Watching this console generation wind down is kind of like watching a game of musical chairs. Insomniac's sci-fi cover shooter Fuse is one of the few remaining games that hasn't found a seat yet, pegged uneasily for release between April and June. It doesn't take a genius to unravel EA's difficulty here - Fuse is an unproven IP that appears to trade (and in fairness, often does trade) on received ideas, beset by doubts about style since its inception, and launching into a market that's thirsty for new hardware. It's an extremely intelligent shooter, boasting all sorts of beguiling little eccentricities, but one suspects it'll take more than smart firefights and novel weaponry to break into the big time.
There's a distressing lack of buzz about the game, given its many sterling qualities, and it's thus with some trepidation that I present to you another chat with Insomniac boss Ted Price, a terrifyingly calm man who can and will give one-word answers where the occasion calls for it. Here he is discussing the game itself - enthusiastic hands-on thoughts here - Insomniac's past and present, and where next generation hardware could take us.
How has making Fuse changed Insomniac?
It taught us a lot about multiplatform development. We developed a new engine and toolset for Fuse and that has certainly improved our workflow.
Do you think you've overcome fan misgivings about the tone, having opted for more of an Action Man style since your reveal trailer?
Yeah, I think that at first, for us, it was challenging to see some of the comments that were posted. At the same time we felt that the decisiojn we made to continue to push the game's tone was the right one, because it's exactly what we've done with all of our other games, we just haven't been as transparent about it.
It was important for us to take the characters and give them a lot more punch, and we weren't getting that with the original incarnation back in 2011. What we revealed was much more about the world and more about gameplay. When we really dug into the weapons we found that we had to change. the weapon development has driven a lot. Personally, I'm really happy about it.
Obviously, you don't have a competitive component in this game, other than the cooperative-competitive thing...
Co-petitive thing. Did you experiment with the idea of competitive modes, play those weapons against each other? Was it an interesting experience?
It was an interesting experience. Development's all about learning. When you develop a new IP, you're learning every day about what works and what doesn't. The competitive experiments we tried were cool but then we realised that it would be a fresher experience to take the skills that people are developing in campaign and apply them to a new mode.
And that was internally much more compelling for us because we didn't want players to feel that they were jumping into a completely different game rather than another mode. We wanted them to feel like they made progress, whether they were playing Echelon or the campaign. If you played Echelon today and you got drop-kicked - a lot of people have - you would have been making progress in the real game no matter what.