South Park's The Fractured But Whole follows on from The Stick Of Truth and shifts gears from high-fantasy into the lucrative world of superheroes and franchise-building.
With the game set for release next Tuesday on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, we sat down with Jason Schroeder, the game director to talk about the game's development, working with something as familiar as South Park, and why the toilet-based minigame is his pride and joy.
Our full review of South Park's The Fractured But Whole goes live on site from Tuesday morning.
With a game like this that's based on something that people are immediately familiar with it and comes with a certain expectation, do you as developers try to push against them or live up to them?
We pushed ourselves to make a South Park game that was true to the license and the vision of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. South Park tends to surprise their fans by meeting some expectations and breaking some conventions. It’s an exciting balance to shock people to shock people that are looking for it.
In terms of graphics of the game and creating the visuals, you've got next-generation consoles and you're working with animation that's twenty-odd years old. How do you go about complimenting it while honouring the source material?
We were true to the source material. Since South Park Studios was involved throughout the full development, we needed to be seamless between cutscenes and gameplay. It’s surprisingly complex to make something digital look exactly like construction paper cutouts.
The game was, as I understand it, delayed to meet with the high expectations. Can you speak on that? What was it in the initial work that you felt didn't meet your standards? What was kept, what didn't work?
At the time of our original 2016 release date, we had a lot of first draft content. However, for interactive jokes to land we needed time to iterate: everything just needed time to mature and become a more polished package.
Was the idea always to make it a role-playing game? Had you considered other genres before settling on this?
A role playing game is too perfect to change. Turn based combat gives time for players to hear the dialog. It’s also an approachable genre for fans of the show that may or may not be gamers. Also the role playing aspect lets you create a character that reflects who you want to be and project yourself into that South Park town.
If you had to pick one feature in the game that you're most proud of, what would it be?
Toilet minigame. There's a lot of love put into shaking out those turds.