Cliff Bleszinski Discusses The Problems With Video Game Sequels

I sort of like this new Cliff Bleszinski — the one that works for no-one and just blogs about all these crazy topics — I assumed — in his underpants without censoring himself. His latest post, which looks at the difficulties that come with developing sequels, is a truly insightful look into the creative thought process. How do you balance pushing forward whilst maintaining the feel that made the original so successful?

In his blog he discusses, as an example, the reaction fans had when Epic reduced the firing speed of the shotgun by 50ms. The fact that fans noticed this, and complained about it, is incredible — but it's an idea I'm familiar with as one of those annoying Halo players who just wants their pistol back.

In a game, the users are used to the cadence of the experience. However airtight each game mechanic is. They are, quite literally, learning a new “language” with each new game that they’ve never laid their hands on before. (Case in point: From Gears 1 to Gears 2 we changed the firing speed of the shotgun by 50ms. Barely the blink of an eye for most people. However the die hard fans who loved that weapon felt it immediately. You can’t fool them. Muscle memory is a powerful thing.)

In a sense, if they like the game, they’re experiencing what is most likely the mental equivalent of falling in love while under duress. They’re discovering a whole new world of mechanics, characters, sounds, musical themes. If they love what they’re interacting with then that love runs EXTREMELY deep and is a very powerful thing. Think about your first visit to Rapture, or the Mushroom Kingdom, or Hyrule.

What I find fascinating is the tightrope developers have to walk — the experience must be familiar, yet new. It's a conundrum and sometimes there appears to be no easy answer to the multiple different questions that fans, the press and people who are new to the series will ask.

Well worth reading.


    Got a link to it?

      Hrm, this didn't even work

      Help us Mark! should do it

    I don't mind Cliffy B, but I feel he talks the talk more than he walks he walk. Especially nowadays since he's stepped back from it all.

    His past and more recent games like Gears were good and all, but I think he's being given way too much credit by the media, and also room to move (or in this case, say things). I'm in fear he'll take over something important soon and butcher it to his liking, making it all dark, gloomy, grey and macho.

    The reason why people complained about it is because it became less OP. They did nothing but play the game with that OP weapon and didn't learn anything new, so when it was nerfed they complained because that means they might have to learn something new, and that means someone might beat them using something else. Gamasutra did an article on this that better explains this agenda mentality.

    That's why I loved the DBS in Gears 3. Because it gave them a taste of their own medicine, they got to experience what it was like losing a battle merely because they didn't choose the OP weapon that everybody else was using. They got to feel the discouragement of playing the game at all unless they gave in to peer pressure just to keep up with everyone else.

    I hated the DBS as well, but frankly I believe both shotguns should have been map pick up only.

      I thought GOW3 was better as the rifles were buffed so you could cut them down b4 they got into shotgun range, I thought is was pretty well balanced in all, DBS was good up close, but only if you camped the cover and a frag usually sorted those people out

      No people complained because it took away from the game itself. People played Gears of War because they wanted something different from the bullshit medium/long range AR combat of Halo and COD. The shotgun was a weapon that everyone started with, that everyone could use, yet you could still pick up a torque or boom or sniper or frags or whatever and beat a guy with it. IT WAS BALANCE.

    The latency on Super Mario world on Wii makes it unplayable, and my friends say I just suck!
    Anyway, not quite a sequel, but an example of a tiny change in mechanics rendering a game unplayable. Sure I could learn to get used to it, but thats not why I bought a nostalgia game

    Last edited 27/02/13 2:55 pm

      Yeah this.

      I was shocked at that 25th Anniversary Mario pack for Wii.

      They made all the Mario games unplayable.

    here's a big problem with sequels...plays game in 2010...sequel releases in an example...what's the game about again?

    happens to me all the time...

      Yeah, they really need to start putting in a "previously on..." cut-scene on the front sequels to story driven games, like Assassin's Creed, Splinter Cell, God Of War etc.

      I mean, Splinter Cell Blacklist is out this year and I'll be damned if I can remember what happened in SC: Conviction.

    I think the problem is oversaturation and stagnation. While it's fine to tell a story in a trilogy, the amount of sequels we've seen this gen have really gotten out of hand. We have 9 Call of Duties, 5 Assassin's Creeds, 5 Halos (6 if you count ODST), 4 Gears of Wars, 6 God of Wars and 6 Splinter Cells, just to give a few examples. There have been next to no new IPs when it comes to AAA titles, and only now are we starting to get a couple of new ones like The Last of Us and Watch Dogs.

    People want new, innovative IPs. When they see games like Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed, it's no longer "Oh cool! A new Assassin's Creed/CoD!". It's more like "eh, another year, another AC/CoD game... Yawn". It's very understandable that there are huge risks with making a new IP, but the cow is going to run out of milk someday.

      Yep yep yep yep yep yep yep yep, seeeequels :P

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