The development of Knack wasn’t without problems: as a launch game that was being developed in parallel with the console it had to run on, there were many unknowns in the equation, and Senior Producer Yosuke Watanabe, Outsourcing Manager Seiichiro Funayama, Game Director Takamitsu Ijima, Lead Artist Yoshiaki Yamaguchi and Lead Programmer Tsuyoshi Murakami provided some interesting “post mortem” information in an interview on Inside Games.
Ijima-san mentioned that one of the biggest problems with working on Knack was that there were many areas of the architecture of the console that still weren’t known during the early phases of development, in fact many times they were the ones being asked questions about the hardware.
According to Murakami-san, the decision to add four more gigabytes of ram to the console originated from that. The Knack team took part in meetings during which it was discussed how much RAM was necessary for the console. Initially Sony planned four gigabytes, but since that wasn’t absolutely sufficient, they asked for eight, and Sony decided to put eight gigabyte of RAM in the console as a result.
Funayama-san explained that another problem was that the amount of work necessary to reach next-gen quality was very high, so outsourcing was very important to meet the studio’s goals. For instance environmental prop models were outsourced. Since a large number of people made them, small variations in style and quality were inevitable, an he was determined to smooth down the differences.
Ijima-san mentioned that the team gathered a lot of feedback about the game, and admitted that a lot of it was more negative than expected, calling Knack dull or too simple. There were also opinions on Twitter like “I’ve been having fun with my son” or “Even my 60 year old father enjoyed it.” There was a large variety of feedback, and he promised that it’ll be used for future projects.
We also learn that the triggers are not used in Knack and the triangle button sees little use as well on purpose, as those are difficult to reach for children with small hands. Ijima-san wanted to make sure that they could play comfortably.
Looking at the future, Yamaguchi-san explained that development for PS4 is big in the west, and technology sharing is progressing at a great rate, but the history of PS4 development is still limited in Japan. There’s still a lot to learn and study as development for Sony’s new console grows locally.
Murakami-san concluded that while the PS4 architecture is similar to a PC, and creates an easy environment for developers, the challenge is to compete against the powerhouse studios on the world’s stage. In order to achieve the same or better quality with smaller teams developing good engines and tools will be crucial.
The Knack Development team will host two keynotes at the Game Tools and Middleware Forum in Tokyo and Osaka on July 25th ad June 18th. Hopefully we’ll hear something more about their future plans then.
[Translation: Griffin Tatum and Tim Roy]