Why It's OK to Steal From Other Games (Sometimes)
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One of the hardest things out there in games, even with established developers with major publishers, is coming up with something new. It’s part of the reason why we have as many series either being continued or killed off as we do. The industry, while relatively recession-proof, is still very risk-averse. So, with the creation of new IP’s, you tend to get interesting mixtures of the new idea with elements inspired by successful or promising games. Due to the mixture of design philosophy of Gearbox’s Godfall, that is part of the reason why I’m intrigued by the subject.

Just for an example before we get into the core subject, we’ve seen this practice multiple different times. Aside from the Rogue-likes and Souls-like games, we’ve seen it in plenty of other places. Just for an example, Diablo has inspired a lot of different game, if not in look, then in mechanics. For example, some of the things that it ended up inspiring, at least in terms of presentation, include Bastion or Torchlight among many others. Some of the mechanics, like random equipment generation and splitting up skills via archetype, were a starting point for the Divine Divinity, though Divine Divinity also borrowed some other aspects like reputation and branching dialog options came from other sources like Elder Scrolls, Ultima, and D&D-based games. Speaking of D&D-based games, guess where Pillars of Eternity, Tyranny and Pathfinder: Kingmaker pulled their inspiration from. They were inspired by things like Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale, and Baldur’s Gate just to name a few.

There are also games that succeed in part because they shifted to being part of a more popular franchise. Super Mario Bros 2 spun out of a suspended prototype that was eventually made into adventure game Doki Doki Panic, which was then converted back into a Mario game. It just took a while to figure out how to get things working on the already aging NES. On the other side of the scale, sometimes something incredibly popular is created by abandoning the design of an installment for something already popular. For example, Devil May Cry was originally being developed as a Resident Evil installment, though it was abandoned and completely changed when the fixed camera angles hindered gameplay. Though in switch development to what ultimately became Devil May Cry, that also taught some lessons on how to free up the camera so that Resident Evil 4 would work.

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Now, on to what really spurred this article. In Sony’s State of Play, they revealed gameplay for Gearbox’s PS5 exclusive Godfall. While we already knew Godfall was coming, it was the first gameplay that we saw, which allowed a bit more of a design philosophy. Due to the looter/slasher adventure approach, there’s already obvious inspiration and borrowing from games like Diablo and Darksiders. The shifting gameplay styles based on what you’re wearing and wielding coupled with an attention to the rhythm of the battle can be seen as taking pretty strong influence from the Souls-like genre as well. Those things in a world as beautiful as Godfall’s makes for a very compelling invitation.

At least that’s based on the information and gameplay we’ve seen so far. I might have to update this the next time they show more gameplay. But based on what it seems to be drawing from coupled with Gearbox being the developer, I’m expecting great things. Sure, taking elements from other games doesn’t always work out. But Godfall seems to be hitting the right stride for success.

Jon Gronli
Jon Gronli
@JGronli

Contributing Writer
Date: 08/25/2020

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