Who Was There: The panel consisted of John Tynes, lead designer at Microsoft Studios; Nick Ferguson, producer at Microsoft Studios; Todd Benson, senior producer at South Park Digital Studios; and Chris Brion, creative director at South Park Digital Studios.
What Did They Talk About: Before diving into the moderator questions, the panelists wanted to show level eight from South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play! We watched as our favorite South Park kids scurried around the map, tossing snowballs (and yes, there will be yellow pee snowballs) and building defense towers. The two-part level was called "Great Wall of South Park" where Tuong Lu Kim calls on the kids to help defend his wall. Unlike a typical tower defense game, South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play! removes the waiting element and lets you run wild around the map to help defend your territory. The sixth graders eventually showed up and tried to ruin everything, but it seemed like the developers put up a solid defense to keep them at bay.
It was hard to see what was going because there were four people playing cooperatively and the action only got more intense when explosions would go off. We eventually learned that the carpet bombing was thanks to Cartman's special ability. It also didn't help that while everyone was running around erecting towers or chucking snowballs, Tuong Lu Kim would periodically toss a giant snowball that would roll into the fray.
Chris began with telling the audience that it has been 10 years since the last South Park game, primarily because the last two games in his words, "sucked." They were afraid and hesitant to attempt it again. That is why this Let's go Tower Defense Play! is a tower defense game on the Xbox Live Arcade--they wanted to start off small.
John followed up by talking about how they wanted to design a game that is "full of action, with no boring parts," and take advantage of Xbox Live so that you can play with three friends locally or online. What was important to everyone was to maintain the authentic South Park vibe, so all of the visuals and audio clips are from the original source material. Working closely with the creators of South Park was also vital to the project, which was something the previous games did not do.
We learned that there will be 15 characters total, including Wendy, Bebe, Token, Craig, Clyde, Jimmy, Timmy, and of course the main four--Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman. Each character will have his or her own unique special ability, such as Cartman's carpet bomb. Kenny will have a welfare check ability, which will make the enemy drop coins so that you can round up some cash to build more towers. Kyle is the team's morale booster and can give others the ability to run faster. There will be five challenge levels to clear as well, which were described as being brain-meltingly difficult. But once you do, you'll unlock two more towers to use.
South Park is known to be offensive and controversial, which led the panel to the topic of filters. Because television filters are different from video game filters, there will be an option to bleep out the offensive material, which according to everyone on the panel would make it sound even more profane. Coming up with achievement names was an interesting process as well. While trying to come up with creative names (which were all borrowed from episodes) like "Eat With Your Butt," Chris went on to talk about how Xbox Live Arcade does not allow butts, even when they swapped out Kenny's face with a butt. They also tried "Stupid Spoiled Whore" but whore is also a no-no.
Random Fact: The first title for the game was originally, "South Park Suck My Balls." That lasted about two months before Microsoft made the call to change it.
Notable Audience Question: Will Chef be back? There will be no Chef. After the death of Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef, they felt it wouldn't be right to bring him back.
The Takeaway: Judging from what we've seen of the game, it actually looks quite promising. Four player co-op seems like a blast and stays true to the cartoon series with the 2D artwork and the voice acting. There will also be "best of" clips to unlock for your in-game scrapbook as well, which should be fun for those who follow the show. For more information on the game, check out our recent hands-on preview. South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play! is scheduled to be released on XBLA October 7.