With today’s release of Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, we had a chance to chat with Bryan Bernal, project manager at Insomniac Games, about the latest entry in this PlayStation 3 franchise. In this exclusive interview, Bernal talks about how the game will draw players deeper into the story than past titles.
Check out the interview below, and look for our review of Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time soon. We'd like to thank Insomniac Games and Sony for working with us on this interview.
PSU: How did the development of Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time differ from past entries?
Bernal: “When we first started developing Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, we knew that we wanted to make a game that was innovative while at the same time retained the qualities that have made the series so popular among fans in the past. To do this we decided to concentrate on several key tent pole features that would drive the production, but also keep the core gameplay consistent with Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. First and foremost was the theme of time, which was used to not only tell a new and unique story, but also was the driving force behind our new time-based gameplay features such as Clank's time recording challenges and our time travel levels.
“We also knew that we wanted to deliver a more thoughtful and engaging story. We've had some great (and certainly funny) stories in the past and feel that we’ve approached the Pixar level in terms of visuals, however; developing characters that you have a more emotional bond with was a greater challenge. This added a significant amount of development complexity because we were changing the way we approached designing allies. Not only do you interact with allies on a cinematic movie and audio level, but they also help you in a more meaningful sense throughout the game. I can't speak to this too much without spoiling it, but we think players are really going to enjoy being part of this story.”
PSU: Are there any advancements along the way that will set this title apart?
Bernal: “One thing that we're all very excited for players to get their hands on is the new time gameplay mechanics -- specifically Clank's time recording challenges in The Great Clock. We were inspired by a lot of the independent games that we've been playing over the course of the last few years and wanted to do something that was truly innovative not only to the franchise, but also to the action/platformer genre.
“In The Great Clock, Clank will have to overcome some mind-bending time puzzles that will require successful planning and execution to pull off. To do so, you create multiple recordings of yourself and choreograph them together to activate switches, jump across platforms, ride elevators and complete the puzzles. We think that when players complete these challenges they'll have a great sense of accomplishment and maybe even feel like they've worked a muscle of their brain that they don't use every day!
“Another new advancement for Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time is our open galaxy space exploration. We have truckloads of optional side content that players can tackle in any of the games space sectors, including side quests, moon exploration and engaging in space combat against enemy ships. My favorite is one where you need to use a special ship gadget to extract a piece of ore from a moving comet. There are some really incredible experiences to be had here, and you can do it all while listening to your favorite space tunes (such as Rusty Pete and Captain Slag’s Pirate Radio and Deep Space Jams with Maximilian Zane).”
PSU: R&C really focuses on interesting weapons and fun gameplay, what can we expect for new weapons, and what is your favorite tool in Crack in Time?
Bernal: “Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time has fifteen new weapons and several new gadgets for both Ratchet and Clank to use. I think many of us around the studio have our own preferences as to which are our favorites, but my personal favorite is GrummelNet’s new ‘Constructo Weapon’ line. These weapons are super customizable and allow you to swap parts to get not only different gameplay effects, but also paintjobs and visual modifications. My ultimate custom weapon is the Constructo Shotgun with the “stunning” Galvanic Mod. It’s basically a shotgun with an electrical taser strapped on to it. It’s pretty awesome.”
PSU: We know time travel will play a part in the story, what can you tell us about how time travel will be incorporated into gameplay? Is this a mechanic purely for storytelling, or will there be in-game results?
Bernal: “In addition to Clank’s time recording puzzles in The Great Clock, we also have entire levels where Ratchet will have to travel through time to solve mysteries that aid him in his quest to reunite with Clank. While these serve as key plot points in the story, there are also massive in-game changes to the world that can occur when successfully completed. In addition to the time travel levels, there are also places throughout the galaxy where time is “broken” and once fixed, it will allow you to access secret rewards that were previously unavailable to you.”
PSU: How do you think the recent price drop of the PS3, and the related PS3 Slim, will impact sales of the game?
Bernal: “The new 120GB PS3 is one of the hottest pieces of hardware on the market right now and we’re obviously very happy with its positive reception so far. For Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time specifically, we hope that the new price point makes it even easier for Ratchet players on the PS2 to take the next step and see what they’ve been missing.”
PSU: Are there any plans to incorporate online play?
Bernal: “Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time is primarily a single player game, but you can still get a competitive flavor by comparing a variety of online game stats against friends on insomniacgames.com and on PSN.”
PSU: There are a lot of anticipated games coming out lately. What about this title do you think will attract new players to the franchise?
Bernal: “Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (and Ratchet in general) uniquely appeals to adults and younger gamers alike, which is fairly uncommon in the videogame marketplace with very few exceptions. While the story, colorful characters and lush environments are appealing to most players, many of the younger gamers that are just stepping up to PS3 will probably be really into blowing stuff up using our crazy weapons and gadgets. The more seasoned gaming crowd on the other hand will probably gravitate toward the deeper puzzle mechanics we’ve introduced with Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time. There really is something for everyone and I don’t think many games out there can say that with confidence.”
PSU: Finally, is this the final Ratchet & Clank Future, or are you planning more entries into the series? Have there been any thoughts or discussion about branching out to other platforms/consoles/handhelds?
Bernal: “This game concludes the Ratchet & Clank Future story arc. But the good thing about Ratchet & Clank as a universe is that it's wide open and still popular among millions of fans worldwide. As far as different platforms or handhelds, Sony owns the Ratchet & Clank property so it's safe to say you won't be seeing our heroes on Wii or Xbox 360 anytime soon. High Impact Games has also produced two Ratchet & Clank PSP titles so far.”