In a rare postmortem, originally published in Gamasutra's sister Game Developer magazine, the creators behind acclaimed DS title The World Ends With You
at Square Enix and Jupiter describe exactly what went right -- and wrong -- while making the innovative touch-screen title.
The creators explain just how they avoided many of the typical plot hole pitfalls in RPG storytelling -- and creating in a group played a key role:
Like all other aspects of development, story development was done by committee. Each director was given his own writing team, which brainstormed over the general story background, plot, and other elements.
Because the over arching story has the player trapped in Shibuya, the story needed an air of mystery about it, so the team was determined to avoid any plot holes.
One contradiction in a story like ours could bring down the house of cards, so the team worked carefully to keep the storyline locked down. The game's designers took part in the writing process as well, ensuring that as many eyes as possible went over the plot, searching for holes and offering input from every conceivable angle.
After the final story was in place, we had our Q/A department go over everything as a final failsafe. To our surprise (and horror), they tracked down several inconsistencies we had managed to miss during our multiple checks.
Their diligence reminded us of how critical it is to view the game from the player's perspective -- and these extensive preliminary story checks are becoming a standard at the company.
This doesn't mean it was smooth sailing, however; the team says scheduling for story was part of the challenge the team encountered:
Even though we were happy with how the story turned out, the process started going smoothly only halfway through the project. When we started, we were plagued by confused direction and constant rewrites by the scenario staff.
Changing plot elements mid-project is risky business, and we were making tweaks to the scenario all the way up until just before master submission!
We were able to pull it off because the game didn't contain a lot of voice -- if it had been voice-heavy, we would have had to lock down the scenario far earlier.
Although it's obvious that the scenario should be put together early on in the development process, it also takes time to create something that's truly interesting. Maintaining this balance is extremely important.
You can now read the full TWEWY postmortem
at Gamasutra, full of fascinating insights from the development of a cult hit (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).