Why Do We Love Games Based on Movies, TV and Books?

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06 Jun 2019 13:50 #298046 by ubarose
We look forward to its release with great anticipation. We...

Whenever I see an announcement for a game based on a movie, TV show or book I love, I sit up and take notice. Most of you do too, admit it.

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06 Jun 2019 14:03 #298047 by Shellhead
I think that an existing setting can challenge a game designer to replicate a wide range of elements of that setting in the context of a game, which can sometimes lead to innovation. Even when the resulting game design is actually relatively unoriginal, it offers fans of a given franchise to revisit it and play with variant outcomes without resorting to writing fan-fic. A game that is less directly inspired by a specific IP presents less challenge to the designer, and is therefore less likely to inspire innovation.
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06 Jun 2019 14:37 #298050 by Erik Twice
I'm one of those few weirdos who don't actually like when games are based on a existing property and would rather play a game that isn't. I'm simply not into the idea and would rather play something original.

I must admit I like that boardgames are mostly franchise-free. Big media franchises, remakes and clones have a massive influence on the gaming landscape. There's something tiring about yet another Star Wars/Chutlhu/Sherlock Holmes version of something and I'm happy I don't have to think about external "media franchises" when playing a game, that it's self-contained and designed purporsedly.

Of course, if EON took another franchise and made another Dune-level game, I would play it.
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06 Jun 2019 14:46 - 06 Jun 2019 14:47 #298053 by ubarose
@Shellhead
Intersting thoughts. Sometimes designers do innovate in order to create some aspect of a specific IP, like The Lords of the Rings game. Although sometimes they innovate and totally miss the boat, like that old Marvel Heroes game. And other times they just slap the IP on something and try and make it work (like I don't have high hopes for Batman Talisman).

Perhaps you are right, that what people are looking for is to be able to create more stories in a favorite setting with much loved characters, like fan-fic, or even just change the outcome of a familiar story. Perhaps the ability to do that is our measure of a game's success of failure.
Last edit: 06 Jun 2019 14:47 by ubarose.

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06 Jun 2019 15:40 #298055 by Shellhead
For what it's worth, Star Wars: Epic Duels is one of the worst games in my collection, but people always seem to enjoy playing. It has to be the IP, because the restrictions of the dice and cards can be maddening. I'm not even a big fan of Star Wars, as I completely skipped seeing the prequel trilogy and have no idea if I will bother seeing The Rise of Skywalker. But there is just enough of a sense of the setting in the game to give it an extra kick during play. One game, we saw Chewbacca take out Darth Vader with a tremendous bodyslam attack, and everybody at the table (except the Vader player) cheered.

But I agree that sometimes the IP theme/setting is a thin and cynical cash grab that makes for a poor game. Or sometimes the game is okay but just doesn't bring the theme to life, like the Buffy game from a few years ago that had pretty components and dry, boring gameplay.
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06 Jun 2019 15:45 #298057 by ubarose
Yeah, Josh Look and I debate that Buffy Game constantly. It is a solid game, but too generic and dry and repeative for me. Josh ordered the expansion, so we will see if that helps it at all.

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06 Jun 2019 15:50 #298058 by ubarose
@Erik Twice

I agree with you about having no excitement at about over used IPs. I've gotten to the point that I can't even distinguih between all the FFG Star Wars games. When I get news from them I can't even tell anymore if it is a pre-release notice for a new game or just their regular newsletter promoting existing games.
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06 Jun 2019 17:23 - 06 Jun 2019 17:24 #298064 by RobertB

Shellhead wrote: I'm not even a big fan of Star Wars, as I completely skipped seeing the prequel trilogy...


You did yourself a favor there; those movies are f'in horrible.

To not stray too far from the thread, Star Wars: Rebellion is a game that uses its setting to enhance its gameplay. It would be a decent game without its setting, but I'd always be wondering what its deal was with all its chrome. But with its setting it tells stories that make it that much more fun.

Does it work all the time? Sons of Anarchy is an example of a mixed success. It's a pretty good game, making pretty good use of a property that a) isn't ubiquitous, and that b) some folks find distasteful. "I'm a biker running whorehouses and selling drugs and guns? Can't we play Agricola again?"
Last edit: 06 Jun 2019 17:24 by RobertB.
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06 Jun 2019 18:06 #298065 by Shellhead
For a few years, Galeforce Nine was the best in the industry at translating an IP into a game. They had remarkable insight in identifying core elements of a show that could be translated into a game. Some examples:

Firefly: pickup-and-deliver game with a strong push-your-luck element. Making skill checks a core element kept the focus on the characters, just like the show.

Spartacus: a combination of gambling, bidding, combat, and take-that cardplay. As on the show, gameplay put an emphasis on both your noble house's relative stature and the ability of your gladiators.

Sons of Anarchy: here I think GF9 missed the mark a bit. The game is good, actually, and even euro-gamers seem to like it once they get past the theme. But the essence of the show is less about the brutal competition to exploit locations and more about a dysfunctional organization that is undermined by the personal agendas and secrets of the individual members. A more appropriate game model might have been a semi-cooperative game where each player is trying to win an individual victory with a hidden victory condition, while the whole group must cooperate to avoid a group loss to a publicly-known threat.
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06 Jun 2019 18:57 - 06 Jun 2019 18:59 #298067 by mc

Shellhead wrote: For a few years, Galeforce Nine was the best in the industry at translating an IP into a game. They had remarkable insight in identifying core elements of a show that could be translated into a game. Some examples:

Firefly: pickup-and-deliver game with a strong push-your-luck element. Making skill checks a core element kept the focus on the characters, just like the show.

Spartacus: a combination of gambling, bidding, combat, and take-that cardplay. As on the show, gameplay put an emphasis on both your noble house's relative stature and the ability of your gladiators.

Sons of Anarchy: here I think GF9 missed the mark a bit. The game is good, actually, and even euro-gamers seem to like it once they get past the theme. But the essence of the show is less about the brutal competition to exploit locations and more about a dysfunctional organization that is undermined by the personal agendas and secrets of the individual members. A more appropriate game model might have been a semi-cooperative game where each player is trying to win an individual victory with a hidden victory condition, while the whole group must cooperate to avoid a group loss to a publicly-known threat.


I know there's been plenty of Firefly talk on here, but just wanted to add, I think one of the main themes of the show is about the blurry line between morality and survival/making ends meet. The game does a great job of bringing that out, with the way that your crew, and the jobs you take, can be moral/immoral, with certain repercussions about those combinations.

I never watched much of Sons of Anarchy, and I haven't played the game, but from your description, yes, they missed the mark on it, because it sounds like they missed the underlying theme.
Last edit: 06 Jun 2019 18:59 by mc.
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06 Jun 2019 19:02 #298068 by RolandHemisphere
Not to be purely a contrarian, but I cringe at the term I.P. and am instantly skeptical about a game set in a world that I like. I assume there will be translation issues, at minimum. How often does a narrative book get ruined by a narrative movie, and now you're translating a linear work of art into something absolutely non-linear like a game. It's a miracle the game bears any resemblance to the IP (cringe) let alone provides you with some of the experience of that thing you love.
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06 Jun 2019 19:47 - 06 Jun 2019 20:32 #298071 by Michael Barnes
I think there was a golden age for IP games after BSG and through GF9’s best work. I was into it. I dug it. There were some great SW games in the mix.

Now we are pas the golden age and we have all of these bargain basement IP games, too many SW games, and still not enough Star Trek games worth playing. And only half a decent Doctor Who game. The definitive LOTR games are 20 and 15 years old and have never been bettered.

But we have games for Die Hard, Bill and Ted, and Labyrinth. And a $500 Batman game.

Look, I love all that IP. But I no longer care a whit about playing games based on them. Because board games really kind of suck at telling stories and depicting characters...and it’s those stories and characters I love. Not their pictures and names.
Last edit: 06 Jun 2019 20:32 by Michael Barnes.
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06 Jun 2019 21:56 - 06 Jun 2019 22:01 #298072 by Sevej
It's complex for me.

I like how IP is implemented in War of the Ring and Rebellion. But I like the idea of Imperial Assault so much more than Journeys in Middle Earth, because of the player characters choice.

I like the Alien IP, but a tactical game would miss the point completely, and I'm not really into social who-dun-it games, so I actually prefer that one not being gamed. Even Nemesis seems to be unnecessarily complex.

I'm more susceptible to IP originating from games, since their universes/worlds are designed for gaming. However, I've also come to the realization that some games are best played on PC/consoles.

So a board game with an IP I love will get more scrutiny for me, instead of an easy pass.

EDIT 1: Designers, forget getting "horror/tension" in board game. I breeze to the scariest pc games. Your pile of cardboards, plastic and wood will do nothing.

EDIT 2: Wacky Races is absolutely something I'd be into as board game. The cartoon itself is almost like a game, and even every week they do the same thing (like a game!).
Last edit: 06 Jun 2019 22:01 by Sevej.
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06 Jun 2019 23:26 #298073 by DarthJoJo
This is a little bit of a deviation from the original topic, but what about settings original to board games? How excited do people get for those?

There aren’t too many, off the top of my head there’s AEG’s Tempest and Fantasy Flight’s Arkham Horror Files, Terrinoth, Android and Twilight Imperium universes. Plaid Hat’s Mice & Mystics and Summoner Wars had spin-offs. Possibly Sentinels of the Multiverse as it had a miniatures implementation. I guess Warhammer could be a board game universe, too. Of course there’s Magic and all it’s planeswalkers. It’s even getting a Netflix release of some sort.

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06 Jun 2019 23:50 #298074 by WadeMonnig
Games based on IPs have the distinct advantage of not having to fill in a back story/ built a universe. If a furry dude slams the guy in black, big deal. If chewie slams Vader, holy smokes! Reference points are an easy sell, from star wars to sherlock to king Arthur. Egyptian folklore in Kemet or Greek mythology in Cyclades... the twisted cyber gods of Lords of Hellas. Hell, generic fantasy is a staple because we know it.
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