The final story of Forspoken was “nothing like” the original version worked on by Gary Whitta.
Square Enix’s latest has a number of writers attached to it, but the story was rebooted part way through development.
Speaking with Alanah Pearce on her Video Game Writing 101 podcast (thanks Games Radar), Whitta gave details on his involvement with the game.
“I did some very very early foundational world building lore stuff on Forspoken,” he said. “I never wrote an actual line of dialogue.
“What happened was Square came to me five or six years ago and said ‘we have an idea but it’s just a germ of an idea, would you be willing to help us build out the world and the mythology and the story?’.
“And I went away and came up with some ideas for them and presented them, they liked them and they said ‘would you run a writer’s room to really build it out?’.
That writer’s room consisted of a number of writers, as well as the developers, conceptualising how magic works, the history of the world, and more. Whitta claims the name of the world – Athia – was his idea that remains in the final product.
“Some months after that they came back to me and one of the other writers and said ‘we’re going to start over to completely reboot the story, we want it to be this now’,” he continued.
That was a brand new story about a young woman from the real world being sucked into a fantasy realm, the story found in the game today.
“The version that we did was nothing like that,” said Whitta.
Whitta was unavailable to take on the rebooted story, which was taken on by other writers. Instead he is credited in the game under ‘Original Concept’ while fellow writer Amy Hennig is credited under ‘Story Concept’, though he appreciates how having their names attached would raise the prestige of the game.
Forspoken has been criticised for its story and dialogue, which often feels disjointed from the gameplay and the world.
“This story takes time to get going, and while the writing doesn’t always land, there’s plenty to enjoy even if the numerous ups and downs make Forspoken hard to universally recommend. Still, thanks to its robust character development, detailed worldbuilding, and stylish combat, there are elements here that are still worth a look,” reads our review of Forspoken.
For more on Forspoken, check out this interview with the game’s co-composer Garry Schyman.