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Working With Trey And Matt – The South Park: Fractured But Whole Workflow

In 2011, Comedy Central aired a documentary called 6 Days to Air: The Making of South Park. The documentary was a showcase for how South Park comes together every week and detailed the presumed impossible process of conceiving, writing, and animating a television show in six days. It proved the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, are brilliant, hard-working, fast, and maybe a little bit insane.

Fractured But Whole is not being made in six days. The game has been in development for years, but that does not mean Trey and Matt are abandoning their fast pace or penchant for last-second changes. We spoke with Ubisoft San Francisco about what it’s like to work with the award-winning duo, and how it is translating their work ethic into a video game.

Trey and Matt enjoyed their time finishing up Stick of Truth with Ubisoft, preferring that process to their earlier work on Stick of Truth, which helped them make the decision to pursue a second game. “From the first brainstorming meeting we asked, ‘What story do you want to tell? What game mechanics were you unhappy with in the last game? What things do we look at from the last game that were definitely successes, but where do we want to iterate?’” senior producer Jason Schroeder says.

The answers to those questions were outlined, and Trey and Matt went off to start the design process, while Ubisoft started making decisions about the technical side of development. For Stick of Truth, Obsidian essentially translated all of South Park’s animation into its engine by re-animating it. For Fractured, Ubisoft adapted its Snowdrop engine (which was used to build The Division) so that it could take the art assets directly from South Park’s animators and artists and insert them into the game with little to no need for adaptation.

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Senior producer Jason Schroeder and director of design Paul Cross discuss working with Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

From there, the game started to take shape. In the early stages, Schroeder and select team members would visit South Park Studios for a few days twice a month and have frequent video conference calls. Schroeder describes seeing Trey pace around the table in these meetings, just as he does in 6 Days To Air, outlining what he would want to see in the game, while Schroeder would outline the feasibility of his ideas.

The script for the game arrives from Trey and Matt, and it’s written just as they write the show. “They work in Movie Magic Screenwriter. It’s old as hell. It’s like the precursor to Final Draft,” narrative designer Jolie Menzel says. “I guarantee you they started using it in college and just never stopped.” Outside of the dialogue, those scripts have stage directions in them, which are translated to gameplay.

Ubisoft makes changes in those scripts as necessary, but recognizes their technical role in the process. “We are kind of the straight man,” Menzel says, “They’re going to handle all the big jokes. They’re going to handle the big punchlines. A lot of what we do is support them. We set up the shot so they can slam it in.

Schroeder would be the one to tell Trey and Matt no when necessary. “You want them to be happy. You want to please them, and have them be proud of what they’re working on, so there is a level of that – wanting to impress them,” Schroeder says. “But at the same time, I think that if I was coming at it purely as a pleaser, they’d go, ‘You’re not going to get s*** done from me. I need someone who is going to get things done.’”

With the show, Trey and Matt know the limits of both the medium, and their self-imposed time constraints, and after completing one game, they’re well on their way to learning the constraints of this different, interactive medium. “When their creativity runs up against a constraint, that’s when they hit another, ‘Oh, we can make fun of that.’” The game’s original title was less subtle, and when they were told you can’t release a game with the word butthole in the title, Trey and Matt worked within those constraints in order to arrive at the game’s current title, as an example of recognizing boundaries.

In this later portion of development, Trey and Matt play frequent builds of the game, giving feedback and making changes where necessary. They will even write out changes on their whiteboard during these video conference play sessions, and Ubisoft points its cameras at the board to better understand what needs to change. “I know [Trey] well enough at this point where we jump onto a call and if he’s like, ‘How much is it going to bum you out…’ I’m like, ‘Dammit. Here it comes,’” Schroeder says. Sometimes those changes are large, but often they are small. Schroeder has the wider, full game experience in his head, which works in tandem with Trey and Matt’s decisions.

When South Park is on the air, the dynamic changes, but not dramatically. “I become slightly less demanding,” Schroeder says when Trey and Matt are working on the show. They don’t disappear, however. After 20 seasons of television, Trey and Matt know exactly what their availability will be and continue to work on the game. The meetings are fewer, but they are still happening. Schroeder knows he can’t ask for that extra 15 minutes he might get when the show is not airing, but the communication channels are still open. “Bill Hader is in the building and he’s like, ‘Hey. Get out of here.’” Schroeder jokes that Hader is the muscle making sure Trey and Matt stay focused on the show when the season is happening.

“They’re not horrible tyrants. They’re always happy to compromise with us,” Menzel says. “It’s not as tumultuous as you might think it is. We have a few people who work on the show who also work on the game, and they have it a lot worse than we do in the show.” Trey and Matt still work very fast, but the game is less compressed. They have more time to create the game than they do their show, and for the most part, Menzel says things are mostly all set, but changes will come, and Ubisoft is ready for them.

“Our ending is actually very gelled. There was this one weekend where Trey was like, ‘I got it!’” Menzel says.  In regard to those all-important last second jokes, Schroeder says, “If it doesn’t mess with our age rating? It shouldn’t be a problem.”

For more on South Park: The Fractured But Whole, click the banner for more from our month of coverage. – The Feed

Why Ubisoft Trusted The Rocksmith Team With South Park

Fans of Obsidian's South Park: The Stick of Truth might have been surprised to hear that the television show's next RPG is being made by Ubisoft San Francisco, the developers behind the music-rhythm game Rocksmith. While visiting the studio for our November cover story on South Park: The Fractured But Whole, we spoke with senior producer Jason Schroeder and director of design Paul Cross about how the team went from third-party consultants on Ubisoft-published games to tackling an ambitious RPG alongside Matt Stone and Trey Parker.

Watch the video below to learn more about the studio behind the new game and what the future holds for potential future South Park games.

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To learn more about South Park: The Fractured But Whole, click on the banner below and stay up-to-date on our constantly updating hub of exclusive content. – The Feed

The Classes And Character Sheets Of South Park: The Fractured But Whole

South Park: The Fractured But Whole may be a game about super heroes, but it’s still an RPG. You will still find many elements of fantasy role-playing games in its structure, and one of those elements are classes. What class you choose and how it affects your player, however, is much different from South Park: The Stick of Truth.

At the game’s opening, after you’ve customized your character, you choose between three classes: Brutalist, Blaster, and Speedster. Each of those classes has four abilities. The Brutalist is the strong class, the Blaster is the ranged class, and the Speedster is the fast class. After you make your choice, Cartman explains your backstory and you get a quick tutorial on the abilities of your chosen class. You can actually try each class out before making your final decision, which is indicative of how classes play out for the rest of the game.

You level up your base stats as you progress through the game, like power and health, but you are not upgrading your abilities, or pouring points into stats related to a specific class. This means you are never locked into a class and can always change. You likely won’t be changing constantly, however. "It's a little more of a measured choice than that,” senior producer Jason Schroeder says, “Cartman is your dungeon master, or your game master, so you kind of need to go to him to change it. So it's a little bit of a choice you need to hold on to."

After you’ve picked your class and made your way through the game’s first narrative day, Cartman gives you the option to start multi-classing. "You can say, ‘I’m going to take two Brutalist powers, a Speedster power, and the Speedster Ultimate and make a character mixed toward that direction.” Schroeder offers as an example of how to mix and match abilities. Other classes will open up later in the game, as well as the option to mix and match between more than just two classes. We don’t know the full list yet, but we know Elementalist and Mystic classes will appear, as well as psychic and healing classes.

The whole idea of shuffling class abilities is to make your character more malleable and customizable. "As your understanding of the tactics games becomes more sophisticated, the classes give you a different range of tactical choices you could be making," Schroeder says. You can even choose to shift your class make-up to complement your buddies, who’s abilities are set in stone when they join your party. You can’t edit their abilities, but you do get a chance to rearrange the party at the start of every fight if there are certain abilities you need to take advantage of in a particular fight.

As part of your character’s development, you also have a character sheet you are filling out through the course of the game. It functions as a progress tracker, with your missions and side-quests showing up on one side, and your character definitions on the other. You have stats like Spunk (your magic and special abilities), Brawn (your physical strength), Dexterity (aiming and accuracy), Speed (how much you can move in the tactical grid, and where you place in the turn order), and Fortitude (defense).

The sheet also details your character’s custom aspects like race, gender, religion, as well as who your arch enemy is, what your kryptonite is, and your power source, which is always your butt. Some of those aspects you can declare, but others, like holy alignment, are based on how you play the game and will affect dialogue and cutscenes, though it doesn’t have major bearing on the overall direction of the story.

There is also an economic level on the character sheet that has to do with how much money is in your pocket, and how much you have in savings. Schroeder didn’t go into too much detail about the economic level, but referenced the season 13 Margaritaville episode of the show, which examined the complicated process of attempting to save money. We didn’t learn more about it, but the character sheet also tracks your detective level.

You also earn a name beyond simply the new kid, and it changes throughout the course of the game. Cartman is always trying out different names on you, nearly all of them themed around butts or farts, but the public learns to identify you as the Farting Vigilante.

Ideally, the malleability of the class system should let players have more control over how to play the game, and maybe even allow you to build your way up to Cartman’s class. "The Coon is a Ninja Maninal, so that one's pretty hard.” Schroeder says, “He's not super enthusiastic about having another Ninja Manimal on the team."

For all of our coverage for South Park: The Fractured But Whole, click the banner below. – The Feed

How The Last Few Seasons Will Affect South Park: The Fractured But Whole

Season 17 of South Park aired its season finale four months prior to the release of South Park: The Stick of Truth. Season 18 aired its premiere about five months after the game's release. Season 20 just began airing last month. This means that three seasons of South Park will have aired three full seasons between the release of Stick of Truth and The Fractured But Whole, which is planned for release early next year. We spoke with Fractured But Whole’s creators at Ubisoft San Francisco to find out how all of those episodes will factor into the game.

You begin Fractured as the new kid, affectionately nicknamed "***" by Cartman on your first adventure, still caught up in the fantasy story. Cartman, however, has decided to change games, focusing now on super heroes, which means you have to start over. For this reason, Fractured takes place only a few days after the events of Stick of Truth, but a lot has happened in the show in that time.

When it comes to canon and where the games fit into the show’s timeline, there is no answer. Senior producer Jason Schroeder sums up South Park canon succinctly saying, "It doesn't matter. If [Matt and Trey] need it for the plot, that space exists." South Park is a show that manufactures what it needs episode to episode, ignoring the wider narrative ramifications for the sake of the joke. One of its main characters used to die in every episode, and still does from time to time. For this reason, you won’t find many narrative conceits for why entire buildings have suddenly appeared in the town, or how SoDoSoPa appeared and crumbled in just a few days.

That does not mean, however, that the game and the show exist in separate bubbles. The show does affect the game. "We were watching season 19, and I literally had the town map up and was like, 'S—, okay. I guess this is all moving here now,'” says, narrative designer Jolie Menzel. “I had to update the town map like every week on my physical map."

During our time at Ubisoft San Francisco, we saw many elements from the show’s last few seasons in the game. One of season 19’s core new characters, PC Principal, is in the game. “[Matt and Trey] really liked what they were doing with the gentrification stuff and the feeling of refreshing the town a bit. Having PC Principal as a character – there was always a question mark in their minds and in ours if he was sticking around,” Schroeder says. “There's still more stuff for him to say. There is still more of the American state of mind reflected in PC Principal.” Early on, it seemed he might be killed off, maybe even during his introductory episode. "I think they thought they were going to, but then they thought, 'One more joke, one more joke…'" Schroeder says.

Other elements of the gentrification of South Park storyline that will be in the game is the existence of SoDoSoPa, which is in the same shape as it was at the end of season 19. It will also be surrounding the McCormick’s house just as it did in the show. You won't find Whole Foods in the town, though. "There's no Whole Foods, because it flew off into space," Schroeder says.

Crunchy's bar-turned-microbrewery will be in the game, and it is where you will find PC Principal. We also saw Classi, and the requisite explanation of how to spell her name. It’s unclear exactly what roles PC Principal and Classi will play in the story, but we do know PC Principal will offer combat training, and Classi will have at least one task for you.

For more aspects of the recent seasons that have made it into Fractured But Whole, head to page two. – The Feed

Replay – The Bad South Park Games

The Stick of Truth is great, and we're confident about The Fractured But Whole, but there was a time when South Park and video games didn't get along.

We've got all kinds of features planned this month about why we think South Park: The Fractured But Whole (which is on our cover this month) will be a good game, but we wanted to take a moment to remember the South Park license back before its creators stepped in and said, "Stop it. Let us take care of this!"

We focus mostly on the Nintendo 64 South Park games where Andrew Reiner, Ben Reeves, myself, and special guests Yoda and Wade Wojcik check out Chef's Luv Shack, South Park Rally, the simply titled South Park (which we did play on a previous episode of Replay). We also play a bit of the Xbox 360 Xbox Live Arcade game, South Park: Tenorman's Revenge (which former editor Dan Ryckert gave a 2). We promise you're not going to have a bad time.

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For more episodes of Replay, check out our Replay hub, or click on the banner below to watch episodes on YouTube. – The Feed

Ubisoft’s Plan To Surpass South Park: The Stick Of Truth

All this month at Game Informer, we're rolling out exclusive features that take a deep dive into Ubisoft's South Park: The Fractured But Whole. We really loved Obsidian's South Park: The Stick of Truth, but it certainly wasn't perfect. Now, the developers at Ubisoft San Francisco have broken down key areas they hope to improve upon the last RPG's formula for the upcoming South Park: The Fractured But Whole.

We spoke with senior producer Jason Schroeder and senior game designer Paul Cross to talk about their thoughts on the last game and what it's like to craft a whole new experience with Matt Stone and Trey Parker. We should point out, the video contains minor spoilers for South Park: The Stick of Truth and some adult language.

Watch the video below to learn how the team is aiming to improve South Park's combat, world, and length.

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To learn more about South Park: The Fractured But Whole, click on the banner below and stay up-to-date on our constantly updating hub of exclusive content, – The Feed

November Cover Revealed – South Park: The Fractured But Whole

Matt Stone and Trey Parker have created a hit TV show, several blockbuster films, and an award-winning Broadway musical, but in 2014 the duo finally cracked the code with video games and released the critically-acclaimed South Park: The Stick of Truth. Now South Park’s creators have teamed up with Ubisoft for a sequel that looks to deliver a richer gameplay experience and a longer narrative without sacrificing any of South Park’s iconic humor. After an exclusive behind-closed-doors tour of Ubisoft San Francisco's office, we returned with a detailed look at what sets The Fractured But Whole apart from its predecessor, and why it has the potential to be one of the funniest games ever made.

During our studio visit, we spoke with senior producer Jason Schroeder and director of design Paul Cross about how the studio has shifted its development approach to adapt to the creative whims of South Park’s creators. We also had opportunities to explore The Fractured But Whole’s extensive character creation system, discover how the last few seasons of the show affect the game, and go hands-on with the new board game-inspired battle system. You can read about all of this and more in our 14-page blowout cover story.


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Above: Get a taste of our month of exclusive content in this coverage trailer (or watch and share it on YouTube).

Beyond our extensive South Park: The Fractured But Whole coverage, the November issue has
several more articles worth diving into. Jeff Cork breaks down the current 4K landscape, how the latest console updates take advantage of these new displays, and helps you decide whether or not it's time to buy a new television. Brian Shea charts the downfall of Sega's iconic mascot Sonic the Hedgehog, while offering fans hope for the series' future. Kimberley Wallace interviews space cowboy (and actor) Nathan Fillion about his love for games and his work in them. In our Classic section, we rank every first-party controller from the NES to the Xbox One S. Meanwhile, the GI Staff finally gets hands-on time with some big fall releases like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, The Last Guardian, and Pokémon: Sun and Moon.

Print subscribers should see their issues arriving in the next week
or two, but it will be available later today if you subscribe digitally
(available on PC/MaciPadAndroid, and Google Play). You can also get the latest issue through third-party apps on NookKindle, and Zinio starting tomorrow. To switch your print subscription to digital, click here. To create a new subscription to the digital edition, click here.

Our South Park: The Fractured But Whole coverage doesn't end with the 14-page cover story.
Return to our hub throughout the month for more exclusive interviews with the team, a breakdown on the New Kid's powers, as well as the development team's favorite South Park episodes. You can access the hub by clicking on the
banner below. – The Feed

The South Park: The Fractured But Whole Digital Issue Is Now Live

If you subscribe to the computer or tablet edition of Game Informer magazine, you can now learn all the latest details surrounding South Park: The Fractured But Whole. Following today's cover reveal, our digital issue is now live on web browsers and will be coming to iPadAndroid, and Google Play throughout the day. You can download the apps to view the issue by following this link. All four of these digital options are included in a standard subscription.

The issue launches tomorrow on our third-party subscription apps including ZinioKindle, and Nook.

Not a digital subscriber yet? Convert your existing print subscription here or start a new subscription here.

Our South Park: The Fractured But Whole coverage doesn't end with the massive cover story in the issue.
Return to our hub throughout the month for more exclusive interviews with the team, a breakdown on the New Kid's powers, as well as the development team's favorite South Park episodes. You can access the hub by clicking on the
banner below. – The Feed

South Park: The Fractured But Whole Delayed To 2017

The latest South Park RPG was slated to release on December 6 this year, but a statement from Ubisoft reveals that the game has been delayed to 2017.

The news comes from a brief post on Ubisoft's blog. It reads, in its entirety:

South Park: The Fractured But Whole will now launch on Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC, calendar Q1 2017. The development team wants to make sure the game experience meets the high expectations of fans and the additional time will help them achieve this goal.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole is in development at Ubisoft San Francisco. Obsidian Entertainment developed the first game in the series, South Park: The Stick of Truth.

To see some of the game in action, check out the trailer from Gamescom.

[Souce: Ubiblog]


Our Take
Delays are often met with disappointment from fans eagerly anticipating a game. However, if the choice is between playing a worse game sooner or a better game later, most gamers would pick the option that results in the more polished experience. If the team needs the extra to make the new South Park game everything it can be, then fans shouldn't mind waiting a little longer. – The Feed

Video: How Obsidian made South Park: The Stick of Truth sound like the TV show

Come on down to South Park and learn how Obsidian made its 2014 RPG sound exactly like the hit Comedy Central show. …

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