From craft, we move on to design.
After last week’s ‘Crafting A New Ratchet & Clank‘ session, we rift to a new breakout. Thankfully the Dimensionator had been fixed, so we were away again with haste! We’re introduced to Lead Designer Mike Daly, Core Tech Director Mike Fitzgerald and Lead Gameplay Programmer Adam Nooncheester. This team of, dare I say EXPERTS, plan to take us through the design of the upcoming PS5 Exclusive, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart from Insomniac.
The team agree this is the core of a good Ratchet & Clank title. Noonchester asks “How spectacular is the weapon to use? Does it fill a specific niche? And how funny is the weapon?”. These 3 axis used by the team, to establish how they’ll build new ways of destruction for our heroic lombax and his metal pal. This lends to new features such as auto-strafing; Auto-strafing allows players to lay down more damage without incurring damage to themselves, by making it easier to move within combat. This damage in turn, is going to be reflected by what looks like a tonne more gib on-screen! The footage we saw during the breakout supported this, as colorful chaos popped and flourished amongst the steady footwork of Ratchet. Noonchester also touched on how the adaptive triggers will work with weapons, where a half-pull will produce one shot, while full is a different or more powerful attack. Of course, I immediately thought of Returnal, which has a similarly intuitive control scheme.
Then Ratchet activates a rift.
Mike Daly steps in to take us through how the rifts work; “We wanted it to feel like a feast for the senses”. I feel we’ve all experienced this while seeing how rifts work thanks to the power of the PlayStation 5 console. Seemingly moving through time and space in an instant, thanks to the fast loading speeds of the SSD, is something to behold. Seeing that it’s not just a means to traverse worlds quickly, but also how to fight more strategically, only adds to a growing list of astounding things the title already does.
Rifts are also why the Phantom Dash exists, thanks to our access to new dimensions. Allowing players to “phase out of reality”, the Phantom Dash negates further damage thanks to Ratchet not existing for a moment. You may have seen this as the move that well…DASHES, and shows multiple after-images following Ratchet. It’s also used as a new way to move through environments, which seems pretty cool to me.
Much like the return of the hoverboots! The team wanted the design to fit the DualSense, so the game utilises the adaptive triggers to try to feedback a sensation of “rollerblades”; Each trigger changing in pressure as you blade through the sky. I think they’ll manage this, with Spider-Man: Miles Morales having produced a similar effect when web-shooting and swinging.
MOUNTS ARE COMING.
This mentioned, as they continue to explain how design and the PlayStation 5 allows them to make these new experiences. Hoping to communicate how the world feels to players, they’re looking to the DualSense and 3D audio to fulfill this. A spider-tank comes on-screen which was conceptualised by Noonchester at a GameJam like event Insomniac held. For me, it showed that Ratchet & Clank flows through the DNA of the team. Because if he can create that for a fun, creative event, what can he do when fully focused?
“With each game that we make, we want to make it broader and broader, for an even BROADER audience.”
This sentiment shared by Daly, and the studios Twitter account today:
Developing games that are playable and inclusive for people from a wide variety of backgrounds is critical to our mission at Insomniac Games. Below is a list of some of the major accessibility features you can expect to see come June 11th in #RatchetPS5.#GAAD2021 #GAAD pic.twitter.com/1EOJFfIruv
— Insomniac Games (@insomniacgames) May 20, 2021
The accessibility features they implemented in Miles Morales will carry across, along with a new feature called Time Slow. A shortcut which can be placed on the D-Pad, Time Slow allows players to slow down the pace, so they can more easily enjoy the game in its more frenetic moments.
Core Tech Director Mike Fitzgerald takes over, leading us through the design of planetary travel and transitions. They were excited to share that thanks to the power of the PS5 again, they could do “classic sci-fi wipes”. You know the ones right? Where the screen fades to black on approach, and swipes to a ship landing; Something like Star Wars. Well, Rift Apart does this, and as soon as you step out of the ship, you’re back playing the game.
Then we touched down too.
Question time had come around again, and I made it my challenge of the day to get a question in with every breakout. This means yes, I successfully got a question in here too. I asked if rifts were something they had thought of from the start, or a “happy accident“. Daly said it had been there “from the start“. They wanted to play around with being able to move across environments quickly, and how this adds to the story. Fitzgerald added, that as they kept pushing the technology, they found it going further than they thought. This meant they ended up being able to create more they than had intended. Additionally, this discovery meant things like the Topiary Sprinkler could only exist thanks to the PlayStation 5, due to how the memory can be assigned to assets in the game.
The rift closes.
Our second breakout of the day had come to a close. They say this wasn’t due to Captain Qwark accidentally setting off the Dimensionator, but I honestly wouldn’t be surprised. A huge thanks to Mike Daly, Mike Fitzgerald and Adam Noonchester for their time, and we’ll see you soon when we take a look at Building A New Ratchet & Clank.