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How board games helped the  South Park  devs overcome communication hurdles

How board games helped the South Park devs overcome communication hurdles

October 24, 2017 | By Alissa McAloon

October 24, 2017 | By Alissa McAloon
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More: Design

"We had to approach [the development of South Park] differently from traditional ways, because we knew that if we were going to build all the content for South Park, it would have been impossible for us."

- Game director Jason Schroeder explores some of the challenges faced during development

South Park: The Fractured But Whole is the product of a partnership between Ubisoft SF and South Park Studios. While that arrangement helped the final product capture the look and feel of the longrunning South Park TV show, working in tandem with an external studio came with its own set of challenges, according to IGN's interview with Jason Schroeder.

Both studios had different schedules, ideas, and even lingo that the other had to adjust to in order to come together and make the game work. The major turning point, when everything clicked into place, came as a result of an impromptu board game night between the two teams.

And, as an added bonus, the two teams decided on the grid-based battle system used in the second South Park RPG during that same tabletop game session.

“I think [South Park co-creator Trey Parker]  saw a way of building common ground and said ‘Why don’t you come over to my house to play board games,'" Schroeder told IGN. “We played Star Wars: Imperial Assault—Ken Strickland, our lead designer, me, and Trey and a couple of other people from his staff. And all of a sudden...we were able to have a unified design language and jargon based off of board games and our common understanding of our campaign.”

Outside of inter-studio communication, the team also had to learn to think outside of the game-design-box during development in order to adapt a comedy series as a video game. This is one area where Schroeder explains that it was beneficial to have veteran South Park staff on board for the project.

“We had to get [the Ubi SF team] in this mindset where comedy matters maybe more than perfect game design philosophy. Timing matters,” said Schroeder. “So it becomes a little bit like people have to fight their experience, their instincts sometimes….This is totally a good system. But it’s not that funny.”

More comments from Schroeder on the development of South Park: The Fractured But Whole can be found over in the full interview on IGN

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