Adam Fields (weblog)

This blog is largely deprecated, but is being preserved here for historical interest. Check out my index page at for more up to date info. My main trade is technology strategy, process/project management, and performance optimization consulting, with a focus on enterprise and open source CMS and related technologies. More information. I write periodic long pieces here, shorter stuff goes on twitter or


In praise of game sequels

Filed under: — adam @ 10:50 am

I keep hearing about how most of the good video games this year were sequels — Prince of Persia 2, Halo 2, Jak 3, Ratchet & Clank 3, Doom 3, GTA 5, Half-life 2, Viewtiful Joe 2 … the list just keeps going on. Even the ones that weren’t strictly sequels were franchise continuations instead of new worlds — World of Warcraft, every Star Wars game, the Bard’s Tale remake, a few LOTR games.

There are a few notable exceptions — City of Heroes, Katamari Damacy, but for the most part, there are certainly a LOT of sequels out there this year. But… what’s wrong with that? I think that’s okay. Video games are not the same as movies. They’re much much bigger. There’s much more room to explore. There’s much more interaction. They can (and often do) have huge ensemble casts and deep, immersive locations. They can (and often do) have multiple interlocking storylines.

They’re not subject to the same linear 2-hour limitations (or even 12 hours, if you’re Peter Jackson). There’s a lot more room to breathe on the storytelling and the action sequences are more immersive. I’m not saying that video games are better than movies – they’re a different way of experiencing the story, and in many cases, that story goes a lot deeper than you can get into with just one outing. Add to that the fact that both technology and ideas of what make good gameplay are both advancing so quickly. Not only do newer games look better, they fix interface problems and generally have smoother interaction with what’s going on on the screen. With a movie, when you have a technological leap, it’s largely in either special effects (making the movie look better), in audio (making the movie sound better) or in editing (giving the movie a different pacing). Increasing the technology in a game does all of these things, but may also make it easier to play, and consequently more fun.

With the strong caveat that the following statement is highly dependent on the developers keeping good plots, interesting characters, consistent pacing, and innovative game play, I for one would like to see more sequels to games I’ve liked. Unless the story is actually over (read: Planescape Torment), I genuinely enjoy coming back to existing worlds to see what’s new – instead of just watching them on a screen for a few hours, I’ve lived and experienced with these characters for 20, 50, or 100 hours. And after a while, it’s nice to come back and see how they’ve grown.

2 Responses to “In praise of game sequels”

  1. Rob Says:

    But why do you think that Planescape:Torment is necessarily over?

    All seriousness — the day of the wild-eyed individual and garage game development is just about over. It’s all big shops (read EA) and big money now, and the way to attract superior talent is with money.

  2. adam Says:

    I hope Torment is over – there was closure. I would probably like to see more in Sigil, but not the same characters. I guess that counts, but that raises another interesting point – sequels can be about the whole environment, not just about the characters.

    I’m not sure I see your point about the connection between sequels and big shops. Care to elaborate?

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