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MMR: Why Video Games Based on Movies Aren't Working

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November 6, 2006 3:03:45 PM

There have been far too many disappointing video and PC games lately based on movies and television shows. Part of the reason is that movie stories and characters just don't seem to translate well into the video game world. TwitchGuru explores the writer's block within the video game world, and why it's everyone's fault.
November 6, 2006 6:21:14 PM

I believe they are right in what they are saying, but being a little pretentious about teh media itself.

Video games are difficult to make and involve your characters in. Why? Because unlike a book you can't FORCE someone to do things the way you want them to, with the timing you would like, etc etc. The games that force you into an overly-linear progression were never the ones that lasted long. People got tired of them after a while.

But how do you make a good interactive game that will get the target audience?

Galactica would be interesting, but you would have to be the classic outsider that noone has ever seen. Given a plausable entrance, the only way to be able to work it woudl be to mix flight sim, FPS AND role playing game together with cut scenes that you could appreciate.

The hardest part woud be to make it so that every wrong decision you make could be rectified so long as you did not keep screwing up. THAT is what makes video games so much different.

As for the other component parts.... That is difficult. you do not want the FPS or space-sim things to feel like padding, and that is where most narrative diverse gaming engines fail. They focus on one thing and the others suffer.
November 6, 2006 6:23:19 PM

I don’t know about you guys, but I feel that games these days are seriously lackluster. I mean, when last did you hear about a great game from a friend who couldn’t stop talking about it, go buy it in the store, run home, and just get totally blown away by the effects and experience immersed in the game – where you would find it hard to tear yourself away from the screen and rejoin civilization.

I remember playing certain games as a kid (which today look totally ridiculous), but were blockbusters of their time. I think the common theme was that they did something different, and broke grounds where no one else had gone.

Remember your first RTS (Command and Conquer), your first shooter (Wolfenstein), your first simulation game (SimCity AD), first adventure game (Monkey Island) etc.

I beg of you game developers, think outside the box !!!!!!! We have so much to work with these days!
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November 6, 2006 7:45:44 PM

Fallout, Fallout 2, Arcanum, Planescape Torment, Baldur's Gate 2....
These are some of the greatest RPGs ever made. They provided an engaging plot, intriguing characters, GREAT dialogue, and *gasp* freedom.

They were all open ended and allowed you to go about doing things the way YOU wanted to. Oblivion could have succeeded in this regard but the NPCs were too bland and your character only had the personality you imagined in your head.

Then there are other games that DID put you on rails, but provided a great game experience with plot, story, and characters. Prince of Persia :Sands of time comes to mind.

Video game storytelling exists and is capable of stories more compelling than much of what you would find on the silver screen, but many video game writers and publishers have utterly failed to take the lessons from the successes. They have failed to innovate in the right directions.
November 6, 2006 8:10:38 PM

I think the next blockbuster will actually come from inventing a new Genre. Think about it - every smash hit game was the first to market with a new idea/platform. Even Prince of Persia was fantastic. Simple, yet new.

What do you think could be the next big hit, platform wise? I like the idea of a 3D 1st person shooter. Imagine blowing up a barrel of gas, and having bits of wall fly out of the screen at you. That would be great.
November 6, 2006 9:26:31 PM

Quote:
I think the next blockbuster will actually come from inventing a new Genre. Think about it - every smash hit game was the first to market with a new idea/platform. Even Prince of Persia was fantastic. Simple, yet new.

What do you think could be the next big hit, platform wise? I like the idea of a 3D 1st person shooter. Imagine blowing up a barrel of gas, and having bits of wall fly out of the screen at you. That would be great.


Too much eye candy and not enough plot to back it up...

You really have to concentrate on a storyline that is plausable for what you are in, and make sure all of your characters fit that line.

You follow pretty much the same rules as a good movie, Sci Fi or otherwise. You say a guy can lift a truck, fine. Just don't make him lift a truck on top of a wooden roof, or somehow do it all by its front bumper. You may not realize it conciously, bt your subconcious is going "that aint right".

You do the same with games. Characters stay in character. You can give an endless quiver, but it would be better if all the armor in a game did not magically fit you. (Aside from "magic" armor). It would be good if your bazooka could take out a chainlink fence, and that ALL windows could be taken out with a rifle butt.

It would be good to work on better AI, better scripts (Like when HL 1 was first introduced. Some really good scripting there with enemy paths and stuff).

Video card stuff is always great, but I think we are at the pont now where we really do not need more vertex shaders and graphic pipelines. We need to make the characters we are seeing ACT as realistic as they look.
November 6, 2006 11:23:46 PM

Personally I don't think the situation is any worse than standard bad movies or bad games are. It's just what happens when an industry is flooded by those who only care about money & not quality.

There's still games like TIE Fighter, Goldeneye, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault & all the Call of Duty games (okay, so some of these games are only loosely based on movies, but still very much based on them), Blade Runner, The Specialists, Alien vs. Predator, and I know there's quite a few others out there I just can't think of to save my life.
November 7, 2006 5:25:24 AM

Quote:
I think the next blockbuster will actually come from inventing a new Genre. Think about it - every smash hit game was the first to market with a new idea/platform. Even Prince of Persia was fantastic. Simple, yet new.

What do you think could be the next big hit, platform wise? I like the idea of a 3D 1st person shooter. Imagine blowing up a barrel of gas, and having bits of wall fly out of the screen at you. That would be great.


The games I'm really looking out for are: Alan Wake, and Spore. Spore will be playing as a new genre if the material I've seen lives up to its promise. Alan Wake will hopefully be a new attempt at 3D immersive story telling. Remedy has a great record of great story telling (Max Payne) so my hopes are really up on that one.

I'm expecting Spore somewhere 2007 (it's not yet been announced as far as I know). Alan Wake will be out later than Spore, I think. It might be the catalyst for buying my next system.
November 7, 2006 12:18:03 PM

I came across spore through E3 and it looks awesome. I also thought that this could be a new revolution in gaming. I'm just a little concerned upfront at the balance between easy of gameplay and challenges/over customization. Hard to explain in words, but games that take many hours of micromanagement can lose a players attention VERY QUICKLY (Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 - ever try build one of those coasters!). On the other hand, games that dont have any strategy can also lose patrons (FEAR COMBAT # of players seems to be shrinking every day). There is an extremely fine line in this balance, and I am eager to see if Alan can pull it off.

Go Spore!
November 7, 2006 7:35:12 PM

I watched those movies too. Check out YouTube. I didnt get that fuzzy feeling though, but it's a little premature to tell.
November 8, 2006 6:00:17 AM

Quote:
There have been far too many disappointing video and PC games lately based on movies and television shows. Part of the reason is that movie stories and characters just don't seem to translate well into the video game world. TwitchGuru explores the writer's block within the video game world, and why it's everyone's fault.


I think the problem is not that you cannot make good games out of a movie storyboard. The problem is that games are used as marketing tools to promote the movie, or at the very least to use the success of a movie to promote the sales of a particular game. In order to do this, they need to publish the game around when the movie is released (ok so this particular bit does not apply to Reservoir Dogs) and they usually have to really rush development, or at least make a very mediocre game because of the limited development window. Being predictable in the game producing business is a lot harder than being predictable in the movie producing business.

I believe if they're going to do it the other way around (we could try and use Tomb Raider as an example?) then it will be more succesful. And why not? After all, the turnover in the games business is now bigger than that of the hollywood films business (if I'm not mistaken). Also, when thinking about it, if you make a succesful game, then it is easier to make additional movies that uncover all kinds of background information regarding the plot and/or the characters. The other way around is almost impossible to get right.

Maybe Riddick's Chronicles came somewhat close, in my opinion both a decent movie and a reasonably enjoyable game. Not that much of a storyline there though, I'm just a sucker for the SF genre and I actually enjoy Vin Diesel 's performances (there, I said it :oops:  ).
November 8, 2006 9:21:25 AM

i think it gets harder and harder to produce a decent enjoyable, original video game every year, and thats without a film company breathing down your neck!

the problem here is that a bad game is a bad game, doesn't matter what badge you slap on it. there are hundreds of bad games brought out every year, sometimes there is a good one (and then everyone goes out and buys it). so the film/game market is just a smaller demonstration of that, the only reason people get more p******d off with it is because its ruining films they love.
November 8, 2006 10:02:01 AM

I thought to my self when reading this thread that I must have played a half decent spin off game in my time. So I went on the hunt on the Internet for a website that would tell me what they though was good movie spin off game. To my horror I found this website: http://xbox.about.com/od/gamingculture/tp/moviegamestop...

I kinda agreed with the first entry on that webpage and thought, heh I guess there not in any order. Then I scrolled down to see number two and my eyes went red with rage, and I felt like ripping off that plump little journalists head. But then I thought to my self again that, well maybe this was a dig at all movies turned in to games and that he was deliberately making this list to show how bad these games really are.

But again it got me thinking, back to my childhood with my friend’s bigger brothers Amiga. The Home Alone game was brilliant, and what about Ghost Busters, they where fantastic games for the time.

Well I have ran out of things to say and the time to say it so I will stop here.
November 8, 2006 12:18:46 PM

Ahhhhhhhhhh Ghostbusters. That was a blast! Seriously, I need a good game.
November 9, 2006 1:12:56 PM

Quote:
I think the next blockbuster will actually come from inventing a new Genre. Think about it - every smash hit game was the first to market with a new idea/platform. Even Prince of Persia was fantastic. Simple, yet new.


I was thinking the same as I read your previous post - we remember most fondly the truly innovative games we have played (Max Payne and Bullet Time, anyone?), and the focus is rarely on innovation anymore - too much money at stake for a big developer to go too far out on a limb, so we get safe but derivative games primarily. With the rise of online delivery systems such as Steam, there are more viable outlets for smaller developers to come up with something new and different and still be able to deliver it without having to fight tooth and nail for space on a retail shelf. Time will tell, but hopefully in a couple of years we will be able to say that we were on the cusp of the game Renaissance with this discussion. Then again, maybe PC gaming is really dead this time, unlike the several previous times it has been declared moribund...
November 9, 2006 1:19:12 PM

Yep - Escape from Butcher's Bay was a surprisingly good game, and if you base your opinion of Vin Diesel on the Pitch Black movie, rather than Chronicles, I can't disagree with you too much - he really carried what would have otherwise been a pretty uneventful sci-fi movie.
November 9, 2006 1:22:24 PM

I also liked his performance in xXx (even when that's not SF).

If you compare him to Stallone and Schwarzenegger in their better days, he definitely stands out. I can't really articulate why but that's how I see it. Maybe that's exactly it.... "articulate" :) 
November 9, 2006 3:19:21 PM

I think you have found your first true love in Mr Diesel, maybe you should stalk him and ask him to marry you. Much like Borat did to Pamela Anderson in his new movie. I don’t know about the first film but I seen the second XXX movie and I cried at the end of it for such a waste it was. A waste of 2 hours of my valuable life and this was not a sound trade off. This movie could be used to torture to the well educated and the intelligent. I could even say my eyes and ears where offended but that would be an understatement on almost criminal proportions.

Needless to say I did not like the movie.
November 9, 2006 4:22:50 PM

No argument on the XXX movies, though the first one had some decent mindless fun and unintentional comedy. The second one was a waste, and starred Ice Cube instead of Diesel, suggesting that at least he is smart enough to get out while the getting is good. Diesel will never be confused with a real actor, but he is competent in Pitch Black, and another lesser known film called Knockaround Guys. And just remember - no matter how bad Diesel might be, he'll always be better than The Rock... :roll:
November 9, 2006 8:59:19 PM

It occurs to me that the blame cannot be solely directed at the video game industry.

Movies based on video games are just as bad if not worse in most cases. Though a large portion of that is probably Uwe Boll's fault he is not the only major offender.

...

HAS there been an even remotely palatable movie based on a video game? I can't think of one.
November 10, 2006 11:06:38 AM

The Matrix Revolutions (I think), wasnt a bad game. Not the first one, but the second or something like that. They had to change the ending to make Neo win. It was average to good.
November 10, 2006 11:39:52 AM

Quote:
I think you have found your first true love in Mr Diesel, maybe you should stalk him and ask him to marry you.....I don’t know about the first film but I seen the second XXX movie and I cried at the end of it for such a waste it was.


Vin Diesel wasn't even in that movie, and you're blaming him for how it bad it was? You're crazy.
November 10, 2006 12:45:29 PM

Never said he was in that in that movie, I just said you loved him and that you should try and get married to him. But I just hope the first movie was not as bad as the second. I even heard talk of him being the new James Bond round about that time, so I guess it could have not been that bad.
November 10, 2006 2:28:19 PM

So why even bring up the second movie then? It's completely irrelevant as you cannot talk about Vin Diesel in xXx because you didn't see it.

Geez. You're definitely material for the other other forum. Ever been there? I can recommend it.
November 10, 2006 3:18:08 PM

The second one was complete pants, so by association I made the mistake of thinking the first one would also be pants. Besides I said nothing about Vin Diesels performance in that show… I really do think you are showing your soft spot for this man here :?

Edit: I feel my brain dripping from my ear Click Here
November 13, 2006 9:27:31 PM

I suspect part of what's going on is also "PEBCAK" in nature. Your average gamer, and average reviewer, are aging. With age (for many folks) comes maturity and maturity unfortunately brings higher expectations.

As we get older we get bored faster with juvenile solutions to juvenile problems despite the quality of the adrenaline rush. Think about it: most games, especially most FPS style games, entail 20 something punk solutions to 20 something punk problems. By the time you're 40, a lot of the "whoa dude, cool!" has worn off the process of putting a bullet into a zombie.

So....MOST of us playing now require things of our games that we simply didn't require 20 years ago.

Here's an honest question that requires an honest answer. Let's say Alien came out today for the first time, you'd never seen it. No memories, no adolescent glow attached, just the movie. Would you still think it was cool? Would you still go back to the theatre multiple times to see it?

I suspect that "back in the day" when the only two things you had on your mind were fighting and getting laid, Alien was a rush and that's the ONLY thing you expect: plot was utterly irrelevant. Now that you've got a mortgage and some pimply faced pr!ck is trying to screw your daughter, the joys of Alien just ain't gonna cut it. Same thing with our games....
November 14, 2006 6:36:13 PM

You make an interesting point, but to be honest.... I never really liked the Alien movies. Too much thriller, not enough substance.

Then again I never really liked the entire horror movie genre so to each their own.

The problem we have however is mostly one of relative quality. The consistancy on which video games based on movies, and conversely, movies based on video games suck is much higher than for other genres, and they have some fierce competition in some areas.

Also there is the problem of expectations of character. You've already met and are familiar with the characters of the story and the story itself, but for some reason crossing mediums like this seems to screw it all up. The characters don't act like themselves and the story is completely wrong. This cheapening of our expectations is nearly always a disapointment.
November 14, 2006 7:00:14 PM

Quote:
You make an interesting point, but to be honest.... I never really liked the Alien movies. Too much thriller, not enough substance.

Then again I never really liked the entire horror movie genre so to each their own.

The problem we have however is mostly one of relative quality. The consistancy on which video games based on movies, and conversely, movies based on video games suck is much higher than for other genres, and they have some fierce competition in some areas.

Also there is the problem of expectations of character. You've already met and are familiar with the characters of the story and the story itself, but for some reason crossing mediums like this seems to screw it all up. The characters don't act like themselves and the story is completely wrong. This cheapening of our expectations is nearly always a disapointment.


Good points. Also, for some reason the "cheap thrill" in games just doesn't pack the punch it does in movies. And it's that cheap thrill that fill the impending void everytime the character and plot start to go flat.
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