JakeV

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    Latest Topics

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    Fulfilling the Promise of Character Creation in RPG's

    I’ve been playing Divinity: Original Sin 2 a lot recently and it made me realise what I really love about RPG’s; the way that they let you really create a character. But this doesn’t end at their appearance or race. Games like Original Sin 2 fulfill the promise of character creation by rewarding absolutely everything your character can attempt. Giving the player so many options based upon the character they built and how they play makes the world feel alive and causes the player to feel as though their character is charting a course based on who they are. So many RPG’s provide options but often you reach quests or situations where there is no alternative (due to narrative restrictions) or there is are blatant good, bad and worse options. There are so many other RPG’s that allow for this deep character creation and they always seem to become instant classics. I also think this approach is incredibly interesting as it’s rare that players notice just how much this level of reactivity influences their style of play.

    • I don't know the particular game you name, but I definitely share your interest in these sorts of games that allow for character development and player investment in the character. What you've written looks like a general topic. How could it be made more specific, for someone wanting to write an essay on the topic?Here are some related questions that come up for me: Does a legal/bounty system (in Skyrim, for example) or a karma system (in some of the Fallout games, for example) or a reputation system (in Baldur's Gate, for example) help with development and connection, or are those systems too mechanical? Are open world games better suited for development and connection? – JamesBKelley 2 years ago
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    What Makes a Sequel Worth Telling?

    Sequels are almost always what follow a successful film but what actually makes a sequel as good or better than the original? Everyone’s seen a sequel that they thought was either an obvious step down from the original or didn’t have a real reason to exist but a sequel that surpasses or keeps up with its previous iteration are much rarer. So what are the factors that actually make the story in a sequel story worth telling? Obviously if the production is good then you could make a case for it but what narrative factors influence the worth of a sequel being told? And what are the unique characteristics of those sequels that did actually surpass their originals? What made them great?

    • I think this is a good discussion topic, especially seeing all the new sequels coming out. Could you give some examples to help narrow down the discussion? – birdienumnum17 3 years ago
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    • I would say some really good ones to talk about would be the Harry Potter series, Hunger games, Divergent series and Fast and Furious. These are the ones I could think of from the top of my head :) – claraaa 3 years ago
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    • You're right I should have included some examples. The specific upcoming films that gave me the idea were actually Blade Runner 2049 and the new Pirates of the Caribbean. I think these would be good to talk about as the latter will probably fall into the "doesn't need to exist" category while the former could really go either way (I have unrealistically high hopes.) – JakeV 3 years ago
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    • I think this question is also applicable to book and television series.The largest draw for me to continue on with the sequel is if I find the main characters' stories unfinished. If readers or the audience are only there for compelling characters they genuinely care about, and those characters have "completed their arc" so to speak, there isn't really much motivation to pick up the sequel (in my opinion) where in most cases, are sustained through the introduction of new characters and less-than-spectacular plots that sometimes mar the main characters' consistency and lack purpose. What is the point in writing this sequel? (Perhaps for commercial purposes/ entertainment value if the first book/movie/season is well-received?) (I guess this wasn't so much a "helpful note" as it was an opinion. Apologies!) – autumnlights 3 years ago
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    • You could also look at Blade Runner 2049 and the new seasons of The X Files and Twin Peaks and Prison Break that have come out decades after the original. Isn't there a reason there wasn't a Blade Runner sequel in the 80s - and a reason all those shows were cancelled? – sophievannan 3 years ago
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    • My primary reason to watch a sequel is, did the characters make me say, "I want to see what happens to them next?" Did they make me say, "I miss/want to spend more time with these people?" If not, then it's likely I won't watch that sequel. – Stephanie M. 3 years ago
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    • If you run out of examples, you could even expand on this and talk about the modern remakes they're doing of movies. What makes these new elements worth telling? Doesn't the original stand on it's own? – Dani 3 years ago
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    • I think this is a more interesting discussion in the context of stories that didn't specifically set out to be a series. My favourite example is Toy Story. Toy Story 2 is a great movie and many would say better than the first. What makes it a sequel worth watching? It doesn't directly continue the story of the first film, instead it presents the characters with new challenges that build on the growth seen in the first film. – MarcoMorgan 3 years ago
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    Open World Games: Immersive Adventures or Lacking Structure?

    Finally got around to playing Dishonored 2 recently and it reminded me how brilliant level design can impact enjoyment. People love Bethesda titles such as Skyrim and (arguably) Fallout 4 for the unrestricted world they give the player to explore but can they ever be as good as games in which levels, environments, enemies etc. are designed specifically for the player to encounter in a way that the designer had in mind? You could have examples of titles that display the positives of each design philosophy and a few titles that show off the negatives (lack of structure, lack of freedom etc.) and give your own opinion of a possible ideal middle ground?

    • I'm hoping to present on a related topic at this year's Popular Culture Association conference for the Midwest. The push to make throwback platformers or open world games -- almost exclusively -- seems absurd. Happy to write on this topic if it gets the support and notes and upvotes. – Paul A. Crutcher 3 years ago
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    • Lack of structure is exactly why I am not a fan of most open world games. Even the presence of infinite quests is bound to be repetitive in such titles. I look forward to reading this. – TheUbiquitousAnomaly 3 years ago
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    • Open world games can often lose momentum or interest if they are repetitive and don't have a defined path, games such as Assassin's Creed and Far Cry are fun to play but often contain a lot of missions that are re-skins of previous missions. Games such as Uncharted and the Last of Us can often feel like they are offering more complete experiences since there often feels like these linear-types of games provide greater opportunities for interactive storytelling as well as detail put into characters, environments and enemies. – varunuchil21 3 years ago
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    • Right off the bat, I think of franchises like Metal Gear Solid and Uncharted as successful "linear" playing experiences; boss fights in MGS are iconic because they're timeless - the majority of the series is a decade or so old, but you can always revisit them and recall the atmosphere of each encounter.Then there are games like Assassin's Creed and Grand Theft Auto - there IS a plot there, for sure; but the open world aspects that these games claim to have is hampered by the fact they just feel so inconsequential. They're definitely fun for a little while, but at the end of the game's life cycle, collecting all 100 feathers in ACII or completing the Epsilon program in GTA V just can't compare to fighting Talbot in Uncharted 3.If anyone pursues this topic - I'd love to hear what you think about this idea of progression. I think games like InFamous really did well in this sense. The idea of karmic alignment based on the decisions you made as a hero or as infamous guided the progression of your powers and the upgrades necessary for them. It might not be heavily plot dependent, but maybe that can lead to the bigger question of whether open world is truly possible when programming and random occurrences can only do so much to make events in the game world seem organic. – Lmquilantang 3 years ago
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    • This is one of my big problems with MMOs. I usually fall in love with the world and character designs, but that can only sustain me for so long. Personally, I crave narrative structure. In saying that, there is a happy medium. Games like FFVII allowed you to roam the world freely, but there was always an immediate goal when you were ready to delve back into the story. – AGMacdonald 3 years ago
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    Latest Comments

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    Another Metroid Prime would be incredible. Metroid has always had a special place in my heart as the most mature first party Nintendo game and the transition from 2D to 3D was a fantastic one. You’re absolutely right though, a new 2D Metroid would be just as incredible and would be a nice return to the IP’s routes.

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