Insomniac Games known for Ratchet & Clank, Resistance: Fall of Man, and much earlier the Spyro games for PsOne is working on their first multiplatform title. Electronic Arts will publish Fuse (previously known as Overstrike) which follows four agents from Overstrike 9. In lieu of standard machineguns, Insomniac created weapons like the Magshield that reflects bullets and the Warp Rifle which creates a chain of singularities that hit nearby enemies. Ted Price, CEO of Insomniac, spoke to Siliconera about Fuse and Insomniac’s approach to creating weapons.
So, first question: it’s the year 2013 and there are countless third person shooters out there. How did you and the rest of Insomniac address this fact when developing Fuse? What does it do that others are not doing?
Ted Price, CEO of Insomniac: There are a lot of shooters out there, aren’t there? And third person shooters have been multiplying over the years, and have perhaps taken the crown from first person shooters. But for us, what’s been missing a real dedication towards creating an amazing cooperative experience.
By that I’m talking about taking advantage of the fact that you’re playing the game with friends, who all want to tell their own story, and have their own identities. By creating four very different characters with very different skills, and also adding a progression system that allows you to customize your characters in a very action oriented manner. And by providing a function like leap, that allows you to jump back and forward between characters.
This game is built from the ground up as being a multi character game, and that drove many of the design decisions we made early on, about the kinds of features we’d have. For example: the weapons you experience were built from the ground up to compliment each other. For us as a company that thrives on coming up with exotic weapons, that was a really fun challenge for us to dig into.
What was the hardest part of creating the perfect cooperative experience in your mind?
By far the hardest was coming up with weapons that work well with each other. If you play most squad based shooters today, you’ll see that they’re still about giving everyone the same weapons, the same real world bullet spewing machine gun, and asking everyone to point and shoot at the same exact enemy. The developers basically keep their fingers crossed that it’ll be fun.
We wanted to deviate significantly from that formula, to think about new ways to interact with friends or bots in a more thoughtful way. And because each of these weapons are based upon class like archetypes, there are many different ways you can approach each combat set-up, and we believe it creates a unique flavor for the game. Something distinctly Insomniac in flavor.
Fans of your games perhaps know what you mean, but can you characterize what "Insomniac in flavor" is exactly?
If you had to boil it down to one thing, it would have to be the weapons.
From Disruptor to Ratchet & Clank to Resistance… even Spyro to a certain extent… we’ve been focused on exotic and innovative weapons that are simply fun to use. It’s in our DNA as a developer, so we don’t like to do what’s expected when it comes to weapons. As a result, we’re pretty hard on ourselves during the prototyping phases, when it comes to getting them just right.
When showed off the first trailer in 2011, back when it was still called Overstrike, we showed off a very early version of the shatter-gun that ended up looking like the glue weapon from The Incredibles. And it looked cool, but frankly, it wasn’t particularly satisfying to use and it didn’t have that c-op functionality that was going to be crucial if we wanted to raise the bar on co-op.
I have to ask; do you guys have a notebook filled with wacky weapon ideas, maybe stuff you thought about in the past for a particular game that didn’t fit for whatever reason, for maybe the future?
Whenever we develop a new game, there’s a lot of brainstorming dedicated towards crazy weapons, and certainly we’ll sometimes revisit past weapons that were discarded from a previous games, to see if they fit for a newer game. Though for for whatever reason, it always feels like a fresh experience when we’re looking at a brand new franchise, when we have a blank slate.
It’s a complicated process; an idea might be great, but then proving it in the context of the game, so that it works well, with your enemy archetypes, is difficult. And then for Fuse in particular, figuring out how this crazy weapon compliments that crazy weapon, as noted, is an even bigger challenge.