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Ketchaval

T.V formula serials?

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Interesting. I've been reading a book about Star Trek and it examines the fundamental qualities of drama. It compares normal drama, where what is being told is the most important moment of that character's life. Ie. Who cares about Robinson Crusoe after he has been rescued, with T.V serials, where you can't just have constant peril and life defining moments ONE after ANOTHER! ! Because it would be either anti-climactic, melodramatic or laughable. Instead, they tend to focus on characters who are involved with other characters, the life-changing things happen to the other characters but the main character is responsible for important decisions. Ie. A doctor treating a patient who has a burst appendix, if they don't realise that their patient has a burst appendix then it is a matter of life and death for the patient(and the Doctor can get in trouble over it, but they won't usually die because of it). So formula T.V series concentrate on Cops, on Doctors, on Cowboys, on Firefighters, on Starship Crews. I think this is a relevant issue in the 'evolution' of games. Likewise, I think that is one of the design decisions in games, do you make a character who will naturally get into interesting situations? Or is it a once in a lifetime event? (Which might explain why sequels often feel silly, which is because they are going with a movie approach (i.e once in a lifetime! defining event!) rather than a T.V series approach). Due to this movie approach they often end up reminding us of Saturday Morning Cartoons like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, with villains that keep returning in new disguises.

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Coincidentally, I´m reading through the book by Lee Sheldon, "Character Development and Story Telling for Games". In it, Sheldon goes into considerable detail on the very question you proposed.

Without getting into details, I would suggest picking up a used copy via Amazon, or even borrow a copy if you can.

-Razorguts

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I think one of the deterrents to trying to go with the TV serial approach is that audiences expect a happy ending. Also, I guess some people wouldn't like it since a game where extraordinary stuff is part of the character's life could been seen as a marketing ploy to make X number of sequels, sort of like how TV shows spawn countless number of seasons.

A TV serial approach, if done well, with, perhaps, cheaper sequels (due to using the same engine?) would work wonders I think for the industry.

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Perhaps the game that comes closest to your T.V. serial idea is Shenmue.

The problems though, are the same as with TV series' in general. If the first series doesn't get enough viewers, its likely that the second series will never be made. The same problem was faced by Shenmue.

An alternative would be to have serial games that follow the same premise, but using a different scenario. Final Fantasy, Grand Thaft Auto. Same game idea for their sequels, different characters and settings.

Another game that comes close to the idea is The Sims. In fact, it is almost a TV serial in itself. Relationships, deaths, marriages, births etc. With the expansion packs, new situations are introduced. Going on holiday and the like add something new.

Perhaps one of the reasons for the sims' success is the idea that it is like a TV serial?

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