GameDev Protips: How To Not Mess Up Your Indie Game’s Sequel

Everything in creating a sequel is about balance. Your prime objective is to ensure your old customer base is satisfied with your new title. Any loyal customers will know exactly why they liked the first entry, but they will not want to have the exact same gaming experience as they did with the original title. On the flip side, your customer base who did not fully enjoy your early work may either desire an entirely new experience or simply want you to tweak a couple of things. Either way, your sequel will need to generate a bit of both extremes. It must represent and do justice to the first title, while still being able to stand on its own as a new offering. This is why everything is about balance — you need to capitalize on what made your first game successful, while incorporating new improvements into your sequel.

Your audience will not be satisfied with an exact remix of the first game. They will be looking for something fresh! After all, they are paying for the experience. If they wanted a rehash of the predecessor, they wouldn’t buy the sequel in the first place. Below are a few key tips for creating a new gaming experience based on a pre-established theme. Be sure to examine your sequel’s structure. Consider whether the game has the perfect backbone for your intended genre. If not, this is your chance to make some adjustments. Often,your game’s structure does not need to be completely uprooted, as it just needs to be updated. Now, when altering your game’s structure, do not get too carried away. Your most loyal fans will want to see something familiar in your game — that’s why they are buying into the sequel. However, if you cannot help yourself, explain before release date what you are changing and why. Your most loyal fans who loved your original work may agree with your modifications and be even more eager to buy your sequel than ever before.

If you end up changing the game’s structure, make it clear. Those who are familiar with the old game may be unfamiliar with the new way of doing things. Those old fans will need a refresher course anyway, so you might as well be specific in your tutorials. If there is a new way for players to collect weapons and tools, it’s essential to let your audience know upfront. You’ll also need to compare both forms of gameplay between old and new titles. Chances are that if you change enough elements in your sequel, the experience will be totally different from the original game in terms of feel. Make sure that gameplay in both titles is both appropriate and fun for your target audience.

Consider adding or improving features such as additional or advanced game modes. All these components and more can create a better environment with a different, more complex form of gameplay without drifting too far from the original title. Another option is to play around with the game’s mechanics to create a blend of your personal style along with the common style of other games within your genre. This way, your game will seem like it belongs, but still stay attached to your original vision. It will provide a fresh appeal to the players who may be unacquainted with your work, but are well-versed with other games in the genre.

Create a sequel worth remembering. While comparing two forms of gameplay it can be easy to get carried away with changing a solid structure. When reviewing player feedback, you may instantly feel the need to change the overall difficulty level of a new title. Remember that a sequel needs to be well balanced, if not better balanced, than the original. If your sequel is not equally, if not more captivating than the original, people will constantly remember the original and forget about the sequel.

Important Takeaways: Making a sequel to a past title can be extremely challenging. The key to success is to balance your game, and make substantial and necessary improvements to the original. Also, the vision for the franchise needs to be implemented through a common theme that fits flawlessly into your target genre. Keep an open mind, and don’t forget to add copious amounts of playtesting to the mix.