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On worldbuilding, sequels and keeping it all straight

As I was trying to figure out what to write about today, I came across this article. It’s a fairly good short — note the short — description of some of the problems writers fall into when sticking to worldbuilding tropes. I don’t necessarily agree with all of them but, as with anything, if you rely on tropes too much, your run the risk of turning your work into something much too predictable to maintain steam.

But what the article really started me thinking about is how you maintain an overall story arc — and keeping your characters in, well, character — over the course of several books or a lengthy series. It is a problem you see in books, movies, TV shows and even gaming. You want your characters to grow. You want to have them suffer as well as have joy. But, if you want to keep your readers happy and not have them throwing the book — or game or whatever — across the room, you can’t have them acting one way in one installment and then turn them into something completely different in another. Or, if you do, you have to have a pretty darned good reason for doing it.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, your readers expect your character to react in a certain way unless there are new outside factors impacting his decision making. For instance, even though it was very early in the series, we already knew in Honor of the Queen, that Honor Harrington was a competent and extremely talented officer. Because of how she was raised, from the philosophy and example set by her parents, as well as the society she grew up in, she did not understand or “get” a society that believed women were not just as competent and capable as men. So, when she was given the assignment to transport Manticore’s representatives to meet with Protector Benjamin Mayhew on Grayson, we as readers expected her to be her usual, competent and often brilliant self. However, because of some of her own insecurities, it didn’t surprise us when she took her ship away from Grayson, leaving another ship, one with a male commander (iirc) there.

What would have surprised me is if Honor had pushed herself and her abilities at the Protector and the rest of the planet from the very beginning. That wasn’t the Honor we knew. She was still young and still had personal demons she was fighting, demons that often undermined her self-confidence everywhere but in battle. She would see her initial withdrawal as making it easier for Manticore’s reps to do their duty on Grayson. The events that played out helped force her to deal with the fact that she couldn’t let those insecurities impact her decisions as an officer and did, in my opinion, help push her down the road into healing and moving past what had happened so long ago.

Now if, instead of having Honor withdraw from the planet when she saw how her presence was impacting the Grayson media and more hidebound members, Weber had her force the issue and throw the fact she was female and every bit as capable as a man in the faces of the patriarchal society that Grayson was, it would not have been in character and the book would have gone against the wall. There had to be a trigger to push Honor into stepping away from her shyness and from her doubts. She needed something to make her take an in-your-face approach to the Protector. That trigger was an attack on the planet that led to the death of her beloved mentor. Now she had a personal stake and she was, by God, going to do her duty not only to her Queen but to their prospective allies as well.

That was the Honor we had come to know in the previous two books and it is an Honor who has grown and matured over the course of the rest of the series.

Unfortunately, that sort of growth and consistency isn’t always present. Sometimes it happens when an author — for whatever reason — takes a series and warps it from one genre to another. One example of this is what Laurell K. Hamilton did with the Anita Black series. When the series began, it was firmly in the realm of urban fantasy. The story revolved around Anita Blake and her work dealing with rogue vampires. She was basically a bounty hunter with a license to kill vamps that didn’t follow the rules. In other words, it was a modified police procedural/mystery.

After half a dozen or so books in the series, it went to paranormal romance and then to what can only be called erotica. Why? Because the plot no longer centered on Anita’s work but on her sex life. She went from being a human who was also a necromancer to being basically a necromancer and a succubus and a were leader and mistress of a vampire and who knows what else. To me, and to a lot of other readers, Anita had been broken and the books no longer held the “must read” tag they once had. Friends who did stick with the series have said that Hamilton has gone back to something more akin to the early books but I’ve not returned to the series. Hamilton broke trust with me when she made a major change in Anita’s character without adequate explanation or reason other than someone thought it would sell more books.

In gaming, I have seen this at work as well. The latest example is in the Borderlands series. Borderlands and Borderlands 2 are fun games. While the plot is thin in Borderlands, nothing all that new to gaming, it is more apparent in B2. There is a consistency in characters, characterization of classes and in lore between the two games. B2 very clearly built upon the legacy of Borderlands and expanded upon it.

Not long ago, the game developers released what they have called a “pre-sequel” in the series. Appropriately titled “Borderlands – the Pre Sequel”, it falls chronologically between Borderlands and B2. Which it had to since one of the main characters, even if a non-playable character, was killed at the end of B2. My problem is that it takes characters we’ve known from the other two games as basically the good guys and makes them not so good. They set up and then betray Jack. That, in turn, leads to him becoming the evil madman who is the bad guy in B2. So here you have the villain you killed in B2 acting as basically the hero, albeit a slightly unhinged one from the very beginning of the game. The good guys from Borderlands are now basically the bad guys and they are responsible for what happens in B2 — something that you aren’t given any clue of in B2.

But it is the hanging threads from the pre-sequel that bother me, especially when I think about those who might play the games for the first time in chronological order. The pre-sequel takes characters and classes from the first game and use one of them — I’m trying not to give too many spoilers here. Sorry — to warn of problems to come. The only problem is, none of those problems are shown in B2. So, as far as I’m concerned, Gearbox and Gearbox Australia have dropped the ball and they need to get Borderlands 3 out soon.

In this case, they broke the timeline, another problem you can find yourself faced with in writing series. So, keep your notes about your characters and timeline and all the details that can trip you up close at hand. You might not think it important if you vary from the world you’ve built but your readers will. More than that, they will remember and their good will only lasts so long.

43 Comments
  1. I’ve got lists and charts and maps and . . . My lists of people have an arrow. “From here up you cannot change anything” Every once in a while I even remember to move the arrow. :/ Because once it’s in print, it’s set in stone. Or bloody well ought to be.

    November 25, 2014
    • Agreed. And I have the lists and drawings and scribblings and back up files and I still worry about screwing it up.

      November 26, 2014
  2. Gary #

    And if you’re planning consistent growth in a series, beware the “each sequel needs to be bigger” problem. Anime shows like Dragonball Z and Bleach are prime examples. In these shows, a common plotline features the protagonist being beaten by the new villain, questing or training to become more powerful, then using the increased strength to defeat the villain. Repeat this often enough, and the protagonist is powerful enough to destroy planets and kill deities.

    “The sequel needs to be bigger” doesn’t need to refer to increasing physical power; I think the Hamilton’s Anita Blake series fell into the same trap with relationships. The early books portrayed a competent woman solving mysteries with a minor story arc about her relationships. Hamilton escalated in both the villain’s plotline and the relationship plotline in each book, so it wasn’t long before Anita was using more extreme sex acts to get the power to defeat gods.

    Fortunately, it usually takes time for the “each sequel needs to be bigger” problem to manifest. If it’s going to be a problem, I usually start to see it around the fifth or sixth book in a series.

    November 25, 2014
    • BobtheRegisterredFool #

      The bleach and dragon ball z manga are fine. Bleach in particular seems to have been foreshadowing later developments long in advance. That said, it could be easily argued that I have a tendency to like every Shonen Jump property.

      The first Otokojuku series had a penultimate arc thus was ended anti-climatically by the cavalry destroying the venue mid tournament arc. The ultimate arc was a return to the initial stories, showing the character of the characters, perhaps how they had grown or developed as men,.

      November 25, 2014
      • Gary #

        Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed both pieces of anime. Sequel escalation isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it just happens. How the story handles with it is important.

        November 25, 2014
    • snelson134 #

      Classic example: White Wolf’s original vampire RPG. “OMG, we gave our vampires all kinds of neat stuff so logically they should be running the world. We need to come up with something that can prevent that. I know, werewolves!”

      Lather, rinse, repeat, with every freaking new “race” they came out with.

      November 25, 2014
      • BobtheRegisterredFool #

        I read something similar for the new version of Exalted they were/are making. Second Edition supposedly became more and more broken and unfixable due to a combination of Green Sun Princes and every campaign needing to do something about the Neverborn. So, new edition where they have things set up in advance so that it will retain flexibility and fit the original design intent.

        November 25, 2014
    • Gary, I agree. My son and I have discussed just that with regard to the Dragonball sequels. As for Anita Blake, it was as if LKH took a left turn without much warning and moved the books away from what made them successful — the basic plot premise and pacing — and took the series into another genre. Now it seems like she is trying to pull it back, at least somewhat, to its roots. But for a lot of readers like me, it is too little too late.

      November 26, 2014
  3. Bob #

    Quick shout out to the first four seasons of Fringe and Highlander with Adrian Paul two series that managed to keep the worldbuilding consistent and new and fresh at the same time. Fringe through some particularly clever methods. Won’t say what they were for fear of spoilers.

    On the book front, I also think maintaining interest can be difficult in a long series that focuses exclusively on one character’s life and adventures. After a few books, you can only do so much before you start reaching. Character becomes progressively more powerful: what challenges are left? What will you do, continue to knock your character down and have them climb up again? Give them new sets of loved ones so you can keep killing them off? It takes a Sherlock or a Conan to pull it off.

    I think a party of adventurers can give writers a chance at variety and a few more options in terms of killing off, heroically sacrificing or metamorphizing members, and bringing in new ones.

    November 25, 2014
    • I’m going to disagree some with you here. It doesn’t take a Sherlock or a Conan, it takes a writer who considers plot as well as character. It also depends on genre and sub-genres you are pulling into the plot. If you are writing a series where your main character’s plot arc mainly revolves around solving some sort of mystery, you can focus on the plot and not on making the character bigger and badder and more powerful from one book to the next. Yes, the character needs to progress and grow, but not by turning into a demi-god or more. Too many authors forget about personal and emotional growth in favor of growth of whatever the special power is. That is one my issues with such characters as Anita Blake.

      November 26, 2014
  4. BobtheRegisterredFool #

    I thought the article came off a bit SJW and nonsense.

    7, 6, 3, 2, and 1 struck me as things that can be legitimately chosen.

    The less populated a world is, the more plausible it is that everyone uses it for the same purpose. The same goes for only having one biome seen by the inhabitants and the media consumer. A city world can be a way of demonstrating a powerful interstellar polity, maybe one that makes some pretty poor choices. Maybe a concession stand beach world is good mainly for parody. If I’m writing parody, why not?

    4 and 2 can be rewritten to describe the monoculture worlds that Kratman’s Terra Nova books are explicitly a criticism of on one level.

    Sure, stuff gets pretty boring over and over again. Sure, if one uses something overused because people slide into it unthinking, it is best to have thought about it, and have deliberately chosen it over other alternatives. Sure, some of these options are fairly incompatible with certain themes one might want to work into the worldbuilding.

    Maybe’ve just been lazy about consuming media, because I’m not so bored and frustrated over these things.

    November 25, 2014
  5. Bob #

    Okay, just read the article. Seemed to have some good points except for his Number 2 example. Tolkien??? Monoculture??????? The elves had two main branches (three if you count the twisted Orcs) High Elves and Dark Elves who never went to Valinor, and these branched off into a bunch of different sub-groups and developed and valued different things depending on where they were located and what crafts they followed.

    And Dwarves a monoculture??? Explain to a Dwarf of Durin’s House that he’s the same as a petty Dwarf, but be ready to dodge a mattock!

    Sorry to go off-topic, but I loves me my Middle Earth.

    November 25, 2014
    • BobtheRegisterredFool #

      That is one of the things that made me think SJW nonsense.

      I’m hardly a big Tolkien geek, but even I know the craftsmanship he put into his peoples, including the elves.

      I recently saw Desolation of Smaug. That thing where Tauriel was both a healer and a warrior is not representative of elves from what I recall. I read somewhere that elves tended to either learn the healing arts or the fighting arts. Cultivating the qualities they used for one essentially prohibited the other.

      So a) the movies aren’t necessarily a good sample of the books and notes b) with Middle Earth transport one would naturally expect that the particular bands of a people one interacts with to be relatively homogeneous, and not an even mixing of all known examples.

      November 25, 2014
      • Bob #

        Don’t recall ever hearing or reading that…just off the top of my head I think of Aragorn, who had healing arts and was a pretty tough warrior. Not an Elf, I know, but I’d think knowing how to fight would necessitate some healing ability, for battlefield care if nothing else. And it all deals with the body, so there would be some overlap.

        I was mainly thinking of the different languages and cultures between the branches of Elf-kind. The seafaring Teleri compared to Noldor craftsmen compared to the woodelves. Elves aren’t a single culture at all.

        The movies, yeah they don’t follow the books as closely as they could, but I love them. I think of them as Tolkien fan fiction, but fan fiction by people who love the source material.

        November 25, 2014
    • Christopher M. Chupik #

      Ah, but you see, they’re all white (What about the Haradrim and Easterlings? Shut up!). And since race = culture in the minds of idiots . . .

      November 25, 2014
  6. TheNash #

    Excellent post. You are spot on. Exactly why I quit reading the Anita Blake series. It also became repetitious and the story progressed slowly.

    Off topic, I wish Weber would go back to his earlier writing style. I enjoyed the Honor Harrington series, at least the early books. I’ve quit reading his books due to his ponderous, micro-detailed and intricate political schemes and plots. Some great storylines and characters, but the fewer and fewer action sequences and slow progress makes his books hard to read…so I don’t. Too bad, he was one of my favorite authors and I really enjoyed his earlier writing.

    November 25, 2014
    • Thank you! You hit what I meant to say yesterday but couldn’t quite figure it out in my sleep-fogged brain. The change in the books did what, to me, was unforgivable. It changed the pacing, making the story progress too slowly. That had been something the early books in the series were great examples of. I still use them to describe good pacing when talking with other writers about the topic.

      As for Weber, I get tired of all the politics and intricate details that have little to do with the plot. But the HH series is still on my must read list.

      November 26, 2014
      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

        The “fun” part about David Weber’s infodumps and political dealings is that he has vocal fans who basically demand them.

        I understand the problems readers (including at times myself) with the infodumps but I also have read the fans who want more infodumps or complain that David made a mistake with his fictional technology.

        For that matter, some fans want David’s characters to “do something” that the characters can’t do (or won’t do) because of the political makeup of his created societies.

        So he has to go into more detail about the political framework of the societies he created.

        By the way, I do enjoy David’s world-building regarding the political framework but Your Mileage May Vary always applies. [Smile]

        November 26, 2014
        • snelson134 #

          Weber has run headlong into the problem that crops up in every series (not to mention every RPG): The character has hit the level max.

          I mean, what have you got to challenge a 25th level whatever? You’re either talking about bringing in something so powerful that the collateral damage is going to wreck the world (or at least the kingdom), or you start moving into the political realm where the PCs are fighting against other NPCs who are basically them but with opposing goals. (At that point, the campaign usually ends because unless you are David Weber or someone else who enjoys coming up with detailed plots and has the spare time to do it, you can’t put together anything in the time you have available.)

          He’ll hit that problem in the Bahzell books sometime in the next book or two.

          November 26, 2014
          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

            Nod, Honor is no longer “Captain Kirk” but is Admiral Nelson. Of course, David Weber intended to kill Honor by now. [Wink]

            November 26, 2014
  7. In have two responses. 🙂 1) I haven’t read all the Anita Blake books, but I have the *impression* that the “change” is a result of her unique nature. Having been infected by a “super” version of the werecreature virus, and IIRC a vampire, in concert with her necromancer abilities, “mutated” her. I also have a problem with her “feeding,” but it _sort of_ hangs together.
    2) For an excellent example of “doing it properly,” I present Det. Lt. Eve Dallas, of NYPSD. Watching her learn to deal with her *demons;* her Husband’s (whom I totally understand) “need” to give her “things”; and learning to be a Human Being with “friends,” has been an education. JD Robb (Nora Roberts) somehow manages to do it, while writing an incredible number of books.

    November 25, 2014
    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

      I agree about Eve Dallas. [Smile]

      November 25, 2014
    • Walter, the change in her is the result of her unique nature. But the change in the books themselves is something that ruined the series for me and a number of others. LKH took it from UF, with the focus on the plot and mystery, to a point where the sex was more important than the plot. That is where so many of us have complaints.

      I will give you Dallas, up to a point as well. Robb/Roberts has gotten into a rut where only every other or every third book really sings the way the early books did. Now that Dallas has dealt with her past and (spoiler alert here for those who haven’t read the latest book) has been offered and turned down the captaincy she thought she wanted, where is Robb going to take her? Dallas is now a fairly well balanced person. She still has a few demons, but not like before and all those responsible for what happened to her have been dealt with. It will be interesting to see where she takes Dallas next and if she finds a way to keep her growing.

      November 26, 2014
      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

        Where did Eve turned down the captaincy?

        November 26, 2014
        • In the last book, iirc. She does so before even talking to Roarke about it.

          November 26, 2014
      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

        Amanda, I found where Eve “turned down the captaincy” (for others it’s in Thankless In Death).

        This may be a difference in “reading a character” as I never saw Eve pushing for the captaincy.

        To me, her push was to be the “best darn investigator” she could be.

        IMO her reasons for turning it down fit her character. While she enjoyed leading her team of murder detectives, she also enjoyed “being on the street”.

        While she enjoyed the thought that her superiors approved of her enough to consider her as “captain material”, to her becoming a captain meant that she wouldn’t be a “murder detective” first but would be “flying a desk”.

        Oh, Your Mileage May Vary applies. [Smile]

        November 26, 2014
        • Paul, I read her that way too. However, in a number of the books, she talks/thinks about how her goal has always been to be captain. It was, for a long time, tied to her own self-worth. The fact that she grew beyond that without realizing it is why I like the fact she turned it down.

          November 26, 2014
  8. Draven #

    Interesting that their trope #1 only refers to the ‘evils’ of the British Empire and colonialism, but ignores other evil empires in history.

    November 25, 2014
    • I think that is mainly because most fantasy seems to take place in some form of medieval Britain/Europe. It isn’t a new complaint.

      November 26, 2014
      • Draven #

        My point being, that a more apt evil empire to use is either the Romans (if resident) or the Mongols (if invading). More often than not, ‘eevul British Colonialism’ has nothing to do with the portrayal of empires in Fantasy.

        November 26, 2014
  9. So let’s see: Frank Herbert’s Dune is usually considered to be the best SF novel of all time, as J.R.R. Tolkien’s LOTR is the best Fantasy novel.
    Looking at this list of tropes and comparing it to Dune:
    1. Precursor Civilization = Butlerian Jihad
    2. Homogeneous Race = Fremen
    3. Common Nouns = The Spice
    4. Single-use World = Dune, Arrakis, Desert Planet
    5. Apostrophe – Maud’Dib
    6. Faux Medieval Europe = Emperor, Baron, Duke and the Great Houses
    7. The Evil Empire = Shaddam IV and his Sardaukar

    And adding the tropes from the article’s comments:
    8. Prophecy = Maud’Dib
    9. Chosen One = Maud’Dib

    Not saying that these elements can not be used badly, but what lessons do we take from this article?

    November 25, 2014
    • Christopher M. Chupik #

      It doesn’t matter WHAT you do, it’s HOW you do it. SImple as that.

      November 25, 2014
      • Yep. Exactly. If you do it well, if you write interesting characters with a plot that doesn’t keep throwing the reader out of it, you can break all those rules and then some.

        November 26, 2014
  10. robfornow #

    Science Fiction and Fantasy are areas I’m curious about writing. Well, I do have a series of stories that fit somewhere in there. Just as a disclaimer. However, I felt a touch of ‘how dare you tell me what and how to write’ in reading the article. If you write vanilla, you can expect vanilla (no sale) as a result. Every book has to be fresh, but anchored in the proven. The proven may be the first books in a series or the foundation of names/races/scenes from authors who wrote years ago. I finished one of Heinlein’s books this morning. Change some of the terms to fit modern wording and one can believe that the book was written by Sarah or a couple of other modern writers. Some things don’t change so- the look has to change; not the foundation. I like the works of both recent and dated authors, both work well and entertains.
    I like that adding an accent mark to change a name. It’s pronounceable- and I need the familiar to keep the pace up. If I have to stop and sound out ‘Qfonuty’ every time the main character is used, the book is gonna drag.

    That said, I agree with Amanda, that we need to be careful of how we handle our characters and the world they live in.

    November 25, 2014
    • The thing is, there are other provens out there that a lot of authors tend to ignore when writing fantasy. I think the issue is that most of us feel comfortable writing a story set in medieval England or Europe because we have at least a passing familiarity with it from other fantasy novels and movies, etc. But if we were to set it in, say, Iberia or China or India, we would have to research and it is amazing how many authors say they research but who really don’t.

      It all comes down to, as Christopher said above, how you do it. If you write a compelling story with interesting characters, it doesn’t matter where you set it. Just make it believable and stick to your own rules/laws of the world.

      November 26, 2014
  11. Harry Dresden is another character that has grown in power as the series progressed, but I think the reason it works is because the seeds were sown early in the series that there were more powerful enemies with larger schemes waiting in the wings for when he could better handle them (how’s that for a long sentence?).
    We’re introduced to Harry’s godmother early on, so when he gains power it is a reasonable progression for him to have to face them head on instead of using trickery to run away all the time. Butcher gave us glimpses of a deeper plot that could unfold to challenge Harry when he leveled up.

    November 28, 2014
    • It’s also not horrible in the power creep because power has a price, and just because he’s gaining in power doesn’t mean he can’t be killed. The real growth for Harry that allows him to keep getting up is his getting better at reacting and anticipating. Also, Harry has lots of scars – physical, mental and emotional – that are visible to the reader, and to the characters around him. Some he doesn’t seem to recover from, really – he only shoves it into the mental box of ‘can’t deal with that right now, must not die’ and leaves it there. Don’t quite know if he deals with the traumas in a different way, but it’s not like he draws out the unpleasant memory from his head with a wand and stores it in a bottle or basin… so those stay with him, period.

      November 28, 2014
  12. Robotech_Master #

    Begging your pardon, but I have to take a bit of issue with your characterization of good guy characters setting up and betraying Jack, turning him into a bad guy in BL2. (Spoilers for BL2 and the Pre-Sequel to follow.)

    First of all, Jack was ALREADY a bad guy. Remember, by this point in the timeline he’s already stuffed his siren daughter into a pod and plugged her into Hyperion’s computers, then used her to trick the four original Vault Hunters into opening a vault filled with “tentacles and disappointment” in order to further his own ambitions.

    (How did he know it would lead to Eridium spawning? No idea. Maybe he just hoped there would be something there he could use. If there are any major plot holes in the series, that’s one of them. But then, BL2 and the Pre-Sequel were written by a completely different writer than BL1, so some retconning was involved.)

    Oh, and he’d hired some new Vault Hunters to go find one on the moon, and commissioned surgically-altered body doubles of himself to boot. Yeah, all this while still holding down a low-level programmer job at Hyperion. Most people in his position would have contented themselves with filching office supplies, but Jack was already playing God.

    Also, let’s not forget that by the time Moxxi, Lilith, and Roland betray Jack, he’s already shown his true villainous colors—for example, effectively killing a sympathetic AI character by mindwiping her to build his robot army, or spacing those probably-innocent scientists, including the one who built his robot army, right in front of Lilith and Roland. (Not to mention discussing his James Bond villain-like plans to make use of the laser to take out bandit camps, or anyone he considered to be bandit camps.) Moxxi already knew there was something not quite right about Jack, and that just confirmed it. As Moxie explains, she looks upon it as putting down a mad dog before it can bite anybody else. After Jack kills those scientists in cold blood right in front of them (remember Lilith’s outburst when it happens?), it’s no surprise Lilith and Roland would agree.

    Finally, if you thought there were ANY true “good guys” in a franchise whose theme songs said “there ain’t no rest for the wicked” and “this ain’t no place for a hero, this ain’t no place for a better man,” you must not have been paying attention. 🙂 It’s pretty clear that Roland was the moral center of the group, and even his moral compass was a bit off-kilter, given that he just kicked Brick out of the gang for the atrocities he was wont to commit against Hyperion personnel rather than arresting or shooting him. Lilith thought that liquefying bandits with her Siren powers was “cool.” (No big surprise what Lilith tries to do at the end of the game, without Roland there to be a good influence on her.)

    Gearbox didn’t really do themselves any favors by claiming the game was about how Jack went from hero to villain. Jack was NEVER a “hero.” He was just really really good at looking like one.

    November 30, 2014
    • My issue with your comment is that I don’t believe you really know all that about Jack if you haven’t played Borderlands 2 before playing the pre-sequel. Everything you refer to are plot points in BL2. Some may have the seeds plants in BL, but they aren’t main points, irrc. (I’ll admit here, it has been some time since I played the original).

      Nor did I ever say I thought there were any all good characters. I don’t expect them, in my games or in real life. However, the vault hunters were the so-called heroes and, for me at least, in BL2, the plot was enough that I could care about the playable characters. That’s something I don’t get, with the exception of Athena, in BL:TPS.

      I guess my issue boils down to this: by taking the series out of order, Gearbox broke the storyline. Those who have already played BL and BL2 know what happened regarding Jack. We know he isn’t a good guy. While we might not know his backstory, he is the bad guy we love to hate. The pre-sequel gives him some redeeming qualities and does a really good job of having the others set him up without, imo, enough dialog or explanation, for it. Of course, ymmv.

      December 1, 2014
      • Robotech_Master #

        And that’s why you should play BL2 first. The pre-sequel is definitely and undeniably the third game, not the one and a halfth. It’s intended to be played after BL2. It drives that point home by having a framing story that’s set after BL2.

        You run into problems if you read any series out of publication order. Some of the best, most classic literary SF/fantasy series—Lensman, Chronicles of Narnia, to name but a couple—were written out of chronological order, and this leads to problems when publishers later come along and try to shoehorn them into chronological order for republication. It just doesn’t work reading them out of the order in which they were written, no matter when they take place. You get spoiled for some things, and confused by other things because you don’t get the significance of building backstory for events you’d already know would happen later if you’d read the previously-written books.

        December 1, 2014
        • Um… I’m not a gamer, but why on earth would you recommend playing the second in a series first, without the designers having made it first? also, I think her point is that the character was developed one way in the first two, and then the writers decided they were going to go backwards and create a tacked-on backstory. Whether you saw it that way or not is irrelevant – I imagine games are the same way as books, every reader will bring something different to the story with them. Her point was valid: once you begin to draw a character, drastically breaking them and changing the nature of them will offend readers/player.

          December 1, 2014
          • Robotech_Master #

            The Pre-Sequel is not the second in the series, it’s the third. The framing story starts after the second game, BL2, ends, and thus spoils certain things (like character deaths) from the second game if you play it first. You’re not meant to play it between the first two games, you’re meant to play it after the first two.

            And my first response explained how Lilith’s characterization in the Pre-Sequel was NOT inconsistent with the way she was characterized in the first two games. Jack had demonstrated pretty obviously that he was NOT a good guy at the time they decided to betray him. He was a threat to the safety (such as it was) of Pandora, so they acted to try to take him out, just as they had acted or would act to try to take out other such threats in the other games. There was no drastic change in their nature.

            December 1, 2014

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