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How South Park: The Stick of Truth steeled Obsidian for making Tyranny

The fart jokes, sexual delinquency and lightly-salted racism of South Park: The Stick of Truth helped Obsidian grapple with the morally repugnant acts players can commit in Tyranny.

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

December 2, 2016

2 Min Read

The underlying premise of Obsidian’s latest RPG Tyranny is that you’re a character willingly serving an evil overlord and working to support their dictatorial goals. Along the way, that means the player is going to participate in some grim stuff. Executions, betrayals, and mass murder may all be on the table for players willing to go along with the will over Overlord Kyros. 

So grim in fact, that according to Tyranny game director Brian Heins, the only way Obsidian Entertainment was able to do it was because many of the designers had worked on the extremely vulgar and ill-flavored game South Park: The Stick of Truth. During our stream of Tyranny today, Heins explained that simply being able to talk about such grim ideas in a context that wouldn’t bring HR down on their heads helped them consider how to get players to interact with the concept of true evil. 

“It broke down every tread of decency we might have left as human beings,” Heins explained with a laugh. “At that point, for talking about a character being evil, it’s not much of a stretch. The things we’d talk about having players do that were legitimate design discussions, and not HR-violating offenses, while working on South Park, made talking about evil easy at that point.” 

“Just imagine a design team discussion trying to design the layout for the Mr. Slave levels,” he deadpanned. (Warning, link not safe for work)

But the way Tyranny approaches evil isn’t just about childish humor and bad jokes—be sure to watch the full video (seen above) for how Heins and his team got players to think about why people do evil deeds, and how it can sneak up on people in such a banal fashion. 

Be sure to subscribe to our Twitch channel for more developer interviews and gameplay commentary.

About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

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