Let's Talk about Sequels in Cog and HG

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I’ve always wanted a sequel to the non-royal endings of part one of choice of intrigue. Particularly I always felt it would be interesting to play a stand alone offshoot of the elopement with don/dona Mendosa, where your described to fight with distinction in a war with a neighboring nation of teleporter mages, before returning home wealthy.

Hmm. It seems I miss remember the text. It states you have several year of unspecified hardship before Mendosa achieves success.

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The big problem with unplanned sequels in CoGs is that many CoGs have multiple endings that can completely change the game setting or your character’s position in variable, incompatible ways, and you have to either cut off or merge these big, thick story branches. For example, Kevin Gold’s games (Robots, Alexandria, Magics) can’t possibly have sequels - you’ve got several options for completely reshaping the face of the world in each of them. Meanwhile, Choice of Romance had to invalidate the Mendosa path for Choice of Intrigues, because it would be completely different from living with the monarch - though a Mendosa DLC might be interesting. (I’d also like a Torres/Estate path, but that’s me.) Psy High: High Summer solved this problem by moving away from the high school setting and cutting off a few paths that amount to failure modes, while Grand Academy II tried to continue from every ending but the starting point has drawn some complaints for shoehorning.

Games planned as a series from the get-go avoid this problem, because the author knows to put in some rails for each ending until the grand finale, at which point they can open up the choices and let the player reshape the world.

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Video games choose a canon ending all the time. Many IF stories choose a canon ending to new books all the time.

A proof Is Psy high, there are certain endings doesn’t carry over. It is how sequels work. And Should not stop people from trying as the author has to have the creative freedom to be loyal to their vision, of course, most ending included in a sequel the better. But that a sequel doesn’t include more content for a determined path doesn’t affect the game quality and merits.

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They do, but it’s becoming less common and popular since Bioware did Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Players like to think their choices matter - especially in Choice of Games. I agree that some endings just can’t be fit into sequels though.

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I think it’s essential that a sequel allows all choices to be equally valid. If the author includes a choice, it can’t be ignored!

It’s tricky, but not impossible. In Lost Heir, I tried to leave each game with a wicked cliffhanger that is equally valid in successive games.

So, in many ways, I treated the trilogy like one big game and left the games just after making a large choice (where to be exiled) or a choice-based conclusion (the result of the big battle.)

I wasn’t a fan of the Warp In the West. (Any other Elder Scroll fans out there?) :slight_smile: This is where they altered the history of the world with magic in order to make all of the MCs choices into canon. It would have been better had they wrote all of the choices into the story to begin with. Not a good experience, but I still prefer this idea over just ignoring the MCs choices.

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This can only be done consistently and adequately if you make the design decision to write a sequel (or sequels) before making the first game. If you do not design your game from the very beginning with this in mind then you will create situations where your sequel or sequels have issues, some of which may require retconning your original work.

Basing your decision retroactively is a process fraught with so many potential problems that it takes an exceptionally well talented writer or developer to pull of a sequel or sequels based on a retroactive decision-making process.

The Warp in the West is a case in point. Bethesda knew what they were getting into with their lack of foresight and despite warnings given, they went ahead with their plans to give weight to all decisions made … as a result there are great divisions which exist within their audience, some of which they alienated so much by making this reactive design choice that they have lost numerous fans.

In my opinion, they should have stuck with the original canon, allowing some mystery of “what if” to seep into it to mollify those who chose non-canon routes, thereby keeping the integrity of their lore, world building and the basic fabric of their story-telling.

Unfortunately, they jumped to Blizzard’s track of retconning the past to fit whatever they decide it needs to be to fit their present development.

Just like Blizzard, their integrity in story-telling, world building and lore has been shafted for good.

In trying to validate everyone’s choices, they actually destroyed the choices made in the first place. If every choice you make is validated later, then none of your choices matter… because no matter what you do chose, it will be the correct choice to have been made.

Making totally opposite choices are both valid under this scheme, thus invalidating the choice being presented in the first place.

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It’s, theoretically, harder for an author to craft a series when the first book has more than one pivotal ending since that basically means the first book ended in several branches. It means a lot more work for the author when they create the second book and have to return all of those branches to a common point.

Without a doubt, I imagine it can be done. It’s just a lot more complex. Breach: The Archangel Job or Werewolves: Haven Rising are some examples of this formula I can think of in relation to CoG/HG publications.

Alternatively, the author has only one pivotal ending, but puts the weight into the readers’ “smaller” decisions. Bioware’s Mass Effect trilogy and Dragon Age series are prime examples of this story formula.

Obviously execution matters, especially in the case of the former. I don’t have a preference for one story formula over another because the execution is more important.

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I think it’s okay to label some results in individual games as failure modes, but it has to be done carefully and in full consciousness of what you’re doing. For example, the consequence of being dead is that you can’t continue; likewise, being mind-controlled in Psy High. Also, I would consider an option of outright walking away from the game’s conflict to be uncontinuable.

Then there’s issues like the famous Mendosa Route, where you want to offer the player a choice but it would mean a completely different game. One solution to that might be to make a game tree, if that weren’t seen as a blatant cash grab; have players buy a separate game for each storyline. Of course, you’d only be able to complete that kind of series if you were a game-designing beast like Kyle Marquis.

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