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Keeping it Fresh


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“Final Fantasy XIII” is gaming’s greatest oxymoron - sequels are used and overused a lot in gaming. One of the greatest challenges when making a sequel is how to add new stuff for  experienced players while still keeping it approachable for new players. If you keep adding new features, you’ll soon get a game so complex that new players are overwhelmed by it.

Magic: the Gathering and Final Fantasy are two franchises with a long history of sequels and expansions. Both handle this problem the same way: by removing content. Every Final Fantasy is different from the previous ones: new things are added, but the last title’s additions are rarely kept. Same with Magic’s many sets: new abilities are included, but the previous set’s disappear.

If you’re making the sequel to a game that’s already pretty complex, getting of old stuff to make place for new features in often the way to go. Removing possibilities for the player can actually change the game just as much as adding new ones. Removing the sniper rifle in a FPS could change the gameplay massively, for example.

It can be hard to convince people that removing features in a sequel can improve it, but it actually becomes essential after a few titles to keep complexity in check. When designing a sequel, it’s better to ask yourself “How can I create an experience that’s different from the previous game?” rather than “What features can I add?”

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