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Where are my gaming spin-offs?

Posted on 17th Dec 2010 at 10:12 by Chris Pickering with 22 comments

Chris Pickering
The world of television has always featured spin-offs. The long running Frasier starred a character created in the world of Cheers. The Day Today brought us into contact with the comedy stylings of Alan Partridge. Even Hollyoaks found itself giving birth to a late night ‘adult’ variations of its tea-time teenage themes.

Yet the video game world seemingly doesn’t wish to join in on this potential cavalcade of excitement. Recently the fantastic Red Dead Redemption was infested with zombies in Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, which has John Marston attempt to stop the zombie horde. It’s really quite blooming good fun and you can only assume it was pretty bloomin' cheap to produce too.

So, it makes you wonder why so few successful series aren't seemingly eager to do the same. The superb Mass Effect 2 has received all kinds of plaudits for its deep, realistic characters that populate your crew. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you could play the back story to the deeply troubled Jack? What about Captain Anderson and his murky past? Wouldn’t this be a fantastic way to expand a world we’ve all fallen in love with? These areas are explored more in books admittedly, but we want games!

Where are my gaming spin-offs? Where are my gaming spin-offs
Could Undead Nightmare be the start of the gaming spin-off?

Sadly, the type of spin-offs we're made to cope with are more along the lines of Mario Party or Sonic Spinball; games that take the central characters and simply put them in a new setting. Most of these games have no real need for such a famous and well known character, other than the bonus of an additional few copies sold at the tills due to their big name status.

Personally, I'm desperate to see 'proper' spin-offs, along the same lines as Undead Nightmare. I’ve got a little hope that, due to ever rising cost of modern game development, publishers will be eager to see expensively created locales and art used multiple times.

And if that means that Bioware allow me the chance to play out the years of Jack’s life before Commander Shephard came into her life, I’ll be a very happy chap indeed.

22 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
memeroot 17th December 2010, 11:42 Quote
costs of development to high
Fizzban 17th December 2010, 11:59 Quote
I think game developers are usually pretty cautious about spin offs. Which I can understand on the one hand, but then on the other when they keep releasing rubbish sequels I kinda wonder why they don't just dump the main franchise while it's ahead, and go down a spin off route..thus avoiding the flogging of a mouldy old horse.
cjmUK 17th December 2010, 12:01 Quote
@memeroot -

As Chris said, RDR: Undead Nightmare will have been cheap to produce. You have the engine/textures/model/AI all in place - all you need to do is re-use them. Far cheaper than creating a game from scratch...
GravitySmacked 17th December 2010, 12:14 Quote
Mario springs to mind; loads of spin off with other characters.
BRAWL 17th December 2010, 12:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by memeroot
costs of development to high

this straight away. Unfortunatly people who want storyline are few and far between (as far as I can tell). I'd go for it... but that's just me.

Most people like click BOOM click BOOM!
RedFlames 17th December 2010, 12:51 Quote
you could argue that games like fallout 3 and halo reach were spin-offs, they were set in the same universe but had little to do with the originals.

however mass effect spin-offs like you described would indeed be awesome...
Herr_SturmGeist 17th December 2010, 13:02 Quote
Opposing Force (from Half-Life) was quite well received but Blue Shift not so much, so maybe a torrent of useless spin-offs killed the idea for publishers?
Devolve 17th December 2010, 13:15 Quote
When he mentioned adult versions of hollyoaks, was anyone else thinking tomb raider?
Er-El 17th December 2010, 13:30 Quote
They need to make a Captain Anderson Mass Effect spin-off based on the Contact War between humans and turians.
sotu1 17th December 2010, 13:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRAWL
Quote:
Originally Posted by memeroot
costs of development to high

this straight away. Unfortunatly people who want storyline are few and far between (as far as I can tell). I'd go for it... but that's just me.

Most people like click BOOM click BOOM!


I don't think that's true. Whilst I've not played ME2 yet, I do think that it's the sort of game that appeals to gamers who like character development and storyline as well as action. But yes, this does require building in significant character work and isn't as straight forward as slapping on more things to shoot.
Hovis 17th December 2010, 14:13 Quote
I think the proportion of spin-offs in games is probably higher than is to TV shows to be honest. I can't think of more than a few TV spin-offs out of hundreds of TV shows that have appeared over the years, meanwhile spin-offs for games, while still uncommon, occur more frequently.

And to be honest I tend not to like them. To me it smacks of wringing all the good out of one decent idea, yielding continually diminishing returns, so that in the end you just get total crap. Look at Mario, Sonic or Star Wars games for what happens when spin-offs attack. Continual, relentless, fail cascade. I mean just take a look at how bad Star Wars games are now, compared to how good they used to be. It's shocking. I'd hate to ever look at a Mass Effect game with the sort of irritated indifference that Star Wars Game #9261 generates. Always leave the audience hungry for more I say.

Notable exception I suppose was when Dragon Age did an expansion pack where you played the backstory of the Lelliana character, and it was great as a standalone little DLC, but if they'd kept doing stuff like that it would have gotten old fast. Less is often more when it comes to character back stories.
Burdman27911 17th December 2010, 14:35 Quote
Video games are more analogous with movies than TV shows. Imagine movies breaking out of the main the storyline and doing spinoffs of side characters. It could happen very rarely, but not often.

When games are written, they hopefully have a fleshed out interesting main storyline with intriguing little side trails. If you tried to take one of those side trails and form it into a full blown video game you'd end up with crap most likely... now on the other hand, if you did some short DLC to expand on the little side trails, then I think it could work - just not a full game.
Aracos 17th December 2010, 14:41 Quote
Paper Mario: The thousand Year Door: Luigi's Story would be my MUST BUY spin off for me but alas I just dreamed it would happen :(.
WildThing 17th December 2010, 15:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Er-El
They need to make a Captain Anderson Mass Effect spin-off based on the Contact War between humans and turians.

+1 That would be awesome!
Fizzban 17th December 2010, 15:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Er-El
They need to make a Captain Anderson Mass Effect spin-off based on the Contact War between humans and turians.

The rumour going around is that Bioware are making a FPS set in the First Contact War. As it happens Bioware Montreal have been asking for military specialists for training..so it may be the rumours are true.
Woodspoon 17th December 2010, 18:05 Quote
Half Life 2: Dog's tails.
How much fun would that be, playing Dog in his own HL2 spin off.
RedFlames 17th December 2010, 18:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodspoon
Half Life 2: Episode 3.
How much fun would that be, playing Gordon Freeman again.
Fizzban 17th December 2010, 18:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedFlames
?

It's coming. The only question that remains is...will we get Episode 3 and then Half Life 3? Or will Valve just skip to Half life 3. Given the amount of time that has passed since Episode 2, I am inclined to say they will skip EP3 and just incorporate the story into the 3rd game. Why else would they have taken this long? Writers block?
somidiot 17th December 2010, 19:03 Quote
If I remember right there are a few games that they've tried to make spin offs with. Contract Jack, some Luigi games.... I wonder if part of it is that there just isn't as much development and they try to make it too much like the game that they're spinning off of. As far as I've seen they generally make a mess of it. I guess that I've just been disenchanted by game spin-offs.
somidiot 17th December 2010, 19:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hovis
I think the proportion of spin-offs in games is probably higher than is to TV shows to be honest. I can't think of more than a few TV spin-offs out of hundreds of TV shows that have appeared over the years, meanwhile spin-offs for games, while still uncommon, occur more frequently.

And to be honest I tend not to like them. To me it smacks of wringing all the good out of one decent idea, yielding continually diminishing returns, so that in the end you just get total crap. Look at Mario, Sonic or Star Wars games for what happens when spin-offs attack. Continual, relentless, fail cascade. I mean just take a look at how bad Star Wars games are now, compared to how good they used to be. It's shocking. I'd hate to ever look at a Mass Effect game with the sort of irritated indifference that Star Wars Game #9261 generates. Always leave the audience hungry for more I say.

Notable exception I suppose was when Dragon Age did an expansion pack where you played the backstory of the Lelliana character, and it was great as a standalone little DLC, but if they'd kept doing stuff like that it would have gotten old fast. Less is often more when it comes to character back stories.

+1 Except I Haven't played DA or ME yet. :(
Toploaded 18th December 2010, 12:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodspoon
Half Life 2: Dog's tails.
How much fun would that be, playing Dog in his own HL2 spin off.

LOL, damn dude I like that idea so much I almost wanna start a mod project for it.

Almost.
Anfield 18th December 2010, 20:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by memeroot
costs of development to high

I fear you correct, looking at Game releases its all about extremely cheap to produce DLC or full price Sequels and everything in between seems to have died out.
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