Recycling and reuse in your kitchen is a good thing. I mean I’m completely in favour of saving the planet, it’s the only place we have to live right now. However, when you’re talking about recycling of plots or game concepts it’s not so much fun. Having the same ideas and mechanics thrown at us time and time again can be a little boring, and far more so when it’s the same developer or series doing it.
A good example would be Fallout: New Vegas. By all reports New Vegas is a good, albeit buggy, game. However it seems it’s a good game because Fallout 3 was already a good game, New Vegas seems to have changed very little even though it’s set on the other side of the US.
Of course it’s fine to recycle some elements of a game, it’s part of what makes a series a series. For me most good series fall into this category. People always complain about Halo re-using too much of the same elements, but really it’s just a series. Of course some of the elements will be re-used, but in my opinion Bungie haven’t made the same game five times, they’ve just kept the core distinctiveness that makes a Halo game a Halo game whilst evolving and refining each game in the series.
The real problem is how do you craft a game that doesn’t stray so far from the core ideas of a series or the trademark mechanics of a developer whilst still creating something fresh. If you don’t maintain the balance perfectly you either have your fans screaming bloody murder about the changes, or your critics tear you apart for just recreating the same game.
How important is that balance to you? Do you like developers to recycle and re-use elements of their old games? Can it be carried across series? Would you rather games were always fresh and re-used very little?
Thanks to Daywalkerliam for suggesting this topic via Twitter.