Insomniac Don’t Want to Become Sony First-Party: Interview With Brian Allgeier

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Insomniac Games has certainly been through some drama with Fuse. Originally being unveiled as Overstrike, only to change its name and core mechanics soon after, it’s been a pretty eventful ride for all to watch. But now with the release of Fuse finally drawing near, there was no better time to sit with the game’s Creative Director, Brian Allgeier and chat about all things Insomniac, game design and just what he thinks about becoming first-party.

So can you take me through the transition from Overstrike to what Fuse is today?

Sure. Well with every game we make, they evolve and change. Ratchet and Clank was originally called ‘Girl with a Stick’ and even with Resistance, it was a WWI shooter, then WWII, then it became what Resistance is today – so Fuse is no different. When we first came up with the initial concept for Overstrike it was based on Mission Impossible and James Bond type movies and we really wanted to delve into this spy genre, but we just didn’t really like it was unique or have a really fresh point of view. So as we started focusing more on this alien substance that was driving the story we thought we really need to integrate this into the game. So we started drawing upon inspiration from movies like District 9 and thinking about what would happen if humans got their hands on this alien weaponry and how could we push that really far, in the sense of like playing with fire that you weren’t meant to have. That’s when it kind of took on a new direction and it just made more sense to really call the game that and give it that identity.

fuse screenshot2 Insomniac Don’t Want to Become Sony First Party: Interview With Brian Allgeier

Now we just need to turn around, and walk in slow motion.

Has the reception been positive since the transition?

Well yeah, there’s certainly been a lot of concern from fans on the direction we’re going in but that was initial. I think that was certainly a reaction to making such a big change like that and I also think a lot of people never had a chance to see the game and really understand the direction we were going in. There was also this fear that we were just going completely 180 degrees in the opposite direction and I think once you get the chance to play the game, you’ll see we aren’t changing it so much. We’re keeping a lot of the same characters, the weapon classes are the same and we’re just kind of pushing a slightly different direction with the alien technology. So yeah, in the end we just really had to focus on a game we want to play and want to make and hope that people love to play it as well. You can only second guess for so long on what people want to play. In the end you really have to make the game you want to play.

Traditionally, Insomniac has been a PlayStation-exclusive team. What made you want to break away from that with Fuse and go multiplatform?

So we’ve worked with Sony for over fifteen years now and we have a great relationship with them. But we’ve always been an independent company and we always knew the opportunity would come up where we could make a cross-platform game and own the IP. And so that opportunity came up three years ago where we could work with EA partners to build the game for both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and own it. So that was a great chance for us to jump into that and exercise our independence

Have you guys ever had a desire to become a part of that first party stable?

Well we actually technically were first party for Sony. I don’t know exactly how all of that works, but we got a lot of the benefits of being able to certification quickly and push our games through and we got a lot of great attention from Sony producers there. But for us, we enjoy our independence; we like having that flexibility. It’s a very complex marketplace these days and so you really need to have that kind of freedom to survive.

In your opinion, what is the most challenging thing about establishing a new IP like Fuse?

It’s like essentially giving birth to this new living being on some level [laughs]. It’s coming up with a distinct personality and holding strong to a direction that you believe is going to be best. And I think that everyone has their own idea of what this game should be. I’ve already done seven ratchet and clanks and I forget how hard it was to make that first one. And with each one we made afterwards it was always like ‘Oh we’re stuck with the original decisions that we made.’ But now I kind of look back on that and think that was an easier route to take. Because it’s hard coming up with something new and you’re really exploring unexplored waters and lands.

So what do you prefer – kick-starting a new IP or going back a series you know for another round?

Well I’ve been in the industry for 21 years now, so I feel pretty old and every game I’ve worked on has had a unique challenge. They’re all very hard, so it’s hard to answer that. Either we’re competing with ourselves with our past games and trying to compete with players expectations or we’re doing something that’s completely unknown and new. So I don’t think there’s an easy road no matter which route you take.

What do you think is the hardest thing when designing a game?

I think now there’s a lot of moving pieces. Games are much more complicated now and we have more people and there’s a certain nuance and sense of fidelity that has to come across in games. Our audience is getting more sophisticated so we’re really trying to appeal to players who have very sophisticated palates and that’s not easy

FUSE SS2 Insomniac Don’t Want to Become Sony First Party: Interview With Brian Allgeier

Damn, he ain’t gonna be in Rush Hour 3!

What are you most proud of from Fuse?

I think it’s been being able to create a balanced team-based experience. Really building up our individual classes so that they feel great when you play the alone but they also work together as a team. And I think a lot of people are going to enjoy being able to shine at various moments and really have the spotlight.

In one sentence, why should people go out and buy Fuse come launch?

Crazy alien weaponry – teamwork. It’s not really a sentence [laughs]

Are there any final thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?

I think people will be excited to play this game whether it’s single player or cooperatively. In the end you do get that team-based experience. With single player you can jump between the different classes but it’s also fun to play with your friends, whether you’re playing two players or three players – you’ll always be able to leap into characters if you have an AI bot available. So I think there are a lot of different ways to play the game that will excite people.

Fuse is currently scheduled for release in March on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

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