It turns out the original draft of Forspoken, the newest RPG game published by Square Enix, was actually very different from the fantasy-focused final product. The writer credited with developing the original concept of Forspoken says the game underwent quite a few changes before landing where it did earlier this year.
Writer Gary Whitta, who’s credited with developing the original concept of Forspoken, appeared on Sony Santa Monica writer Alanah Pearce’s Video Game Writing 101 podcast. Whitta has written for both games and films, including many of The Walking Dead Telltale series, Star Wars: Rebels, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
On the podcast, Whitta talked about how he developed the initial concept of open-world game Forspoken, which was incredibly different from the final product, and how he couldn’t return to the project when asked by Square Enix when things changed due to other commitments. It should be noted that Whitta says he did not actually write much, if anything, for Forspoken’s dialogue and overall eventual narrative.
“I did some very early foundational world-building on Forspoken,” Whitta explains. “Square came to me five or six years ago and said ‘we have this idea, would you be willing to help us build out the world and the mythology and story,’” which was followed by Whitta heading up a writer’s room for the game.
“One thing that I know that I contributed to the [finished] game is the name of the world: Athia,” Whitta adds. “That’s literally the only thing I know for sure of mine that’s in the game.
“Some months after that they came back to me and one of the other writers and said ‘we’re going to start over and completely reboot the story, we want it to be this now’,” which Whitta says was very close to Forspoken’s final narrative and set up.
“The version that we did was nothing like that,” Whotta says of Forspoken’s eventual fantasy game setting. “The problem was at that point that neither I nor the other writer were available anymore, and they wanted us to write the whole thing,” Whitta adds, explaining how he may have come back to write the whole game under the new fantasy isekai (think being transported to a new world, like Spirited Away) direction for the story.
So Whitta’s involvement with Forspoken was very much confined to the early development of the game, with some of his ideas trickling over into the final product.
Forspoken launched to a mixed reception, with both the overall game state and quippy character writing being two of the most divisive talking points. That said, Square Enix plans a Forspoken update to “overhaul” almost the entire game, with lots of post-launch plans.