Peeking Inside Insomniac: A Conversation With Ted Price
November 14, 2008 Page 2 of 6
I was just talking to Jake [Biegel, co-op lead designer], and he used the analogy that there are three core modes in Resistance 2. There's the multiplayer, co-op, and the single-player campaign. He used the analogy that it's sort of like The Orange Box, in a sense that they stand very strong on their own -- there's parts that are completely original that don't touch on the other parts of the game.
TP: There's community, as well, so that's kind of the fourth piece, yeah.
So what do you think about this, you know, building a game with such strong components, wrapping it all under Resistance, offering as much as you can?
TP: Well, our goal was to create components that can stand on their own, but were also hooked together by the overall theme. And, certainly, I think we achieved the first, where all of the components do stand well on their own.
As far as how well they hook together into the game? I think we did a good job; I think we learned a lot about how we can perhaps in the future do an even better job of making all the parts fit even more tightly together.
For example, the co-op story is the story of a separate Sentinel team; it's not the story of [protagonist, Nathan] Hale. And people asked us, "Why didn't you do the story of Nathan Hale? Why didn't you do his story?" And the answer was: Well, practically, it didn't make a whole lot of sense. Hale has his own story through the campaign, and so we didn't have much of a choice, we needed to do a separate story for the co-op campaign.
In the future, we may figure out ways to bring those modes even closer together. I think, on the other hand, a lot of people appreciate the fact that these are three separate modes, so, in some cases, it does feel like you are playing a separate game, and it is three different experiences, which adds a lot of replay value to the game.
Talking to someone I've spoken to who was heavily involved with the beta, they talked about how, at least personally, they were "meh" on the campaign, but they really enjoyed the co-op. To them, seeing it as a separate entity gave them a window into enjoying the game in the long term, that they may not have had if it was just playing through the campaign but with two people. So, there's something to be said for having different approaches.
TP: Yeah. And I think that we have people who definitely appreciate how different the co-op campaign was. On the other hand, we're seeing plenty of posts from people who ask, "So why didn't you have co-op move through the single player campaign?"
And, the answer is, well, we made a choice, and we couldn't do everything, and we also wanted to make the single player campaign a very strong single player experience.
And, we learned, on Resistance: Fall of Man, that the single player campaign can be diluted a bit if you try to create a co-op playthrough. There are certain things that you simply can't do. For example, the bosses that we had in Resistance 2 would've been tough to pull off with two players.
And if you look at the way Epic approaches it, with Gears of War, they made it so that whether or not you're playing with somebody else, Dom's always there. So, that was their concession, you know what I mean? I'm not saying that theirs is right or yours is right; they're both right.
TP: Well, as a matter of fact, we looked at the way that Gears did it, and realized that, yeah, we would have to have a Sentinel with you the entire time, through the single player campaign.
For the single player campaign, we wanted both experiences, when you're playing with a couple Sentinels, all of the Sentinels, and by yourself, just to vary the gameplay. And so, that was the choice we made; was to go with eight players in a separate campaign. It worked out well.
I mean, the one thing I thought is, "God, eight players! That's really, really hardcore." I know that shooters are a core genre, and this game is going to have a large, passionate fan base of the hardest-core PS3 gamers, but, at the same time, getting eight guys together, to play the game at the same time -- and I realize that it drops down all the way to two, but still that's a relatively serious commitment, I think.
TP: Well, you don't have to gather them yourself; our matchmaking system will match you into games, if you are interested in just going online and finding a game. You don't have to have a party. But, the cool thing is, you have a choice: If you want to grab seven of your friends, then cool.
Did you guys do any research into behavior? I still think that a little bit of the behavior online is still a little bit of a "black box" for developers. This "online revolution" in consoles is still relatively recent. Xbox 360's been a few years; PS3's been two years; there are still a lot of unknowns there...
TP: There are. We're still learning what players want online, and what the "typical" behaviors are. But, it's evolving quickly, and I don't think that we can ever look at a particular online behavior and say that's typical. It's just, lots of people want to play lots of different ways, and we try to make games that will accommodate as many of them as possible.
But I think our community helps us out in a big way, because that is our direct access to the people who are playing games. We can get their opinions on what they want, very quickly, versus having to go into a game and listen to the chatter.
We're seeing those posts on the forums; they're emailing us, or sending us PMs and saying, "Hey, Insomniac, we want X, Y, and Z." And so, we can discuss those requests and decide whether or not to change the game around the next time, or include new features in our patches, etcetera.
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