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So, what is Ratchet Galaxy ?
Last month, Ratchet and Clank kicked some asteroid with a feature film, and a Ps4 re-imagining game. While fans enjoyed the film, it fared poorly around critics and non-fans. That didn't stop the Ps4 game from becoming the best selling Ratchet and Clank game of all time--ranking #1 for the 3rd week in a row! Now Shaun McCabe, who's been with the series since Going Commando, breaks his silence on how Insomniac Games brought this gem to life.
Originally, the game's release window was 2015, which gave Insomniac only 10 months of development time. They needed to start creating the worlds from the movie: Veldin, Aleero, and Quartu. Then they could move around and add other levels, like Nebula G4, and Gaspar. Shaun still says that there were 2 new levels, but unless you count the Deplanetizor, all other worlds are returning.
Creating a movie-tie-in game became much easier when told by Captain Qwark. They were free to improvise the story as they went along. TJ Fixman and Brian Allegier worked hard to make the story fit in with the movie, but tell a different version of the events, all while making sense. Animators worked hard on in-game cutscenes, but the real enemy in play was...TIME. If you're wondering why the cutscenes looked rushed, it was because of the time constraints. They even cut some story content out of the game to enhance the flow of the plot.
Insomniac tried to use as many Ps2 assets as they could for original development. But they soon found out that they couldn't grab anything out of the Ps2 games. Instead, they went to Idol Minds for the HD trilogy on the Ps3. This helped simplify the work of building everything from the ground up. Insomniac didn't think they would be able to use movie assets in game, but were pleasantly surprised with how smooth they ran in the game engine. A few tweaks was all they needed to get them functioning perfectly. However, some Ps2 characters were re-designed to give off a more modern look.
When word of the movie's 2016 delay came out, Insomniac Games found themselves having more breathing room in development. However, it was not without challenges. Sparing all the technical jargon aside, they were able to add new features, and polish the existing features as well.
With the movie's release, came lot's of concept art. From backgrounds like Kerwan and the Deplanetizor, to character sketches like Victor Von Ion and Dr. Nefarious, it's all able to be viewed on my Ratchet and Clank Tumblr. There are even some character model concepts of certain robots, if you dare to venture that far...
So what's next for Ratchet and Clank? Shaun McCabe said he's not quite sure. They are still cleaning their hands from this entry and delving into VR games. A movie sequel is out of the picture, but with the overwelming success of this PS4 game, it seems a sequel is more than likely. But what would it be about? We will let the fans decide. Vote now on this weeks poll to see what fans are truly craving for in the future. Reach for the stars Insomniac, reach for the stars...
For any upcoming news on Ratchet and Clank, stay tuned to Ratchet Galaxy.
Ratchet & Clank fans know him well, consciously or not. He is the talented composer behind the latest Oddworld games, and has been working on Insomniac Games' most popular franchise since 2010. In 2012, he even adressed us some nice words for our 5th anniversary.
I am obviously talking of Michael Bross ! From R&C: All 4 One to R&C PS4, passing by Full Frontal Assault and Into The Nexus, Michael has reinvented the series' musical identity by brilliantly mixing electronic sounds and orchestral instrumentations, while providing each episode its own themes and unique atmosphere.
Currently crumbling under hours and hours of hard labor, he is about to complete his work on Insomniac's next big project : Edge Of Nowhere ; despite his busy schedule, Michael generously accepted to answer our questions.
1 - Ratchet & Clank PS4 is your fourth contribution to the series. How do you keep your music fresh while remaining faithful to the saga's identity ?
The story is always unique and that is the main driver in developing new ideas and approaches for the music. Also, I’m constantly listening to new music from other artists and searching for fresh ideas that are inspiring. Those types of ideas will seep into my work, either consciously or subconsciously.
When it comes to consistency across the series, luckily, I’ve been involved long enough where I’ve developed an intrinsic sense of the Ratchet & Clank “sound”.
2 - This new adventure re-tells the origin story of the duo with a new approach, both different and nostalgic. How does that translate into the music ? What was your main philosophy about it ?
Of course, I wanted to capture that recognizable Ratchet & Clank "sound" that is so essential to the franchise, but while this game is based off the original, there are a lot of new, fresh elements in this game. It really is it’s own game, and so there are new music ideas introduced, too.
Still, any time I work on a new Ratchet & Clank title, I do go back and listen to some of the music from the original games and find concepts that could be absorbed into new work being created.
3 - As for Into The Nexus, you recorded the music with a real orchestra. Was it a choice you felt necessary or a logical continuation made possible by Sony ?
The team at Insomniac recognized that using live orchestra as part of the soundtrack for Into The Nexus brought some extra magic to the experience, and so I think it was an easy decision for them to do the same thing for this game. This game’s music is epic in nature and an important part of that palette is the orchestra, so it just made sense to use live orchestra to make it special.
4 - What does a symphonic orchestra allow you to do, that synthetic music can not accomplish ?
As composers, we can now do amazing things with sample-based (what you called “synthetic”) creations these days. I have one sample library alone that contains over 1 million samples of various expressions and articulations of a string section that I can use to create a music track.
Still, something special is created when using a live orchestra. There’s some kind of magic and lightning that can’t always be captured with sample-based work. It has something to do with bringing all of those talented musicians together in one room. It’s a wonderful energy.
5 - For a saga such as Ratchet & Clank, how do you find the right balance between character/story-oriented and player-oriented composition ?
To me, it’s all about emotion and energy level and so my approach is more based around that than story vs. player composition. However, there is an important consideration for the player-oriented music. Each player’s time spent in an area will be unique, so I think about how music can be effective to accommodate this.
Really, it’s about creating compositions that can potentially loop for a long time and not get boring to the ears. There are certain compositional tricks that I use for that.
6 - Have you ever considered writing very specific and individual themes for both Ratchet and Clank, that would resonate across the different games you worked on ?
Some of that happens already though there are variations from game to game. If you look at Qwark and also Clank especially, you will hear some consistency in thematic elements there.
7 - In the same order of idea, don't you think the saga would deserve its own recurring main theme such as Halo or Uncharted ? Or is it better in your opinion to treat each game on its own ?
That’s been discussed between the Insomniac team and I more than once. In the end, it’s decided that we continue the tradition of creating a new theme for each game. I know that many game franchises use a consistent theme across all their games, but we decided to follow a different path.
8 - What aspect did you enjoy the most about working on Ratchet & Clank PS4 ? Any anecdotes ?
I and my team worked hard on this soundtrack. On occasion, I’d visit Insomniac’s studio to meet with the development team and look and play the game. But mostly I work remotely and do not get the chance to see the game’s daily development. Instead, Insomniac provided video captures where needed so I could understand context. So, I didn’t really get to see the whole game in one piece until the very end of development.
What really blew me away when I finally did was how well it came together. I was very pleased with how the music supported the action. Also, the sound design and the visual elements are the strongest I’ve seen in the franchise so far. I believe the fans will be happy with the results, but they can decide that for themselves once they play the game.
9 - Having now been working in the videogame industry for many years as a composer, how do you perceive its evolution ? Are videogame composers given more attention and recognition than before ?
Much has changed. There is really more power in the hands of game creators now than there ever has been. It used to be cost prohibitive to make a game. A game developer needed a lot of money and resources, but these days it’s cheaper to develop games due to the proliferation of inexpensive but powerful tools like the Unity and Unreal game engines. We’re seeing a lot of creative and interesting trends in indie game development. It’s really an exciting time to be working in games now.
Yes, certainly, as more people play games, composers are getting more recognition.
This also has a lot to do with how social media has developed.
10 - Would you have some words for Ratchet & Clank fans eagerly looking forward to play the game and listen to your newest work ?
I’m truly grateful to be able to be involved on the project and to share it with you.
My hope is that you will enjoy the experience!
We hope you enjoyed this interview and invite you, if you wish so, to let some impressions and words to Michael below, in the comments section.
>> Michael Bross official website
Few people truly realize the soul, patience and perseverance needed in such a creative profession, and that is why, as much for his kindness, his generosity and his devoted work, we would like to highly thank him !
Ratchet and Clank have only been on the Ps4 for a few weeks, and it's already the fastest selling game in Insomniac history! Let's find out why this charming return to the basics is the best thing to ever happen to our galactic duo.
The game's plot can be confusing at first. Captain Qwark is narrating the story based on his incorrect version of the events, based on the holofilm, based on actual events. This creates a 4th-wall breaking inception of a storyline, which can get hilariously comical at times.
In terms of cinematics, both movie and in-game cutscenes are used. The storyline can feel a bit rushed, only because Insomniac shows us the bones of the plot, leaving everything else to gameplay. This is expected--after all, Insomniac Games wouldn't want to show us the entire movie before it hits theaters.
Fact--not opinion--this the best looking Ratchet and Clank game ever. And quite possibly the best looking Ps4 game ever (all that dark grey gets old in gaming real fast)! Every world is beautifully re-designed from the ground up, and each planet feels alive. Even though Insomniac Games said that there were 3 new planets to the game, there weren't any. Not that this retracts from game at all, but it's curious as to why they said that. The game plays in 30fps, but it is stable enough that the player will not notice.
The gameplay is very well-rounded in this installment. Players can choose between Classic, Default, or Lock-strafe for controls. All of Ratchet's moves return, including extra segments such as space combat, swimming, trespasser locks, and even hoverboarding! All of which have been updated with modern controls.
In terms of new gameplay, Clank missions have been greatly altered. When the tiny robot isn't running away from Victor Von Ion, he's using his brain to solve traversing puzzles. Gadget-bots can now be accessed with the quickselect for greater mobility. There many more Clank missions in this game than the first one, and each level gets more involved. The last level is quite tricky, but so worth it upon completion. A Crack in Time may have Clank beat, but this new gameplay is a definite 2nd place.
What would Ratchet and Clank be without weapons? Our duo now has an arsenal of 14 weapons; 15 if you pre-order the Bouncer (which is so worth it!). Most weapons are from the movie, which originate from Tools of Destruction, but there are a few Ps2 weapons. There are also 2 brand new weapons, and a RYNO. All weapons can be upgraded with raretanium, and leveled-up to V5 before challenge mode.
Final Score: 9.5
Insomniac Games has combined best of every single Ratchet and Clank into one game (and movie) that becomes the ultimate Ratchet and Clank experience. And I’d say they’ve succeeded! Though the in-game cutscenes were a bit rushed, the game is extremely polished, and is quite possibly the best Ratchet and Clank game ever!
After a year’s delay, and an epic PS4 game, Ratchet and Clank finally get their very own movie, and it is awesome...if you’re a fan, that is. Chances are, if you have no idea what Ratchet and Clank is, this movie will make no sense to you. Sure, it has the basic Star Wars-type plot line of most sci-fi films, but it all happens so fast, that there isn’t a moment to catch your breath and figure out “what the heck is going on?”
However, if you ARE a fan of the series, then this is the movie for you! Rainmaker's handling of weapons, humor, planets, and characters are spot on. Even though most of the weapons are from Tools of Destruction, there is still enough variety to keep the action fresh and exciting.
Ratchet, voiced by James Arnold Taylor, is bit more bubbly and excitable than in the games. But as he progresses through the film, he learns an important lesson of what it means to be hero. Clank, voiced by David Kaye, is a bit more curious and lighthearted. He finds himself getting into trouble no matter where he goes. Though he stays with Ratchet for the majority of the film, a new character named "Elaris," voiced by Rosiario Dawson bonds with Clank during a few scenes. However, Ratchet and Clank's friendship is definitely displayed throughout the movie.
The A-list cast voice all of their roles quite well, but none better than John Goodman, the voice of Grimroth. Having a mentor mechanic for Ratchet to talk to really helped progress the story along. Paul Giamatti, the voice of Drek, had the most screen time of the five. Bella Throne also reprized her voice as Cora in the Ps4 game. Sly Stallone, however, seemed a bit unnecessary for Victor, a character who shoots more than he speaks. But there is a reference to "the rock" if you can catch it in time.
Out of all the characters, none pleased the audience more than Dr. Nefarious! Armin Shimmerman's exceptional voice acting brought this villian to life--in more ways than one. Nefarious has some history with Captain Qwark, who's voiced by Jim Ward. Qwark exists mostly for humor bits and animation gags, but his share of screen time almost outweighs Ratchet's or Clank's.
In terms of story composition, it feels very rushed. It also combines plot lines from Star Wars, the Incredibles, and Bolt. Granted this is what the very first RaC game's plot conveyed, but unless Ratchet stops by Grim's garage, there really isn't any moments for the audience to take in the events. There's so many new characters, that Ratchet and Clank start to feel like extras in their own film.
The good news is that the movie is filled with tons of fan-service. Whether it be a cameo, a weapon, or a mention of an old character, it is clear that this movie was created by fans for fans...only fans. I saw kids dressed up as lombaxes in the theater, so if it's any indication, this movie will help sell the already-successful Ps4 game.
FINAL SCORE: 8.5
While this movie finally breaks the curse of bad video games movies, it's not "Pixar-perfect." Only fans will truly appreciate this film for what it is, while non-fans will leave the theater confused. A sequel is possible, but unlikely. Rainmaker is currently working on Surf's Up 2 and Sly Cooper, so don't expect a "Ratchet and Clank: 2" any time soon. Still, Insomniac Games could definitely make another Ps4 game--the new set of characters work quite well, and would be very welcome in a new game.
My only advice is this: stay to the end of the credits...you'll be glad you did.
Happy Easter for those of you who celebrate this holiday! In only 1 month, Ratchet and Clank will blast into theaters worldwide. So it only seems fit that our intergalactic duo now has their very own website!
Here you can watch trailers, learn character trivia, and even get some cool new images and video clips. The website mainly focuses on six main characters: Ratchet, Clank, Qwark, Cora, Brax, and Drek. As more info comes to light, the website will continue to update.
There was also a short video concerning French voice actor Nikos Aliagas, and his role of Dallas. No word yet on whether or not Nika Flutterman has reprized her role as Juanita.
Now prepare for some spoilers. If you watch a lot of cartoons, on channels like Disney XD, CN, or Nick, you may have noticed Ratchet and Clank Movie spots! There are four different variations in total, which I took the liberty of uploading:
RaC: TV Spots #1 and #2
RaC: TV Spots #3 and #4
Evan Wise and Jingle Punks have uploaded 2 of the movie's official soundtracks, along with titles of the others. The soundtracks aren't bad, but they don't live up to Michael Bross's work. Also, Jelly Roll's song "Bad News Travels Fast" is in the film--and they don't even care. Being a rap title, it's not the most exciting choice they could have gone with.
Most recently, Ratchet and Clank's cast and crew were at Wondercon last Friday! Fans got to see interviews, watch four movie clips, and even ask the creators some questions. One fan asked if a Ratchet and Clank sequel was possible, to which they replied: "that is up to the fans." Since the Sly Cooper movie is still in the waiting game, we can assume this won't be any time soon. For the full interview with James Arnold Taylor and David Kaye, you can watch it here.
Gramercy Pictures uploaded two of the four clips shown. The first one, "Meet Clank" is actually a full-length clip of the PSX veldin gameplay cutscene, with some added audio. The second clip, "That was Awesome!" shows Ratchet and Clank's struggle to work together at first. There is tons of witty humor from both characters, and even a few easter eggs here and there. The 3rd clip shows Ratchet and Cora in a dark hall, with Drek watching their every move. The 4th clip is a weapons testing gag scene, where Ratchet tries out the Combuster, Bomb, Alpha Disruptor, Warmonger, Buzz Blades, Negociator, and even the Spiral of Death, a fan-made weapon from ACIT!
That wraps up this news post. With the Ps4 game finally gone gold, I will probably not post anymore news until after the game's release. Until then, stay tuned to Ratchet Galaxy.