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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 Delta_Ass

Am I the only one who sees a gigantic bulge in Chie's crotch?

Posted by Phished0ne
@Jake_K said:
"   Also, giving the stats/effects of stuff on the shopping channel before you buy it wouldn't hurt. "
NO, IMO half the fun of the shopping channel is that it is a gamble...
Posted by gakon
@Undeadpool said:
"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."

You're right; there's nothing about the game itself in the "right" section. Thinking about the weather, it almost works the opposite of Persona 3.  In P3, the simulation side was so interesting that you {or, I) procrastinated, and held off exploration until a week before the deadline.  But, maybe a long stretch of dungeon-crawling isn't any different from the monster hallways you find in other RPGs.  Here's two full screens of random encounters, and then a boss, and then some story.
 
I still think the interface is about as good as it can be.  The worst I found were the "Persona" and "Status" menus, the second of which is only used to see your character's social stats.  Also, I think your own success in the game shows that you don't need to know anything beyond the basics of fusion.  As long as you know that skills are random, some are better to inherit than others, and there is a set of spells you need (all four elements, debuffs, etc.) you're mostly fine.  The minutiae are covered in the in-game help menu you never used.
Posted by ImperiousRix
@Delta_Ass said:
"Am I the only one who sees a gigantic bulge in Chie's crotch? "
Yeesh, you're right.  Whoever drew that... no offense but... yeesh.
Posted by Undeadpool
@gakon5 said:
" @Undeadpool said:
"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."

You're right; there's nothing about the game itself in the "right" section. Thinking about the weather, it almost works the opposite of Persona 3.  In P3, the simulation side was so interesting that you {or, I) procrastinated, and held off exploration until a week before the deadline.  But, maybe a long stretch of dungeon-crawling isn't any different from the monster hallways you find in other RPGs.  Here's two full screens of random encounters, and then a boss, and then some story. I still think the interface is about as good as it can be.  The worst I found were the "Persona" and "Status" menus, the second of which is only used to see your character's social stats.  Also, I think your own success in the game shows that you don't need to know anything beyond the basics of fusion.  As long as you know that skills are random, some are better to inherit than others, and there is a set of spells you need (all four elements, debuffs, etc.) you're mostly fine.  The minutiae are covered in the in-game help menu you never used. "

I'm not a big fan of any game where your main character dies and that means it's game over, ESPECIALLY if your enemies have insta-kill attacks. I think they should give you one full turn rotation to either revive him or end the battle.

Other than that it just seemed like there were a lot of redundant or otherwise useless menus, but the game's plot and voice acting were still amazing, I'm SO glad they gave us direct control over our party (that was easily my biggest peeve in P3). I thought that should've been #1 for what went right.

Posted by Sneakybadger

they forgot to add " More music for battles" 
the soundtrack was great but if it had had different music per dungeon I wouldn't have driven myself and my flatmates insane with the battle music. 
 
 
Loved the game all the same tho.

Posted by LiquidPrince

Thanks.

Posted by Computerplayer1
@Delta_Ass said:
" Am I the only one who sees a gigantic bulge in Chie's crotch? "
You read my mind. I'm jealous of her.
Posted by PenguinDust
@Turambar said:
" @Curufinwe: That'd be my only guess.  Going from his "normal face" to his "rape face" was hilariously jarring. "
[SPOILER AHEAD] 
My guess is the kid that hits on Yukiko at the start of the game and later does what he does to Morooka.  Maybe at first he was just a kid to show how popular and sought after Yukiko was but later they [Atlus] decided to use him for the Morooka thing.
Posted by dbz1995
@Curufinwe said:
"
"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? "
I think they're talking about Izanami-the hat to hide his face...maybe.
Posted by RLWIII
@FluxWaveZ said:
" @PenguinDust said:
" @Turambar said:
" @Curufinwe: That'd be my only guess.  Going from his "normal face" to his "rape face" was hilariously jarring. "
[SPOILER AHEAD]  My guess is the kid that hits on Yukiko at the start of the game and later does what he does to Morooka.  Maybe at first he was just a kid to show how popular and sought after Yukiko was but later they [Atlus] decided to use him for the Morooka thing. "
What? "
SPOILER ALERT:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
He's talking about Mitsuo.
Posted by Sanj

"Is that a steak in your pocket or you just happy to see me?"
Posted by Th3dz

if you like persona 4 I strongly reccomend devil survivor for the DS which is similar in many ways, not as complicated and has an awesome story.

Posted by spilledmilkfactory
@dbz1995 said:
" @Curufinwe said:
"
"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? "
I think they're talking about Izanami-the hat to hide his face...maybe. "
i thought Izanami was a girl though...? the quote refers to a "he"
Posted by gakon
@Undeadpool said:
"I'm not a big fan of any game where your main character dies and that means it's game over, ESPECIALLY if your enemies have insta-kill attacks. I think they should give you one full turn rotation to either revive him or end the battle.

Other than that it just seemed like there were a lot of redundant or otherwise useless menus, but the game's plot and voice acting were still amazing, I'm SO glad they gave us direct control over our party (that was easily my biggest peeve in P3). I thought that should've been #1 for what went right."

By the time Light and Dark become an issue, you have the means to prevent it.  Also, I still can't figure out what these useless and redundant menus are.  I'll give an example of something that could be made marginally simpler, though.  In the "Persona" menu, instead of listing every character's Personas, it should show the Protagonist's by default, and by pressing right on the D-Pad, the menu shifts to a list of your party members.  That at least eliminates a button press and allows you to equip Personas faster.
Edited by FluxWaveZ

" It took a tremendous amount of time and effort to finish the intense, suspenseful story with as many twists as it has, as well as integrating the game's theme of "how one accepts information from the media." While it was fun creating the mystery novel-like scenario, we had no previous experience in working on such a plot, so we were making adjustments to the storyline until the very end. "
 
That's probably why the ending was relatively weak compared to the rest of the story, and that's also why I think...
 
SPOILERS
 
 
 
 
The Izanami thing was added close to the end of development.  Seriously, you could remove everything referring to Izanami (Gas station attendant beginning, gas station attendant during rainy days and remove the whole of the True Ending) and the story would still flow perfectly.  My guess is they just forgot to explain what the TV world and the Midnight Channel was really all about (referring to the quote "how one accepts information from media) and they just added that so that there could be no loose ends to the story once it finishes.
 
 @gakon5 said:

"Also, I still can't figure out what these useless and redundant menus are. "

Seriously: me neither.  First off, if you think these menus were bad you'll be raging at those in Persona 3.  Changing your Persona was such a chore in there that it was like a breath of fresh air when I played Persona 4 right after finishing Persona 3 FES and seeing how well the menus flowed and how quickly they loaded (there was even a small loading time just for changing your Persona).
 
Secondly, how exactly could these menus be better?  The only thing I can think of is eliminating the Status menu because it was basically useless except for checking how much EXP was remaining to level up, and incorporating that information in something like the Persona menu.  I really don't think anything else could be ameliorated in that aspect.
Posted by nick69

I hope it's an action rpg.

Posted by smokeyd123

I always hated the fact that when your main character died, it was  GAME OVER YEEEAAHH! (Hope someone gets the reference) Anyway, while I'd like for their next project to be an RPG, I am interested in seeing how they handle an action game.  On an unrelated note.
 
@CrazyManAndy said:

" Chie with a bulge. Mmm...now that's hot. "

...Yes. Yes it is.
Posted by FluxWaveZ

And I hope you're absolutely wrong with your assumption, Jeff.  You did not exactly say that Persona 5 is not going to be on the PS3, but I would be willing to bet you money that an eventual sequel to Persona 5 will be released on the PS3.  At this point, I don't see it as being profitable for them to release the game on the PS2 (or at least in North America, as evidenced by the lifetime sales) and I don't want it to be on the PSP.  So, there...

Posted by FrankCanada97

Is Chie hiding steak in there? o_O

Posted by tedbear

wooh, what does she have in her pants !

Posted by ch3burashka

What the fuck is up with Chie's cameltoe? It's massive...
 
As for the team's thoughts on their game, too true: becoming invested in characters only happens when you with to do so by yourself; otherwise, they're just an obstacle between you and another Social Link level. I'm very curious as to how they intend to rectify that in the next installment, Persona 5 on the PS3 (take a fucking hint, Atlus, PS2 is on its way out).

Posted by FluxWaveZ
@CH3BURASHKA said:
" (take a fucking hint, Atlus, PS2 is on its way out). "
Not in Japan, it isn't.
Posted by heatDrive88
@CH3BURASHKA:
That's not a camel toe, that's a bulge.
Posted by brassmarsh

why does she have a massive wong?

Posted by JeffGoldblum

That Chie drawing is quite horrific.
Posted by DavidSnakes

Cut the playtime in half, at least.  Jeff and Vinny even said at the beginning they'd never have time in their real lives to finish P4 so they did it at work.  100 hours of playtime is too much to ask from your audience.

Posted by AuthenticM

No! I don't want P5 to be delayed!

Posted by Drrizzit

Chie if your crotch looks like that, wear looser pants.

Posted by Turambar
@DavidSnakes: Ironically, I'm amongst those that would like a longer play time out of P5.  The key is making the progression non-repetitive.  As long as the dev team can do that, I have no problems with even a 200 hour game.
Posted by ashogo
@DavidSnakes said:
" Cut the playtime in half, at least.  Jeff and Vinny even said at the beginning they'd never have time in their real lives to finish P4 so they did it at work.  100 hours of playtime is too much to ask from your audience. "
I think the majority of players would disagree with you there.
 
Besides, if you really wanted to you could probably complete p4 in around 60 hours.
Posted by FluxWaveZ
@DavidSnakes said:
" Cut the playtime in half, at least.  Jeff and Vinny even said at the beginning they'd never have time in their real lives to finish P4 so they did it at work.  100 hours of playtime is too much to ask from your audience. "
No.  There are other RPGs out there that take less time, but some people still like games that last a long time.  Not every game has to be cut down in time for people who don't want to spend so much time on a single game because some people actually do.  I loved almost every minute of it and I was actually disappointed that the game was shorter than Persona 3.  And it's not a 100 hour game.  The ER may have finished at that time, but that was because it was the ER (commentary and all that).  It's more like a 70 hour game and Persona 3 FES (The Journey part) is a 100 hour game.
Posted by airules
@FrankCanada97 said:
" Is Chie hiding steak in there? o_O "
lol!
 
I was pretty amazed with how interesting the game remained the whole way through. Some pretty good games struggle to make 10 hours without becoming tedious. And yet Persona 4 was interesting and exciting throughout (I did think the ending as in the endurance run seemed a little tacked on, but none-the-less).
I have since bought Persona 3 and 4, Persona 4 coming with the soundtrack, and I look forward to the 100+ hours I'll spend with Persona 3!
Posted by PenguinDust

I think you folks criticizing the drawing in this article should chill out.  It was obviously created by a member and I think you are being unnecessarily harsh.  But, it wouldn't be the internet if people weren't finding fault with any little detail.  Way to live up to the stereotype.

Posted by DrRandle

Perhaps they'll move into Wii territory to keep up to console without having to move to PS3 world. Imagine putting the wii-mote to your head to summon personas :D Move to Wii and bring back the evoker, I say.

Posted by Turambar
@DrRandle: No, use of evokers as nothing but shock value elements would be rather weak, and would lose any effect it has rather quickly.  They fit in Persona 3 because the overarching themes were fate and death.  Without the supporting themes, they would honestly have just felt dumb and silly.
Posted by Theresonlyone
@DrRandle said:
" Perhaps they'll move into Wii territory to keep up to console without having to move to PS3 world. Imagine putting the wii-mote to your head to summon personas :D Move to Wii and bring back the evoker, I say. " 
 
No Persona is too much of a game for the Wii plus sitting there waggling sticks for 100+ hours is not a good idea.

Posted by FlipperDesert

While the action game comment sounds like a joke, these guys could use a holiday for sure.
 
At least, I hope, they made a JRPG I actually like so I hope they keep it up.

Posted by Crayman

Considering that the game shipped in Japan a year and 3 months ago, I'm sure these guys have had their well deserved holiday and are working on Persona 5 by now, right?
Posted by ch3burashka

Double post, sorry: the fusion system needs a major overhaul; neither the P4 nor the P3 system makes a lick of sense. The P3 manual showed a basic table of fusing Personas at a Arcana level (Priestess + Hermit =...) but... I forgot how to defend my argument. Point is, it needs a makeover. Thanks Atlus, love ya!

Posted by natetodamax

Looks like Chie grew some man parts.

Posted by ParadoxControl

God lord, Chie should lay off the stakes, its all going right to her vagina!

Edited by Rem
@smokeyd123 said:

" I always hated the fact that when your main character died, it was  GAME OVER YEEEAAHH! (Hope someone gets the reference) 

  GAME OVER YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH
 
  
Edited by DazzHardy

 http://aeifs.deviantart.com/art/Chie-GB-ER-Tribute-137553915
 
Any better, or worse ?
Also, if there's a way to edit/update uploaded images without resubmitting them, that info would be cool
 
Also, again, Sega Rally on the Saturn is made of win and awesome.

Posted by Blueblur1
@DazzHardy said:
"  http://aeifs.deviantart.com/art/Chie-GB-ER-Tribute-137553915  Any better, or worse ? Also, if there's a way to edit/update uploaded images without resubmitting them, that info would be cool  Also, again, Sega Rally on the Saturn is made of win and awesome. "
Looks much better, dude. Good stuff!
Posted by MrKlorox

I'm not into cartoon ladies with crotch bulges and hairlips.

Posted by Lazyaza

I could write an essay on all the things I would want changed in P5, the game length being the least important. :P

Posted by bbrcher
@DazzHardy: Much better, and kudos to you for not taking these harsh comments too personally!  I'd darken the lines of everything else or lighten the new lines a little and then call it done.
Posted by Spiritof
@MrKlorox said:
" I'm not into cartoon ladies with crotch bulges and hairlips. "
That's not what your momz told me.
Posted by gakon

Every time I load the GB front page, I read "post-mortem" as "postmodern", and my mind is briefly blown.

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