Insomniac Gives More Details on PS4 Spider-Man, Ratchet & Clank, Song of the Deep and GameStop

on July 7, 2016 4:40 PM

Insomniac Games Chief Creative Officer Brian Hastings hosted an Ask Me Anything on Reddit, providing quite a lot of interesting information about the studio’s recent game line-up.

Speaking of the upcoming PS4 exclusive Spider-Man, Hasting had a very simple way to describe his feelings when he learned that the studio was going to work on Marvel’s property.

“One word: AMAZING.”

He also mentioned that the team is creating “amazing things” for the game.

“Our team is working very hard on it right now and is creating truly amazing things. But I can’t give out any specific dates about future announcements at the moment.”

Incidentally, the studio’s official Twitter account clarified yesterday’s statement about the fact that a release date won’t be announced anytime soon.

Moving on to the recently released Ratchet & Clank he mentioned his opinion on Sony’s reasons behind the game’s price point.

“I think Sony wanted to keep the price of the new game the same as the price that the original Ratchet and Clank was when it first came out. It forms a kind of cosmic symmetry that makes everything feel right with the universe. Or at least that was my take on it.”

He also talked on how the idea behind the first Ratchet & Clank came to be and on the early stages of development:

“As for how R&C came to be, it was one of those lightning in a bottle situations. From the very first proposal of the idea, it just took off like wildfire. Each day everyone on the team was coming up with wilder and crazier ideas for what we could do. Within six weeks of the initial idea we had Ratchet running around in an early version of Metropolis with air cars flying through the sky. It’s probably the fastest we’ve ever had a game come together.”

Hastings then mentioned that the studio really loves working on the series.

“We really love working on the Ratchet and Clank series. There’s an palpable excitement that energizes our offices every time we get to imagine new places to explore and new characters to meet within that world.”

Last but not least, Hastings talked about his latest labor of love, Song of The Deep. Firstly, we learn why it wasn’t released on Wii U.

“I love my Wii U and my family plays it the most out of our consoles right now. But in this case we simply needed to pick systems that were all relatively similar in terms of specs so that we could make the game as similar as possible across every platform.”

He also gave more color on the development process behind the game, that was handled by a very small team.

“We were a very small team on the project. And, in fact, the development of Song of the Deep felt pretty similar to what it was like working on the first Spyro game. Most of all it felt exciting. Every day we were excited about the world we were making and seeing each new piece fall into place. We had to make a huge amount of custom tools to make the game possible, because we were doing long distance environments that were essentially unheard of on the PS1. It was only possible via a combination of textures in the foreground and shaded polygons in the background. We had to make tools that would automatically create the Gourad shaded background layers based on the textures and shading of the foreground so that it would seamlessly blend between them as you got farther from the geometry. There was a lot of technical wizardry that went on inside the game engine to make it all possible too.

On the creative side there were so many great exciting moments. Maybe the best one was when we found out that Stewart Copeland agreed to compose the music for the game. His score really made the world feel magical.

Looking back at the games, we put a lot of hand-crafted detail into each level in terms of both art and programming. There are a lot of subtle details that seem a little crazy given how small the team was at the time. Throughout the whole project, from the very start, we just had a feeling we were working on something special.”

We also get more info on the challenges that he and the team faced both while developing the game and writing the novel (which was written by Hastings himself).

“The sea was an unusual choice for us, but what I love about it is that there’s an inherent shared fantasy associated with oceans. There’s a feeling that there might be something incredible and undiscovered that lies just out of sight. I remember imagining my bed was a submarine when I was a kid., and piloting it down to find hidden undersea monsters.

Both the book and the game posed different challenges with regards to the location. For the game, the first challenge was making the controls feel like they are underwater while still being highly responsive and fun. Will and Erich (programmer and designer) worked together to make the controls incredibly intuitive and fun. On the art side, the challenge was making the world really look like it was underwater. This was a long process that involved many layers of parallax, many many rendering effects, hundreds of moving objects (everything has to move all the time underwater) and a lot of hard work from our lead artist, Sing.

On the book side, it was a little challenging finding the right balance for what happens in a submarine adventure. In my first draft I was getting bogged down too much in the technical details of describing the world and what Merryn did to survive. There was a very long section where her submarine was attacked by a cave eel and she spent two chapters finding a way to survive outside the sub, patch the roof and reinflate it with air. I was focusing too much on the technical details of making it all feel plausible, and the whole section ending up dragging on and feeling kind of dull. I also spent too much time describing the flickering glow of fire opals within cavern tunnels. I ended up cutting a lot of that out and focusing on the heart of the story – Merryn’s choices, the characters she interacts with below the sea, and the discoveries she makes about them.”

Last but not least, Hastings talked about his experience working with GameStop as a publisher, which appears to be very positive.

“It’s been really incredible working with them. They have given us total creative freedom to make the game exactly how want to. They’re also very creative and they’re passionate about making an unforgettable gaming experience. So it’s been really awesome working with them from day one.”

Song of The Deep will be released on July 12th for PS4, Xbox One and PC.

 /  Executive News Editor
Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.