Managing Betrayal - making games sequels
#1 30-05-2014 
Was stalking the Sims4 tag on twitter and found this link from Graham. Interesting article about making sequels to beloved franchises and managing gamers expectations

Article tagline:

Making Gears of War Xbox One is about "managing betrayal", says Fergusson
"You have to betray fans enough to give them something new and surprising."
The site don't jive? PRESS F5 Flower

#2 02-06-2014 
I finally read this article and I'm really curious about his choice of words. I think I understand the idea behind it, give them something new, otherwise they'll stick to the old, but it has to be 'old' enough to be recognizable. Why call this 'managing betrayal'? Or is he just the first honest sales person I've met Big Grin ?

#3 03-06-2014 
That guy knows full well that gamers are quite happy to buy the same games repeatedly just with better graphics. PR should blame only themselves if sequels disappoint, because more often than not rejected "innovation" is just artistic licence that the fans aren't buying into. It's their choice to innovate, but they are simply putting a second work out there that will either appeal or fail--regardless of how new and different or same and repetitive it is. Programming teams are no different than artists, writers, and musicians producing a sophmore work. When selling entertainment, the only requirement is that the work entertains.

This article is a bit of stuff and nonsense. The gaming industry is not "managing betrayal" they are simply trying to sell their creative wares and hoping that folks continue to buy it. Sometimes consumers don't appreciate new and innovative regardless of how "amazing" the creators think the new game is, and sometimes they embrace it with fervour.

Gaming companies deal in new technology and a new media for entertainment, not in new ways of creating and commercializing art.

#4 06-06-2014 
I dunno - I agree on a lot of games - they are just games, and get churned out. But some games - people get a sort of emotional attachment. I think what the guy is saying is that game companies have to keep releasing new games or addons, but that its a fine line. For every player who says "I just want better graphics" there is another saying "bring on the new stuff. Where is my new stuff?"

Basically they cannot keep all the players happy and a big chunk of their time is spent making a sequel that will disappoint someone seem more palatable. That is actually where EA "went wrong" in TS3 - there did not seem to be a vision, more a jeepers we have to write a sequel to the best selling game of all time, and that does show in TS3. The actual GAME is not exactly compelling, though the hood is lovely.

#5 06-06-2014 
Double posting to quote this excellent post from MTS in response to Original Sims question: Has EA lowered our standards?

summerstruck Wrote:It's not just that we have lowered our standards, but EA have lowered the bar. The first three Sims games all had something new and exciting to offer, and the TS4 has... emotions? Sims have always expressed emotions, however ridiculously disproportionate they might have been: but they were there. It's a bit like saying: "For the first time ever, Sims have motives that decay in a more intelligent, intuitive and awesome (claylike) way!" Great. But it's nothing new. Should I really leave behind one of the previous games for a bit of clay that tells me it's feeling flirty?

When they say that TS4 will have emotions, I expect big things. I expect some great psychology and research to back up every little frown and quivering lip. I expect a new, better way to give sims personalities and to see those personalities reflected in everything they do. I don't want the game to tell me: "Bob is sad." I want it to show me. Ideally I want to feel that Bob is sad about his pancakes. I want memories and relationships to matter more. I want to be able to have family feuds that last for generations because someone shot the Archduke and now the whole family can't come round for tea anymore.

The information we've been getting on this, has been seriously lacking. Half of the footage we've seen has been about the way sims look, which makes me suspect these Sims might be more vapid then any that came before.

The game is about emotions you say? Then show me emotions.

#6 07-06-2014 
Lee. I have to agree with you in that sense. It seems that with the previous games, they all have brought something to the table, and each has brought something to the table that trumped the previous. TS4 though, doesn't seem to do enough of that. It seems like EA is trying to overstuff multiple things into one big holder and shove them all up onto the table, which never goes over well. there is some answers on the CAS end of what TS4 will bring that trumps the previous CAS'es of the other games, but what about everywhere else?

- TS1 had no recolours, everything was a new object. TS2 brought recolourability to objects keeping them a single object. TS3 Brought CAST, which made all the objects share one texture and differing patterns. What is TS4 bringing that will Trump TS3 and TS2?
- TS1 had no real aging system at all. TS2 had aging states. TS3 had aging states and the ability to set their lengths individually. What is TS4 going to bring?

These two examples show the improvements that each games have made, While they may not be perfection or well done, they show the obvious improvement of the systems each game brought in. TS4 doesn't seem to be answering those questions to me, Yeah there's improvements and brand new features, but it doesn't answer enough to satisfy or even make me want to jump to TS4. All TS4 is doing is touting what we already know and trying too much to make it sound new. What I want to know is how EA is improving the systems we know and love that make up the varied Facets of the game. I want to see how the emotions work with the environment (which would maybe give an understanding as to why CAST was pulled out). I want more than what they're repetitively showing us and I want more than just "for the first time ever" or "we made it more intuitive". I want to be shown and wowed. I want to know that I will be paying a lot of money for stuff I actually want, not just bits and bobbins or because everyone's on it.

#7 07-06-2014 
It might be because I'm not a hard core gamer. The Sims 1 and 2 are the only games that have ever held me enthralled for more than a couple playing sessions, so the only way I'll continue the series is if the game never changes from these two versions. Otherwise, let EA build its game for younger generations and I'll enjoy my TS1 and TS2 on my own. I want TS4 to be an upgraded version of TS1 and TS2. So far it looks like it is. I don't really get the emotions hype either since we already had them in TS2, but I think they are focused on that because they acknowledge the fact that emotions were not in TS3. I get the impression that EA really wants to drive the point home that TS4 is about Sims.

Games are just games to me too, but it doesn't change the fact that they are commercial creative works and that developers have the same issues with pleasing the audience that all artists of all mediums have. The same complaints "give me something more", "it's too different", "how is this better" is what you hear from die hard music fans, die hard cinema fans, bookworms, etc. There is no novel way of manipulating consumers to buy creative wares outside of making something that pleases them.

#8 07-06-2014 
I agree with that - that games are commercial works of art; I think the point is that in the past games developers have had a push it out the door and they will love it because its new? That things have to be new?

I am not expressing it terribly well, but it is true in the world of programming games programming is seen as a "top of the trees" and that games are often one of the first to use (or create) new technology X. Its as if the games industry has woken up to the fact that just because something is possible does not mean you do it; cool concept X is maybe just not suited to your game's audience.

Its all about sales; and managing expectations too. In this Internet age a bad review is viral in minutes, and it is important that companies are able to deliver a clear indication of what the game will be like.

Based on that statement, EA are doing a very poor job of managing expectation on Sims4; that needs to change.

#9 08-06-2014 
Yeah, like advertising the game last year and offering pre-orders then refusing to speak about the game again until almost a year later! Big Grin

I think EA is worried because of the reception of TS3, so PR has a pretty tough sell to make, to get the TS1/2 Sims mojo back which they know is a success without pissing off the TS3 players who are quite happy with the current incarnation of the game. In the end though, when the game is released, the sim community reaction is going to be the best indicator of how decent the game is. If you're worried about delivery I wouldn't pre-order but would just wait for a month or so to see the pictures and stories that come from it. There is always TS2 to keep you busy while you're checking out the fan response for TS4--we could always use more Leefish TS2 CC!

#10 09-07-2014 
OK, I'm gonna say what I think about all this. TS4, a little, and the community's reaction, somewhat more. I've kind of held off on the other forums I visit, because "complaining about the complainers" has really never been a productive exercise, but the article in this thread is right on point with some of what I've been thinking... which is a bit of a rant Wink

First off, let me say that I AM a gamer, and I play and follow and have been active in the communities of lots of game series, starting in 1980 Tongue One observation from all that is that every game's community thinks it's unique, but really, they are all pretty similar. Sims players especially tend to think they're unique, probably because so many sims players don't play other games and don't see how similar their community is to all the others.

And that "betrayal" article is right on point: EVERY series that is at all popular has the fans of every new game mooooaning about the fact that "it is different" but "different in all the wrong ways", and every poster assumes that every other TRUE fan agrees with them (see the "No True Scotsman fallacy" ). When in fact, if you look at the TS3 forums, or TS2, or TS1, you'll see that there are vastly different views about every one of those games... which features are important, and which are annoying. What we need more of, and what we need less of. Most obvious case in point being all the people who preferTS2 to TS3, and vice versa; the community really really does have varied tastes.

So you get this hue and cry, and it's the same as the hue and cry you get with every game sequel. And the TS4 devs and community managers are gamers, and they know this. They know that absolutely no matter what they do, they are going to get a hue and cry, because it ALWAYS HAPPENS. Just like the dude in the Gears of War article said. I remember my first exposure to this: was before the release of Morrowind, the third game in the Elder Scrolls series, and the complaints were loud and long that Morrowind was gonna suck because unlike Daggerfall it didn't have ropes, or climbing, or horses, or full frontal nudity Tongue Morrowind was a massive success, Oblivion did even better, and Skyrim hit it out of the park... commercial success-wise. Players all have their own favorites, just like the Sims, but a lot of long time fans (including me) thought that Morrowind was the best in the series... far better than Daggerfall. Turns out ropes, climbing, horses and nudity were completely irrelevant to how good a game it was Tongue A game is more than a list of features, but that is often missed in pre-release discussions.

My point here: some players complain that the devs are ignoring the community's wishes. When in fact the devs know that the community is behaving exactly like it HAS to: like the community for every popular game behaves. And that regardless of what they do, the community will behave exactly like that.

Sooo: TS4 will be the game it is. A new game, a different game, that has to be evaluated on its own merits, as a coherent whole, with all its systems and their interactionst. Some people will prefer it to TS2/3; others won't, and will keep playing the older games; and it is far too early to tell how big each slice of the pie will be.

For myself, there are things I will miss (CaST and the open world being the main ones), but I DO understand why they had to make tradeoffs in the name of performance. And I can't play TS3 anymore, because the animations, especially sim-sim interactions, are just so hopelessly clunky and awkward and stiff compared to what we've seen of TS4 Tongue Whether I will actually wind up playing TS4 for a long time I don't know; that depends on a lot of intangible factors relating to things like the goal structure of the game that I really can't evaluate (against my very personal preferences) until I've played it.

Regardless, though, my philosophy is: play the game you get. Like it or don't like it; but evaluate it for what it IS and not what it ISN'T, the fantasy game people have in their minds that they are always comparing upcoming games to. When you sit down to play a game of chess, you play by the rules of chess; you don't spend the whole time arguing that it would be better with different rules. And if you don't like chess, you play another game instead.

As for the previous post... just another pet peeve, while I'm ranting Wink In the pre-release phase, you get a lot of community members rating the marketing campaign AS IF they were rating the game. I've even seen people complain that they won't buy the game irrespective of its quality because they don't like the marketing :O This to me is just bizarre. Would you stop drinking Coke, if you really liked it, because a coke ad featured a song you didn't like? or because you didn't see ENOUGH ADS?

The marketing is NOT the product, and it is largely irrelevant to the product. Evaluate the game, not the campaign. And no, you won't be able to do that until release, or at least until a lot of actual players have played it and talked about it. That's OK. You don't HAVE to have an opinion before then. You can't play it before then anyway :O

Thanks for letting me rant! Keep up the good discussion Smile


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