Hey Ratchet fans!
This is Chad Dezern. I’m the Studio Director at the North Carolina studio. We hope you enjoyed our announcement of Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One at GamesCom, in Cologne, Germany last week. We’re ecstatic to finally get the word out as this really is the game we’ve wanted to make for a long time.
We’ve heard from many of you since the announcement. I can’t talk about everything just yet (we’re saving a lot for future announcements), but I’ll do my best to answer the most frequent questions.
Does All 4 One support offline? Online?
Yes and Yes! We’re making it easy to jump into the game and have fun. Your friends can be next to you on the couch, half a world away, or any combination of the two (2 players on a couch in Kentucky can play with 2 players on a sofa in Singapore, for instance).
Can you play All 4 One with fewer than four players?
Certainly. We’re supporting any configuration of 1 to 4 players. The game scales to make it fun with any number of players, and any play group has access to all of the content.
For the one player game, we let you choose an AI pal to keep the feeling of teamwork alive. We’re working hard to make sure your AI friend is genuinely helpful and fun to play with.
Is the story in All 4 One part of the Ratchet canon?
Absolutely. Veteran Ratchet & Clank scribe TJ Fixman is on board again for this installment. He’s written an epic galactic adventure that has mystery, suspense, adventure, heart, and some borderline inappropriate dialogue from Captain Qwark involving a platypus.
The new comic series (also written by TJ) covers the events between A Crack in Time and All 4 One. Call your local comic store (or grab the digital version from the PlayStation Network) and check it out!
Why is Dr. Nefarious now a good guy?
Doctor Nefarious is most assuredly not a good guy. He’s an evil criminal mastermind at his core. But he’s an opportunist, and in the right circumstances he’ll work with his arch-enemies to save his own skin, especially if this comes at expense of the arch-enemies who happen to be Squishes.
We like the mismatched group because it creates tension. Around here, we play the game with a healthy dose of spite and competition, and that’s just how our main characters would react to their plight. We also liked the look of these four characters together; Nefarious’ robotic skeleton contrasts nicely with furry Ratchet, metallic Clank, and muscle-bound Qwark.
Are there weapons in All for One?
Ohhhh yeah! Insane and powerful weapons are an important part of any Ratchet game. The weapons in All 4 One are all about coop; they’re powerful alone, but the devastating effects happen when you coordinate with other players. We showed an early-level weapon called the Elasti-Shock in our demo. We have many others in all stages of development from blueprint to production model, and we’ll show more in the months ahead.
How does the camera work?
Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One uses a single screen for both offline and online regardless of the number of players. Our camera system gets as close as possible when players are next to each other and moves out when players move apart. For the online game the camera weight will be biased toward the local players, but the fundamental feel will be the same.
Early on, we knew that we wanted to make a single-camera co-op experience. That way every player can focus on the same big screen to catch all of the action–it just feels more like team coordination with a shared camera. Also, this camera type is something we’ve wanted to try for a long time for aesthetic reasons. We can flow seamlessly between game and story moments and we can increase the detail and the quality of the visuals. It’s a fun system that opens up possibilities for all kinds of big in-game events.
Why do the characters look different?
When we started prototyping we dropped in the most recent character models from A Crack in Time. Individually, the models looked great. But together they were unbalanced. Ratchet didn’t stand out against the background, Clank was too tiny to see onscreen, and Qwark didn’t look proportionally correct relative to the other characters. That’s all completely understandable, as they were never meant to be seen as a set of 4 playable characters onscreen at the same time.
So Dave and Greg (the guys who designed the original models dating back to the ps2 Ratchet games) tweaked form and color until we had a group that worked well together. Emphasis on the word “tweaked,” the changes are actually fairly small, and we worked hard to keep the essence of each character intact.
Which team is making the game?
Insomniac North Carolina, mostly. In 2009, we opened up a new studio in Durham, North Carolina. We wanted to make more games, and we liked the idea of starting up a new location as an alternative for talented developers who wanted to stay on the east coast.
We started the studio with several key team members from previous Ratchet titles, including artists, sound designers, programmers, and a designer. Then we hired some very talented and capable newcomers. The result is a group that merges experience with fresh ideas, which is exactly what we want for this game. We’re in a great spot; we have the excitement of a startup, but we also have access to unlimited expertise from the team in Burbank. The Burbank team supplies core engine technology, cinematics animation, community support, and more.
Is there anything else you want to tell us? (okay, I made this question up)
Some of our biggest fans have exclaimed, “I love Ratchet and Clank! Why would you ever change the formula?”
We love the Ratchet series too. But at the same time, we felt like we needed to change things up a bit to keep it fresh for us so we’re not solving the same problems over and over. A focus on co-op is a perfect solution. Many fans have asked for this for years, and when we started brainstorming it was clear that we had more ideas than we could ever use (always a good sign).
We’re making the best possible co-op Ratchet and Clank game. By necessity, that involves tweaking the formula. Simply dropping in more players doesn’t equal instant fun. We have to consider the camera, the amount of action onscreen, and how players interact with the game, and each other. We want you to feel the rush of team play, and to feel powerful when you work together instead of merely playing side-by-side.
So co-op is central to the design. At the same time, we’re not just making changes for the sake of it–the main attributes of the series that we know and love are intact. Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One has a sprawling story, explosive weapons, wildly varied alien locations, and unbridled ridiculousness.
Really, when it comes right down to it, the reason we are making Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One is because we’re excited about the potential of a co-op Ratchet game. You’d be able to tell immediately if that wasn’t the case and we all know this. We’re working hard to get a new Ratchet & Clank adventure in your hands in Fall 2011. We can’t wait to show you more and we really can’t wait for you to play it.
That’s all for now! Keep sending questions and comments, we love to hear from you.