With the new Ratchet & Clank for PlayStation 4 setting franchise sales records, it would seem a sure thing that another entry in the series would be in the works. At the end of a postmortem by Game Director Shaun McCabe and Creative Director Chad Dezern though, they said they have no idea where the series goes from here:
At this moment, we have no idea. We’re walking around with VR headsets strapped to our faces.
But we’re delighted by the reaction to the game, amazed and humbled that there’s still an appetite for Lombax and robot adventures after three console generations. For all of our initial hand wringing, we’re proud of it. The lessons we learned during development helped us improve our cross-studio coordination, plan our cinematics with more detail, and move through production cycles more gracefully.
So who knows?
What we do know is that Ratchet & Clank games are incredibly fun to make. There is intense passion at Insomniac for the universe and its characters. There are stories to tell, weapons to design, creatures to sculpt, planets to explore. And most significantly, there is a team of talented people here who have come through time and again to deliver games that are full of life and ambition. Above all, that’s why the series endures.
The postmortem is a detailed look into the development of Ratchet & Clank, with the two directors mentioning “balancing the old and the new” as one of the things went right. This saw Insomniac doing more than just a remaster to the original game, adding “modern controls, two new planets, three extensively reworked planets, eight returning planets, a new weapon arsenal, new Clank gameplay, new space combat, new boss battles, and a new weapon arsenal, all wrapped in a structure that matches the film and also represents our best attempt at capturing the soul of the original game. “
There were also a few things that didn’t go right during Ratchet & Clank’s development, including the extra months of developments time they were given to line up with the movie. Since most of the production team needed to move to other projects, and Insomniac “didn’t have the headroom in the budget to accommodate a significant increase in labor,” they finished the game with a small polish team:
This is awesome because at a certain point, you can just get more done with fewer people (our project manager would certainly agree). But it also meant that we had to take the work of an entire, full-scope Ratchet & Clank game and spread it among just a handful of people. We had only two programmers responsible and for the last few months, only one designer.
Our tiny postproduction team were champions. They took on a monster of a challenge and delivered as polished a Ratchet & Clank experience as we’ve ever done. In the future, however, we’d like to stick to a gradual rolloff that scales the team size with the work remaining.
Although the extra development was nice for Insomniac Games, it led to “more stops and starts than we’re used to,” and turned out to be as emotionally draining as not having enough time. “We’d be geared up for a strong finish only to learn that the finish line had been moved back,” they said. And while the extra time would ease some of the pressure, it was also a bit of a letdown.”
What would you like to see Insomniac do with the Ratchet & Clank series?