Sequels and Series


#1

Because of there seeing various CoG and HG sequels in progress, it got me wondering. If you’re making a sequel, companion game, or series, what led you to that decision? What particular challenges or advantages have you experienced when doing so?

If you’ve played sequels or series from the CoG or HG games, what makes you especially enjoy them? What made the sequel feel like a good continuation of the story?

For me, I’ve written a short game duology in Twine, but never plotted a series of longer games. I’m intrigued about how planning (and plots shifting as you write) works along a wider scale!


#2

For me when I’m figuring out the first story, I usually have an idea about whether or not the story is going to need a second book or even a third. I personally hate writing stories not knowing what the end game will be. I think the hardest thing for me is trying to figure out when one should end, the other should begin, the time between each, and what should be resolved and what shouldn’t

To answer this, I like seeing characters that I’ve fallen in love come back, and watch as their lives continue to change along with the MC’s. I think the best stories are the ones that have mysteries that aren’t answered in the first book but will be answered in the second, it gives me something to be excited for.


#3

As I wrote Choice of Rebels, I realized that I couldn’t do justice to it in one game (my original plan) or two (my plan by the time I first actually pitched it). It would have been too rushed, wasted too many opportunities.

Challenges: Keeping it from sprawling completely out of control. :slight_smile: Finishing it before I die.

Keeping the necessary railroading tolerable. The readers need to be having enough fun that they won’t mind the plot rolling forward along a predetermined chain of vignettes until the final game, when final, radical branching can occur. This is a problem with any CoG game but multiplied when writing a series.

Advantages: being able to explore the dynamics of the game’s core issue at different levels. Breaking Bad is a great example of this from TV, (very mild spoilers behind the cut for those who haven’t seen it yet) with its “season-by-season progression from bourgeois professionalism and petty entrepreneurship to medium-scale enterprise to multinational enterprise and monopoly capitalism, all the way to the final brutal form of empire” – i.e. it explores capitalism at every scale, using the lens of meth production.

I want to use Choice of Rebels to explore insurgency, civil war, the demolition of an existing order and replacing it with a new one. Each of the planned 5 games will spend time at a different level of this process, giving the reader/player time to really engage with the dilemmas and challenges of that level.

I like Cataphrak’s plan for the Infinite Sea series (and the two games he’s given us so far) because it similarly feels like a story that will “zoom out” to explore its setting at growing levels of power and influence.

As for the planning process… my plans are always fairly fluid. I work with an overall story arc and ideas for characters, and flesh everything out as I write. I know how XoR games 2-4 will end (for those who don’t mind spoilers: the fall of the Archon, the first Ward coming down, the fall of Aekos) as well as the major dynamics I want to explore in each game. But the detail emerges as I write it. When I try to make a more detailed map, I quickly have to discard it or amend it out of recognition.


#4

I believe it’s most to do with just how much plot you can fit into one book or game without the book/game suffering as a result.

Everyone wants to deliver a well-paced story, and if it must be separated, then it must.

In terms of challenges, I would say that trying to maintain the same pace is difficult to manage. Bloating is another, when you stretch the plot, you notice that some ares seem quiet, so you add a scene here, a scene there, but you have to be careful that you don’t overpower the plot with these sidestories.

Advantages…those very same extra scenes could develop an underveloped character in a way that the original idea for the plot would not have allowed.

For me, the characters are usually the biggest draw.

To some extent, it’s like seeing a friend you haven’t seen for a long time.

Which is odd, considering how important I find plot to be as a writer, but…it’s difficult to explain this distinction.

Perhaps made more difficult by the fact that, to my knowledge, there’s no character-drive slice-of-life CoG to compare more other games to.
Most games in the library are…games. Very few are story focused, even less are character focused at the expense of plot and game.
Without that to compare other games to, I’m not sure if I can fully articulate my point.


#5

Personally, I’m nowhere near completing “The Outsider”, but I always had a plan on making a sequel if it ever became successful. I’m actually expecting alot of challenges among the way as I work on it but it should be interesting to see how I’ll be working around them. One story is just too small for the plot that I want to write. Two or three books just might be more than enough for what I want here.

Obviously, having some continuation connecting the sequel to the original is always a bonus in my book because I enjoy knowing what happens to the characters after the events of the first book. There are also some games here that offers you a very different future in the story such as Guns of Infinity or The Lost Heir, which also offers some replayability there so bonus points if you do that. I know I have more to say on this subject but I just woke up from a long nap so I’ll edit this once I gather more of my thoughts.


#6

So game 5 really will go into the “Undiscovered Country” in every aspect, eh? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


#7

Given I’m about 40% of the way through a game that looks to turn out double the size I was aiming at… My major challenge right now is to forbid myself from thinking about writing a sequel until I’m much, much closer to the end of the first game. My second-greatest challenge is getting out of my own way. I want to play around and get creative, do things like shift the perspective to another character or location in the same world. But I have the damnedest suspicion that, for most people, “sequel” means proceeding with the same MC that they built and got attached to.

But, of course, I’m not thinking about sequels right now. At all. It is forbidden.


#8

Especially for a CoG game I think it would actually be a really good idea to explore the same world from another perspective, damned to anyone who complains!

Most sequels allow us to revisit the same characters, but CoG titles are often more focused on premise and worldbuilding because the main character is determined by the player instead. So having another opportunity to explore that premise and world without being locked into the same old character as last time is something that could be really effective for the medium.


#9

when I started my 3rd story , I never ever ever dreamed it would lead to 4 big long windy stories lol . And funny enough , when I wrote the 2nd one…I was like ‘Thats it! I’m done! No more’ . And then the characters came back to haunt me for more .

well…samurai of hyuuga is written in a way , that it leave you thirsty for more . Even though its a long storie and has a lot of puzzle and riddle (and mini-game) , it’s really your RONIN , I wanna know what she gonna do next . What happen next , where they are going next ? y’know .

the same world , the same characters are back for more adventure . That always get peoples wanna see what kind of troubles they can get into .

no planning . for me , it just happen . wich had it’s downside , cose you can easely lose steam mid way , which happen to me . So then it become a chore to finish what you started .


#10

Well, no, I kind of need my readers. I’m all for creativity, believe me, but it’s pointless to do something that will alienate the readers “just because”.


#11

Topic, beware of the Franchise Fatigue.


#12

Well, for me, just like Impeccably-Stressed said, the characters are of great importance. If they were somehow lacking in the first book, then it is unlikely I would ever consider buying the sequel.

Guenevere is a super fantastic example of how characters are the drive of a game. Arthur, Lancelot and Morgana are for now the main cast of people the player can interact with (there will come more though) and it is intriguing to see how each of them reacts to the choices Guenevere makes and how they interact with one another. It is amazing to see the extent of how Guenevere’s choices can actually make a difference.

Other than the three-year skip between each book (which is used as a ways to improve Guenevere’s skillset), there is a continuation that marvels me. It is written as such that I, though I may be alone in this opinion, do not have the feeling that there has passed that much time at all.
And skipping a fast amount of years can be bothersome for some sequels, which is why I bring it up. Because often I feel like I missed a lot of my characters life, especially when years are ‘taken away’. Mind you, it has never been a dealbreaker all on its own, but it does carry some weight in the decision to buy or not to buy… that is the question.

Furthermore, the setting of the game is of great importance to me as well. Par example: if I had to choose between a game with a Medival setting or a game with a contemporary one, I would go for the first. Though this is different for each individual, of course.

A good plot is always preferable, naturally, but not necessary for me. If you give me a cliché ending I am perfectly happy to buy a sequel, as long as the characters are interesting and have gone through at least a bit of character growth.


#13

Personally, it was the characters who i felt attached that made me longing for the continuity of a story… ummm more specifically it should be the story/journey of the characters instead of the continuity of a “story” in which the characters struggle to solve … hence in this case, it was not the cliffhanger of a long story that made me wanting a sequel …

Take example from your recent fiction Blood Money, it didn’t leave any cliffhanger on purpose, but for my playthrough Octavia and Fuchcia live and they have a good relationship with me, and i also had gain good reputation with the general public and mayor office hence it was with such “good feeling” that i wish a continuity about the next journey of my MC…

same go with Heart of the House , where i am longing for the continuity of the relationship and adventure with the characters there, instead of unsolved mission :slight_smile:


#14

I’m going to be lazy and answer the first part by quoting myself from another thread, forgive me. :sweat_smile:

In hindsight, I think it generally would have been easier to do a single book instead of launching right into a series for our first publication since it’s a large, long-term commitment right off the bat, but ah well. For this series, I don’t see how it could have been done another way that would result in the same growth or quality.

I’ve always loved series(es?) in general. :sweat_smile: Once I become attached to certain characters, I want to know so much more about them and follow them through additional adventures, so with that in mind, it’s difficult to disappoint me unless the sequels are just awful for some reason, lol. I prefer a reasonable amount of continuity. It doesn’t have to be the same story arc (though it can be) as long as it keeps close to whatever magic hooked me about the first and continues to develop the characters in a way that makes sense. Escalating the risks/rewards for the main character can keep it compelling, as well. It doesn’t happen too often, but I hate when it feels like the makers just start phoning it in after the first one or two.


#15

Do prequels count? I’m not interested in creating sequels but I’m toying with the idea of prequels.

I haven’t made the decision to make a sequel yet but I’m considering making a prequel to Hong Kong Blood Opera set in the UK and Hong Kong before the handover. That’s a very interesting time period I’d like to explore (England in the early days of the rave scene, Hong Kong just before the handover, the last days of Kowloon Walled City). It’s related to Hong Kong Blood Opera but both stories would be a standalone.

I’m also considering a pre prequel set in the early days of the 20th century featuring suffragette martial artists, Annie Jump Cannon and the Computers and secret societies. That project will require a lot of research so if I do it it’ll be my third game.

Decision time comes in about two months so I’m just toying with ideas at this stage.


#16

Prequels intrigue me a lot! It would be interesting to foreshadow later events, while keeping it open enough that it would flow smoothly into them.


#17

Also prequels can fill in unexplored holes in the original narratives back story in a way that adds depth but which doesn’t break continuity. My prequel ideas are very nebulous at this stage but as I am debugging/rewriting the “original” my thoughts are turning to foreshadowing. But in my current case it’s foreshadowing that dovetails with a prequel.

I think you get more wiggle room if you use unreliable narrators so long as the player eventually gets to figure the web of deception out.


#18

So not playing as “dad” eh?

I do love that time period as the original "Young and Dangerous" series of movies with Ekin Cheng used to be one of my favourites back in the early 00’s and that is set in the Triad culture just prior, during and immediately after the handover of Hong Kong.

The days of Nationalist China on the mainland,eh? I’m sure @Cataphrak might be intrigued if you pull that one off well enough. I don’t envy you the research though, do you read Mandarin or Cantonese by any chance?


#19

No not playing as Dad but you could shag him.

Re reading Cantonese not a chance. I do read English translations of Chinese fiction. Check out wuxiaworld if you haven’t already.

Another interesting thing about the 80s and 90s is how intertwined organized crime became between London and Hong Kong. I like the idea of cockney geezers rubbing elbows with the Triads.