A mist swirls across snow-covered city streets. A forgotten channel flows into the south branch of the Chicago River. The prohibition-era mob favored these waters for their grisly and efficient disposal properties: a body dumped here submerges quickly and does not resurface.
The veil is thin in this place. The council approves its concealment and preparation. Introducing the Lockport Bridge Arena!
Icy drawbridges frame two home pedestals, each offering access to pillars with high and low vantage points. Spellcasters are in close proximity as the match begins, able to see each other clearly, all the better to predict their opponent’s next move. The victorious play their opponents like a fiddle–they manipulate expectations with feints.
Feints use the element of surprise to keep rivals on their heels. A hammer echoing in the night need not forge a spear. A summoned Chaos Skull is easily cancelled before it is cast. And a conjured deck of Wildcards moves along with an Arch-Mage, all the better to catch an enemy at a vulnerable moment. Advanced Spellcasters use deceptive movements to trick their opponent into teleporting prematurely, or diverting focus, or casting at an inopportune time. Every Ember is precious; so it is vitally important to maintain razor-sharp perception, in tune with an opponent’s true intentions.
Nothing compromises perception more effectively than the newly sanctioned Dark Tag Artifact! This spellbound spray-paint can, stencils mystic paint traps to obscure an opponent’s vision. A tagged spellcaster is exposed to deadly homing spells, unable to counter or dodge—the Dark Tag stacks well with every offensive spell.
Lockport Bridge is the most dynamic arena in the underground circuit. Freezing winds from across the lake form ice columns in the channel, changing the fundamental topology of this battleground. Pedestals with wide sight lines become sheltered coves, vulnerable from only a few opponent positions.
As the storm intensifies, and after every column is formed, a Summon Orb manifests beneath the bridge. Breaking it unleashes the spirit of a hapless victim, drowned long ago. Impossibly thin ice freezes around his extremities to form the Bridge Wraith—a vengeful grotesque hell-bent on entombing its victim in an icy sheath. If you find yourself rooted, your time on this plane is drawing to a swift and bitter end. Better luck next time.
From across the lake, the wind changes. Electric lights flicker. Spellcasters of a new cloak will soon join the duel.
Until then, remember: fortune favors the shrouded. Remain hidden!
Today’s release of The Unspoken marks a big day for us. Not only is it our fifth game launch of 2016, but it begins a shared journey with you into new, uncharted, exciting territory. Virtual Reality player versus player in our urban magic fight club. This is a game we have been thinking about making for the better part of a decade. And now it’s live for you to play, with the power of magic at your fingertips.
We couldn’t be more excited to get The Unspoken into your hands (pun intended). Once you get your Touch Controllers set-up, we hope you’ll jump online – as we will be jumping into Ranked matches over this week (and the weeks to come!) to duel it out with you. Don’t worry… we won’t stick around on the Leaderboards long!
Still waiting on your controllers? Never fear, we’ve got a bunch of live streams coming up this week so you can see the game in action. Join us on our streams for The Unspoken shirt and poster giveaways.
Here is a schedule for this week of our live streams and dev play sessions:
Tuesday – Dec 6
3pm EST / 12pm PST – Facebook Live stream
4pm EST / 1pm PST – Play with the Dev (look for Insomniac usernames!)
Wednesday – Dec 7
3pm EST / 12pm PST – Play with the Dev
Thursday – Dec 8
6pm EST / 3pm PST – Play with the Dev
Friday – Dec 9
5pm EST / 2pm PST – Play with the Dev livestreamed on Twitch
But wait, there is more!
More content that is. More arenas. More classes. More artifacts. More modes! Even more lore. All coming in 2017. December 6th might be the first time we enter this world, but we plan to stick around with updates and new content throughout 2017. We look forward to hearing your feedback as we try and build the deepest, most competitive VR experience ever.
We’ve been watching you. You’re growing more attuned to the city. You can feel the vibrations of mass transit: the rise and fall of crowds, the waves of traffic, the crush of the El Train.
You can manipulate these unseen forces of movement as The Kineticist!
This astral form directs city debris with blunt power. Feel kinetic energy course through your fingers as you master these Primal Spells:
Lift and redirect ambient objects with Telekinesis.
Repel opponent attacks with the Telekinetic Shield.
Embers energize three arcane gesture spells:
With a push gesture, attract detritus to ready a Debris Scatter, then project it outward in a concentrated cone of shrapnel. Charge up, then cast Debris Scatter at close range to damage an opponent with every deadly shard.
With a volley gesture, levitate a Mass Drop of automobiles to damage your enemy from above. The initial pose directs one car to your opponent; hold the pose to raise cars above up to three pedestals, selected by your gaze. Drop your arms with force for a higher-damage attack.
With a guard gesture, form a Force Bubble to repulse enemy spells. Cast quickly to counter, or hold the crossed-arm pose to generate a larger, more durable bubble.
The Kineticist wields heavy objects with a deliberate style. Time your Telekinetic Primal carefully. Defend with your off-hand shield while an object overcomes inertia to move to your primary hand.
A held object can act as an improvised shield. And a thrown object can nullify an enemy projectile. Your Primal defensive capabilities are second to none.
There are massive objects in every arena—concrete fountains, metal machinery, stone gargoyles. These inflict the most damage. Gesture toward an object with your offensive hand to draw it close. But choose carefully; heavy objects take longer to attract.
Debris Scatter excels at breaking enemy shields and shattering Summon Orbs.
Save your Embers. A quickly cast Mass Drop can divert an adversary while you move close to prepare a Debris Scatter spell. Multiple Mass Drops will leave your challenger with no safe haven.
To prevail, you must sense the ebb and flow of intangible waves as you manipulate the dense matter of the physical world. Duel with verve, but never forget the gravity of the ancient code.
May you crush your rival before your rival crushes you.
Open your mind. Can you sense the unrest? Can you feel the struggle of three million burning souls in a city of shattered glass?
These chaotic forces are yours to command as The Anarchist!
This astral form channels the disorder of the city to cast destructive spells. These Primal Spells are at your fingertips:
Manifest a Fireball in your bare hands.
Deflect opponent spells with your Arcane shield.
Channel Embers to perform three unique gesture spells:
With a push gesture, track your opponent with a deadly and unpredictable Chaos Skull. Push a fast skull, or charge a skull that’s devastatingly massive–skulls distract your opponent while you prepare your next spell, and shatter the shields of inattentive spellcasters. But beware! Their allegiance is fickle. A well-timed fireball can send a Chaos Skull back at its caster.
With a volley gesture, summon Pyrotechnics to rain explosive fireworks down on the arena. Pyrotechnics target opponents on any pedestal, countered only by a skillful teleport or a well-placed shield.
With the guard gesture, pull glass shards together to protect yourself with a Plate Glass barrier. You’ll be free to charge gesture spells or reach for powerful Artifacts.
Cast these spells together; multiple Chaos Skulls and Pyrotechnics can overwhelm your opponent with multidirectional attacks. You’ll need to channel an Ember to cast each gesture spell, so visualize your strategy and plan ahead.
An all-offense loadout of three Dark Forge spells will give you the power to finish your opponent off while they’re distracted.
Or choose a more tactical loadout; the Clockwork Imp will steal your opponent’s Embers while you’re weaving together a devastating sequence of spells.
Destroy your opponent’s Embers to limit their casting options. An uncast spell needs no counter, and each broken Ember removes a pedestal. Controlling the arena is one key to victory.
But take heed: volatile magic consumes the unwise! Remember your training.
Ryan Schneider is Insomniac’s Chief Brand Officer. He has been with the company since the PS2 Ratchet & Clank days.
I’ve seen many changes in games marketing and PR the last 12 years at Insomniac, perched atop my old-man porch here on the fifth floor in Burbank. We were there for the birth of AAA console community developers. We watched the near-extinction of enthusiast magazines along with the early rise of social media.
But perhaps the biggest shift we’ve experienced has been the emergence of YouTube and Twitch content creators. We’ve seen a gradual shift from press, to developers, and eventually players influencing other players on what to play through their own hosted channels.
Admittedly, Insomniac has been a little late to officially embrace this movement. It’s not because Insomniac hasn’t cared though. The truth is, we weren’t exactly sure how best to interact with content creators — even though we’ve been content creators ourselves for many years producing our own trailers, podcasts, dev diaries, screenshots, music videos and even community day events. We also were watching to see if YouTube and Twitch content creators would be interested in games besides League of Legends, Minecraft, Hearthstone, Call of Duty and Halo. Ratchet & Clank and Sunset Overdrive proved to us there’s room for games like ours to catch on with the streaming community.
That’s not to say we’ve been completely on the streaming sidelines all this time. We started experimenting with live streaming way back in the Fuse days almost four years ago, continued with Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault and even tried open development streaming with Slow Down, Bull. We learned how challenging and rewarding live streaming can be, and applied some of those lessons to our weekly in-game “Sunset TV” episodes within Sunset Overdrive starting a couple years ago. And PS4 Ratchet & Clank recently had its own Twitch stream series, hosted by Melonie Mac, to support the launch of the game and film.
Ratchet & Clank Livestream with Melonie Mac
While we knew the value of producing our own content, we still didn’t fully understand how to work with fellow YouTube and Twitch content creators. For starters, we weren’t sure if those relationships should be managed through our publishers. (Depends.) Did all content creators require payment to engage with us? (No!) We weren’t sure how to even refer to content creators. Streamers? Twitchers? YouTubers? Influencers? (Consensus from the folks we spoke with seems to be “content creators” so that’s what we’ll go with now.)
Then we stumbled upon a little secret… everyone, including games publishers, is still learning!
A few weeks ago, we hosted a media day event at our Burbank studio where several content creators joined us to experience our 2016 games lineup. We learned so much from our guests at that experience, along with a Ratchet & Clank streaming event hosted by PlayStation a few weeks prior at our studio.
After much discussion internally, we decided to focus more on building relationships with content creators directly. It’s one of the many reasons we love being an independent developer – we can have greater control in how and when we interact with the community at large. Perhaps more relevant, we are taking a closer look at how we make our future games more amenable to content creators wishing to stream our titles, along with players who simply want a fun spectating experience.
If you’re a content creator, how does all this affect you? First and foremost, we understand more how you prefer to be treated. We think we better understand your objectives, and your wide-ranging equipment needs when you visit us to capture content. Most of all, we know we must be flexible to help you produce the best content, treating each of you as unique producers – not merely relying on the same assets we provide more traditional games journalists.
Content creators at the Burbank studio in April.
How to Engage with Insomniac
Here’s the tl;dr part…the best way to work with us. While we’d love to be able to support every content creator, it’s just not realistic for us. We will correspond with as many creators as possible, as we try to respond to every inquiry we receive. But we have to be judicious with how we’re able to engage. Therefore, we’ve decided to focus on content creators with a minimum reach of around 10,000 on their combined social media and content channels. Videos should regularly generate more than 1,500 views per episode.
In addition, we will not pay content creators a fee to attend our events or to cover our games. Honestly, we don’t have a budget to do that. It’s also a matter of philosophy. We believe our games and access to the development team is valuable for content creators, and hope that value is apparent. If it’s not, we’re probably not a good fit to work together. And we want fans who watch streams that involve our titles to know that Insomniac is not paying their favorite content creators to praise our games. This feels like the most genuine approach.
Sunset TV Episode from June 2014
Finally, we’ll place a slightly greater emphasis on west-coast based content creators coast since it’s easier from a logistics standpoint if travel to our studios is involved. Full disclosure: At our recent media day events, travel costs were covered for several content creators who flew to our Burbank headquarters from various parts of the US and Canada. This is exactly how journalists are treated for press events.
If you are unsure about where you might stand, please use this brief form (below!) and we’ll get back to you promptly with some guidance. You should also refer to our content creator policy online for our stance on how to properly use or credit Insomniac-generated footage and audio.
Content creators are an important part of the games community and we now feel more equipped at Insomniac to build a meaningful relationship together. We’ll make mistakes along the way. But we’ll learn… and we’ll probably make new mistakes! Especially as we head into the new frontier of VR content creation (aka, help wanted!). We’ll work hard to continually improve though. Please come along for this crazy ride with us.
Launching one game in a year can be a complex, exciting, and occasionally nerve-wracking endeavor. Developing five games simultaneously for 2016 launches on console, PC and VR might sound as crazy as it sometimes feels, but that’s just what we’re doing here at Insomniac. And we’re loving it.
To share (almost) everything we have going on inside the studio, we decided to host our first-ever Insomniac Games media event, spanning two days late last week for journalists and YouTube/Twitch streamers. This is one of the reasons why we love being an independent developer – not only can we make the kind of games we love playing, but we can share them with you in our own special way.
Of course, that meant our publishing partners had to agree to support each other, which is not always that common. Oculus, GameStop and PlayStation could not have been more gracious though. That spirit of collaboration is one of the many things we appreciate about each partner.
Now, onto the games! First, we revealed two new VR franchises, both for Oculus Rift. Here’s a bit more info, but be sure to check out their respective game pages on our website:
Feral Rites: Avenge the death of your father by fighting your way through missions and quests in this VR adventure-brawler. Set on a mystical island, explore unique areas of the island from jungles to temples, while mastering new abilities including the power to transform into a feral beast. Below is the reveal trailer, and our first screenshots from the game, which will appear on the Oculus Store in Fall 2016. Feral Rites will be playable at E3 this year.
The Unspoken: An Oculus Touch‐enabled VR action game that pulls players into a hidden world of spellcasting and magician’s duels. Manipulate the environment around you with the powerful arcane forces that flow through your fingertips, summon ghastly monstrosities with your bare hands, and rise up through the ranks of an urban magic fight club in supernatural PVP combat. Check out the reveal trailer below, and our first screenshots from the game, which will release in November 2016. Attending media got to go hands-on with The Unspoken, so look for their impressions online. The Unspoken will also be playable at E3.
Of course, we’re in the thick of development for our original VR franchise, Edge of Nowhere. We allowed direct feed capture of gameplay we originally showed at GDC, while some folks got to play the first several minutes of the game. Look for those videos online, and check our social media feed for links to footage from other outlets. You can check out some recent screenshots below.
As part of our VR-related announcements, we shared that Edge of Nowhere will be available in the Oculus Store on Monday, June 6. Price details to come soon.
While VR is an important focus at Insomniac, we’re very proud of our unique partnership with GameStop and Song of the Deep. The game is about how far a young girl will go to find her missing father in the depths of a vast ocean. Song of the Deep is a Metroidvania-style 2D adventure game. We announced at our media event that it will land exclusively on GameStop shelves Tuesday, July 12, along with Xbox Live, PlayStation Store and Steam.
We allowed direct feed capture from a GDC build of the game, so be on the lookout for those videos. In addition, we revealed a new Song of the Deep story trailer, which you can watch here:
We’re encouraged by all the positive feedback on the game’s art style, story and soundtrack. Furthermore, a novelization that Chief Creative Officer Brian Hastings has written will appear in Barnes & Noble stores soon.
Last but certainly not least, we gave everyone a chance to play and stream Ratchet & Clank, which launched earlier in the week exclusively on PS4. We’ve been thrilled with the response so far, from both reviewers and fans. It’s heartening to see how much love exists for our favorite intergalactic heroes. We’re equally excited about an entirely new generation of fans who will be introduced to the franchise when the film launches in theaters beginning on April 29. YOU have the power to make the film No. 1 on opening weekend, so we hope you fill those theaters!
So that’s a look at what we’re up to inside the ball of energy that is Insomniac. We’re looking forward to hearing what you think about everything you’ve seen here. Feel free to share a comment below, or follow us on our social media channels and interact with us there. As always, we appreciate your ongoing support and passion not just for our games, but for this amazing craft in general.
We are excited to announce the Official Ratchet & Clank Collection from iam8bit. All items will go on sale Thursday, April 7 at 10AM PDT through the iam8bit Store. Screen prints are limited to 350 so act now if you want one of those!
Limited Edition 6-Color Screenprint
Original art by Mark Englert
Limited to only 350 copies
36 x 12 inches