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The Game Effect Editorial

Five IPs Worth A Game Adaptation

With the right developer, these franchises could become incredible games

By Nate Gillick on 12/2/2011
Making a licensed video game can be risky, as the cost to acquire the rights could eat up a lot of the game's development budget, or holders of the IP (Intellectual Property) could place restrictions on the work that stifle a game's potential. While there are innumerable games that do no credit to the license on which they're based (We're looking at you, every movie tie-in ever), others, like Rocksteady's two Batman titles, show that wonderful things can be done with a license when it's treated with the proper respect. Today, we're going to take a look at five IPs that could become incredible video games, if given the chance. Not only do we list off these IPs and why they would make a great game, we'll also illustrate for the game developers of the world what that game could look like. Can you think of other IPs that would be great games? Let us know in the comments!

Burn Notice (TV Series)

Burn Notice tells the story of Michael Westen, a former spy looking to bring down the people who ruined his career and destroyed his name. While chasing this goal, he helps people out of tough situations that require a spy's skills and abilities. One week, he may be saving a kidnapped girl from an angry mob, while demolishing a car-theft ring the next week. Each time, solving Michael's problems requires creative thinking, as going in guns blazing would only get innocent people killed.

A Burn Notice game would do well to emulate the formula of a season of the TV show. Start the game with an introduction to the major storyline, and then break the game down into smaller missions that play like episodes from the show. Throughout the game, keep threading in missions that tie into the overall plot between one-off assignments. Burn Notice's Miami setting would be perfect for an open-world sandbox, with side missions scattered throughout the city, which could be started in any order. However, once started, many of these missions would be time-sensitive. Like with Dead Rising, some missions could be failed if Michael doesn't show up to the right place at the right time. After all, kidnappers aren't going to wait around for that ransom money forever. Driving, shooting, and world design would all play similarly to titles like Saints Row: The Third, with a combat philosophy closer to the Rainbow Six series, making smart use of cover a critical part of combat success.

The best Burn Notice experience would offer several different means to accomplish any mission, with a freedom of choice reminiscent of Deus Ex. Should a gang boss be taken out by framing him, so other gang members will in turn hunt him down? How about blowing up his drug warehouse and scaring him out of town? Having multiple avenues of success would make players feel like they are an intelligent spy, and aren't just moving through pre-determined scenarios. Even better, the potential for co-op exists if developers decide to make Michael's friends Sam and Fiona playable. Co-op may be best as a separate game mode, to keep the main game tightly focused on one player's decisions.

Archer (TV Series)

Like Westen, Sterling Archer makes his living as a spy. The similarities end there, however. Where Westen is a smart and level-headed undercover agent, capable of adapting his character to any situation as needed, Archer has only one mode: loud-mouthed fool. Rather than through cunning, Archer completes his missions amidst a storm of bullets and sheer dumb luck. Few games successfully blend humor into their action, but Archer could be the comedy series to do it right. For a taste of Archer's humor, see the video below:

In designing this title, the developers would be wise to look at the case study in the absurd video game humor of Saint's Row: The Third, and take that level of dysfunction and sexual eccentricity and adapt that to Archer's cast of characters. Anyone who has watched the show knows it wouldn't be out of character for this group to get into some bizarre and crazy situations. Each mission should play out like an individual episode of the show, as one overarching narrative game isn't necessary here.

Rather than attempting to create an open world, an Archer game would work better with more linear, set-piece level design, which plays up the action like an arcade shooter. This game wouldn't be complete without a level where Lana Kane runs around killing people while wearing nothing but lingerie, or Archer has to use the pistol he keeps in his underwear. With such a rich catalog of in-jokes and one-liners, we'd have a field day coming up with achievement/trophy names for a game like this!

John Ringo's Looking Glass Series (Novels)

Fans of Halo, Gears of War, or Resistance would do well for themselves to check out the military science fiction of John Ringo. Ringo's work is influenced by his actual military experience and knowledge, mixed with a diverse range of alien technology and space exploration. Of all his works, the "Looking Glass" series (composed of Into the Looking Glass, Vorpal Blade, Manoxime Foe, and Claws that Catch) feels like the one best designed to make a transition to video games. In this series, a science experiment gone wrong has created portals to other planets, and even other dimensions. Discoveries made through these "Looking Glasses" have ushered in new advances in technology, including advanced new weapons and space travel. Unfortunately, the portals have also made Humanity aware of the Dreen, a vast and powerful race of organic weaponry seeking to consume or subjugate all other life. To avoid extinction, humans must band together with other alien races to find a way to destroy this overwhelming threat.

If anyone's ever wanted to play a Call of Duty game with aliens, this would be it. Ringo's fiction offers up enough variety of Dreen life forms to put the enemy variety of Halo and Gears of War to shame. In a Looking Glass inspired game, players could look forward to gunning down fast and angry demon dogs, heavily armored rhino-like monstrosities capable of spitting out massive energy attacks, spike-hurling bipeds, sentient cats, and much more. Despite the utterly crazy and sci-fi nature of the enemies and weapons, Ringo's characters conduct themselves like better versions of the Call of Duty cast, mixed with a healthy dose of gallows humor, and an appreciation for the weird. For example, in one novel, a space anomaly turns everyone temporarily into anime characters... seriously. The fast-paced action of the Looking Glass series would work well with a Call of Duty like linear campaign, but would also work well with coop modes similar to Horde and Beast from Gears of War 3.

Arkham Horror (Board Game)

Based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Arkham Horror is a cooperative board game where players work to disable portals to other dimensions before an ancient, god-like monster awakens to destroy the world. To succeed, players need to explore the game world for valuable items, kill or evade hideous monsters, and survive trips through alternate dimensions. Arkham Horror is a thrilling game, though its huge physical space requirements and complicated rules create a rather steep learning curve. For those who would rather play online with some friends, we've reimagined the Arkham Horror experience in video game form.

Arkham Horror's "everybody wins or everybody dies" philosophy would work well with an extremely co-op centric design philosophy similar to Left 4 Dead. Like in Valve's zombie-slaying franchise, enemies would be randomly generated, making for an ever-changing and intensely dynamic experience. Unlike Left 4 Dead though, which relies on linear levels, Arkham Horror would contain a single, sprawling city. Player starting locations, item placements, and portal openings would all be randomized, ensuring no two playthroughs turn out the same way. In keeping with the harsh difficulty of the board game, players would not be allowed to respawn when killed (though we may have to allow a noob-friendly respawn option in private matches).

Once a session of Arkham Horror has started, players would find the shooting controls and inventory management reminiscent of Dead Space, with an over-the-shoulder third person view. In true survival horror fashion, enemies are many while ammunition remains limited. Each play session would have a strict time limit, where all portals must be found and closed before time expires. Because new portals keep opening, players must face their fear and work quickly against legions of alien horrors. If time does run out, the Ancient One would awaken; a random super-boss from a roster of a dozen or more.

Each Ancient One would have their own strengths and weaknesses, and different attack patterns. With god-like power, these boss encounters would be brutally, soul-crushingly hard, like the meanest moments of Dark Souls, but wouldn't be impossible. With the potential for up to 8-player coop, and a mandate for teamwork thanks to copious portals, this game would be a true test of calloboration and tactics.

Stargate: SG-1 (TV Series)

Oh SG-1, how badly we miss you. The TV spinoff to the Stargate film ran ten seasons, totaling over two hundred episodes, before concluding with a pair of straight-to-DVD movies. Stargate: SG-1 became the longest running sci-fi series ever for a variety of reasons, including its masterful ability to organically present action, adventure, comedy, drama, morality tales, social commentary, and more on a weekly basis. With such a rich cast of characters and alien enemies, and the limitless potential of a portal that can send people anywhere in the galaxy, SG-1 begs to be turned into a game.

Want to know a dirty little secret? Three attempts have been made to make a game from this license, and nobody has seen success. First, there was an SG-1 themed first-person shooter that got cancelled before release during the PS2/Xbox era. Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment tried to bring an MMO titled Stargate Worlds to market, and it too got shuttered before release. Only Stargate: Resistance, a third-person multiplayer-centric shooter, survived to release on PC, where it met with poor sales, and shut down its servers for good early this year. Why can't a successful game be made off such an exceptional sci-fi franchise? Gather around and we speculate on how it could be done.

With SG-1 and spin-off series Stargate: Atlantis off the air for a couple years now, a franchise reboot in video game form would be more viable than trying to create a new game with ten years of backstory. The SG-1 game would begin with a playable version of the series pilot episode "Children of the Gods," and from there would feature playable versions of a few key episodes over the first couple seasons of the show, while injecting fresh new stories into the mix. Consider the story design similar to LA Noire, where there are numerous cases that stand on their own, while threads tie them all together into a cohesive whole. All four of SG-1's lead characters would be playable, with the others tagging along as AI allies. Unless, of course, the game is played in glorious four-player coop.

Stargate Command would serve as a central hub of activity, where weapons and armor could be customized or swapped out between missions, and some character-driven optional events may occur. Most activity, however, would happen off-world, on the other side of the Stargate. With three to four different alien areas to explore, the Stargate game would feature open-world combat and missions, similar to games like Far Cry 2 or Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising. Although the core missions would come through Stargate Command, bonus objectives or entirely new optional missions could be given by locals of that world, altering the direction of the story plus providing additional rewards. For example, taking the time to help a slave revolt could make the final battle against an evil System Lord much easier. A Stargate game built on these ideas would likely have enough mass appeal to be a success, pulling in new fans to the Stargate universe.

Countless Others

These are but a few of the unique IP's that have great potential in the video game realm.  There are surely countless others that have yet to make the transition, ranging from untapped comic book series to esoteric literature.  The technology exists to create all of these games, requiring only a developer to invest the time and budget necessary to make them a reality. Though, while the odds of them actually getting green-lit are perilously slim, it's fun to dream, right?  Then again, if publishers are willing to release games based off of Chester the Cheetah and Shaquille O'Neal, anything is possible.
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Starrsilara on June 20, 2013
Another set of TV shows that will make an excellent series are:

Nikita (similar to a Tomb Raider game) - it could also be an MMO with Division Vs Rogue Agents

Game of Thrones

Chuck - (oh how I miss that one)

Misfits (Hulu series)


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Solathon on June 09, 2012
I'd kinda like a Video game adaption of John Ringo's Legacy of The Aldenta, just think about it... decimating posleen as an ACS trooper, or assasinating Darhel as a Bane Sidhe operative!
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Deshra on May 08, 2012
I would like to point out that there was also another game made from Stargate. That game was made in 1994 and released on the SNES. While it was based on the movie it was still a Stargate game and deserves at least some rememberance. It was published by Acclaim and also released on the Genesis. 
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SpicyBaeg on April 08, 2012
I want to play arkahm horror digital. There would be waaaaaay less setup
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Haikouzen on March 29, 2012
stargate ftw. i'd rather epic games take a hold of this with there unreal 4 or EA with frostbite 3 thats in the works cause stargate would be fckin epic
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MikeDeas879 on March 25, 2012
Interesting article. These could be really interesting. Would be awesome if they took the time to do it right... which they wouldn't.
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KrazyTaco1 on March 05, 2012
Burn Notice has to be one of the best TV shows in the world.
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cjf582 on December 07, 2011
I think the looking glass game would be really fun.
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Rishabhmystic on December 07, 2011
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Merfyz on December 07, 2011
Please don't just comment with exclamation marks, nobody wants to see this.
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rohity03 on December 06, 2011
damn sexy she is
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giftedrogue on December 04, 2011
I would definitely buy an Archer video game! That is easily one of the greatest shows on Fox.
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