by John Constantine

The “Ratchet & Clank” series is the Volkswagon Golf of video games, an unassuming, funny, reliable little machine that gets a new model every twelve months, quietly improving with each passing year. When project lead Brian Alger fired up a demo of this fall’s “Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time”, I was expecting the usual: more weapons, new jokes, etc. “A Crack in Time” turned out to be a lot more than this year’s model.

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'Ratchet & Clank: Quest For Booty'

Don't use the word "episode."

Don't use the words "expansion pack."

Brian Allgeier
, lead designer of the biggest short game of 2008, "Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty," publicly uses the term "mini-adventure" to describe what he and about 20 other people at Insomniac Games made during the last 10 months.

Allgeier's team has created the most polished, graphically complex and data-heavy (over 2GB to download!) game this side of the "Half Life 2" episodes. It has been released in the richest season of downloadable games in home video game history. It's a a hypothesis: a guess about how much content developed with disc-game production quality standards should be delivered to a gamer for $15. And it's a case study: proof of just what kind of effects a three-hour duration must have on the formula established in longer games of the same franchise.

And to think, it could have just been a space combat game, which is what Allgeier's team had proposed: Read More...

Ratchet And Clank FutureI caught up with Insomniac Games president Ted Price in Las Vegas last month at the DICE gaming summit. We chatted for 20 minutes about the PS3 debut of "Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools Of Destruction," plans for "Resistance 2" and even, briefly, about Surfer Girl.

I'm rolling this out in parts. The next one's coming later, today or tomorrow. I'm not sure because I'm also busy moving desks in the MTV newsroom (exciting!).

Let's start this Price DICE thing with some talk about "Ratchet"'s supposedly soft PS3 sales, why Insomniac doesn't make handheld games and... is he talking about new IPs already?

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Multiplayer: So now that it's out, what did you make of the experience of putting "Ratchet and Clank" on the PS3?

Ted Price, President of Insomniac Games: "Ratchet" was actually the best production experience we've had in our history. And the reason for that is that we went through hell on "Resistance" one: transitioning to a new platform and going back to a genre we hadn't had any experience with in over 10 years was tough. But through that hell we developed production techniques that we hadn't used before, and that made "Ratchet" a lot better in terms of overall production cycle.

Multiplayer: But didn't you guys miss the deadline by a week though? Wasn't that the first time you missed a deadline ever? That's the story I heard.

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