Some thoughts on Priv II

meisdavidp

All your belief cannot absolve your sin.
Hi. I'm fairly new to these forums, the CIC and basically WC in general. The last thing I want to do is offend anyone. If I post this or anything else in the wrong place, please let me know or move my post (and let me know what I did wrong). Also, as I am fairly new to these forums, please bare with my ignorance. If I say something that anyone takes offense to, please let me know so I can try not to let it happen again. I'm here in hopes of becoming a friendly participant in intellegent discussion about Wing Commander (or any other relevant topics that I feel the interest in discussing).

Ok, now that's out of the way.

My point in writing this is to put forward my thoughts on games like Privateer II and Descent: Freespace; as well as movies such as Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Please keep an open mind.

I'm writing more about the politics of sales rather than the quality of the afforementioned titles. I've seen a lot of negative opinions about all of the above (with the exception of Freespace, which is in a league all its own) which made me curious about what might irk people so much. The more I delved into this the more I realized how much fun I could have with this. The titles I named above have essentially one thing in common: They have nothing to do with their namesakes. Taken as sequels they all fail before they begin. Normally I would wash my hands of them and not write commentary. The part that interested me was that Privateer II also recieved a good deal of fantastic reviews. Freespace became a breakout hit spawning expansions and eventually a sequel of it's own. The Freespace II community is a thriving hotspot for modding and enhancing thanks to the release of the source.

The way I see it, the fans determine the sucess in a way that may infact kill games more than help them.

At this point, I would like to ask all reading this to clear any prejudices against Origin, EA, Chris Roberts, Volition, Interplay, Square-Enix and any other names that come to mind. Now that your minds are clear, please take your shoes off. We'll be wearing theirs for a bit.

POV1:
You are a designer in gaming giant. The company is making terrific advances technologically. You are ready to release a game to raise the bar. You design your magnum opus. Something fresh and sparkly. You are thrilled. Little do you know how doomed you are. Or perhaps you do, but for the purpose of this example, imagine you don't and are completely enthuised to have the opportunity to make a NEW game. Now imagine finding out your game is flawed. The company was built on a series; a franchise that has nothing to do with your game. You are being told that if you want the game to sell it needs to connect to that series or no one will buy it simply because it isn't a KNOWN idea. That or your dream dies. You go home and weep.
You now find yourself having to make a choice that will make people unhappy no matter what you do.

YOU CAN:
Make the game exactly as you planned and tack on minimal connections to the required series... or not in some cases (Priv II, Freespace I, Final Fantasy: SW, Final Fantasy XI)

PROS:
Fans will buy it simply because it is expected to be familiar.

CONS:

Fans bring a new set of requirements to the table.
-The game now must have enough of the material from the old series to satisfy them as well as being good enough to stand on its own against modern things

New gamers may be scared of by the fact that your game is a sequel.
-Sequels often mean "don't play me if you don't know the back story."

OR

The game will not be made and fans will blame you for causing the failure of a game you may not have ever intended.

This is where these games either shine or rust. It all comes down to the balance between pleasing the fans and making the game attractive to newcomers.

Now that you are all back in your own shoes, I want you to consider something. Freespace succeeded and Privateer II failed. Does anyone have any thoughts as to why?

I'd love to hear other sides of this. If I'm mistaken in my opinions, please help me to see things correctly.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
meisdavidp said:
My point in writing this is to put forward my thoughts on games like Privateer II and Descent: Freespace; as well as movies such as Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Please keep an open mind.

The titles I named above have essentially one thing in common: They have nothing to do with their namesakes. Taken as sequels they all fail before they begin. Normally I would wash my hands of them and not write commentary. The part that interested me was that Privateer II also recieved a good deal of fantastic reviews.
I think the comparison has problems right there. Freespace is nothing like Descent, not even a similar type of game. Nor is Spirits Within similar whatsoever to the Final Fantasy games. But if Privateer 2 weren't called Privateer 2, everyone would call it a giant Privateer rip-off. It takes place in a different time, but there's nothing wrong with that. It's along the same lines as Freelancer in relation to Starlancer.

meisdavidp said:
Now imagine finding out your game is flawed. The company was built on a series; a franchise that has nothing to do with your game. You are being told that if you want the game to sell it needs to connect to that series or no one will buy it simply because it isn't a KNOWN idea. That or your dream dies. You go home and weep.
This isn't quite what happened at all with your three cases. Freespace merely got the "Descent" label because another product already trademarked "Freespace." The only change was in the title, not the actual game. Spirits Within was the same way. It got the "Final Fantasy" tag added because of its parent company, not because of any changes that were made to the movie itself. And The Darkening was envisioned as a Privateer spin off from the get go. It wasn't materially changed throughout production because of its ties to Wing Commander.

meisdavidp said:
Now that you are all back in your own shoes, I want you to consider something. Freespace succeeded and Privateer II failed. Does anyone have any thoughts as to why?
I have questions about why this comparison is being made like this. Freespace "succeeded" in terms of its publisher's goals, so they made another, which torpedoed the series. I can go into great depth about why this is, but it has practically nothing to do with Privateer 2 or the Descent name. I'm not sure under what context you're trying to say Privateer 2 failed. If you're saying it wasn't a direct sequel to Privateer 1, you're right, but it wasn't supposed to be. It's another Privateer game, and it succeeds at being that. More Privateer games were in the works beyond that, and the reasons those weren't completed are long and complicated and addressed in other topics.
 

meisdavidp

All your belief cannot absolve your sin.
I wasn't aware that Privateer II was originally conceived as a privateer 1 spin-off. It was so different that it really seemed like it was something new. I think we actually agreed on Spirits within if I understand what you said correctly. My point was that I wasn't originally conceived as a final fantasy movie and later picked up the name due to the company or the fans (I wasn't sure which). Also I didn't know about there being another licensed freespace. Thanks for clearing that up for me.
 

Haesslich

Spaceman
meisdavidp said:
I wasn't aware that Privateer II was originally conceived as a privateer 1 spin-off. It was so different that it really seemed like it was something new. I think we actually agreed on Spirits within if I understand what you said correctly. My point was that I wasn't originally conceived as a final fantasy movie and later picked up the name due to the company or the fans (I wasn't sure which). Also I didn't know about there being another licensed freespace. Thanks for clearing that up for me.
Since when was the movie not originally a Final Fantasy movie? First, it came from Square Pictures, which was a company specifically created by Square to do digital films. Second, Doctor Sid -> Cid, which is a 'trademark' Final Fantasy character almost, being the mechanical genius who shows up in pretty much every Final Fantasy up till 8 or 9. Third, you can see Chocobo's on Aki's pajamas if you look hard enough, and they also appear on a briefcase in the film; an easter egg. Fourth, notice how the Deep Eyes Squadron has four people, much like prety much every Final Fantasy game sets the party up with four, even if there are more people available to be in the party.

Yes, the plot was typical Final Fantasy too - party gets together to save the world, gets an airship to fly around, big bad guy gets in the way of the goal to save the world, etc. It bankrupted its studio, but it was more related to Final Fantasy in its plot and its recycling of some of its references than Descent: Freespace was related to Descent, which took nothing from the original game and was given the name by Interplay because of a disk-maintenance product of the same name.

Heck, most Final Fantasy games don't share the same characters or worlds, even - pretty much every FF game, except FFX and FFX-2, takes place in a different setting... but with the same plot, and only some names and objects (like airships) and party sizes recycled.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
meisdavidp said:
I wasn't aware that Privateer II was originally conceived as a privateer 1 spin-off. It was so different that it really seemed like it was something new. I think we actually agreed on Spirits within if I understand what you said correctly. My point was that I wasn't originally conceived as a final fantasy movie and later picked up the name due to the company or the fans (I wasn't sure which). Also I didn't know about there being another licensed freespace. Thanks for clearing that up for me.
Here's a bit of history on the Origins of Privateer 2
http://www.crius.net/zone/showpost.php?p=282270&postcount=21
 
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