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Interviews

Building to last: Insomniac's Ted Price talks Fuse, next-gen tech and LEGO

"It certainly doesn't hurt that a lot of Xbox players are so into co-op."

Four-player RPG-shooter Fuse is the subject of some controversy, thanks to Insomniac's decision to dispense with the light-hearted tone that characterised the reveal trailer. The backlash is justified - there are far too many unsmiling shooters on Xbox 360 - but we're in danger of overlooking the quality of the results.

While nothing revolutionary just yet, Fuse is a smart, slick and spectacle-heavy shooter which asks just enough in the way of squad tactics to stand apart from Gears. Here's Insomniac CEO Ted Price with more.

So you're finally on Xbox 360. Are you excited?

Zoom

Yeah, we've been excited about this. We've been excited about reaching out to the Xbox 360 audience, providing some Insomniac flavour for people who've been talking about our games. We've got people who ask us, why did you never put Ratchet and Resistance out on Xbox? And I have to remind them it's a PlayStation 3 exclusive. With Fuse, we finally have the chance to go multi platform.

When you made the decision to release a new IP, did you look at the Xbox market in particular? Xbox 360 is famous for third-person shooters.

What we wanted to do first and foremost was make a great four-player co-op game. One that's driven by story and has a very Insomniac flavour. It certainly doesn't hurt that a lot of Xbox players are so into co-op.

A lot of people seem afraid of releasing a new IP this late in the console cycle. Do you think there's any foundation for that?

I think the market is always evolving, and it's really difficult to predict what's going to happen. Especially today because it's not just about consoles anymore - people are playing games on whatever. We've heard over the years at Insomniac that people don't just want sequels. They want more than just sequels. They want new IP and they want new IP all the time. This was a great opportunity for us to stand out against the rest of the games and do something for players.

We're very excited, mostly because we get to show off something that's very uniquely Insomniac, and it shows off a brand new engine we've been working on for a while. We think this will help us compete well with more mature engines that have been around for a while.

There's a proper arms race underway right now to offer the definitive next generation engine. Last year Epic more or less told Microsoft that it's ready with Unreal 4 as soon as Xbox 720 arrives. Is the Fuse engine specifically geared for next generation development?

Zoom

All I can say there is that we built this engine to last. I think any developer involved in technology does that because it makes a lot more sense. Once you have a team that's used to a particular set of tools and a specific production process, it's more efficient to continue that. We built this engine with the future in mind.

One comparison that came to mind while I played Fuse was LEGO, weirdly. You're switching characters to complete action puzzles using different abilities.

I don't think that was a direct influence, but I love playing Lego Star Wars, Harry Potter etc. I have kids and we love playing together. That sort of reflects all of our desires to have a more communal experience in these games, where you can play with your friends, your families, even strangers, but you'll have a great time. Even if you don't have friends or a family, you can take an advantage of "Leap" and go back and forth between the various characters and take advantage of all their abilities. There are always bots available for you to jump into and it lets you play the game in different ways.

How are you going to keep the action varied so you don't end up with arguments over who plays as which character?

I think that, each of the characters has such a different approach to gameplay. In our various play tests we've found people gravitate towards particular play styles and characters. Some people love the glass cannon approach with Jacob, some people love being Nyah because she can be stealthy, or Dalton as the tank. These archetypes are fairly strong, but they're also deep in that you're never limited to just being the stealth person, or the crowd control person. There are a lot of choices.

Read Ed's original Fuse hands-on for more on how those diverging character archetypes stack up.

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