It's always interesting when commentary surfaces from one game maker to another. Today, Ashley Chung, a producer working on Fallout 3 at Bethesda, said he was "disappointed" with the reveal of Diablo III.
I must say I am disappointed that Blizzard has stayed on the conservative side in terms of design with their updates to Diablo and Starcraft. Diablo will be interesting since World of Warcraft has a lot of Diablo-like qualities. I have no doubt, however, that they will be incredibly fun, addictive and polished games. Blizzard is the top of the class when it comes to game development - nobody does it better.
Ashley has since updated his blog apologizing to Blizzard. It's not really a big deal as Ashley and most Diablo fans we've talked to are looking forward to an updated Diablo III and StarCraft II.
It does bring up an interesting point, however, about sequels and how similar they should or shouldn't be to their predecessor.
There's no denying that sequels are a huge part of the videogame industry, but how similar should they be to the previous game? Developers often face criticism for "cranking out" a sequel that doesn't have a lot of new features or improvements over the previous entry. EA and the Madden have faced this complaint for years, but still enjoy incredibly strong sales year after year.
Rainbow Six Vegas 2 is a parallel story that re-uses a lot of the assets from the first game, which gave many players the dreaded "1.5" vibe. This is when a game feels like a stepping stone between the original and the full sequel despite being a good game in its own right.
Crysis Warhead, which was recently announced, is another parallel story game that Crytek was able to quickly develop using most of the assets from the original game. They do plan, however, to deliver an updated engine that is optimized for better performance.
What about Blizzard? It's been 10 years since StarCraft was released. Diablo II was released 9 years ago. It's been so long since we've had games in these two franchises. Do we really want Blizzard to create a completely different game? Fallout 3 is going to be an Oblivion-style game, but the original games were top-down RPG's.
This is where I see a key difference in any "conservative" design choices. Blizzard isn't cranking out new Diablo games every year. Gamers are mostly just longing to return to the good memories they have from the original games. This, instead, presents a different challenge to Blizzard. They've got to live up to the legacy of the original.
What do you think?