Overcooked 2, image courtesy of Ghost Town Games

Overcooked 2: The secret ingredients to a successful sequel

Phil Duncan of Ghost Town Games dishes on the development of their chaotic co-op cooking game, made with the help Maya

In 2016, the highly-addictive co-op game, Overcooked, had us frantically chopping and cooking our hearts out with friends and family. This year, the sequel players craved was released with new mechanics, added online multiplayer and, of course, new recipes! Winner of the “Best Family Game” at the 2018 Game Awards, it's clear that Ghost Town Games knows a thing or two about cooking up a successful sequel. Here,  Phil Duncan [Co-Founder] runs through the list of key ingredients.


 

Get more cooks in the kitchen


While the first Overcooked was developed with only a two-person team, ramped up and also co-developed with the team at Team 17. This allowed us to expand on ideas from the first game and add features such as Online Multiplayer, which wouldn't have been possible for such a small team.

The process for creating this game was different from the first in that we had the fundamentals of the game already figured out. With Overcooked 2, we had a lot more time to explore new mechanics and new features (not to mention a bigger team to bounce ideas off). Oli and I also didn't have to wear as many hats and were able to concentrate on smaller tasks, rather than having to be responsible for absolutely everything ourselves.


"We always try to think of the experience of the group first and foremost when developing for Overcooked."



Add some spice, but don’t mess with the basics


Our starting point for Overcooked always comes back to the core experience: co-operative cooking. Anything we want to add to the game has to tie back into this central pillar. We always try to consider how features will encourage players to work together and how an idea will challenge their skills of co-operation or co-ordination. On top of that, we wanted the game to be accessible to as many people as possible. We didn't want to develop a game where one player could carry the rest of the team, and that's true of the sequel as well. Any new mechanic or recipe we introduce has to encourage that sense of teamwork. New recipes always have multiple ingredients or cooking steps which can be divided amongst the team. New mechanics divide the players or create pinch points to be negotiated. The controls and interactions are simple, meaning the act of coordinating can be more complex. We always try to think of the experience of the group first and foremost when developing for Overcooked.



The way to a gamer’s heart? Through their feedback


Inspiration comes from a lot of different places. We have to consider recipes which can be broken down into clear stages, but we also get a lot of inspiration from our fans. Sushi, for example, was a request we got a lot for the first game, so we were delighted to find a home for it in Overcooked 2. We also tend to go for recipes that are familiar, which generally means players will have a basic idea of how they're constructed – again keeping things simple, allowing for more complexity in other areas of the game.

It's always tricky when you get a lot of people asking for different things; some of which you might have already prototyped at some stage but didn't work as well as you (or they) would have hoped. We got so much inspiration just from watching and listening to people playing the original game. Seeing what they struggled with, what they enjoyed, what they wanted more of. I think that we learned a lot and made a lot of our significant changes just from sitting back and observing just as much as we got from reading their comments and suggestions in emails.

We're so lucky to have such an awesome fanbase. Every time we get an email from players who have introduced the game to their non-gaming friends or relatives, we feel especially proud. We always try our best to deliver the best experience we can for them.


"It's such a nice feeling knowing that these two different teams over three different locations in the U.K. were able to produce something we're all proud of."



Enjoy the fruits of your labor


My proudest accomplishment is that the game exists at all; it was a real team effort, and it's such a nice feeling knowing that these two different teams over three different locations in the U.K. were able to produce something we're all proud of. It was something we were nervous about going in, but I feel incredibly pleased with the result.


 

 

Ghost Town games cooked up Overcooked 2 with Autodesk Maya and the Unity game engine.

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