Ask CVG Anything: Does innovation ruin franchises?

Plus: Online achievements, Nintendo negativity on forums

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Should family games(PEGI 3-7) be given more time and attention, from both sides? As publishers don't have faith in them selling so don't give proper funding, devs then can't make a great game, sites and mags won't have features of them, and then people aren't that aware of them. So it ends in an eternal loop of rubbish games aimed at Spyro and Ratchet fans, young and old. - Ammy O'Neill

Rob - Well, a lot of casual games sell incredibly well, from Just Dance to Skylanders to Wii Fit. Or at least they did before Apple got involved. In either case, most of the people that buy and play these games don't usually read internet games sites. We'd kind of be wasting our time. (Hope that helps answer your question, let me know if not)

Chris - The problem is that, like you say, a lot of these games are atrocious. Since there are only so many hours in the day and only so many people working on CVG we have to choose which games to cover and ultimately we focus on the titles that most of our readership are interested in. That's not to say we completely ignore PEGI 3-7 games, of course - there are some brilliant titles out there like Lego City Undercover and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, and if they're high profile or enjoyable enough we give them the same coverage we'd give a more 'mature' title.

Tamoor - Yeah, from our perspective we make our calls based on what people are interested in but also potential. If a family game does something cool or interesting that catches our attention, one of the team can totally champion it. It has happened before. Obviously, that means developers and publishers have to actually put the time, money and effort in.


Does 'innovation' and 'progress' ruin franchises? Dead Space, Resident Evil and countless other IPs have been ruined this generation because of it. - Peter Corr

Tamoor - I think you might be confusing 'progress' and 'innovation' with pandering and trying to reach a broader audience. That's certainly what ruined Resi.

Chris - I think it's one of those 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' situations. Imagine if Resident Evil 5 and 6 still had the same static cameras and pre-rendered backgrounds that the first three games did. People would be slagging it off for being stuck in the past and failing to progress with the times. I reckon people only want that sort of gameplay now because it was taken away from them. Instead, Capcom tried something different and, ultimately, it didn't pay off and they were slagged anyway.
I don't think innovation is a bad thing, but it's ultimately a gamble. Sometimes it doesn't work (Dead Space 3) but sometimes it does (Fallout 3, GTA III). If you're going to change the tried-and-tested formula that made a series so popular, you'd better be sure the result is going to be even better or you'll face a backlash.

How does one end up working at CVG? Do you do internships? - Gareth Barry
Rob - Our editor Andy can answer that for you. Should say though, those who want to work as games journalists should have an interest in journalism - study a course and start writing your own work. Build up a CV. You don't play games anywhere near as much as you might think, so you better enjoy the writing!
Andy - These days the gap between paid writers and those who dabble in their spare time is smaller than ever. So my advise for those looking to get in to games writing is simple: start games writing. Publish a blog and share around your own articles in your spare time. E-mail editors and make noise in the communuity. If you're good, you'll likely get an internship or work experience with one of the big publications, which naturally leads to a paid position. That's what I did.
Chris - There's no single path you can take to make it to CVG. I did an Honours degree in Journalism at Napier University in Edinburgh, and used that to get work experience with Future Publishing (Xbox World), which then led to me getting a job interview with ONM, where I successfully got the gig. Stayed there for six years, moved to Nintendo Gamer for nine months then moved to CVG when that closed.
That was just my route though - there are plenty of other writers who didn't do things that way and got in through different routes instead. The only real advice I can give is to read as many 'established' sites as you can to get used to the writing style, and start a blog (if you don't have one already) to get plenty of writing practice in. You need writing ability and passion to work for a big games publication - it doesn't matter how much you have of one, without the other you'll have no chance.

Tamoor - It's equal parts hard work, tenacity and luck. I got a degree in Law, but have been writing about games since I was really young. I sent in reader reviews to CVG magazine and GamesMaster, which were published. Down the line I started up a blog that never got read, worked for an awesome site with some friends (check it out), and spent a lot of time just writing in blogs sections of sites like Destructoid, 1UP and GameSpot.

Eventually I spotted a job opening here, applied and got hired. The important thing is to just keep on writing, build a portfolio. Put yourself out there, talk to people on Twitter and Facebook. Come up with cool ideas and pitch them to editors.

What's the most embarrassing game you've become addicted to? - Reegeee

Rob - Family Fortunes Battle of the Sexes. Genuinely amazing with a friend.

Tamoor - I don't play embarrassing games. And when I do I don't get embarrassed. Wait, that didn't make sense. Ah whatever...

Chris - Tamoor, you bloody rebel. Recently I became addicted to Facebook game Universal Film Mogul until they got greedy and added a ridiculous number of in-app purchases. Likewise with Candy Crush Saga. I think the most embarrassing over the years though is probably Night Trap. I used to know that game inside-out. Actually, wait, no, I was well into Rumble Roses for a while, which in hindsight is really bad.

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