“Compete in quality, not size.” The words of a wannabe? A lunatic? Or Mike Capps, president of Epic Games? Capps was talking about developing sequels as part of his talk in Leipzig. While he seems to be on the right track, his process didn’t always match his goal of quality. What exactly is better when it comes to making game sequels?
New, Better, More
When developing GEARS OF WAR 2, Capps developed with the mantra: “New, Better, More.” For him, that means more guns and better guns. Ironically, this approach contradicts his goal of competing on a quality level. We’ve often said that less is more when it comes to dialog, and its just the same with design. The key with any creative endeavor is to approach everything with an editing eye. Quantity has never equaled quality. Writers Cabal reader Nick commented that “better” depends on the game; the same amount or fewer hours of gameplay could actually improve the quality of a game.
When developing the sequel, Capps assembled a “design cabal.” We commend him on the term as well as the approach. The team focused on the vision for the game (it’s not just about the fun!), then brainstormed ideas. Following the focus on quality, they recognized, for instance, that there was actually no story in their story for the original GEARS OF WAR, so they decided to add more plot. If GoW2 has a great story, I will be thrilled, but we’re always wary of someone who’s looking to add “plot” instead of story. We recently were approached to develop concepts for a game sequel. The reason? They wanted to get writers in the process earlier to avoid issues they had with the original. Whenever gathering together a design cabal, consider a writers cabal as well, to tell the story using all the tools games offer.
Move to Switzerland
In the end, Capps likened developing games to an arms race, and suggested ultimately that to create the best sequels, you should move to proverbial Switzerland. The best advice is to ignore everyone else and try to do your own thing. You may just end up with the new, better, and “more” after all. Just make sure you know what “better” means for your game.
Which game sequels do you think have actually improved on the original? Or do you think they’re a lost cause?