The Art of Creating a Sequel

The Art of Creating A Sequel

Writing a sequel story to an already existing plot seems easy enough: one picks up on open plot strands and uses them to continue telling the original story up to its logical conclusion.

As far as Fate of Atlantis is concerned, things are a little different: While we strongly believe that FoA left the player with an incomplete and slightly dissatisfying explanation as to what happened to Atlantis, it still was a perfectly self-contained plot.

As such, FoA2 cannot simply "continue" to tell the story like a true sequel would. It rather must use another self-contained plot which serves to provide a true stand-alone Indiana Jones adventure--if set against the same mythological background--that remains faithful to Raiders and its abstract concept.

This creates all sorts of problems, especially as far as abstract story elements (such as plot devices and drama-based plot points) are concerned. It also conjures up the sort of dreaded sequel shortcomings commonly encountered in box office sequels, such as the reintroduction of characters whose involvement in the original story had already been brought to a proper conclusion, or the attempt to "improve" on the original concept through "bigger and better" implementations of the old concepts. A great number of "Part II" productions are doomed from the start for this very reason. The FoA2 story developers have all heard their fair share of such ideas (notably that of "supercharged orichalcum", which should do nicely to illustrate the type of suggestions we're talking about here).

Sunstone.One problem that I'd like to go over in greater detail is that of the stone disks. They were used in FoA to access Atlantean outposts and the Colossus, and they also served as the game's copy protection. Even all three stone disks together (sunstone, moonstone, and worldstone) resulted in a rather limited number of possible combinations. It wouldn't make sense to increase their complexity by way of a fourth stone--that would be a typical "bigger and better" decision that is hurting any sequel. Should we re-use the stone disks in exactly the same manner? That would mean that the entire concept would be re-introduced without any inherent surprises. Should we do without the stone disks? That would remove an integral element of Atlantean technology as presented in FoA. As one will quickly see, the stone disks' complexity and range of application was tailored to just FoA, and when the game was over, the possible use of the disks was, too. (I shall refrain from revealing the solution we have chosen to overcome this problem.)

Creating a sequel also entails that story development can never be as free and independent as it could be when writing a plot that uses an entirely different setting. We are forced to re-use a number of well-known elements, from the enemy (Nazis) and the mythological background (Plato's tale of Atlantis), to particular artifacts and inventory items. To still create a fresh, original story under these constraints is a particular challenge.

So WHY do we grapple with these limitations instead of designing something entirely new, you ask? Because we have a vision that goes beyond the plot of FoA, yet it is based on FoA itself: like many players, we wandered through the Colossus and thought, "Whatever this is - it's not Atlantis". The Colossus was a grotesque distortion of Plato's description of the Lost City, a caricature of the myth handed down from antiquity. We feel that the story of Atlantis has yet to be told--and, of course, the events that led to a monstrosity such as the Colossus being built.

Many things were only alluded to in FoA. A number of them will be revealed in Fate of Atlantis 2.