Matt Stone, Trey Parker 'really' involved in development of South Park: The Fractured But Whole

Between daily calls and keeping a close eye on the game's comedy, the South Park co-creators want to guarantee that the next RPG serves as a seamless extension of their hit show.

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In an interview posted on PlayStation Blog, Jason Schroeder, senior producer on Ubisoft San Francisco's South Park: The Fractured But Whole discussed how the development team handles heavy involvement from series co-creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker.

"They're really, really involved," Schroeder says. "We have daily calls and I'm down there a few times a month just constantly trying to make sure that they're getting the comedy they want into the game and making sure that it all makes sense moment to moment."

Writing for a game differs from writing a TV show in several integral ways. In Stone's and Parker's case, some of their best ideas come when they're under the gun to finish production. New episodes of South Park go from conception to finished product in just under a week. "It's from that pressure that they get their really relevant, really timely jokes. The video game cycle, by comparison, is brutally long for them," Schroeder explains.

On the other hand, game developers measure cycles in years. Schroeder and his team work closely with Stone and Parker to ensure they don't get bogged down by the development process. "We always want to try and make sure to get every joke in that we can. Sometimes we have to ask the guys 'Okay, do you want that to be a gag or do you want it to be a whole system? Should we build this in as a dynamic part of the game or do we want it to just be something that happens?'"

That, he says, is the rub: sometimes a joke that has the team slapping knees for five minutes isn't sturdy enough to support a level that lasts an hour or more. The trick that South Park: The Fractured But Whole hopes to employ is to keep the jokes coming. "One of the things that we've discovered is that you can really make people think with a comedy game because you're able to subvert their expectations. Even the typical way they might do things on a PlayStation controller: we say 'Pull the triggers and start rotating the analog sticks' and then they see on screen that the kid is moving his butt around."

Where 2014's Stick of Truth riffed on fantasy themes, South Park: The Fractured But Whole will emphasize the superhero alter-egos of Kenny, Cartman, and the gang when it launches on Xbox One, PS4, and PC later this year.

Contributing Editor

From The Chatty

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      July 5, 2016 4:33 PM

      Sweet. The Stick of Truth was great. I had my doubts when I heard that Obsidian wasn't developing the game, but since Matt and Trey are so involved i'm sure it'll come out fine.

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        July 5, 2016 4:33 PM

        Also, the E3 demo looked pretty good.

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        July 5, 2016 5:03 PM

        I need to finish Stick of Truth. I don't know why I stopped playing or how much I have left.

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        July 5, 2016 5:11 PM

        I enjoyed the stick of truth, but it also felt very tame when it comes to South Park.

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          July 5, 2016 5:35 PM

          As much as I enjoyed it, it had some fundamental issues that TFBW needs to address for me to even consider buying it at full price.

          First, as a South Park fan, I was compelled to do every side quest I could find, and I enjoyed them. They were fun to play, well-written, and funny. But completing side quests caused me to hit max level way too quickly, by halfway through Day 2 of 3, if memory serves. That dampened my enthusiasm for seeking out more side quests for the rest of the game: if a game doesn't reward me for completing its content, why should I complete it?

          Second, and less importantly, all of the classes ended up feeling the same. I played as a mage. By the end of the game, I'd found great melee weapons that, with upgrades, did significantly more damage than my spells. I'd thought early on that I'd play the game at least twice in order to compare and contrast how one class felt from another. Ultimately, I only needed to play once. (This issue might be rooted more in my personal gaming preferences. I put a lot of stock in replay value, and tend to either avoid games only meant to be played once, or get them on sale when they're cheap.)

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            July 5, 2016 6:26 PM

            what games have addressed the first issue well? Seems like it's a constant problem in big games. I'm not sure if it's just deprioritized (how much effort is it worth to fix something only 5% of players will hit) or if it's really that big of a struggle to come up with a good scaling difficulty system.

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              July 5, 2016 6:39 PM

              I'd be fine with side quests giving zero experience, instead going with unique items or events that the player will want to see.

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                July 5, 2016 6:42 PM

                well that's functionally much the same as a level cap. And eventually the items you're rewarded with get boring (there's only so many high end swords you can bother with) or have a power creep akin to no level cap on your character's skills. Of course experiencing new content should be a motivator but that's true of every part of the game.

                I'm not sure there's a better system than some nonlinear difficulty scaling. If I want to over level in something like Fallout then scale up enemies appropriately so that super mutants and deathclaws are always dangerous (ie important stuff and end game stuff is still nontrivial) but your average band of marauding raiders becomes a joke or something.

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              July 5, 2016 7:30 PM

              From what I remember, Stick of Truth had a low level cap (10, I think), which made it easy to hit if you went around doing all the side quests.

              I wasn't disappointed at maxing out my character. I was disappointed it happened so early, and so easily.

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          July 5, 2016 6:36 PM

          Really? But you battle beneath your father's giant swinging balls!

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            July 5, 2016 7:07 PM

            That and rectum reconnaissance were the best parts

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          July 5, 2016 6:50 PM

          Tame? Did we play the same game?

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      July 5, 2016 4:37 PM

      But... WHAT?!