The PC version of Persona 4 Golden was recently released, and in just a few days it became the best-selling PC project worldwide, as well as the most popular JRPG on Steam. 96% of all reviews of the game are positive. This is definitely a success and we will probably see other parts of the Persona series on PC in the future. Gamasutra spoke with Altus, who were personally involved in porting their game to PC, to discuss the creation of Persona 4, which in many ways continued and developed the ideas of Persona 3.
The goal with Persona 4 was to create a game for young people in a modern school setting, while engaging a wide audience. For players who became fans of the series and joined the fandom after Persona 3 came out, they retained the gameplay basics that proved to be successful by adding new elements. Altus hoped that a story about an assassin, in which a group of high school students chased a criminal, would help players with immersion.
Many of the key contributors to the Persona 4 project were from an internal development team led by Director Katsura Hashino. Their previous projects were Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, the Digital Devil Saga series and Persona 3. Artistic director Shiginori Shoejima joined the team during the creation of Persona 3. However, the rest of the staff, including composer Shoji Meguro, worked together for about ten years.
Except for the animation, the game was made entirely within the team. The main asset creation tools were 3ds Max 8, Adobe Photoshop, PaintTool SAI, and Adobe After Effects 6.5J, while designs and effects were handled using their own internal tools.
The team has systematized what they managed to achieve in the game and what they failed to implement.
What the creators were able to achieve in Persona 4:
1. Critical and Game Recognition: Persona 4 has received high praise from both the media and gamers. The main consideration in deciding what needs to be changed and what aspects of development should be explored was the desire to make the game better than the previous one. The players were generally happy with the third part, and the developers felt confident moving on to the next project.
2. Budget: Development cost was set at about the same level as Persona 3. To satisfy consumers, they spent most of their resources on increasing the number of player-liked features, improving game systems and working on the plot and characters [two key RPG components]. As a result, the developers were able to minimize the number of missing features, while adding many changes and additions to bring everything to a great ending of the game.
3. Player Feedback: The creators were able to carefully select many of the new features by internally evaluating the previous title and reviewing player feedback. Thus, the developers were able to focus on adjusting those areas that were most important to the quality of the game.
4. Stable Team Roles: During the creation of Persona 4, the creators did not make many changes to the roles of members of the development team, who continued to work on the game from the previous part. This gave each person a clear understanding of what problems need to be solved, which made it possible to work smoothly and fix bugs. It also allowed various employees to communicate effectively with the director.
5. New employees . Some of the new hires who joined the Persona 4 development team were Persona 3 fans. They did an excellent job gathering feedback on the previous game and rating the content from a fan perspective.
Challenges in creating Persona 4:
1. Storytelling issues: It took a tremendous amount of time and effort to complete the intense, intense story with as many twists and turns as it was, and to integrate the theme of "how one receives information from the media" into the game. While it was fun to create a script that looked like a mystery novel, they had no previous experience with such a plot, so adjustments were made to the storyline right up to the very end.
Also, one of the antagonists changed in the middle of development; as the character was designed prior to the story change, and did not reflect the fact that he was a villain.
2. Real-Time Weather Design: Unlike the previous installment in Persona 4, the time limit for each dungeon was dependent on the in-game weather. This was done with the belief that such a system would create a sense of urgency, since the player did not know when the fog, causing damage, would appear.
However, when this was introduced into the game, players tended to make dungeon exploration their top priority. They were motivated by logic: "If I do not know when the fog will appear, I must finish the dungeon as soon as possible." As a result, dungeons have taken over other elements that are equally important and become completely unbalanced.
They tried to compensate for this by adjusting the weather, game messages and the course of the plot, but this created an unexpected load. The huge amount of data could not be completed until the weather was set, but it kept changing due to design adjustments.
3. Misconceptions about the setting . When it was decided that the story would develop in the countryside, it was discovered that each employee had their own image of a rural city that was completely different from the others. So the developers immediately held a meeting to discuss what the most typical rural city was like, and the whole team went to different locations to hunt for references. This was the first time a development team has conducted such a massive location hunt.
4. QA Time: RPG QA takes a significant amount of time. For example, it took a project manager over a month to play the entire game once, check the content, and give feedback to the team.
Testers and developers continued to play the game over and over, as many times as possible, until the game went gold. The more time spent debugging, the harder it became to think about how gamers would feel when playing the game for the first time. In the end, everyone wanted the next project to be an action game.
5. Internal criticism. Two months before the finalization of the code, comments and criticism from the entire team were collected on the internal development website. For Persona 4, new hires [most of whom were Persona 3 fans] contributed the most to this process, and ended up with about 2,000 posts ranging from fundamental issues to personal tastes.
Anyway, 1,500 critical comments were processed, but staff continued to make comments such as "This should be changed like this" or "This part is not good." The people solving these problems and the staff who were implementing the fixes were on the verge of a nervous breakdown, asking, "Please ... Stop ..."
However, the quality of the game improved and customer satisfaction was high, partly as a result of this internal feedback process, so the developers are glad they did it, but the thought of having to do it again for another project still piques their minds. cold sweat.
The Topic of Article: Behind the Scenes of Persona 4.