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Yet another aspect of publisher conservatism is an emphasis on sequels As I said earlier in this chapter, publishers sometimes try to duplicate other publishers hits; in making sequels, they try to duplicate their own hits A lot of developers find this boring Having finished a particular game, they want to move on to something new You can hardly blame a publisher for wanting to clone something that makes money, but few games can be turned into long-running franchises Except for the smash-hits, many games never have a sequel at all, or have only one sequel and then stop For example, Activision had Interstate 76, a highly enjoyable game but not a world-beater, followed it up with Interstate 82, and then called it a day on that particular franchise Players want variety, and it s rare that they re content with simply getting more of the same Part of the appeal of video gaming is experiencing new ways to play and new universes to play in The exceptions are games with strong storylines such as the King s Quest adventure games from Sierra Entertainment, or the Ultima series from Origin and sports products In the case of story-driven games, it s the new story that matters, and if the stories are really good, the series can go on for a long time, especially if the technical quality of the games keeps pace as well With sports products, the names and abilities of the athletes change every year, so there s always something new to sell to the player But they, too, have to keep pace Most sports games add new features a little at a time: a dynasty mode that lets you play through multiple seasons, the ability to trade athletes among teams, and so on
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In short, publishers will go on exploiting an intellectual property for as long as they can But the game industry thrives on novelty In spite of all the sequels, you probably won t get stuck developing the exact same thing forever, simply because the players won t buy the exact same thing forever
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EW OPTIONS FOR NEW IDEAS
The commercial game industry may have become more conservative as it has grown, but it s not the only option available for people interested in game development There are other ways of working on games that may give you more freedom and flexibility
Homebrew: Mods, Bots, and Engines
It used to be that all computer games were homemade Now, amid the hype and glitter of commercial gaming, it s easy to forget that it s still possible Homebrew games rarely earn enough money to live off of; many provide no income at all But it s an excellent way to get development practice, and it affords a freedom that you ll find nowhere else Until Doom was released, few games offered players an opportunity to modify games and release their own data files for them The publishers, anxious to control their intellectual property, discouraged any monkeying around with their software Since Doom, that has all changed The publishers have come to realize that there s a great deal of free advertising to be had from gamers who work to extend their games, and indeed it lengthens the shelf-life of the game itself You can get a great deal of experience in most aspects of game development simply by doing it yourself that is, using moddable games as a springboard When you re ready to go beyond making new environments, you can start building bots AI-driven opponents for games The step beyond that is creating whole new games, but you don t have to do it from scratch There are also a number of open-source game engines available, such as Genesis3D and NeoEngine The open- source community is famous for being encouraging and helpful If you want to explore strange new ideas in game design, ideas that a publisher would be unwilling to fund, there are many resources to help you go solo Once you have something you feel has real commercial potential, take it to a publisher, or publish it yourself via the Web
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