Your latest blog post really resonated with me so I had to write something. It’s about how to create a sequel.
You compare the Peacock sequel to the Sculpture, and say that game sequels need to be “carved out” to be more perfect, and that no game is perfect. I would say instead of “Peacock”, you can say that the developers are painting the current sculpture instead of carving it out further, as a better metaphor.
In any case, there’s a lot to think about here. Let’s say we have a game which is a rough block full of potential… and we’re making it a sequel. You say to make it more perfect, but this isn’t that simple, is it?
We need to know what the “perfect game” is.. and often times, what the developer thinks is a “more perfect” version, is just a peacock in our eyes. Sakamoto truly believed Other M was the rightful evolution of Metroid. He was delusional, but that doesn’t mean others can’t make the same mistake as him.
What would be the perfect, ideal Kid Icarus game that every sequel of it should strive to become? Or Zelda or Mario? It’s the money question. If you carve it out wrong, you have to go back to the previous game and start over.
Logically, Other M really was carved out of the original Metroid. The original Metroid is a huge, rough block of stone, and it’s definitely possible to carve Other M out of it. So how do you know if you carved it out right? The only way is to release it. It’s possible to carve out many other bad games out of Metroid, towards a completely different sculpture. The truth is, Other M added detail that the original Metroid didn’t have.. it was just bad and irrelevant detail.
P.S. I want to at least mention Pokemon here, because it easily gets ignored by you.. this is the one franchise in all of gaming that responds well to all of your posts, including this one. It’s been carved out slowly over 17 years now.
The sequel already has an installed base of people waiting to buy it. But if something is easier to sell, surely there is a catch, right? The catch is that people expect the sequel to continue and expand what the first game started.
Japanese game developers don’t like that. They don’t like any limits to their ‘creativity’. I tell them to just make a completely new game. But they don’t want that. They want to safe assurance of sales that a ‘sequel’ gives them.
Do you know what a franchise is? A franchise is not an ‘IP’. A franchise is an established business model that is sold at a higher cost (because it is known to work). It is more expensive to purchase a McDonald’s store than a Mom and Pop diner because McDonald has already established a business model and product that works. Franchises are expensive to buy because they work.
The Game Industry has polluted language that series be known as ‘franchise’. So a game developer thinks of the ‘franchise’ as a sandbox with a few certain rules but can do anything else he wants. So with the Zelda ‘franchise’, Zelda can be and do anything but cannot contradict the character of Zelda or Hyrule. One day, Aonuma reads books about trains to his son and thinks he should put a train in Zelda. It violates the series. But Nintendo sees Zelda as a ‘franchise’ so none of that matters.
In books and movies, they don’t see sequels as ‘franchise’. They see the merchandise as ‘franchise’, but they see the sequels as a ‘series’. We are seeing people buy Mass Effect 2 and 3 for the continuity as well as people buying the Halo sequels. I see continuity as further carving the sculpture. What is its final shape?
I do like your idea that instead of peacock, they ‘paint’ over the sculpture instead. “See? It has the same shape! Now it is Cell-Shaded! Yeah!”
One problem with a longterm series is that developers don’t want to mess with other developers’ stuff. This might be a reason why we keep seeing ‘different’ instead of a continuation of what the original started.
I believe entertainment obeys natural laws which are expressed in Human behavior. These laws can be understood and harnessed like sailors harnessing the wind with their sails. The Myth of Creativity makes these developers think that every game is the ‘product of their personalities’ as if the video game was their diary.
I also suspect this is the reason why Tezuka is so pedestrian with the New Super Mario Brothers content. It’s Miyamoto’s stuff so he doesn’t want to do anything interesting with it except generic gameplay mechanics.
I think this ties into the general fear people have with the Wii U. People want Nintendo to make ‘more perfect games’. What people fear is that Nintendo will use the U Pad as a gimmick while refining little to nothing else with the new Mario and Zelda games.
Dark Souls is a good example of a perfect sequel to Demons Souls. Dark Souls sought to ‘sculpt out’ what Demon’s Souls started. It did not try to turn it into a different game.