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How South Park Made Its Brand of Production Hell Work for The Fractured But Whole

How South Park Made Its Brand of Production Hell Work for The Fractured But Whole
From IGN - October 12, 2017
By Ryan McCaffrey

Last-minute deadlines have never stopped South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker from getting things done, even when their own bodies wont cooperate.

TV show executive producer Frank C. Agnone II told me the story of being nearly finished with The Fractured but Whole, the sequel to 2014s outstanding South Park RPG The Stick of Truth, but the TV teams usual last-second process left Parker with 10,000 lines of dialogue to record just one week ahead of a big deadline. As if that wasnt a tall enough task on its own, Parker then got very sick and ended up having emergency surgery to remove his gallbladder. Following the operation, Parker somehow convinced his doctor to let him temporarily leave the hospital to go get the dialogue laid down, and on the way back to the hospital, an exhausted Parker said to Agnone, I just want this game to be sweet.

Stone and Parkers unique eleventh-hour production methodology was well-documented in 2014s fantastic Six Days to Air, and publisher Ubisoft has been careful to try and not have the same deadline-killing mistakes from The Stick of Truth derail The Fractured But Whole. But the South Park TV team also learned valuable lessons, as I discovered from talking to the creative leads on both sides.

"[In] the Stick of Truth, originally, there was a branching out of factions," Parker told me. "So you went and did a whole thing with the goth kids, you did a whole thing with Ike and the pirates. It was all about all these factions and it just started to get completely unwieldy in terms of writing it and everything. If we understood the DLC concept well enough..." he said with a laugh.

"But we also were making the wrong game," Stone interjected. "We tried to make Skyrim starting out. That was not the right game to make. So it got molded down into more of a linear story."

I visited South Park Digital Studios Marina del Rey headquarters to interview Stone and Parker and play a bit more of the imminent South Park RPG sequel, The Fractured But Whole. But Ive done a lot of that already. The more compelling story was the inside look I got at how the game was co-developed with the showrunners at SPDS; Ive been lucky enough to see how a lot of video games have been made over the course of my career, but Ive never seen a game made like this. In short, the developers at Ubisoft San Francisco had to adapt to the South Park TV teams infamously insane eleventh-hour workflow, one that probably shouldntand almost certainly couldntbe applied to any other show.

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