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RATCHET-ing Things Up - Part One

Cinescape talks RATCHET AND CLANK with Insomniac's Ted Price

By James Stevenson     October 28, 2002


RATCHET AND CLANK
© 2002 Sony

Sony Computer Entertainment's RATCHET AND CLANK is one of the year's best titles that no one knows about. Developed by Insomniac, the folks that brought you SPYRO, it utilizes platformer roots while at the same time adding many elements never seen in a platformer game before. Cinescape recently had the chance to talk shop with a very busy Ted Price, President and CEO of Insomniac, about all things R&C. This week, in part one of our four-part feature, we discuss the background of the game.


After finishing SPYRO: YEAR OF THE DRAGON, Insomniac knew that it was going to do something new, but not a SPYRO game. What would come next would be brainstorming sessions involving the whole company.


"We spent a few weeks sitting around and talking about the various ideas that we could go with. Everyone in the company put in lots of input," says Price, "suggestions for types of games,

RATCHET AND CLANK

characters, etc. We actually started off with another project that we ended up changing. We started off with a serious adventure game but a few months into it we realized that we weren't really playing to our strengths and ended up switching gears and we went back and started brainstorming again."


That brainstorming process finally hit a goldmine with a simple suggestion about a little space guy.


"We were sitting around and one of our guys said, 'Why don't we do a game about a little space guy? A guy who can fly from planet to planet in his rocketship and use all sorts of cool weapons and gadgets."' And that's really where the idea for Ratchet was born," explains Price.


After that was said, everyone on the company began jumping on board and the ideas for weapons and gadgets started flowing. The characters were also visualized for the first time. As always at Insomniac, the idea process is very much a team effort.


"That's pretty much how it started, and as always, it was a collaborative process," says Price. "One person in the company will suggest something and it's a good idea, the rest of the team chimes in and takes ownership of the idea."


In the early design phase, the inspiration came from something that was for many people, a staple of the morning news. After that, the classic sci-fi movies made a contribution.


"Our original inspiration was a Calvin and Hobbs painting. I think that everybody here was influenced by the big science fiction movies," says Price. "It's been a part of all of our lives, most of us are into science fiction and fantasy here and so those influences continue to creep in. I think it shows in the story and in what you see on-screen."


The story is a driving force behind the game. Players will quickly notice

RATCHET AND CLANK

that in RATCHET AND CLANK you won't find yourself collecting one hundred widgets. Rather, the game has unique items that all play into the story.


"It never feels like you're doing these repetitive tasks or collecting the same thing," says Price. "We want players to feel like they're immersed in the universe. I think that another point that we feel separates this game from other character-action games is its depth."


The beginning of that depth is the inventory system. Because of it, gamers can take their own path through the game. You can pick which weapons you want and are the most useful in getting through the game.


"We've created a situation where no player will play through the game the same way because there are so many different weapons, gadgets and items to pick up and because the game is non-linear," explains Price. "That kind of approach separates it from the more traditional character-action games where you are on a linear path and you are collecting identical objects."


 

Next week, look for part two of our interview with Ted Price where we'll talk about the weapon and level design in the game.

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