PAX 07: Insomniac's James Stevenson on Ratchet and Clank Future

I met with Insomniac's community relations manager, James Stevenson, to talk about Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction in an undisclosed PAX-related area. Though our own Chris Faylor has amassed a wealth of resources in the form of a preview and lengthy interview with Insomniac's marketing director, we got more info on the final polish Insomniac is putting into the title, due to hit store shelves in less than two months.

Shack: There was some controversy surrounding Insomniac's first PS3 release, Resistance, related to padding the Blu-ray disc. How much space is Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction currently occupying on Blu-ray?

James Stevenson: We can't say yet because we're optimizing right now and trying to get to the point where we figure out exactly. You always save a lot of space right at the very end. I can say that we're definitely going to be using a lot of space on it and we're definitely going to be using the disc to most of its potential. I don't want to say anything now because it could change.

Shack: Was there anything you couldn't add to Ratchet and Clank due to space or technical limitations?

James Stevenson: I don't think there was anything necessarily cut due to technical limitations. If there's anything that got cut like that we wouldn't want to talk about it because we might want to use it in the future. I think most of the stuff we planned is in the game. We made the game we wanted to make.

Shack: As far as not including content, what were some of the rejected weapon designs?

James Stevenson: The Rainbow Afronator, which gave all the enemies a rainbow afro, was one that I think has been proposed several times but always gets shot down for some reason or another. But it's interesting--Tornado Launcher was one of those old weapons that we always wanted to do, but we never could do it.

One of the things we wanted to do with it was have you control the tornado and control Ratchet, which you could never do. But now we have Sixaxis, and you can control the tornado with the Sixaxis and still use your sticks to control Ratchet.

Shack: Have you modified the space combat portions of the game based on the feedback you've received from the press, concerning the controls?

James Stevenson: Some people thought the controls were a little challenging. It was actually just too hard--we didn't have mid-mission checkpoints. It was something we'd been planning, they just hadn't gone in yet. So if you died halfway through you had to start from the beginning. It's actually a fairly long level, it's too far really to have to replay from the beginning.

There are some things like that. We definitely saw a lot of criticism on it, and we took that to heart, and we are going back and looking at it. We had the time fortunately to go back and reexamine our thoughts on what we wanted to do with it, and hopefully make sure it's fun.

Shack: Two characters in Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction are modeled after the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360--Cronk and Zephyr. We heard there was a Wii character who was destroyed in an argument between the two?

James Stevenson: There was Willy. Willy used to flail his arms around a lot and that was kind of how he operated. He was just a little too high strung, too much activity. He just didn't do very well in battle.

There's Cronk and Zephyr, you know Zephyr's got some enhanced online abilities and connectivity. Zephyr has the Blu-ray player and all that. So you know, they're an interesting pair of robots. We kind of enjoyed making references like that, just kind of joking about the industry with those two guys.

Shack: Is that Insomniac's way of saying they think the Wii is a fad?

James Stevenson: I think it was our way of saying we planned for two robots, and a smartass journalist asked us what happened to the Wii robot, so we gave a smart answer. I wouldn't say that's indicative of what we think the market will do. We just had to joke about flailing arms around or something.

Shack: Any word when we'll see a demo for the game?

James Stevenson: If you want to play the demo the soonest, GameStop has a demo for people who preorder. I believe you get it right when you preorder it. It will be up on the PlayStation Network at some point before the game comes out. I can say that for sure.

Shack: Can you drop any hints about your unannounced project?

James Stevenson: What unannounced project?

Shack: Awesome. Have your plans changed at all for PlayStation Network games? Anything coming up?

James Stevenson: It's something we want to pursue but we don't have any solid plans or anything we want to announce at this point. We're definitely really interested in it. We've been looking at it and seeing what other people are doing. We have downloadable content for Resistance in the map packs. We have said that Ratchet and Clank Future as a franchise will touch the network in some way.

Shack: How long do you plan to maintain support for Resistance with new online content?

James Stevenson: We have more content coming this year. We released a map pack already. We have plans to continue patching the game and to further address some issues brought up by players as far as bugs and that sort of stuff.

We'll definitely continue supporting it probably for the rest of this year and go from there. There's more players than ever on Resistance right now and the user numbers just keep growing.

Shack: Thanks for talking to us.

Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction for the PS3 will retail October 23.