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ASK WHEELS
Bomb the Game Industry!
October 26th, 2012

10/26- 12:00PM EST

Welcome! It's been a pretty odd week in the game industry. Controversy in the game journalism realm. A possible third 7th Dragon game coming soon that will probably not come out here. What are we to do amongst all the glitz and glamour and madness? Why, talk about awesome RPGs of course! We'll even jam to some Bomb the Music Industry! while doing so...





The Letters
Sequel Lag

‏Wheels,

I’ve been pondering the concept of ‘sequel-lag’.  How does the amount of time between the release of a game and its direct sequel/prequel affect its quality, impact, and success?


Wheels

This is actually a very good question, and quite relevant given the number of quick direct sequels these days. Of course we can also look at the all-time worst sequel-lag ever given that Duke Nukem Forever actually came out not that long ago. The direct sequels usually aren't RPGs, but that's what we'll focus in on.

If it happens too soon, does it not allow for anticipation to build?  Does releasing a sequel on the same hardware disappoint those looking for a jump in performance?  Will a quick turnaround appear more like an attempt to stretch out a single game over two parts just for profits?


Wheels

I think it all depends on the type of story resolution and quality of characters. For example, if your game ends like Mass Effect 2 does, setting up for an epic final encounter, you're going to want to cash in on that as soon as possible. If the ending is more ambiguous like the different ways that Dragon Age Origins ends, you can probably take a longer time to do a sequel (not really counting Dragon Age 2 as a direct sequel since it doesn't really involve the same characters). Something like Final Fantasy VII is an example of something that could have used a sequel much sooner since it has a pretty ambiguous ending.

On the other hand, if it happens too late, does it lose momentum and fan support?  Does a 23 year old still care about a series that came out when he/she was 16?  Will changes in available writers, voice actors, or designers prevent it from capturing its former charm?


Wheels

That's the eternal question. It certainly seemed to work well, sales wise, for the Final Fantasy VII sequel games, but I don't think it's going to work like that for everything. Waiting too long is certainly a risk. I think it works for something like Final Fantasy VII because there are other Final Fantasy games in-between. Though they don't relate to each other, it keeps the brand going and people are more likely to go back and play the older games, and then perhaps find an interest in direct sequels. On the other hand, something like Duke Nukem Forever there was nothing new for a long time, other than new jokes about the length of the development time for the game. It was doomed to failure. In the age of voice actors, waiting on a direct sequel is much more dangerous. Heck, even the Assassin's Creed series couldn't get the voice actor for the original hero back for the most recent game (Revelations).

Should the amount of anticipated lag be dependent on whether the previous game pointed towards a sequel (e.g., KH2, FF-XIII-2), or if it wrapped most things up but some players still hoped for more (e.g., Chrono, ToS)?  Does the expected lag depend on the number of countless ‘mini-sequels’ or re-launches in the interim (<ahem, KH>)?

Here are just a few lag time examples (calendar years):  Lunar, Lufia, FFX, FFXIII (2), KH I/II (3), Chrono (4), ToS (5).


Wheels

Yeah I think these factors certainly need to be taken into consideration. At the same time, developers should also consider if a story even allows for a sequel. As much as I love and enjoy Chrono Cross, I don't think Chrono Trigger's story really calls for a sequel. They would have been better off just doing another game in the same style. I think if the story points to an obvious sequel, they shouldn't wait too long to do a sequel, but also shouldn't just throw it out there. Kingdom Hearts had a nice break between the two games, but they've done a few too many prequels and such in the interim after II. Still, at least two of those (3D and Birth By Sleep) are quite good and had decent enough stories so we basically got sequels, only none called III just yet. The 'mini-sequels' can be quite good to patch the gap between games but you run the risk of creating franchise fatigue. By the time a proper sequel is out people may not care anymore. Of course on the flip side, if you do no games in that gap it could be just as worse, lessening the awareness of the series.

Thoughts on the perfect lag time?  In the meantime I’ll be working on a sequel to this letter, the release date of which will depend on the success of this one.

-RealityChecked


Wheels

I don't think there's any perfect lag time, but we can create some general guidelines. If the game leaves story unresolved with voiced main characters, the sequel should happen within around two years to ensure continuity of cast and resolution to the story (or at least the next part of the story). If the story is resolved or at least one major chapter of it is resolved, the lag time can be much longer. If the lag time gets too long, then prequels or other side games or re-releases are a good way to keep people thinking about the series (Dragon Age II kind of does this since it doesn't really resolve anything from the first game's story). Sequels to games from years ago should be preceded by a re-release or update of the original game. Something like Assassin's Creed that switches between historical periods while following an overall narrative works fine as yearly releases, but in most cases super quick sequel releases should be avoided. Need to build that hype! I look forward to the sequel to this letter.

Tales of Monster Hunting

@AskWheels,

Good evening!  After tweeting a couple questions with extra thoughts following @robomegaman and his thoughts, I thought of some other things that have made me curious recently.



Wheels

Excellent! Your Monster Hunter questions were good, but these are so much better! Monster Hunter is a franchise that has struggled to find a hold in the West. Though the original didn't do much despite being on the PS2, I've always thought that a proper release on the 360 or PS3 would get people interested. Of course it now looks like the franchise will stay on Nintendo consoles, so I think what Capcom needs to do is get Nintendo's marketing power behind the franchise. Hopefully the Wii U game will be as successful as the Wii game seemed to be!

If the cost of localizing and supporting an MMO are SO GREAT as to be a losing prospect for CAPCOM and the "loyal fanbase" of Monster Hunter in the West once thought (can't remember where I read it, I can't find the posting again) smaller than 100k (which is still supposedly 5 times the current subscriber base of The Secret World?) then why IP block Japan's servers?


Wheels

I doubt the cost of localizing the Monster Hunter MMO are that great, I think its more of an issue of none of the console MMOs doing all too much. They would likely have to retool the game into some kind of free-to-play model which seems like a risky venture at best. The MMO market is too flooded here and I'm not sure even the loyal Monster Hunter fanbase would provide enough active users to make the game generate a profit for Capcom. As for the second question, IP blocking the Japanese servers makes no sense to me. They may not be a huge number, but why block more potential customers? I don't get it.

Why not make a single international server using the resources in Japan and allow whomever is willing to "put up with" Japanese menus and limited language support to connect?  Or just remove the IP blocking?  It's extra money in the coffers to allow more users to subscribe, innit?  Granted, I know nothing about running a business in the gaming industry...


Wheels

I agree 100%. I can't really think up a good reason why they would need to do the IP blocking. Sometimes companies just do odd things!

For something not Monster Hunter related:  Shadowrun is being integrated on 3 fronts into an interactive world setting where the influence of Shadowrun Returns and Shadowrun Online projects are going to contribute to the ongoing overarching story line for the pen and paper game, which will provide the rich background and flavor for the other two.  Is this venture from basically three separate entities a little ambitious?  Will it be able to pay off for the fans and the folks running tabletop campaigns to try out the two PC games?  I read that the companies all meet together frequently and are very in the loop for each separate project, but this sort of thing has to have a metric crap ton of risk associated with the incredible source material being used, right?


Wheels

Yeah there is a ton of risk here and I'm not sure why they're bothering with it. Obviously you do want them all to be in the same setting with the same back story and such, but connecting anything story related more than that can be tough. I would expect Shadowrun Returns to have some element of choice to its story so how does that reconcile to the other two projects where things need to be set more in stone? How will events and elements of the computer games work in the table top game where people will want to create their own stories? I agree they need to work together on the setting, but they shouldn't go too far.

You don't have to reply or use any of this ever :)

-Monster Hunter Relias


Wheels

Oh this is good stuff, so please send more!

Now You're Q&Aing With Power

Hey, Mr. Wheels. :)

So, this past weekend, some of my friends and I got together for a retro party and, specifically, pooled our N64 resources. We stayed up till 4 in the morning trying various games, which mostly resulted in... wondering how we thought these wonky controls were enjoyable to us back then. ^^;



Wheels

Maybe we just didn't know any better? I spent countless late nights playing epic games of Goldeneye with friends but we would all probably hate the controls for that game now. The N64 was the ultimate party game machine, and its a shame that split screen gaming has fallen by the wayside since then.

But, some of them were just as enjoyable as we remembered! And, well, I'd like to know your opinion on some of them. :)


Wheels

I'm sure! I played so much N64 back in the day. Lots of Goldeneye, Turok, Shadow of the Empire, Mario Kart, Perfect Dark, I could go on and on.

Like... Jet Force Gemini! I don't know, I seem to remember this being so much fun, but I couldn't even survive the second area when I tried this time (through complete inability to... do anything)? o_o;


Wheels

I actually don't think I ever played that game shockingly, whenever I tried to remember what it was my brain just kept making me think of that PS1 game Jet Moto. Based on what you've said I know that's not right. Your description of surviving the second area does not sound like a jet ski game!

But, Bomberman 64 and Mario Party are just as great multiplayer as ever... I even got a new bruise on my palm from the *single* (yes, only one!) "rotate the stick" minigame the happened! XD


Wheels

Of course those games are still great. Heck earlier Bomberman games can still provide some amazing multiplayer. Mario Party seemed to be the ultimate party game, not requiring much in the way of skill and just being good goofy fun. Not the best thing ever but great at what it does even if it does cause injuries from repeated motions!

Well, being how disappointing the revisit of Jet Force Gemini was, I was surprised that Banjo Kazooie was so easy to pick up and how well it controlled! I think I beat a fifth of it in 2 hours... ^^;;;


Wheels

I didn't player Banjo Kazooie until later when it got a release on Xbox live but there's no doubt that is a quality platformer. The N64 days saw Rare going out from their Nintendo development time with a bang (they didn't do much of note on the GameCube). It's a shame Microsoft never managed to do much with them.

RPG wise, Ogre Battle 64: Crane of Lordly Calibur still looks great (best on the system? :) ) and is a blast to play. And, for how average it is, I think Quest 64 had some interesting ideas that I still enjoy messing around with.


Wheels

Ogre Battle 64 is an amazing title, which is good considering it is one of only a few RPGs on the system. I'm sad the series seemed to just stop there outside of some more tactical games. I love the tactical RPGs but the main series' games are just as good! I never played much of Quest 64 since it wasn't all that great, but you are right that it at least tried some different things. It was far from a generic JRPG.

But yeah, were there any other N64 games that you remember fondly? (Err, hopefully fondly.)

I hope you've had a good week, Wheels. See you on Twitter. :)

-wwreyes


Wheels

Other than the ones I've mentioned, I enjoyed the Gauntlet games on N64. They weren't amazing but provided a good platform for RPG type co-op. There was also Smash Bros but that goes without saying. My favorite games on the system will always be Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. I put so many hours into those two games and would gladly do so again. People will grumble at me for saying this but I say that Zelda is always better in 3D!

Anyway, thanks for the nostalgia, see you on twitter!

What? I Don't Even...

@AskWheels DEAR WHEELS WHY DOES EVERY GAME EVER NOW HAVE EXP & LEVELS LOVE BEAT


Wheels

Well the answer is quite obvious, isn't it? RPGs are awesome, and everyone is starting to get this. Now even games like Call of Duty are including some kind of EXP and levels so they can get in on that sweet tasty RPG action. People love numbers man. They're addicting. I mean what do you think would be more popular, an online shooter where you just play friends and call it a day, or a shooter where you play online and slowly level up and get cooler stuff? Soon enough real life jobs will have EXP and levels to get in on this action. RPGs are the future of everything Beat.

@AskWheels DEAR WHEELS WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOUR FACE I MEAN WOW I DON'T KNOW IF YOU SHOULD SEE A DOCTOR OR WHAT LOVE BEAT


Wheels

My doctor says it's just a pimple and I'll thank you very much not to stare at it because that is incredibly rude.

@AskWheels DEAR WHEELS HOW DO I GET THE SECRET ENDING OF THE NY TIMES I BACKTRACKED FROM ANNE LANDERS AND USED THE LAMP ON GARFIELD WHAT NOW


Wheels

You have to backtrack and complete all the crossword puzzles, every last one! Just avoid the editorials and the world jumble. God help you if you go anywhere near the word jumble...

@AskWheels DEAR WHEELS I'M LOST AND SCARED AND THERE IS A SHADOW CREEPING TOWARDS ME WHAT DO


Wheels

Don't worry it's just pyramid head. He wants to say hello! How could you be scared of him? He looks like a nice dude!

pyramidhead

@AskWheels DEAR WHEELS WHICH CANDIDATE SHOULD I VOTE FOR TO GET ENOUGH PARAGON POINTS TO ROMANCE JOKER.


Wheels

Clearly the only option to vote for is Zoidberg. How could you even consider anyone else? You monster.

zoidberg

@AskWheels BOW TIES YES OR NO.


Wheels

The answer to this quest is always yes. I mean I even rocked bow tie at my wedding. Bow ties are just so much classier!

@AskWheels RAILGUNS YES OR NO.


Wheels

Rocket launchers are always the better choice. As a random funny aside, a Google image search for railgun brought me to this:

moe-railgun

@AskWheels YOU SHOULD DEDICATE A WHOLE COLUMN TO ANSWERING THESE DUMB THINGS.


Wheels

I would but I don't think there's quite enough of them. I mean they're great and insane and all, but I think I'd need at least thirty to forty of them to fill up a whole column! Not that I'm suggesting you do this or anything.

@AskWheels IF I GOT @McRapperson TO AUTOGRAPH A COPY OF LIVE AT AMWAY ARENA, WOULD THAT KEEP YOU FROM FORGETTING ABOUT RAPPY?


Wheels

I never forget about Rappy but I doubt all my readers know who he is! I think this link should enlighten them. (Warning: click that link at your own risk. Seriously your brain may never be the same).

BEAT_TWITTAR: @AskWheels THEN I HAVE NOT WRITTEN ENOUGH.


Wheels

Such a thing is impossible.

BEAT_TWITTAR: @AskWheels HOW MUCH WOULD 20 BUCKS COST ME.


Wheels

Clearly it would cost you 1,771.41 in Serbian Dinar, how can you not calculate this in your head?

@AskWheels IF I SET YOUR FACE ON FIRE, WOULD YOU CONSIDER THAT A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE?


Wheels

So long as it didn't roast the memory centers in my brain I can't imagine it wouldn't be.

@AskWheels WHAT IS THE WORST THING I COULD POSSIBLY DO WITH A FORKLIFT, A FRANK SINATRA BOX SET, AND AN AQUARIUM FULL OF GOLDFISH?


Wheels

Run over a collection of a thousand unopened copies of Panzer Dragoon Saga while using the Frank Sinatra CDs as frisbees to fling at and break open the aquarium full of goldfish spilling the poor creatures on the shattered remains of the Panzer Dragoon Saga discs.

 @AskWheels WHAT IS THE BEST THING I COULD DO WITH A RAILGUN A BIRTHDAY CAKE AND A BAG OF DOLLAR STORE GREEN ARMY MEN.


Wheels

Arrange the army men on a birthday cake and then use the railgun to blast the cake into a million pieces sending the army men flying in all directions in a hilarious fashion.

@AskWheels WHAT EVEN ARE THESE QUESTIONS THIS IS MADNESS AM I DRUNK


Wheels

I guess you just answered this ad?

drinkandwrite

@AskWheels HALP MY BRAIN

-@BEAT_TWITTAR


Wheels

You need to feed it some more RPGs. I recommend 10ccs of Disgaea 4 stat followed by a daily intake of Fire Emblem and SaGa. Come back in a week for a checkup. Emergency Shin Megami Tensei may be required.
IN CLOSING

See you all next week!

Possibly with more drunken madness...

-Wheels


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