Feb. 5, 2017

How is it February already? Wasn’t the New Year just last week?

Around OnlySP

While this week was mostly about news including the bombshells that the Deus Ex series has been put on hold due to poor sales and Francis Ford Coppola has sanctioned an adaptation of Apocalypse Now, forty years after the film’s release, Mitch did publish our monthly Three Games to Look Forward To for February. In my opinion, both Horizon: Zero Dawn and Nioh belonged on that list, but Mitch made the right call in overlooking them, considering both were counted among our most anticipated games of 2017, and too much attention would certainly go to their heads. In other news, we put out an official call for a couple of volunteer news writers to join our ranks as we aim to build OnlySP further and expand our reach, and we would greatly appreciate your help if you could spread the word further via social media or any other available channels.

Behind the scenes, meanwhile, we held a rather productive meeting this morning to better prepare the team for the coming weeks and months. We will be updating our staff page in the very near future to better reflect the current state of OnlySP, and to give you a better of idea of whose words you are reading. All signs point to the team now being more organised than it has been since I took over, which means that we should be able to create more content on a more regular basis, and we hope that you will find said content worthy of your time and attention.

Sequels, Prequels, Remakes, and Reboots

Hollywood has a problem. This catch-cry is now common among those disillusioned by the state of the contemporary film industry, permeated as it is by adaptations, remakes, reboots, prequels, sequels, interquels, and pretty much anything that is not an original idea. The lion’s share of production budgets are granted to those movies that have an in-built fanbase, or the potential of grabbing an audience based on existing trends. Despite what seems to be growing discontent, this is not a new issue; merely one that seems to grow ever-more present and immediate with the passage of time. Gaming has traditionally offered a contrast to this. New IPs are rarely few in number, but the market, until quite recently, has never been dominated by a few key players.

With the last console generation, however, things changed. The rise of multiplayer and online interaction focused sales success into the likes of Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, and Battlefield, creating a AAA industry that aimed to recreate and thus capture the same degree of success. Such attempts were usually an unmitigated failure, and so the goals shifted. Two relatively recent announcements stick out. First, Leaving Lyndow, the debut indie game releasing this coming week from Eastshade Studios that will offer a first glimpse into the world of Eastshade, the developer’s major project. Leaving Lyndow is an intriguing proposition, similar in some respects to 2K’s problematic and abortive The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, Sega’s Valkyria Revolution, or Microsoft’s Halo Wars series. Neither a direct sequel or prequel, the game offers something entirely different from the normal processes of production and series expansion. Another similar title is Nier: Automata, expanding on the world of the original but, by all accounts, not directly tied to that game’s overarching narrative thread. Even Resident Evil VII has something of this expanded universe mentality. This approach requires more imagination and more faith in the product than traditional sequels, and despite apparent similarities in structure to the now-defunct Star Wars Extended Universe or even the Marvel Cinematic Universe, many games create entire worlds that are ripe for expansion in any direction except a direct sequel. Personally, I hope this trend gains steam because it has considerable potential to result in some fantastic experiences.

The other approach is highlighted by the aforementioned announcement and crowdfunding campaign of Apocalypse Now. Video game adaptations of games were rife in yesteryears, and almost universally panned for being low-budget rush jobs bearing none of the attention and care that the development process demands. The hallmarks of those trends have carried into the present day, with some abysmal games continuing to trickle forth (mostly from Activision, but even that company seems to have cleaned up its act recently). Mostly, though, the days of quick cash-ins lay in the past, with more respectful adaptations becoming the norm. 2017 will see a range of such titles, including Accel World VS. Sword Art Online, Attack on Titan, Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series, and Ken Follett’s: The Pillars of the Earth.

Of course, the games industry is not a unified spherical whole, but rather an amorphous blob with myriad appendages. The multitude of approaches may seem to paint the picture of a world in crisis, but that is not the case. Diversity means health, and between PCs, traditional consoles, the Switch, smartphones, tablets, AR, VR, and the good-old ball and stick, gaming is as hale as ever. Some aspects of the industry may be problematic, but unlike the film industry, those elements do not necessarily form the centre.

Personal Update

First of all, apologies for the length of that rant. I got a bit caught up in those ideas. I’ll try to keep it shorter in future. But then, I always say that.

The latter half of this past week has had me relaxing after I somehow damaged my lower back. A lot of pain and what seemed to be a spinal protrusion, but the doctor cleared it so I can only assume that it was nothing too serious. I’m feeling much better now, thanks for asking. Aside from recovering, I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading this past week, and I’ve finished Sabriel, so I’ve moved on to Lirael. After some heavy reading of late, it has felt good to be able to relax with a YA series that doesn’t demand much from the reader except engagement with the world. The fact that I’m re-reading them probably helps too. As I’m reading, I find myself thinking that the books would actually make for a great television adaptation, but I also think that such a project would cop considerable flak for appearing to draw elements from Game of Thrones, what with the Wall and the presence of the Dead… Either way, I would watch it.

That is enough from me, I think. Let us know how your week has been, single players!

Damien Lawardorn
Damien Lawardorn is an aspiring novelist, journalist, and essayist. His goal in writing is to inspire readers to engage and think, rather than simply consume and enjoy. With broad interests ranging from literature and video games to fringe science and social movements, his work tends to touch on the unexpected. Damien is the former Editor-in-Chief of OnlySP. More of his work can be found at https://open.abc.net.au/people/21767

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