View Full Version : Importance of Continuity.

03-10-2014, 01:22 PM
First I'm going to link to the Kotaku article that inspired this thread: http://kotaku.com/marvel-claims-its-building-a-connected-universe-across-1539921355

In a nut shell, it's being reported that Marvel is currently building a larger continuity between interactive titles in an effort to bring about a level of continuity similar to that of the Marvel Cinematic, and by extension TV, Universe.

After reading the article itself, it got me to thinking "do we really need to have game continuity now?"

I certainly applaud measures taken to ensure some game's continuity. The Uncharted series works well because they're all not standalone adventures but can be enjoyed as such and they're all connected in some way, much how the Indiana Jones movies are all connected yet can be enjoyed by themselves. Recently games like Mass Effect, and Tell Tale's lineup of licensed games all have it so that your decisions can carry over from one game into the next.

However now I'm starting to have a hard time thinking that having an overarching Marvel game continuity would be a good thing for future titles. For one, you're never going to have a full-on across the board continuity with every future Marvel game that comes out namely because the film rights to some franchises like the X-Men and Spider-Man are with other companies and those companies are sure to try and have games made to tie-in with their films. Second, I think this will hand-tie developers and story-makers by forcing themselves to have to craft stories that will somehow tie-in to a greater Marvel Universe when there's really no need to do so. This is further compounded by the fact that I doubt Disney Interactive is going to handle every Marvel game put out and they'll likely outsource to different developers to make different games which now are supposed to somehow tie into each other.

The Batman Arkham series has been largely kept to itself, focusing solely on Gotham City and has its own separate continuity and established universe outside of anything from the comics, movies, or other DC-licensed games that have come out in recent memory including Injustice and DC Universe Online. It works because the series is self-contained, will no need to branch out into the expanded DCU aside from slight nods, like a shipping crate from Queen Industries or a mention of Metropolis in a news report. I don't expect that if they were to make a Green Arrow game or yet another abomination of a Superman game that they'd need to tie it into what's already probably the best video game franchise DC has ever seen come out of any of their licenses, despite the disappointment of Arkham Origins.

For me, Marvel's decision seems to be one of continuity for continuity's sake. A subtle means of getting people to want to buy into several different titles because, much like how comics have been doing it for years and now how the Marvel films are doing it, if you miss one movie there might be some important scene or reference missed that teases or ties into the next comic/movie/etc. Even if you had no interest in Thor 2, you may have wanted to see what they did at the end that tied into Guardians of the Galaxy, for instance. With the possibility that story elements or narratives may be missed, it seems like they're attempting to give consumers yet another reason to get their games, specifically for those who are most interested in story elements.

But for me, especially when it comes to video games, I can't say that it's really all that important. Final Fantasy is one of the longest-running franchises in gaming today and between each numbered iteration there's very little connecting each game aside from minor things like flora/fauna/item names/etc. And they work just fine as standalone titles. People have been obsessive over trying to figure out the continuity of the Legend of Zelda games, but they work beautifully as their own titles without having to get into that convoluted history. Since when has Mario ever had continuity and millions of people still enjoy running around as the little Italian plumber that could. Megaman X seemed to suffer in its later iterations when the games started becoming a lot more interconnected and woven into each other, or hell, did anyone really care about the backstory that X and Zero were creations of Dr. Light and Dr. Wily? Does anyone truly care that deeply about the canon of Street Fighter and how it ties into Final Fight?

Now certainly some convoluted histories can make games more fun. Metal Gear's continuity is so zany and bat-shit insane that trying to figure out what the hell is going on half the time is part of the gameplay experience. I'm sure inFAMOUS: Second Sun will tie into the first two inFAMOUS games even though we have a new hero and a completely new location, with some rumors that someone Cole from the games may play some part, which might be fun.

So I suppose what I'm asking is, how important is continuity between video games to you? Or if you want to expand on that, how important is continuity of the media you consume to you? Do you like intricately-weaved universes or would you rather like to see more stand-alone adventures in a series of games you enjoy?

03-10-2014, 02:07 PM
I think it really depends on the goal/purpose of the games.

I disagree that Megaman X suffers because it has continuity. Why? Because the game is enjoyable whether you are invested in the story or not. I've only played X, X4, and X6, the narrative in X6 still made sense to me even without any real background. Continuity within the Megaman X series doesn't take away from the game, it adds to it for those who are invested in it.

There are lots of people who do care about the "canon" of Megaman, Street Fighter, and Zelda (which does infact have a continuity if you are to beleive Nintendo), and that gives it value, even if there are others who can enjoy the game for the process.

Mario games of course are very very loose, because the main design goal of Mario games is to create an experience, the story is secondary. Which is actually something of interest in how Nintendo seems to design many of their main IPS. Like I mentioned above Zelda does have a rough continuity of sorts. But I think like Mario they come up with the 'gimmicks' first and then mold the story and continuity to fit those bits so that they make sense.

I appreciate both approaches to be honest, but only when done well. Marvels goal is to tell its stories across as many forms as media as possible, it makes sense that the games it makes would try to have a continuity.Although I don't actually expect much at all from Marvel. I found Thor to be supremely boring, the Avengers wasn't really anything special to me either, especially since next to nothing made any sense at all to me. (although I did like Captain America!) I fully expect them to be bland either in mechanics or story (or heaven forbid, both). Not because of the continuity, but because that is the general precedent set for games based on movies and such.

After ruminating on it a bit though, I do believe they could potentially surprise those who are interested. Why? Because they want to tell new stories in the same universe. That means they can do whatever they want, so long as it doesn't contradict anything else mainly. If they come up with a really good story and not some half baked piece of crap like most companies do when they make video game tie ins, then they should be fine. The game mechanics don't need to be innovative either, they just need to be solid. (I personally believe that innovation for the sake of innovation has hurt more games than it has helped)

03-12-2014, 11:32 AM
I think that continuity depends a lot - if you're playing games set in the same consistent universe, then yes you do need continuity. That's one of the reasons the Elder Scrolls fanbases are a group of different faction(s) constantly warring with each other: The writing staff all have a bunch o different visions, and Elder Scrolls games have a bunch of different writers.

Remember when Cyrodiil was a steamy rainforest and when the Imperial City was surrounded with Rice paddies, while it was High Rock that was Ye Olde British Isles? Remember when Khajiit looked like this?

Some series just value continuity moreso than others, especially if they're set in the same world as another game, and are supposed to be a followup. Shadow Hearts got this right - Covenant was a direct followup to Shadow Hearts, and outright expects you to know what happened (Even though about 90% of the game is relatively standalone. Someone who's never played Shadow Hearts or Koudelka could play Covenant, but would be confused when they start talking about this "Alice" character and why they know Roger Bacon.) meanwhile From the New World still respected continuity, but they didn't outright REQUIRE you to know what happened in Covenant. But there's a moment where, if you played Covenant, you'd probably think "Wait... what?" Roger Bacon says he never witnessed an Emigre ritual, despite performing one in Covenant. [which is explainable by the "good ending" retconning things... in-universe though.]

And there are times where continuity can be bothersome like when they reference stuff in novels or anime series.

03-12-2014, 05:00 PM
I think it works better with someone titles, and less with others.

Metal Gear and the Legacy of Kain series would be nothing without their continuity, for instance.
But I don't think... say... Blaster Master or Gradius need a shit ton of backstory to just pick up and play them as they are. In fact, it might even be distracting.

I love little continuity nods, though.
Nothing that force-feeds you. Just a little shout out.