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Fuse interview: Insomniac Games creative director, Brian Allgeier
- — 19 December, 2012 14:26
Fuse marks somewhat of a rebirth of Insomniac Games as a company. The developer spent the last decade or so exclusively developing games exclusively for Sony’s PlayStation 2 and 3 consoles, creating landmark franchises such as Ratchet and Clank and Resistance in the process. The developer is trying now to reinvent itself with Fuse, a game that will be published by Electronic Arts not only on the PlayStation 3, but on the competing Xbox 360 as well. Fuse takes Insomniac into unfamiliar gaming territory by being a third person co-op shooter, a genre the developer has not attempted until now, but the game is already shaping up to be an action filled experience.
Following a hands-on demonstration of the latest build of the game, PC World caught up with Insomniac Games creative director, Brian Allgeier, to talk about the game.
Insomniac is one of the few companies that has been creating and developing original IPs instead of working with existing licenses. With all of the different IPs under the developer’s belt, is it getting easier to come up with new game concepts?
Insomniac Games creative director, Brian Allgeier (BA): It’s still very challenging. We always would like to think it gets easier, but when you are developing a new concept and try to come up with something unique, as well ensuring that it is something that people understand, it can be very hard. We’ve definitely gone through some growing pains in developing it. Originally, the game was Overstrike and we had to do a big shift to change it to Fuse. That was more transparent in terms of our development of a new IP than we have with our past games. Every game goes through creative growing pains, and there’s a technical aspect to it as well.
Were any key learnings from Ratchet and Clank and/or Resistance applied on Fuse?
BA: The one key thing has been our weapon development process. Back on Ratchet and Clank, we had a very collaborative way in coming up with our weapon ideas. That process has remained the same throughout all of our games. The sky is the limit, and we can come up with any idea that we want, and our goal is always to make out weapons better than the previous game. The same held true with Fuse, but the unique challenge with the game has been creating weapons that are not only satisfying to use individually, but also work together as a team.
Fuse features four player co-op gameplay. Was last year’s Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One a road test for this gameplay concept?
BA: We certainly do a level of experimentation with every game we make, and you never quite know how a game is going to be received. All 4 One was no way a test for Fuse, as that was a game we felt stood on its own. It was a very different style of game in that all four characters were on one screen. There were certainly some elements that we learned from it and applied to Fuse, but we never looked at it as an experiment.
Fuse features an imagine weapon set, continuing the trend set by Ratchet and Clank and Resistance. Has this become somewhat of a trademark of Insomniac?
BA: I believe it is part of Insomniac’s DNA. We like to create rich stories and inventive weaponry, as well as memorable characters. So we were excited about making a game with four unique classes, and each character has their own special weapon that they can use. We really wanted to push our weapon designs much further in a cooperative setting.
This is the first time Insomniac has been working with the Xbox 360. How has the studio’s experience been with coding for the console?
BA: It’s been surprisingly smooth. We started changing our technology to develop for cross platform, and hit the reset button to make tools and an engine that would work on both consoles. The great thing is that we’ve been able to have a tighter creation loop in that our tools support iterations, so we can quickly get ideas into the game to see how they work and then improve on them, which wasn’t always the case with our previous toolset. With the Xbox 360, our first priority was to make sure the game ran well on it, because we weren’t familiar with that platform, and now we’re working on PlayStation 3 to bring it up to speed. The game is essentially going to be the same experience on both platforms.
This also marks the first time Insomniac is working with Electronic Arts as publisher. How has the experience been so far?
BA: It has been going really well. It has been a cool opportunity for us to develop a cross platform game. Insomniac has always been independent and we’ve been very happy with Sony, and continue to have a great relationship with them. But the opportunity came up to work on this cross platform game with EA and we jumped on it.
One of Insomniac’s breakout hits was Disruptor on the PlayStation in 1996. Any chance of the developer revisiting the IP in the future?
BA: [Insomniac Games President and CEO] Ted Price is probably better to answer this question, but I would guess he would say no. [Laughs] Part of it is Universal owns that game and we’d kind of have to go back and approach them, but we’re quite happy doing new IP like Fuse and owning it. You definitely have more control over it and it’s something we can develop over the years to come.
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