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Lessons from the Aether: Saint’s Row and Getting Off the Beaten Path


Tweet of the Day: Photography: view from the bridge

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I’ve talked about the perils of maintaining a long running series on this blog. One of the reasons why longrunners become stale is the fear of changing their basic formula. To do so risks losing vital parts of the audience. Therefor the writers must do everything in their power to make sure that status quo is king. New characters are standing for old ones, with little change in personality, role or world view. Plots get recycled with barely a convenient lamp shade to cover the many plot holes that crop up do to the recycling.  Unresolved sexual tension becomes standard operating procedure.

Enter Saint’s Row.

Saint’s Row is a series of crime sand box games set in the fictional cities of Stillwater and Steelport. The game started as an unabashed clone of the more popular Grand Theft Auto series. You start as a street tough, create a crew around you and take over the city. But along the way it became its own franchise. It embraced the underlying wackiness of a world where you are allowed to drive full speed over sidewalks full of pedestrians. It did try to maintain the same basic formula, but it also managed to change the approach to that formula and what not afraid to let it take it where the designers thought it should go. The final installment went so far as to turn the game into a superhero type sandbox, with the main character having superpowers in a Mattrix like computer construct. It shed some fans along the way but it also gained many others. It succeeded where many other long running franchises simply wallow in sameness.

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