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The Demand for Originality in a Sequel-Driven Industry
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In today’s games industry, it is becoming increasingly common for new games to be released as sequels or spin-offs of existing, tried-and-true titles. Take, for example, some of the titles released so far today at Gamescom; among them include Lost Planet III and CoD Black Ops 2. Although there were exciting original titles as well like Media Molecule’s Tearaway (which looks awesome by the way), many announced were sequels.

Media Molecule’s Tearaway was announced at Gamescom today

In light of this transition in the market, I decided to do an interview of the team here at Snowed In Studios in order to see what types of games were influential to their gaming. The goal was to see if they were original titles or sequels to others they loved. Here’s what I found:


What game influenced you most as an artist?

“When I played Final Fantasy VIII for the first time, I was blown away. I loved the graphics, the more realistic proportions, the epic story line and character development, and the complete immersion I experienced through a fully fleshed out world. FFVIII turned me from a casual pick-up-and-put-down gamer into an RPG fanatic. I loved being a part of this storybook world and feeling like my decisions made an impact. This was a game that inspired my artistic side and I started seriously fantasizing about and drooling over concept art.”


Which games began your experience in gaming?

“The first series of games that hooked my up was the Sierra quests games, mainly Space Quest, King’s Quest, Heroes Quest and Police Quest. These games are partially the reason why I am in the gaming industry. For years, I wanted to do the job of Roberta Williams and tell stories with games.”


Which games have changed the way you play?

“Any of the recent RPGs from Bethesda. I’m now a chronic in-game kleptomaniac and can easily get lost in an area just trying to loot through as much as possible. As a result, I now end up spending tons of time in other games trying to search through every nook and cranny to see what kind of stuff I can uncover. Every game takes now takes me 3 times as long as it should to finish.”


What games began your love for gaming?

“Chrono Trigger and the Zelda Series were the first large games I ever played. They sparked a love of RPGs and action adventure games for me.”


What games were important in the way you played?

“Quake really changed the way I played games as that was the first game that I frequently played multiplayer. Having to adapt to the playing styles of human players was a much greater challenge than the simplistic AI behaviour of the games at the time.”


What games have been most influential to you?

“One of the games that I have very fond memories of is Populous III : The Beginning. As a real-time strategy game, it was quite a lot simpler than any I had played in terms of the number of units and buildings, but everything interacted in a very natural way and there was a lot of strategic depth. The world was beautiful and dynamic and the terrain features played a huge role in the game, with lots of spell abilities that could be used together in different ways. It was a nice blend of RTS and God Game.”

After the responses from the team, it became apparent that although sequels do have their place, original titles had more of an influence on their gaming. It was the type of game, rather than the version itself, that made more of an impact on their experience. Games were more influential that were unique in some way, whether sequel or not (i.e. Final Fantasy VIII’s more realistic character proportions).

Screenshot of Brogue; games need to have an original and unique game-play element to stand out, sequel or not

What does this mean?
Here’s what I propose: moving forward, if developers would like to make a large impact on players with their game, they will be required to demonstrate a greater focus on originality and unique game-play characteristics, sequel or not. As indies this is something we should be leading the way in, and represents a fantastic opportunity for the industry moving forward.


Do you agree with this need for more originality in games, or will the tried-and-true remain strong in today’s market?