Insomniac Games’ CEO Ted Price on Fuse
[one_half =”yes”][gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”Fuse” developers=”Insomniac Games” publishers=”EA” platforms=”PC, Xbox 360, PS3″ genres=”Co-op shooter” release_date=”30 May 2013″][/one_half]
Recently, we had the opportunity to attend a preview event hosted by Electronic Arts Australia for Insomniac’s upcoming title, Fuse. While there, we were able to sit down and chat with CEO and founder of Insomniac Games, Ted Price. Below we discuss what sets Fuse apart from other shooters, its new Echelon mode and how working on classic franchises like Ratchet & Clank and Resistance played a part in Fuse’s development.
Stevivor: The obvious question for Insomniac is, how easy (or hard) was it to develop a multi-platform game? Were there any challenges you encountered moving from a PlayStation-only game to one on both the PlayStation and Xbox?
Ted Price: We actually built a brand-new engine and new toolset to support Fuse, so we built it with Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 in mind. For us, it was a fairly challenging but straight-forward process that we had planned.
Stevivor: What are some of the new features that we can expect to see in Fuse?
Ted Price: “Leap” is one of my favourites, where you can jump back and forth between all four characters at the same time. Another feature is the way the weapons work together. This is not a game where you are playing one of four clones, where you are just holding a different style of machine gun, firing at enemies. We have four very different characters who have very different archetypes, where when players worth together with them, they can create some pretty cool results.
Stevivor: Shooters are common-place in this generation, as are co-op-based ones – for example, EA recently published Army of Two. How does Fuse stand-out from the rest?
Ted Price: Well first of all, there are four players, where you can play by yourself, or you can play with one, two, or three friends. Because we also support a lot of RPG-esque features, Fuse has a lot more depth than most shooters. First and foremost, you’ve got a character playing a tank, you’ve got a character for crowd-control/healer, another AOE/stealth-specialist being a distance damage-dealer, another is a trap expert. These are all archetypes that come together and offer different ways of approaching each combat setup. Plus, Fuse has a deep progression system that you won’t find in other shooters. You’ll constantly be finding experience points, levelling-up, and spending your skill points to unlock abilities and buffs with your unique skill trees. So those are just a couple examples of how this game stands apart.
Stevivor: Are there any features you think journalists have missed out when it comes to Fuse? Also, what’s your favourite unreported feature that you’d like to put into the limelight?
Ted Price: One that we haven’t talked about a whole lot about is our ‘Echelon’ mode. What Echelon is, is a companion mode to the story campaign. It’s all about these giant twelve-round battles with randomised objectives in each of the battles. It’s a wave-based mode, but it’s an offensive wave-based mode. You’re going to be going after enemies for most of the objectives, so you won’t be staying in the one place – you are constantly moving around the battlefield.
Furthermore, it’s a lot like Smash TV in that, you’ll be given these giant bags of cash and gold bars, and you’ll be racing to go and get these rewards before your friends can. In some ways it’s both competitive and co-operative. It’s co-operative because you are working together with two or three friends to stay alive and accomplish objectives, but at the same time, you’re competing for these cash rewards in the game. We call this, “co-petitive.”
Stevivor: Insomniac have been behind some classic franchises like Spyro, Ratchet & Clank, and Resistance. Was there anything you learnt during the development of those games, that you brought over to Fuse?
Ted Price: Yeah, I think that every game is a learning process for us. What we’ve spent a lot of time learning more about is co-op. Resistance 2 featured eight-player co-op, where we were experimenting with large-numbers of co-operative players on big battlefields. [Ratchet & Clank] All 4 One had a four-player co-op as well, with a fixed-camera – we learnt quite a bit about how four players can work together there. We applied that, plus our experience with creating crazy weapons to Fuse, which we think is a very different and new experience for co-operative players.
Stevivor: We know about the Echelon mode which is based on co-op teamwork, are there any other multiplayer modes that Fuse will have?
Ted Price: It’s just Echelon and the story-driven campaign mode. What I’d like to point out is, unlike most games out there, because our progression system is unified between those two modes, any progress you make in the story-driven campaign is reflected within Echelon, and visa-versa. I’m the kind of player where I like to move back and forth between different modes, but I always feel disappointed when progress in one mode isn’t reflected in another. We wanted to eradicate that in Fuse and make sure that no matter what type of player you are, you are always building your characters, and you’re always able to take advantage of progress made in Echelon when you are playing the campaign, and visa-versa.
Stevivor: We had some hands-on with Fuse at the EA Asia Pacific Showcase late last year. Our foremost impression of the game was that it was very hard, and that working together was paramount. As gamers who prefer an offline experience to an online one, are they going to find Fuse any different as opposed to those who play co-op.
Ted Price: We tuned the game based on the number of human players in the game. The game is hard, make no mistake – it will definitely challenge players, but that’s because we give you some pretty powerful weapons. We believe that players (hardcore-players in particular), should be challenged. There are also multiple difficulty levels as well, so if gamers are ever in trouble, they can always revert to the easier levels.
If you do like to play offline with friends though, you can do this as well, as we support couch co-op – both offline and online. For example, if you and your friend would like to play with two other friends who are playing couch co-op, you can do that.
Stevivor: With the new leap feature, you can jump between different characters. Of the four, which would you say is your favourite?
Ted Price: I’ll back-up and say, what we were shooting for, was four characters who players want to play equally. It’s easy I think in many cases, if you have multiple characters, to overpower one, so that everyone gravitates towards that one character, or have one character that has certain exploits who people continue to use. I think we succeeded in avoiding that with Fuse, however, I do have a favourite in terms of personality and in terms of the archetype, and that’s Izzy. I really do like her stand-offish personality – she’s kind of recalcitrant and sort of an introvert, and I can occasionally identify with that.
At the same time, she has a cool, in my opinion, dual-class. She has her crowd-control set-up, where she can freeze an entire side of the battlefield if she’s clever with how she uses her shatter gun, and she can also set up these enemies for her friends to take down. Furthermore, because of her healing beacon, she can get her friends out of trouble really quickly, so there’s a lot of gratitude flowing towards Izzy. For that reason, I like to play her.
Stevivor: Fuse started out originally as Overstrike 9, and its launch was delayed as well. Some gamers might take that as a sign that the game’s in a bit of trouble. How does Insomniac view this and how do you combat it?
Ted Price: I think that every new intellectual property goes through changes. The irony for most people is that, Fuse evolved less than some of our other IPs – I’ve been pretty vocal about the fact that Ratchet & Clank started out as a completely different game. Resistance bore no resemblance to the final product when it started out at all! Fuse, in terms of its core gameplay, has remained consistent, in terms of its team, it’s remained consistent. We changed some of the window dressing and we certainly increased some of the impact and the viscerality of our weapons. So, my answer is, games and game development is an evolutionary process – something’s work and something’s don’t, but what you’d like to end up with, is a game that at its core is fun.
We’d like to thank Electronic Arts Australia, Insomniac Games and Ted Price for the opportunity to chat about Fuse.
Fuse will be available for both the Xbox 360 and PS3 on 30 May. Look for our preview of the game tomorrow!