One of Sony’s landmark exclusives could have been “Girl With A Stick.”
Ratchet and Clank didn’t start out as the Lombax/robot pair we’ve come to know and love.
In this month’s episode of IGN Unfiltered, Ryan McCaffrey sat down with Insomniac CEO Ted Price and discussed the origins of one of the studio’s most iconic franchises, Ratchet and Clank.
“Ratchet and Clank was sort of a ‘Hail Mary’ for us,” Price said, who went on to explain the studio’s mindset, post-Spyro. “We loved Spyro,” Price said, but in order to engage with the studio’s growing audience, Insomniac wanted to create “something that was a little more mature.”
The studio began working on a linear adventure game which featured “a girl who had a stick.” The appropriately named “Girl With A Stick” was set in a world with magic, “big lumbering beasts,” and a darker tone which set it apart from previous Insomniac games.
Around six months into development, Insomniac had a prototype. “It was OK,” Price said, “but Sony [who was set to publish the game] came down and said, ‘You know what, guys? This looks cool, but you might consider going back to what you’re really good at. You guys are good at platformers.'”
But while Price was intent on maintaining Insomniac’s new direction and was convinced of the quality of Girl With A Stick, he said, “the team is looking at me, going, ‘Ted, you’re crazy. We really think we should go back and do what we’re good at.” After considering the feedback, Price decided to scrap Girl With A Stick and try something else. “We gave ourselves a very short time to come up with a new idea.”
That idea came by way of Brian Hastings, a partner at Insomniac and one of the studio’s first members, who suggested the team make a game about “a little character who has cool weapons and flies from planet to planet.” With that core concept in mind, Insomniac went into “heavy brainstorming mode” which led to several different ideas for who Ratchet could be.
“He was a lizard, at one point. He was sort of a ‘Marvin the Martian’ guy, which, I think, was sort of the original inspiration” Price said, “and then [Ratchet] became a furry, fox-like character.”
“Clank was originally three robots who would cling to different parts of Ratchet’s body,” Price said, adding that the robots would have clung to Ratchet’s legs, arms, and neck. The studio quickly determined it would be difficult to make that work, from a gameplay perspective, and so Clank was changed into a single robot who “became sort of a backpack for Ratchet.”
If you are hungry for more IGN Unfiltered, be sure to check out last month’s episode with EA Sports’ boss Cam Weber, and look through the full list of every episode of IGN Unfiltered for more interviews with some of the games industry’s “best, brightest, most fascinating minds.”