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Handy avatar 9:16 AM on 05.13.2010  (server time)
How to make a sequel.

Ok, so you created a brand new IP and it sold reasonably well enough to receive funding for a sequel. But now what do you do? You already blew your creative load all over the first game and covered its face with your gooey ideas. How do you expand on the original games concepts and mechanics while introducing new ones to keep the whole thing feeling fresh? Well, the same way everyone else does of course! And I’ll show you how to do it, for the good of the games industry.

(P.S. I promise to never use that metaphor again).

First off you’ve got to pick a setting. The setting is crucial towards setting the mood of your game, it’s a place that has to reinforce the themes of your story and reflect the events or emotions going on at any given time. It needs to feel like a coherent place at least within the context of the game and it needs to have expanded and evolved by taking the events of the last game into account.

So how do we go about sculpting an environment that does all these things and still manages to feel original and new? Just set it in the exact opposite place your last game was. If the first one was mostly set around mountainous or wooded areas – set the next one in the desert. If it was set in a jungle then take the sequel to the city, be sure to add a tag line like “welcome to the jungle........the concrete jungle”. And always remember that a lot of games, especially shooters, have to either begin or end in a snow level. Alternatively you could just set it in the same place as the last one or somewhere that looks the same but has a different name.

The colour brown is very important too.

Now that you have your world you need some people to live there. These are called characters and they’re the ones that do all the stuff in the game. Now that that’s been thoroughly explained it’s time to make some. One of the first things you’ll have to do is breathe life into these characters by giving them voice. Try to have every man, woman and child voiced by Nolan North if you can, failing that just go for whoever’s cheapest, it doesn’t really matter ‘cause most players are just in it for the violence anyway.

Don’t forget that this is a sequel and that means all the characters from the previous game must now be darker and grittier. That happy ending you got in the first game? The good guys won and the bad guys lost? Doesn’t matter. No matter how happy the ending was, you need to ignore what happened and turn all those charming people into hard boiled, gravelly voiced, stoic assholes. Now don’t go worrying about motivation or depth or any of that flimflam, what’s really important is that your characters look cool, remember to make sure the men fulfil some kind of power fantasy and that any women over the age of fifteen are at least a c cup.

Pictured: character development.

Ok, things are coming along nicely aren’t they? You’ve got your characters and your setting, now you need to get your characters to do things in the setting, these “things” are called gameplay. Thankfully your first game set the foundation, all you have to do is expand on it a little bit since most consumers are too stupid to realise they’re basically buying the same thing twice. Just fix any issues from the last game and add whatever is expected of your genre, add new cars, new weapons, new moves, new classes and whatever else you didn’t have time for in the last one.

If possible try to get a brainstorming session going to see how many ideas you and your team can come up with. But slow down, don’t use too many ideas or you’ll have nothing left to charge for in the DLC, and be sure to save the best ones for the third game. Remember, sequels are an exercise in mediocrity, it needs to be better than the first game, be good enough to warrant another one after it, but not be too good as to outshine the third. Oh, and if you’re making an FPS you should expect this to happen at some point during a board meeting....

Mr. Johnson – “Ok men, we need some fresh ideas for this sequel. What do you have for me?”

Mr. Smith – “ Well, we’ve added some new enemies and weapons, and we’ve created a forced driving section that should hold up gameplay for about an hour.”

Mr. Johnson – “I like what I’m hearing so far but it’s not enough. We need something fresh, something that nobody has ever done before.”

Mr. Henderson – *stands up* “I’ve got it sir! Another weapon!”

Mr. Smith – “We were already planning to add new weapons.”

Mr. Henderson – “ the same time...”

Mr. Johnson – *spits out cigar* “Henderson you son of a bitch!”

Mr. Henderson – “.......”

Mr. Johnson – “That’s just crazy enough to work!”

And that’s why your game will have dual wielding.....

It revolutionises the genre every single time.

Well, now that your world, characters, and gameplay are sorted out you’ll need a story. The story is the glue (or in a lot of cases, sellotape) that holds all the other elements together. Remember all that closure and stuff from the last games ending doesn’t matter. Regardless of what you did, the bad guy either survived somehow or when you got rid of them it made way for something eviler. You should probably write a basic plot too, remember “plot” is just an excuse to get from one set piece to another, don’t worry too much if it seems cliché or even if it makes sense.

Another crucial aspect of your story is the antagonists. You have two ways to go with this, if people liked the villain or evil organisation or whatever from the last game then don’t use them this time around, save their return for the third game, think of this one as filler. If people didn’t like the villain or whatever from the first game then feel free to create a new one this time around, but be sure to finish in an anti-climatic boss fight and end the game on a cliff-hanger, that’ll leave them hungry for more and they’ll be dying to give you money two years later.

Now, normally at this point you would spend all your remaining time and funds on removing any bugs from the game, adding a layer of polish, and making sure everything runs smoothly. But this is a sequel, and you what all sequels need? Multiplayer. That’s right, just divert all your resources from sharpening up the main game and focus them on developing an online experience that will be forgotten about within two months instead, because a bullet point on the back of the box is more important than a refined single player.

And now you’re almost finished! All that’s left to do is think up a subtitle like “FPS 2: Flames of Revenge” or “Action/Adventure Game 2: Day of Reckoning”. Be sure to put out some press releases where you state that your game has revolutionised the genre and it goes without saying that if it’s an exclusive make sure you’ve paid off the reviewers before the embargo is lifted. And there you go, your sequel is finished! Now you just need to pretend that nobody is expecting a third game even though you alluded to it several times and ended on a cliff-hanger.

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