter of sustainable business rather than a hyperkinetic boom/bust cycle. Not only is it better for the devs (some of whom have lives and families to care for), but it tends to make for a more stable design environment, which provides for a better game, which players appreciate.
Of course, the persistence of MMOs can and has been called into question. (Raph weighs in as well, noting that giving players power to make truly persistent changes to the world can be dangerous.) I’ve written about keeplayability, but I’ve also written about letting MMOs end. I do think that as long as they are designed as DIKU dungeon crawls, they should end, but if they were built as sustainable worlds, things would be very different.
Speaking of sustainable business and economics, I’m a fan of the occasional economic article over at the Austrian Economics-based Ludwig von Mises Institute, and Barry Brownstein’s Giving Up Control blog has some great articles on economics and sustainable business, albeit more on a philosophical level rather than a Business for Dummies flowchart. Of course, those aren’t really gaming sites, but I’ve found that it’s a Good Idea to pay attention to the Real World once in a while. (If for no other reason than they can impinge on our gaming, of course.) That’s why I write on occasion about housing and the economy; games are fun and all that, but there are a few more important things out there.
Now, I could go all Second Amendment on you with that in mind (and I’m keeping a keen eye on Montana), but instead I’ll mention an interesting game that Rick of /random brought to my attention (and no, it’s not a Rickroll, despite what you may think). The Hunter looks like a gorgeous hunting game. Rick isn’t a hunter, but he found the game interesting enough to play it for a while, and maybe even chip in some money. Apparently, it plays more like Thief than Deer Hunter, which I can only see as a Good Thing. I’m not a hunter in Real Life either, but The Hunter looks interesting.
I actually like the notion of using observation and planning to outwit critters in the wild, since it appeals to my love of thinking, but I’m not a fan of killing critters. I could justify it if I were hunting for food, but I’m not really a fan of meat, either. Sure, deer jerky done right is really good, but I prefer small doses, and can’t justify a whole animal’s worth of meat, nor would I have a place to put it. (Plus, I could never butcher the thing. Ick.) So, The Hunter actually looks like a game I might have to try out at some point. If nothing else, the screenshots are very nice, and it looks like wandering around the island would be great for this old Explorer.
I’m especially curious as to what real hunters think of it.
I still have a rant on storytelling simmering, but in the meantime, Bethryn has her own writeup, as well as a roundup of others who have commented on it lately. Spinks’ commentary on the Howling Fjord is especially interesting. Maybe I should just sit back and wait to see what Bioware does… with a jaundiced eye trained on the industry at large.
And, for fun, here’s something really random, brought to my attention via Tobold, in one of his musings on the nature of achieving in MMOs and how it intersects with business models. (You Can’t Cheat at Lego!)
Wow. Or is that WoW? Either way, that’s a lot of work, and it appeals to this old LEGO kid. If I had more time on my hands and my old LEGOs, I might just be the sort to do this sort of thing. It scratches my creative itch… but then, I’d almost rather do this sort of thing:
Making a functional Lego Steampunk-themed construct sounds especially fun. Yeah, I’m a dork. If you didn’t know that by now, you’re new to the site. So welcome aboard, and thanks for stopping by!