Returning Characters or A New Cast?

AlwaysPrinceLeo

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Let's say- hypothetically- a game you guys REALLY enjoyed is coming out with a sequel! Of course depending on the plot of the sequel, deciding whether to have new characters or not is limited. Let's say the sequel is going to take place approximately 20 years in the future.

The original cast would be in their mid-to-late 30s, some breaching their 40s, and likely even touching their 50s. With this being said, however, you guys LOVED the characters in the first game. From their personalities to their usages and how they shaped the story. You could identify yourself with every single character and you can't think of anyone else who could endure such trials and tribulations of the game.

Another thought would be to bring in an entire new cast of characters. Some may be connected to the old cast but they all have their own stories and personalities and ideals. Some may even conflict with the original cast's. It's even possible to throw in some of the original characters as nonplayable cameos!

I just wanted to get some insight on opinions from other gamers. Lots of people may say a sequel wouldn't be necessary for some things but if you don't leave your audience wanting more, then successful isn't one of the adjectives one may want to use. Unless, of course, everything is wrapped up in the one standalone and it was just one story that needed to be told alone.

Anyways, that's my thoughts! How about yours?
 

Nutty171

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Hmm. I'd say I like to have new characters join the old ones, and maybe some of the old ones are killed off. We can mostly agree that movie sequels tend to usually be worse than the original. Why? The first movie is spent gathering up all the characters, and having them unite and defeat the bad guy. And then often, the "dream team" is still the same at the end of the sequel. Guardians of the Galaxy is the only movie where I can say that the sequel is better than the original. Oh, and would you look at that, there are a bunch of new characters along with the old ones! And many of the characters that were in the original have their character arcs continued. And it's awesome. :)

TL;DR: if you have the old characters included as main characters, make sure that they don't stay the same throughout the story.

That's just my opinion though, obviously.
 

Aoi Ninami

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I agree -- if it's 20 years later and the cast have grown older, I'd like to see how they've changed, what's happened to them, and where they are now. One of my favourite devices is to concentrate on the children of the original cast, make them the protagonists who are going to go through the most growth during the sequel, but still have the original cast present and part of the story. (Though not necessarily all of them; some might have gone their separate ways, or died during the intervening time. Or they could be absent at the start but re-enter the story later. Lots of possibilities.)
 

gstv87

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Let's say the sequel is going to take place approximately 20 years in the future.
new cast.
no question there.

if there's that big a time span between games, you can go with the same mechanics, but it has to be a different cast.
the other case would be if both games' stories weren't so far apart, and you had new mechanics to add to a new version, in that case you could have the same cast, with new members or new abilities to them.

you could bring back some of the old protagonists as references to them (feats, relatives or devices that would have existed during the first game), or straight up guest appearances.
nothing beats the old "......b-b-b-b but are supposed to be dead!" moment.
 

Tai_MT

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For me, the problem with "returning cast" is that it's so often done wrong. Why is the old cast coming back for this new adventure? Unless the story directly impacts them, or the events of the first game, and it's something they caused or whatever... No reason to have them return. How do you take existing characters and give them a new character arc? Very difficult to do that. Unless, of course, they didn't solve their problems in the first place. Which, will annoy players who went out of their way to try to solve those problems to begin with.

The only way a "returning cast" ever works is that it's a straight continuation of the previous story. Some sequels do this, and do it well. Halo 1-3. Uncharted (to an extent). Tomb Raider (to an extent). Final Fantasy X and X-2. Probably over a dozen others.

But, most people just bring back the same cast 'cause they're out of ideas. Dragon Age, for example. Why is Leliana in every game? No clue. Her mission makes sense in Dragon Age 1. After that... she's in there just to be in there. We meet a lot of recurring characters this way and it doesn't make much sense to me. They're in it just for recognition.

Personally, if I'm writing a new story in the same universe... All new characters. Completely unrelated to the previous cast at all.

My 25 Page Game Design Document on the history of my world actually spawned ideas for 6 separate games. All six games? New cast. Every last one. Especially since they take place often 50 or more years apart (which is the excuse I'm using in order to not reuse old cast members). The events cover 3 separate wars on the same continent. It covers the birth of magic and two separate religions. Covers the birth of three separate "evil empires". Covers massive destruction across the continent. Covers groups of people who are either working against the Evil Empires... or who are in charge of the Evil Empires. The heroes aren't angels. The villains aren't demons. They're all just people, doing what people do. As such, it creates a lot of characters and potential for characters. Potential for comrades, friends, and lovers. Potential for rivals, enemies, and nemeses.

So, unless you're doing a continuation of the plot of the first game... Just get a new cast. Exercise some creativity in creating a whole new story instead of trying to milk the cash cow dry on the last one. You can use the same universe, world, countries, whatever... But, tell a new story. With new people. New themes. Let the old heroes have their retirement.
 

Past Midnight Gaming

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Definitely new cast for me as well. Especially with a gap of 20 years like you proposed. I personally am not a big fan of related to previous main characters (although I am doing it in a project i'm working on) since you get situations like Boruto (people complaining about his relationship with his dad and his general attitude). I totally agree with Gstv87.
you could bring back some of the old protagonists as references to them (feats, relatives or devices that would have existed during the first game), or straight up guest appearances
I would also say maybe a little side story quest where the player get to be the old team (aged like they would be in the new game) in a silly reference to their first quest. But other than easter eggs like those I say leave them be. Unless we got characters like Tiki (Fire emblem) who live for ages, then you can bring them up once in a while, but only as a NPC.
 

Kes

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In general new cast, but you could have some of the old cast in totally different roles. For example, the awesome sword fighter is now the head instructor at the fighting school, trying to get the rudiments of skill into students.(Opportunities there for the students to complain about how s/he is always bringing up elements from the original story as examples of what they should do). That healing mage now runs your world's equivalent of a hospital. Things like that. After 20 years, it would be sad if the original characters are still doing the same thing.
 

sabao

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Too much time has passed for your original cast. You'd think most of them have gone different places with their lives at some point. Some could still be involved in the larger conflict of your sequel, but I'd assume most of their personal arcs were done in the last game. They could encounter new personal conflicts in the sequel, but I think it never hurts to mix things up with some fresh new faces.
 

Lornsteyn

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I dont care, it can be new characters or the old ones.
They could return as cameos, too.
People are just too picky in my opinion, it doesnt matter which cast is in the sequel.
What really matters is how the developer handles this.
I played some games where you play as characters of the predecessor and they were still good.:kaosalute:
 

Verdelite

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Well, I think this is entirely dependant on your game/story. If you feel like there's still a story to tell with your old cast, then go for it. I'd probably prefer a new cast though, since the old cast has likely gone through a lot of growth already and thus, making them the protagonists of a new story might make them feel stale. Also, I often get salty because of the fact that instead of living the peaceful life I've earned for the characters, they are thrown through more problems and struggles. I get even saltier if my favourite character of the old cast dies which seems to be somewhat common because of its strong dramatic effect thanks to the player's (hopefully) strong attachment to the known character, but on the other hand I tend to think "Why did I even play this sequel? If I didn't, the characters could've continued their happy lives and XY wouldn't have had to die."
I agree with @Aoi Ninami that it can be very intriguing to see where the old cast has ended up but rather than keeping them as the main characters or playing as their children, I'd prefer to have the old characters as side characters or NPCs scattered around the world (or as a group, depending on what they're doing). That way, your players might get a sense of "ayyyy i know these guys" upon running across your old cast.
 

AlwaysPrinceLeo

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I love the examples I'm getting with the 20-year time space between the two stories- which was only a hypothetical time lapse I wanted to give. This topic sort of came to mind when I was looking for such forums of discussion around the webs and couldn't find any~ :kaoswt:

But what if the elapsed time was approximately say... 5 years? Where the characters virtually matured in age only just a little. Would a new cast be preferred over the old still as such?

This may or may not be pertaining to me! :kaopride:
 

M.I.A.

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I'll try and be brief.

I usually prefer new cast members and the reason is more aesthetic than any thing else.

New Characters = New Stories. New Backgrounds. New Skills.
However, I can like returning heroes if it's implemented correctly. If the hero from Game 1 is the same hero in Game 2, then why in Game 2 did hero suddenly forget all the skills they learned? And they just sold all their ultimate equipment? Haha.. that's not a good implementation to me.

But if there are ways to make it make some kind of sense, then I can get on board. Hero in Game 2 still has some of his skills from Game 1? Great! Still have some bad ass equipment from Game 1? Excellent. Hero wakes up in Game 2 from a coma and has lost all their gear? Blah.. lame.

Hope this is helpful. :)
-MIA
 

TheOriginalFive

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Generally I think a new cast should be in with that kind of time gap.

If it's a very short gap e.g. 1 year then the old cast coming back would make sense.

For my personal example the Mekageddon series takes place over five years, thus there aren't any drastic cast changes.

However, the visual novel fork goes like this: Game 1 > 20 years > Game 2 > 100 years > Game 3.
 
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Mixed, even if some original ones come back as ghosts to help out. I love reoccuring characters in sequel games. Though I tend to love the original games better personally.
 

Tricimir

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A mix is probably for the best.
I personally think that returning characters can be done exceptionally well if approached properly. But usually they just aren't.
It's fun to see a character you love return and see how life has treated them, how they've changed, where they are now. But the pitfall so many stories fall into is you have to answer the question "Why are they here?" just like you would for any new character. You have to come up with a conflict or character arc for them, relate it to who they were in the first game, who they are now and how it affects them. and it's best if it doesn't get in the way or spoil what they accomplished in the first game.

I think a well written, returning cast can potentially be even more engaging than a fresh one, but it's also much much harder to pull off.
 

Gallia

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If its a sequel then you should return the characters unless its played like a few hundred years later.
If you create a new game, then a new cast is good.
You CAN return characters as secret cameo's or hidden unlockable characters.

If by all means the sequel have a new cast, it is ok, but return the previous cast too, as NPC's or playable characters, if the old warrior isn't available then also explain why he is no more.
 

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