Ratchet & Clank and Resistance developer Insomniac Games is in something of a transitional phase. It's done making Resistance games, it's got a new IP on the way with the just barely announced Fuse - formerly called Overstrike - and it just recently released its first Facebook game Outernauts.
"Moving forward we are only working on IP that we own," said a rep for the studio at PAX Prime. Yet there's one franchise Insomniac hasn't let go despite having worked on it for over a decade and that's Ratchet & Clank, with it another title Q-Force - or Full Frontal Assault as it's known outside of Europe - on the way.
We caught up with Insomniac co-founder and CEO Ted Price to gather his thoughts on iterating a series with 10 titles to its name.
First off, Price believes the series still garners a lot of attention.
"We never know exactly how or when interest will wane in any particular franchise that we do. So far interest certainly hasn't waned in Ratchet," he said. "And for us it's still an incredibly fun franchise to build."
An Insomniac rep interjected, "I'd say our fanbase is most passionate about Ratchet."
I then asked Price if the later Ratchet games have been just as successful as the early ones.
"They're doing really well," Price said. "The challenge is how do you equate that in an industry that's so different now than when we started building Ratchet games? When we started building Ratchet games we had one console that dominated everybody. Today the industry is spread out in terms of the platforms that are available."
According to Price, the secret to keeping a franchise alive is having a diverse enough move set that one can craft new types of gameplay within its perimeters.
"Ratchet started as a kitchen sink game where we'd do a ton of different things in terms of mechanics, in terms of mini-games. It's just a plethora of stuff that's been shoved together. And we've become better at narrowing the focus for the Ratchet games over the years. I think it will always be a game that is about multiple mechanics."
Price is using the series' elastic rule set - and preposterous guns - to bring a new emphasis on tower defense to the upcoming Ratchet and Clank: Q-Force.
"As a studio I believe we are getting better at focusing early on what will make a game great," said Price. "With Ratchet: Full Frontal Assault it's about the move back to original Ratchet mechanics but then providing something different in the context of this tower defense."
Price made it clear that this is Q-Force's most defining mechanic and a lot of attention was given to bolstering this gameplay mode rather than spreading the experience too thin by trying lots of experiments. "It would be easy to get distracted putting a hoverboot track in the game or do space combat or something that has nothing to do with making an awesome tower-defense game combined with Ratchet's original mechanics. That would be a mistake."
Looking past Ratchet, Price said he'd like to spin Insomniac's upcoming IPs - Outernauts and Fuse - into full series as well. "When we come up with a new game we'll most likely be making sequels for it," he stated.
"We love building franchises. So part of creating a franchise is once you've established your first game you want to continue making games for those fans who love it."