All About 2k_fish
Puppies die. Ice cream melts. Short-sighted networks cancel fresh and innovative shows in favor of the seventh different version of CSI (Who am I kidding? It's not like CBS has ever had any good shows to cancel anyways!) In short, the world's not perfect. But that doesn't mean we can't dream of reviving our favorite shows in our favorite medium. That's right, folks, I'm talking about a Point-and-Click Arrested Development here! Okay, maybe that wouldn't work out too well, but the following list offers up some potential candidates that could find a new home in the world of video games. Enjoy!
5.) Twin Peaks – I have to admit that I've never actually seen Twin Peaks (I mean, it did originally air in the year of my birth), but the fact that people are still talking about it today proves that the universe is exciting enough to return to. And on the off chance that David Lynch would actually be interested in overseeing the video game adaption, can you imagine what kinds of wacky Eternal Darkness sort of game mechanics we might see?
Now obviously, one problem with this adaption would be the fact that Twin Peaks was a plot-driven mystery-thriller. But if a developer wanted to retain that same appeal, they couldn't simply port in the series' story because then, anybody who'd seen the show (which just happens to be the market this game is going after) would already know what happens and lose interest. But if a new story were created, it would essentially have to shift the focus away from the characters that fans have come to know and love.
But I think the series' unresolved cliff-hanger provides the perfect opportunity to write a new protagonist and new story into the universe while maintaining a connection to the show's endearing characters. As you may know, the show's protagonist, FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, SPOILERS***
becomes inhabited by the demon Bob at the end of the second and final season.
So the next logical step is to make the show's hero the game's villain. Or at least that's what fans of the show would assume when their new character came to town to investigate a series of mysterious murders. What follows would be an equally deranged mystery involving the white and black lodges, spirits such as Bob, and regular old human crime.
The Twin Peaks game would probably work best as a Third-Person Adventure title: a sort of mix between Heavy Rain and Alan Wake but with a greater emphasis on character interactions and puzzle solving. The rich world that David Lynch created really opens up tons of possibilities for the game, and I think fans would snatch this continuation of the story up, even if it has been twenty years since the show went off the air.
4.) Veronica Mars – Yet another series that I haven't watched myself (hey, maybe I would have seen them if they hadn't been canceled so quickly), Veronica Mars "stars Kristen Bell as the title character, a student who progresses from high school to college while moonlighting as a private investigator under the tutelage of her detective father" (Wikipedia). I was always under the impression that the show was aimed more toward teenaged girls, but after reading a little more about it, I'm having trouble seeing where that pre-conception came from; a neo-noir set in the unconventional trappings of high school and college sounds unisexually awesome to me.
But how to make a game of it? Honestly, the show's format lends itself pretty dang well to a video game. Each season sees Mars working to solve an overarching mystery while cracking smaller, stand-alone cases in each episode. But just because Mars is a high school student doesn't mean she's staking out the vending machine to discover who stole the lunch money; rape, murder, and conspiracy all allow the series to explore some pretty dark themes that give the sort of life-or-death tension expected of video game plots. The only difference with this IP is that we get some witty high schooler dialogue thrown in the middle.
That's why I see this game as a potentially game-changing (har, har) title. It's L.A. Noire, but in a setting that relates to a hell of a lot more people. It's funny and it's serious. It turns a noir cliche on its head by casting a female in the lead. Pretty much, I'm saying that Veronica Mars could make for a fun mystery Adventure, but it could also break some stubborn barriers in the process. And given fans fierce loyalty to the show and its characters, I don't think it'd have much trouble finding an audience.
3.) Jericho – You know that quip I made about CBS not having any good shows to cancel earlier? Yeah, well I take that back. Jericho told the story of a small Kansas town's struggle to survive in the wake of nuclear attacks on America. But rather than setting the action in the ruins of destroyed cities, it tells a more interesting story of a small community that's forced to become self-sufficient in the wake of a governmental collapse. Different factions vie for power and offer aid to the struggling communities, but at what cost? The decisions that community leaders are faced with touch on important themes of freedom vs. security, cooperation vs. competition, and the strength and strife found within family.
The way I see this game adaption playing out is that it'd be an Action-RPG that crosses the America's backyard aesthetic of Homefront with the individual and communal struggles for survival found in Fallout 3's wastelands. Players would step into the shoes of series hero Jake Green and find themselves leading stealth sabotage missions on rival communities, fortifying strategic choke-points for defensive shoot-outs, ambushing supply transports, and so on. Every mission would deal with helping the community to rebuild and survive, and town discussions with community leaders like the mayor, sheriff, etc would present the player with dialogue choices on which missions are worth pursuing. In this way, the player would have a major hand in shaping the community's future; should they risk raiding another community for gas so they can run generators at the hospital, or trade too much of their all-important food supply to get the gas fairly?
Of course, staying true to the IP's canon becomes a bit of an issue here. I think the best way to solve it would be by having the main missions stick closely to the show's main plot points and offering less room for choice on those, while filling out the rest of the game with completely new material that does allow the player to shape the town's direction. In this way, the core plot would ultimately get the player into the same conspiracy-revealing escapade of the series, but the town of Jericho itself might not physically, economically, or morally be exactly the same as in the show. All of the major characters would still play their roles, but some minor characters could be swayed in one direction or the other, or maybe even die.
I truly think that this property could make for an amazing video game and a unique one too. While there's plenty of Shooter action and RPG choice, the focus on day-to-day survival for a real community of people could introduce some innovative new scenarios not unlike what's been promised for I Am Alive. There's a great cast of characters to mine and a story that seamlessly flows from character relationships to governmental conspiracy. It's perfect for a video game!
2.) Reaper – Okay, so Reaper's a show about Sam Oliver, a loveable, yet slacking college drop-out who learns on his 21st birthday that his parents sold his soul to the devil. As a result of this, he is forced to become a bounty hunter for the big D (hilariously portrayed by Ray Wise) and capture souls that have escaped from Hell. Each soul is captured with a "vessel" unique to that soul, usually a seemingly ordinary day-to-day object such as a Zippo lighter or a Nerf gun. The catch is that Sam has to figure out how to properly use the vessel in order to capture the soul and return it to the local portal to Hell (the DMV).
So as you can see, this concept lends itself to a video game pretty well. Sam and his best buddies Sock and Ben spend a little time investigating where they might find their bounty, then there's a boss fight unique to each soul. An overarching plot that deals with Sam's mysterious origins and the quest to get out of his contract with the Devil would keep things moving forward while an essentially limitless variety of bounties keeps the gameplay interesting. Obviously, ghost-busting would be the bread and butter, but puzzles, stealth segments, races, and more could all make their way in. And of course, the consistently hysterical cast of characters makes it a fun world to be in the entire time.
Reaper is the sort of thing I could absolutely see the Double Fine team coming up with if it hadn't already been done. The delightfully friendly Devil, the bumbling screw-up friends, and the oh-so-cute love interest all fit Tim Schafer's penchant for funny and likeable characters to a tee. So come on, Double Fine: branch out into the world of licensed IPs and find a way to make this work!
1.) Firefly – You knew it, I knew it, everybody knew it: but there's good reason why there's such demand for a Firefly game. First of all, any universe created by Master Joss Whedon is inherently interesting, meaningful, witty, and unique, but this one also just happens to be an incredible fit for video games (well, any of his shows really seem like great fits, but this is the only one that was canceled before it had a chance to resolve its character's issues).
Captain Malcolm Reynolds is just too good of a character for us not to inhabit, so the game would have to be an Action-Adventure, so as to highlight the character and not allow us to do anything he wouldn't (because things would probably go far too smoothly if somebody else were thinking for him). Along the way, there'd be all sorts of hijinks and misadventures with the crew of Serenity that eventually culminate in a larger plot involving the Alliance and crime syndicates like Niska's. Of course we'd have to sacrifice River's mystery (maybe with the exception of some smaller background quests) because that'd just turn the game into the movie (and we don't want that to happen for various reasons), but I think there's plenty of room for other interesting plots, especially if any of the show's writers contributed to the game. Not to mention, the game may be stronger as a sort of collage of semi-related events that highlight the characters without the constraints of a driving plot…you know, like the show.
Anyways, there'd be plenty of Third-Person Shooting, lots of brawling, some Puzzling and Platforming, and even some space-battles (Serenity will have to get some guns installed&hellip. We'd get to see lots of different environments through different worlds, and of course, we'd get to find ourselves in hot water with just about every wretched proprietor of scum and villainy in the known universe. Did I mention that we get to spend more time with the crew of Serenity? Just pitch this thing as Uncharted in space and publishers will be all over it!
And that's that. Please feel free to chime in with any more shows that have wrongfully been cast into oblivion. Maybe if we all dream hard enough, someday, one of these games might get made.
With Activision recently putting the kibosh on the Guitar Hero franchise, and really, the Rhythm genre as a whole, I got to wondering if this console generation will see the collapse of any more genres. With escalating development costs, publishers are more eager than ever to turn their properties into annual tent-pole releases in the pursuit of short-term profits. The Rhythm genre, which many argued to be a fad in the first place, saw this gross mismanagement go to an extreme with literally dozens of games released within a five year period. And despite all of the lost jobs, lost investments, and lost opportunities, Activision doesn't seem to have learned their lesson.
The mega-publisher is devoting more and more developers to its wildly successful Call of Duty franchise. An annual release is the norm now, and multiple DLC map packs are practically a requirement for each title. There are rumors of a CoD MMO. Pretty much, Activision is milking this once innovative franchise for everything it's worth. And because it makes so much money right now, other publishers like EA and THQ are amping up their Modern-Military Shooter efforts. It's getting to the point where it can be difficult to differentiate all of the AAA FPSs released each year. So isn't a collapse inevitable with all of this over-saturation?
Yes and no. No, because the FPS is a more established genre than Rock-Rhythm games and it's had hardcore fans supporting it for just about twenty years now. But yes, because the past four or so years have seen such an influx of casual players–the kind of fickle consumers who bought into the Rock-Rhythm craze–that they're bound to do what casual players do and grow tired of their latest hobby. Now when I say casual, that doesn't mean that CoD fans don't play video games religiously–if anything, then probably play more hours a week than I do–but I do mean that they probably only buy three games a year and that those games aren't what we would call diverse.
So if we have consumers who keep buying the same thing, and publishers who keep putting out the same product with a different name on it every year, I simply don't see how this system can sustain itself. One day, these players are going to look at the four completely identical online Shooter experiences they have and realize that there's no point in buying a fifth. They might also wise up and realize that there are better ways to spend one's time than earning arbitrary medals that may as well announce to the world that you don't have much of a social life. If we look to the Rock-Rhythm genre as an example, the collapse of an over-saturated genre takes roughly five to six years. If those numbers hold true for the FPS (and that's a big "if" considering how different the genres are), then the latest hot genre will soon be seeing a massive decline in sales.
Now, as I said before, I think that the FPS has a strong base of core gamers that buy the games for more than a fleeting social experience, and for that reason I don't think the genre will ever disappear, or even cease to be a core genre, but I do believe there's a very real possibility that it could fall from its throne of most popular/profitable genre.
Which leads to the next obvious question: what genre replaces the FPS at the top of the mountain? Sports games have a broad appeal, but I can't envision a scenario in which there's a sudden surge of interest in them. Action-Adventures like Uncharted have proven to be successful with non-traditional markets, but games like that aren't truly that different from the reigning FPSs. I think the genre with the best chance of stepping into the spotlight is perhaps the nerdiest of all–the RPG.
Mass Effect 2 showed that by streamlining an RPG and offering a more action oriented package, the genre can sell just as well as anything else. And what sets Action-RPGs apart from Action-Adventures is the depth of narrative. No genre can suck a player into its world as well as the RPG. The ease with which RPGs can get players invested in their stories and universes means major DLC and sequel opportunities. We've already seen how RPGs can put the numbers behind the scenes and adapt to the visceral action Shooter fans have come to expect, and we've seen how the richness inherent to the genre's narratives is a natural source of value to the consumer that will keep them invested in a franchise. The only thing that needs to occur for this shift in power to take place is for casual gamers to get hooked on a concept that only RPGs can offer.
For Rock-Rhythm games, it was the idea of playing an "instrument." For modern FPSs, it's the online experience. For RPGs, I believe that the time has finally come for story to shine in video games. There's a much larger market of potential gamers who are interested in engaging characters and thrilling story arcs than either of the aforementioned hooks; all that needs to happen is for the FPS to fall from power, creating a vacuum for the RPG to fill. Publishers have proven that anything with enough marketing can sell well (Heavy Rain), and somebody will make the RPG with an angle that appeals to the masses. And hopefully, given the genre's focus on writing, its success won't lead to derivative copy-cats and over-saturation, but a new era of story-driven gaming that solidifies video games' place as an artistic medium.
At least that's my speculation. If you see a future of video games that doesn't revolve around character-driven DLC and choice-driven trilogies I'd love to hear about it; just don't tell me that Portal 2 is going to launch the great Puzzler craze of 2011-2016.
It's terrifying to see what Snake's condition has done to his body.
I'm going to try and keep this feature relatively short, as I feel like I'm dying a little more with every passing minute and I'd rather have Beyond Good & Evil HD be the catalyst for any fever-induced hallucinations than the screen of text in front of me. With that said, what's up with the perfect health of video game characters?
Of course there are exceptions (Old Snake comes to mind), but I can think of very few games that implement disease into the game mechanics. The one shining example I do have is The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and that dreadful infection known as vampirism. One of my most vivid memories from that game is when I realized that being a vampire wasn't that cool anymore; shop-keepers ran away from me, I could no longer admire the beauty of a sun-lit valley, and I was forced to change the way I had been playing the game. What made it even more meaningful was how much of a pain it was to complete the quest to find a cure.
So how come more games haven't explored disease? After all, it's one of the most profound and universal experiences in human life. We all know what it's like to be knocked out of commission because of a sickness (if you don't, just give it some time), and feeling like your body has betrayed you forces you to imagine what a terminal illness must feel like. Disease can take over and change a person's life, so how is it that no game developers have thought to examine this yet?
Obviously, there's the fact that diseases typically prevent the sort of world-saving athletics demanded by most video games, but there's nothing saying developers have to realistically model a disease. In fact, a video game portrayal of a real disease would more than likely fail to capture a fraction of the struggle involved and make a lot of people angry in the process. So that's why developers should make up their own illness with symptoms that game-mechanics could be built around.
What I'm talking about has to be more than a simple penalty to stats; it has to weave its way into the very mechanisms of gameplay. Make finding medicine such a high priority that you lose control of a limb if you go too long without a fix; make vision start to blur, induce hallucinations, slow reaction times by lagging button inputs. Or a developer could give you a limited amount of stamina to work with before your character starts to cough uncontrollably. An element such as this would force you to carefully think about how you want to tackle a problem; do you risk strenuously climbing a rock wall and hope that you can find enough rest spots to hang on, or do you take the long way around and risk not getting to your goal in time? Or maybe a steady joystick needs to muffle a coughing attack so surrounding enemies don't hear. Perhaps you need to meticulously hide your condition from party members and tension will rise out of that. Maybe there's a limited amount of game hours before your character's body starts to shut down.
These are all possibilities of how disease could work in video games, and if I weren't so damn hot right now I might be able to list of some more ideas. But my point is clear; managing a disease can require just as much careful thought as commanding an army or navigating a puzzle, especially if we factor in the side-affects of powerful medicines and the social dynamics of sick and healthy people working side-by-side. I'd like to experience what that -1 to my Constitution really means.
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