Culture

Bit Slap: Mo’ Sequels Mo’ Problems

amalur

I have never seen The Godfather III. I am told I am not missing much. Even if no one so much as suggested I stay away from it, I would never be compelled to give it a try. Buried deep in my psyche is a general distrust of movie sequels with numbers greater than 2. At some point, I acquired the belief that high-numbered sequels are eminent domain of either children’s films (FernGully 6) or pornos (FuckGully 6). I don’t know where I developed this heuristic, but, with the exception of Toy Story 3, it has served me well.

This sequel skepticism, however, does not apply for video games. If I was wary of sequels I wouldn’t be left with much to play, at least in terms of high-budget games. For big game studios, new intellectual properties can be a gamble. From strictly a business perspective, it makes little sense for Infinity Ward to make anything other than another Call of Duty game; after all, Modern Warfare earned $1 billion in revenue in just 16 days after release. So yes, it’s safe to assume they will be making another one.

This is one of the reasons I paid full-price for Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning right at launch: I was eager to support a new IP. Despite suffering from a pretty generic fantasy title, 38 Studios has developed a game that has quickly become one of my favorite RPGs. Sequelability is a huge factor for new IPs, so it was hardly a surprise when Curt Schilling, owner of 38 Studios, appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and mentioned that a sequel is in the works.

In case you were wondering, this Curt Schilling and Curt Schilling the three-time World Series winner are the same dude. I’d like to say the jump from professional baseball player to game developer is one of the coolest career changes ever, but I’m worried about the dangers of a jock/nerd hybrid. Not only could Schilling give you a swirly at homecoming but then he’d beat your ass at Advanced Squad Leader.

Scoffing at countless movie sequels while simultaneously playing pretty much every Megaman game–which there are more than 80 if you count all spin-offs and remakes–may seem hypocritical. Because it is. I mean for Christ sakes, even Honey, I Shrunk the Kids only resulted in two sequels (one of them straight to video), an Epcot ride and a TV-series that lasted 3 seasons. As much as I would love to get drunk and watch next kid shrinking installment, which I imagine would be titled Honey, I Regret to Inform You That I Used That Shrink Ray On The Kids Again, Disney rehashes ain’t got shit on Megaman.

Regardless of the medium, there is a point where sequels stop being sequels and instead become a refuge for the familiar. Not to say there is anything wrong with wanting more of something you enjoy; Patton Oswalt’s bit about Star Wars and just liking the things he likes comes to mind. It’s just that I can’t in good conscious bitch and moan about how the gaming industry is too sequel driven while also acting as a contributing factor.

With this recent revelation, I’ve begun putting forth a more concentrated effort to support indie game developers. It’s hard to say that without making it sound like I’m trying to show off my indie game street cred. But if you want new, innovative IPs your better off looking to smaller independent developers than waiting for a big name studio to put something out. For those interested in getting a handle on what’s going on in the indie dev scene, I highly recommend IndieGames.com as a good jumping off point.