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'South Park' creators explain how The Stick of Truth got too big for its own good

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park, said games like The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, EarthBound, Paper Mario and The Legend of Zelda were key influencers in their decision to make South Park: The Stick of Truth. Drawing inspiration from those games, however, led to ambition that got the best of them.

"I really loved playing Skyrim, as many people did," Parker said during a Comic-Con panel today. After getting lost in the expansive world and huge cast of characters of Bethesda's game, "I was like 'Let's do this. This is easy.'"

That led to a script that Parker said ballooned to some 850 pages filled with "just about every character" and element from South Park. When the South Park team and developers at Obsidian Entertainment tracked the release of the game based on Stone and Parker's ambitions, they were targeting "holiday season 2032," he joked.

Parker said they were urged to "cut it down, cut it down, cut it down," and "that everyone kept saying to us [make that extra content] DLC" — drawing jeers from the crowd — "and I agree... fuck that."

"Somehow or another," Parker said of what was ultimately trimmed from The Stick of Truth, "this shit will get out there," perhaps in the form of a TV episode or multiple episodes.

"We did have this whole delusion of actually incorporating the game into the season," Parker said, "but that sounds like a bitch. We really just wanted it to be that you could pick it up anywhere and it would kind of make sense."

Stone said he and Parker had to find a balance of which South Park characters and gags to bring to the video game, asking themselves, "How much do you want to include new characters? And how much do we want to go back and honor the show? It's been impossible."

Parker and Stone repeatedly lamented the protracted development cycle of South Park: The Stick of Truth, calling it a six-month-long Tuesday — referring to the frantic day before South Park the TV show airs, when the show's creators are still tweaking, writing and animating.

When a fan asked the duo how they felt as the game's original publisher, THQ, crumbled and whether they feared the game would be canceled, they joked they felt relieved, thinking, "Oh, good, it's over!"

"We really just read about it in the news," Parker said, "that they were going bankrupt, that someone else bought [the rights to] the game. Once we heard who had bought it, we got really excited. We flew up to [Ubisoft] and all that momentum picked up and we got really excited again."

When asked by another fan what games they loved to play, as both admitted to being fans of the medium (if not fans of previous South Park games), Parker initially said Crash Bandicoot 2. His slightly more serious answer, as it related to The Stick of Truth, was Nintendo's EarthBound.

"I love that feeling that EarthBound has," he said, of being "just a little kid in a big world" and playing in something larger.

Check out the rest of our live Comic-Con coverage here.

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