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RATCHET-ing Things Up - Part Three

Part three of four in Cinescape's interview with Insomniac's Ted Price

By James Stevenson     November 04, 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 three of our four part feature, we examine the weapon and level design in RATCHET AND CLANK. We also look at the target audience and adult humor of the game.


Many people who played SPYRO THE DRAGON enjoyed the game, regardless of their age. Nevertheless, SPYRO wasn't exactly targeted at the college crowd, and it became more of a favorite with younger folk. RATCHET AND CLANK aims higher, and targets itself at a slightly more mature audience.


"The audience we're shooting for is definitely

RATCHET AND CLANK

older than Spyro's, but it's still a mass-market game. We found in our focus tests that the younger kids, the Spyro-aged kids really love it," says Price. "But what surprised us was that the older high-school kids liked it, the eighteen-year-olds liked it. The liked it because a story, they liked it because of the gameplay challenge and they liked it because of the humor. That was one of our initial goals, to make a mass-market game, something that everybody will enjoy. I'm hoping that when it is on the market, we'll be proven right."


The humor is a major reason for the game's success with older audiences. Aimed at a more mature fan of sci-fi and fantasy, there are plenty of one-liners and oddities that will keep older gamers chuckling.


"Humor has always been an important part of our games," explains Price. "We built this current team around the Spyro series and in the Spyro series we use a lot of slapstick, goofy humor. We decided that this team was well suited to continue doing humor in our games. We didn't want to do a serious, dark game, we wanted to

RATCHET AND CLANK

keep it light, but we also wanted to move it a little bit towards adult humor. Once we made that decision, the guys that wrote the dialogue just kept that in mind." 


In addition to the dialogue, even the character design came into play for the humor factor. Characters were designed to be way over the top and have a strong personality.


"Each character needed to have a strong personality and be memorable," adds Price, "and the easiest way for us to do that was to make them all a little goofy and give them what we hope were memorable humorous lines. Anyway, the story is all done in-house. The only things we do outside of Insomniac are music composition and recording, and voice acting."


When the story was being written, verbal descriptions of the characters personalities were tossed around. With those descriptions in mind the crew started auditioning tapes and CDs of voice-actors.


"Fortunately since we're in L.A., there's a lot of people who are looking for voice-acting work, so we had many people to choose from," says Price. "We ended narrowing it down to two or three candidates per character, we had them audition specific lines in the game, and then from those auditions we made our choices. I was there for some [of the recording sessions], I think it's been great. The guys that we hired are all very professional but a lot of them like games and are excited to be in a game. We thought it was kind of fun for them and they seemed like they really enjoyed it."


 

Next week, look for the final part of our interview with Ted Price, talking about the animation and anything else that comes up.

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