South Park Creators Discuss Their Experiences With Video Game Development
During the South Park 20 panel at San Diego Comic-Con, the focus was keenly placed on the first 20 years of the beloved South Park television series, as well as the upcoming 20th season. At the same time, however, Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been working on a game, a sequel to the 2014 hit, South Park: The Stick of Truth. The Fractured But Whole moves things away from the fantasy genre of The Stick of Truth and instead focuses on the recent superhero craze. They took a brief segment of their 2016 SDCC panel to discuss minor details surrounding the upcoming Fractured But Whole and South Park games.
On the success of the Warcraft episode of South Park
Trey Parker: [We make episodes on] s--- that we know and that's why some of those episodes it's just honest because we are those dudes.
Matt Stone: With Warcraft in particular, I remember half of our office was playing it. You'd go by computer screens and it was either South Park or Warcraft. Those episodes, like Warcraft being a good example, are something that when we did it we were like "We're going to do this weird geeky thing that we're into and maybe our office is and people are into, and it turns into the biggest... one of the most loved episodes. Those are great because we come from that culture too... the Comic-Con culture. And to be able to put it in our show and screw around with it... and Warcraft, like they helped us make the show! The people who made Warcraft. It was awesome.
On why Matt and Trey didn't work on video games prior to The Stick of Truth
TP: We wanted it to look like you were in an episode of South Park, and that technology was not there until the Xbox 360 and PS3 generation. So they would do those cheesy... you know, we have these old South Park games where they would do these cheesy 3D polygon junky games and we just hated that. it wasn't until [...] we could make it look like you were in an episode... we knew we wanted it to be story-driven. That's why we always talked about it being an RPG. I grew up and RPGs were my favorite. I was playing Ultima and Ultima II... that was my s---. And I was big into D&D. I think 5th Edition is f---ing awesome and I'm totally back into it now. When you're making a game like that, it's really fun because you're the DM and you're anticipating. Instead of anticipating what four people around the table are going to do, you're anticipating what the video game audience is going to do but still preparing in the same way. That's why it's really fun just in terms of writing, because it's more like D&D. I was always the DM since I was like nine-years-old and I think it's what helped make me a good storyteller because I'm anticipating, "Okay, they'll really laugh at this" and "Then we'll do this and that will be really dramatic," "Then they'll probably do this," but then having to "Oh my God! They didn't do that? They went over here? I've gotta improvise! I've gotta think fast!" So I think it really shaped what I was going to end up doing.
On the process of making a story for a video game
TP: We finally found this company in Ubisoft that kind of thinks the way we do and this is not like a... we don't have to kiss their ass at all, but we really finally found a company that's like, "You know what? This isn't as good as it could be. Let's work on it some more." Which is always our attitude. They knew up front with Stick of Truth, and they really learned from Stick of Truth that we're all about writing, looking at it, changing it, looking at it again, changing it, and looking at it. That's really what's happening with those six days of South Park; everything's changing and being rewritten and rewritten and rewritten until the last minute, so you know, it really sucks when we call into San Francisco and we're like "Oh remember that whole level? We're cutting that," and they're like "Oh f---!" because they'd been working on it for three months. We have to be a little more careful and try to say "Okay, these are things we need to keep," but it's still a sculpting process.
On how The Fractured But Whole is letting them do things they've always wanted to do
TP: With The Stick of Truth, we felt like we had a game in our heads. We had a game that we wanted to do, and just because it was our first time making a game and we went through all these things and were like "That's not quite what we wanted." And that's why we're like "Let's do another one!" And a lot of people around us were like "You're going to do another video game?" We really don't at all... I think right now Fractured But Whole is around 200 pages and we've written every page ourselves. It's not something where we say, "Yeah, just use the thing and go do it!" We are literally writing on it every day and have been since the last season ended. You know, we're hoping that... and I also know that the day before this comes out, I'll be like "No! This sucks!" But that's just how it is.
On the old South Park games and why they sucked
MS: Yeah. The old, old Nintendo 64 games? Yeah, those weren't good. We had nothing to do with it. They just weren't good games.
TP: That's why we stopped! That's when we were told, "Okay, you have a hit show, so now what we do is we take your thing and we give it to a company and they make a game!" We were like "Oh cool!" And so we're like... the game's done and we've played it and we're like, "Well this is dogs---!" So then we finally said we're not doing that anymore and they were like, "But you don't have to do anything!" and we're like, "No, that's that point! We don't do anything." That's when we really said until we do the game ourselves, we're not going to do another game, and that's why it took so long for Stick of Truth to happen.
For more from Matt and Trey on South Park: The Fractured But Whole, head here.