Updated: Dec 21, 2021
This week I have been looking into how you create sequels. Sequels are very common within games but why would you want to make one?
A common reason is to simply improve on the original game as well as to use technological advances to add features that wasn’t possible in the original. Another reason is to carry over cut or removed features from the original into the sequel in order to add additional gameplay that you couldn’t fit in the original. Sequels give publishers something to market which they know people will buy after the success of the original meaning that there is a lot more funding opportunity.
There are, however, different types of sequels. These range from DLC and expansions to mods, yearly releases, spiritual successors, and clones. In order for a sequel to succeed they need enough familiarity to keep the original audience engages as well as differences to attract new players to the series.
When making sequels it is easier to define the play-centric approach, but it can also be harder to meet the player expectations as they may have super high expectations. For original games, form follows an idea of what an experience is going to feel like while for sequels the form has to follow the experience already created in the original.
Unless your first game succeeds, you are unlikely to get a second attempt, but this isn’t always true, especially when a large IP is involved. And whilst the audience expects you to honour the games unique selling points, there comes a time when change or innovation is expected. So how are you supposed to judge the right time to innovate as there is a limit on the amount of change an audience may tolerate. It is ok to do some of the same things as previously, however unless you innovate, your franchise will simply run dry.
Sequels can be very good from a publisher’s perspective as they allow you to capitalise on an already successful game and allows you to explore that game in new and different ways. However, there are many factors to consider when designing sequels as the audience wants something different yet familiar and it’s up to you to try and strike that balance.
The Games Design Document
Over the course of this week, I have finished the design document in its entirety. So how did I do it?
Well, I began by completely re-doing the contents page. I wanted to add in the correct page numbers for each topic and for it to look professional. I began by adding a line of “….” after each heading with a number at the end. While this looked ok, the line of numbers was incredibly wobbly since each heading was a different character length, so they didn’t match up. In order to fix this, I added a straight line down and tried my best to match up the numbers. This improved it massively.
Next, I wanted to keep the chapter slides which simply stated the topic and all of the subtopics with their page numbers. These had far fewer topics and therefore the tiny differences from simply having different sized letters made a massive difference. In order to mitigate this effect, I simply shifted all of the text to light up on the right rather than the left. This improved it dramatically and I repeated the process to all other chapter slides.
Something I quickly noticed after this was the fact that there was no easy way of knowing which page you were currently on. In order to fix this, I added a little square in the bottom left corner of every slide stating the page number. After this, I also thought it would be beneficial if I had the chapter name in the bottom right. This worked out brilliantly.
Next, I wanted to address the issue with the backgrounds not lining up anymore. There was a total of 30 pages in the document and there are 5 stages in the game, so I divided the document into 5 sets of 6 pages. Each set was a slightly darker colour to the last just like the walls in the game.
After achieving this I noticed that a lot of my diagrams and images hadn’t been properly cited thorough the document, So I went in and simply added Fig.n under every diagram as well as the citation. Then in the corresponding text where I talk about the diagram I inserted (See Fig.n) to help point the reader to the correct diagram. This took longer than expected but before long I had 22 figures throughout the document.
Finally, I decided to change the font of the entire document. Originally the font was Calistro MT (Body) which made the entire document harder to read than it needed to be, so I went through the entire thing and changed the font to Calibri which is a lot more reader friendly. This change drastically improved the readability of the text.
After I had achieved all of this, I was ready to hand it in, but I noticed that it needed to be a pdf and currently it was a PowerPoint presentation. In order to fix this, I found out you can simply export a PowerPoint to a pdf. After achieving this the document was ready to submit.
So, here is the final document.
Conclusion & Reflection
In conclusion, apparently, I don’t like writing blogs about writing.
In all of my previous blogs, they were accompanied by a practical project which I was working on. I found those a lot easier to do since I can easily write about the challenges I faced and how I overcame or did something, whilst in this blog I simply had to write down what my plans were and hope they would work. As you may have noticed, I began trying to make up for this by doing the individual challenges, but they simply took too long and I ended up not having enough time every week to do them and once I was a few weeks behind, it was very hard to get back into the rhythm of doing them every week once more.
I found the iron designer elements easier to write about, but they would have been a lot better if we could have actually made them and tested them rather than just made them in concept. I very much enjoyed the team working aspects of it though as everyone has a unique perspective and brings different ideas to the table.
For the design document, I think the final form ended up quite good, however I wish I could have presented it slightly better since it looks and reads rather janky in some places. I think this was because I had focused on some elements a lot and almost completely neglected others while planning for the document. I think if I were to do this again, I would have a much better outcome simply because I know what I am doing more now than I did at the beginning of this module.
I think my disappointment this term lies in the fact that I struggle to see as much of an improvement over last term as I did last year. When writing my conclusion to my previous blog I wrote “I am shocked at how far I have come, and I hope that I will look back at this study block next year in the same way.” And truthly I simply don’t look at it that way as it was so different, and I have no real benchmark to mark myself against.
I hope that I can write a development blog next term as I have grown to appreciate them for self-reflection and documenting what I have done. They are great at reminding me of where I was in the past and helps me take note of how far I have progressed.
Next study block I want to read up more on the theory as well as get more practical work done. I am studying Creative Virtual Reality, so I want to try making more VR experiences and document my findings myself. I think that by putting what I know into practice more I will quicky become a better designer and so that is what I hope to achieve moving forwards.
As mentioned in week 6, I now have a new book called “The Hero With a Thousand Faces”, and I want to read this over the Christmas break as I have recently been looking more into storytelling and how to write a great narrative. I have also been interested in sound and music in games which I also want to explore somewhat more throughout the winter break.