It's clear from the presentations today, and also from talking to [community head] Ryan [Schneider] earlier, that you guys think that the feedback from the community is invaluable, in terms of shaping how the game could evolve.
TP: It certainly shaped how R2 evolved. I mean, the proof is there with many of the changes we made in Resistance 2. And whether or not everybody likes the changes we made, many of them were motivated by the community.
We all know that the people who participate in the forum, and set up their MyResistance profile, and everything, are going to be the biggest fans of the game. Do you ever mitigate, or temper what you get out of them, with different, other research, or just your own ideas about what will appeal to the guy who just goes into Best Buy, who goes, like, "Dude! Aliens!"?
TP: Yeah, as a matter of fact, we did research; we did a study on Resistance: Fall of Man, and it was done by a group called Chatter, and it was a very blunt assessment of Resistance: Fall of Man.
It was probably the most critical assessment I've seen of any of our games, and it was the best thing that we had ever read, because it called out, specifically, what was wrong with the game, and what the game was missing. We've addressed a lot of those issues a lot of Resistance 2.
I mean, for example: Hale. One of the main complaints that the study brought up was that Hale was just basically non-existent in the story for Resistance: Fall of Man, and the narration made it very difficult to identify with him. And so, when we saw that, we reinforced our attempts to bring the story back to Hale, and tell it from his perspective, and develop him more. And he does: now, in Resistance 2, he changes throughout the game, and he has a more complex relationship with the others in the game.
Was that already your instinct for the direction of the game?
TP: Well, we'd heard some of that from players, but on the other hand, we'd heard from people who also liked the narrative approach. But seeing this from an outside, objective source, really helped push us in the direction.
Another thing we heard from the study was that Resistance: Fall of Man didn't have as much of an identity, because of its setting. And people weren't quite clear if it was taking place in the '50s, or the '60s, or even what country it was set in.
And so, we made a much bigger effort in Resistance 2, to push that feeling of 1950s America. And one of the results of that was a Henry Stillman broadcast that you hear throughout the game, and other aspects that really play up the kind-of quote-unquote "American" feel.
You also asked if there were other sources that we looked at besides our own forum. And we go to places like NeoGAF, for example.
TP: And NeoGAF... What's your opinion on that?
Trust me, I read NeoGAF too, and I mean, I periodically go on the 1UP podcast, so I have my own run-ins with NeoGAF, and post on NeoGAF a little bit, so... I'm just laughing, because I'm imagining when NeoGAF finds this interview, what the reaction is going to be to hearing themselves called out by Ted Price.
TP: Well, we really enjoy it. I mean, those guys are not shy about sharing their opinions, and it's always fun to read through the posts, when it comes to our games or anything we do. It's a good counterbalance to what we're seeing on our own forums.
Do you find that different communities online have different reactions? Like, the tenor of your community, and its reactions to your game, is different from what you see on NeoGAF, or what you see elsewhere, on maybe blog comments on Kotaku, or anywhere?
TP: Well, sure, Kotaku is a good source. IGN, also, the IGN forum is a good place to go as well. What we see are probably a more diverse group of folks who, perhaps, are into Xbox 360, or other games, who are commenting on our games, and... it's always entertaining.
I thought some of the questions from the community during the presentation were impressive -- they're really plugged in, aren't they?
TP: I was impressed. I mean, they're well-educated, on the games, on what we do, and on just the industry in general. So they were smart questions.
Insomniac's Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty
Yeah, they were savvy. One person talked about how you guys ship a game a year -- which, I guess, you've shipped like one a and a half this year, because you have Quest for Booty. And you talked about how you now have the alternating cycles, and you moved to having a year for prototyping, for games now. Your typical cycle is a 24 month cycle, now?
TP: It's 24 months right now. Yeah. We have a preproduction team starting on a new game.
Is that a small, core team?
TP: Yes, usually it is a team of people who prefer to stay -- who have a common interest, whether it's the franchise that they're staying on, or a new IP that we're working on.
And they are a group of folks who have a diverse set of specialties, who can help form the core of a new game. So, gameplay programmer, designer, artist, concept artist, animator, can all get together and begin to lay the groundwork for the game before the rest of the team comes on.