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Persona 4 Post-Mortem Tells You What Went Right, Wrong

"In the end, we all wish for our next project to be an action game."

 If I may offer some advice about that action game you'd all like to make, how about a character action game starring this 'Chie' character? Eat steaks to recover health!
Gamasutra has a fascinating article from the team responsible for Atlus' Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. I... don't know if you've heard of this game, but it's a pretty amazing PS2 role-playing game that was held back here and there by the occasional interface quirk and some unclear structure. But hey, I'm just some dude who played the game. The article, attributed to "Persona 4 Team," briefly covers the "what went right" and "what went wrong" side of the game.

Here's what I feel is the biggest "wrong" about the entire game...

2. Real-time weather design: Unlike in the previous title, Persona 4's time limit for each dungeon was affected by the in-game weather. We did this with the belief that such a system would create the feeling of urgency, since the player didn't know when damage-causing fog would appear. 

However, when we implemented it in the game, players were inclined to make dungeon investigation their first priority. Their mentality was, "If I don’t know when the fog appears, I should finish the dungeon as soon as possible." As a result, dungeon crawling and working on the inter-character Social Links, which are equally important, became completely separate and imbalanced. 

We tried to compensate by adjusting the weather, in-game messages and story progression, but that created an unexpected workload. A huge amount of data could not be finalized until the weather was set, but the weather kept changing due to our design adjustments.

I would also add something like "fusing isn't clear to people who haven't been following the series" to that list. Parts of the game felt almost impenetrable at first, and even after seeing well over 100 hours of the game, I only feel partially closer to making sense of that stuff. Anyway, if you're interested in RPG design, it's a good, quick read. Also, if I may read into this a bit, these guys sure don't sound like they're in the right frame of mind to pick up development and move it to the PS3 for another sequel just yet. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
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Posted by Jeff
 If I may offer some advice about that action game you'd all like to make, how about a character action game starring this 'Chie' character? Eat steaks to recover health!
Gamasutra has a fascinating article from the team responsible for Atlus' Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. I... don't know if you've heard of this game, but it's a pretty amazing PS2 role-playing game that was held back here and there by the occasional interface quirk and some unclear structure. But hey, I'm just some dude who played the game. The article, attributed to "Persona 4 Team," briefly covers the "what went right" and "what went wrong" side of the game.

Here's what I feel is the biggest "wrong" about the entire game...

2. Real-time weather design: Unlike in the previous title, Persona 4's time limit for each dungeon was affected by the in-game weather. We did this with the belief that such a system would create the feeling of urgency, since the player didn't know when damage-causing fog would appear. 

However, when we implemented it in the game, players were inclined to make dungeon investigation their first priority. Their mentality was, "If I don’t know when the fog appears, I should finish the dungeon as soon as possible." As a result, dungeon crawling and working on the inter-character Social Links, which are equally important, became completely separate and imbalanced. 

We tried to compensate by adjusting the weather, in-game messages and story progression, but that created an unexpected workload. A huge amount of data could not be finalized until the weather was set, but the weather kept changing due to our design adjustments.

I would also add something like "fusing isn't clear to people who haven't been following the series" to that list. Parts of the game felt almost impenetrable at first, and even after seeing well over 100 hours of the game, I only feel partially closer to making sense of that stuff. Anyway, if you're interested in RPG design, it's a good, quick read. Also, if I may read into this a bit, these guys sure don't sound like they're in the right frame of mind to pick up development and move it to the PS3 for another sequel just yet.
Staff
Edited by Winternet

First.
 
Thanks Jeff for reporting this. I'll read the article.

Posted by fRAWRst

Im not so sure id like a next gen persona :S

Posted by atomic_dumpling

Kickass drawing.

Edited by Bucketdeth
@Winternet said:

" First "

STFU, I fucking hate it when people do that, go jump off the nearest bridge and tape it, ok you fixed it a little I forgive you. ***EDIT***
 
But I did love the Endurance run and I can't wait to see the next one,  do you guys have any games in mind? and what would you rate Persona 4 out of 5?
Posted by Curufinwe

When's that P4 review coming? :)
Online
Posted by CitizenKane

That drawing is pretty sweet. Kudos to whoever drew it.

Posted by CitizenKane
@Curufinwe said:
" When's that P4 review coming? :) "
NEVER!
Posted by regmcfly

That's a bleak bleak tale. I think the Atlas guys need a holidy.

Edited by Curufinwe

"one of the villain characters changed in the middle of development; since the character design was done before the story change, the design did not reflect the fact that he was a villain."

   Who are they talking about? Adachi?
Online
Posted by TwoOneFive
@Winternet said:
" First.  Thanks Jeff for reporting this. I'll read the article. "
dork.
Posted by Rhombus_Of_Terror

That image of Chie is really wrong....

Posted by Turambar
@Curufinwe: That'd be my only guess.  Going from his "normal face" to his "rape face" was hilariously jarring.
Posted by Winternet
@Bucketdeth: @TwoOneFive: I admit, it's a guilty pleasure. I rarely have the chance to do it and I couldn't pass on this one. Besides, there's nothing wrong with it. It doesn't harm or offend anyone. I posted it first and then I edited it with my comment. It's all cool.
Posted by Mistral


"Parts of the game felt almost impenetrable at first, and even after seeing well over 100 hours of the game, I only feel partially closer to making sense of that stuff." 
 Cue 400 replies of people screaming "YOU WEREN'T PAYING ANY ATTENTION TO WHAT WAS HAPPENING OR TRYING TO REMEMBER ANYTHING" in response to this. 
 
(although I don't think you guys ever so much as glanced at the in-game fusion rules and tricks that you can read by talking to Igor via the fusion menu, which would have helped with the basics of fusion. The fusion system could still stand a better skill inheritance system, though(just let us pick what skills we want, or at least let us know how many chances in hell we have of inheriting certain things, Atlus. We won't mind.). And there's really no excuse for hiding so many fusion mechanics, like elemental inheritance affinities, in the age of internet guides.)

Posted by Darkstar614

While I kind of agree with Jeff about the fusing.. it does explain some of that stuff in the tutorials that Igor offers when you choose "Talk" which Vinny and Jeff didn't bother looking at for the Endurance Run. But even so I read that stuff when I played and didn't understand what was going on with fusing until well into the game. So it's not as bad as Jeff makes it sound, but yeah it could have been clearer.

Posted by Winternet
@RhombusOfTerror said:
" That image of Chie is really wrong.... "
She looks like she has balls. Either that or she needs to go do some shaving.
Posted by Cook66

It would be better if the link to the article was over the "fascinating article"text rather than Gamasutra.
Thanks for pointing it out though. I would love to see some post Endurance Run coverage here on GB as well.

Posted by Moztacular

Pretty cool, the point about the weather system is probably true. Persona 3 had a good system where you knew an event would happen and you specifically knew how many days left until that event, whereas Persona 4 was often vague to the point that you were better off just prioritizing dungeon exploration over anything else. As long as they're aware of those issues, they should be able to strike a good balance for a sequel, because I wouldnt say  Persona 3's system was perfect either.

Posted by Carfo

 "We kept playing the game over and over again, as many times as possible, until the game went gold. The more time we spent on debugging, the harder it became for us to put ourselves in the mindset of how gamers would feel when playing the game for the first time. In the end, we all wish for our next project to be an action game."

Edited by FuzzYLemoN

Interesting, but that statement about them wanting to do an action game next is heartbreaking. They know to make a great RPG, and I'd hate to see that talent go to waste in a genre that typically doesn't have nearly as strong of a story or cast of characters.

Posted by eldiax

Who drew that chie pic?

Posted by AlmostSwedish
@FuzzYLemoN said:
" Interesting, but that statement about them wanting to do an action game next is heartbreaking. They know to make a great RPG, and I'd hate to see that talent go to waste in a genre that typically doesn't have nearly as strong of a story or cast of characters. "
I think thay just mean that an action game would have been easier to test, since they usually aren't 100 hours long
Posted by YetiAntics

Reading the article re-confirms my beliefs that Persona 3 was a better game storywise.
Posted by dagas

Persona 4 is a great game, but I love P3 just as much. Maybe it's because I played P3 first. There sure are some good changes from P3 although not every change was good IMO, but most where. I'd like to see an endurance run of P3 even though I've already played it several times, just because id like to know what Jeff and Vinny think of it. 

Posted by AllanIceman

Thanks for the info.

Edited by MeatSim

Good read, it would be a real bummer if these guys didn't make Persona 5. Though it would be interesting to see what kind of action game they would make, if they were serious and not just joking because of the long QA process for RPG's

Posted by eroticfishcake

Interesting read. Thanks.

Posted by Hitchenson

Time to get mah read on.

Posted by Nexas

Why does Chie have a package?

Posted by Undeadpool

It's interesting how under the "what went right" it's all reactive stuff, stuff that happened AFTER the game came out. I'd like to see what they think was particularly strong about the final product.

I get the impression they were partly joking about the action game comment since it came after this list of how hard it is to make and RPG, though maybe they DO want to move on.

Posted by stinky
@TwoOneFive: 
" @Winternet said:
" First.  Thanks Jeff for reporting this. I'll read the article. "
dork. "
 
i'm not for calling people out, but dang if dork wasn't a good call.
Posted by Oriental_Jams
@Nexas said:
" Why does Chie have a package? "
This.
Posted by iAmJohn

Thanks for posting this, Jeff!  Looks like an interesting read!

Posted by iAmJohn
@FuzzYLemoN said:
" Interesting, but that statement about them wanting to do an action game next is heartbreaking. They know to make a great RPG, and I'd hate to see that talent go to waste in a genre that typically doesn't have nearly as strong of a story or cast of characters. "
But what if they could bring that amazing storytelling and character development talent of theirs to a game in which instead of choosing a menu option to kick tanks in the face, you ARE kicking tanks in the face?  Sounds like a win-win scenario to me! :o
Posted by natetodamax
@Winternet said:
" First.
This isn't YouTube
Posted by TripMasterMunky

Chie's got quite a bulge there.

Posted by ITSSEXYTIME

The part about the action game seems like it was more of a joke: They were joking that an action game would have less QA and that they'd "rather" do that style of game because they did so much QA on Persona 4.



Edited by Sanj


Interesting read. I sure hope you're wrong about the PS3 development though.

And that Chie drawing is pretty good from the waist up!

Posted by Jake_K

I think a small thing they could have had that would have saved a ton of time and just be convenient is being able to simply press a button and see what an item you got out of a chest does.
 
Also, giving the stats/effects of stuff on the shopping channel before you buy it wouldn't hurt.

Posted by Jimbo
"That is the kind of article that may end up buried in the Arizona desert one day.  It's the worst thing to happen to Gamasutra since that bombcast incident.  Truly, there's nothing redeeming; you're just going to waste your time reading it.  If you have the self-control, please don't let morbid curiosity get the best of you.
 
F"
 
Gee thanks, ArticleRevolution.
Posted by zgreenwell

The story could be a little more coherent and the localization could have been improved. People will always love the game though because they put so much work into their characters they find it impossible to separate themselves by the end. Its a classic JRPG with a lot more style, but to me it was too tedious.

Posted by LordAndrew
@Jimbo: Keep the Game Revolution trolling in the Game Revolution trolling thread.
Posted by Jimbo
@LordAndrew said:
" @Jimbo: Keep the Game Revolution trolling in the Game Revolution trolling thread. "
Lighten up, chum.  Just riffing on something in the newspost.
Posted by nrain
@Oriental_Jams said:
" @Nexas said:
" Why does Chie have a package? "
This. "

This once again.
Posted by iAmJohn
@TripMasterMunky said:
" Chie's got quite a bulge there. "
It's called a "FUPA," sir.
Posted by RHCPfan24

Yeah P4 had a few quirks but, still, what a game.

Posted by AndrewB

I've seen much better Chie porn.
 
But seriously, nice drawing, and I definitely agree with the article. Persona 4 is an overall amazing game with some key flaws; a lot of which seem to stem from how old the game is, and a need to evolve with the times (I'm not saying it *hasn't*, I'm just saying that maybe it needs a greater overhaul or a lot more of a tutorial).
 
I'm going to start playing Persona 3, and I'm a little worried about going back to an older game in the franchise, if Persona 4 already had its problems. I'd wait for the PSP remake, where they'll probably fix a lot of that stuff, but the style of the game just seems so different, and I want to play around with the original incarnation of it.

Posted by HT101

Nice to see that Persona 4 is still getting love from the Giant Bomb crew.  Can't wait for the next Endurance Run, whatever it may be.  Might I suggest a Mass Effect 2 ER with Brad and Ryan.

Posted by DazzHardy

Man, that is a pretty cool Chie pic, I wonder who drew it <_< >_>
Just a shame he never noticed certain areas looked kinda weird before, he should probably fix that at some point >_> <_<

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