interview. We spoke to the makers of the best Spider-Man game ever: “We’re essentially using our resources to tell the most compelling story possible” | Technique

“Spider-Man 2” has to be the most anticipated title for PlayStation 5 players this year. And our review doesn’t lie: it lives up to all expectations. The game gets a 9/10 that’s why we thought it was time to talk to the makers of this gem: How did they make this gem?

We’re talking with Ryan Smith, Sr. Game Director at Insomniac. He looks completely relaxed. The reviews have just arrived and they are very positive. “Spider-Man 2” is not only a great narrative game, but it’s also a technically impressive game. To say that the Insomniac development team receives praise is an understatement.

How do I imagine my last days with you? Do you read reviews all the time, scroll through social media, or do you just stay away from it?
Actually a little bit of all of it. Especially when the reviews came out on Monday, we were really happy with all the positive feedback we received. We now follow what the person playing the game thinks. We make sure the game is optimized and everything is stable before everyone can play it, and before it goes live. And of course we also talk to people like you who are passionate about it.

In this game, I’ve added a lot more neighborhoods to the New York map compared to the previous Spider-Man game, which also takes place there. How big is the map now compared to the real city?
Well, the map is now twice as large as it was in the previous Spider-Man game. We added Brooklyn and Queens. Brooklyn is very big and we’ve included a lot of highlights. We’ve built a kind of Marvel City in New York, because it doesn’t have to be spread out too much. This includes Coney Island and the view of the bridge in Dumbo of which I have seen many pictures. You can now go there in the game.

© Insomniac Games

(spoiler)You guys have one too Wingsuit Added to the game to move around the map. Did you and your entire team travel with this suit before putting it in the game?
At Insomniac we work together very intensively. We do a lot of brainstorming and we work all over the United States and even around the world, so we conduct these brainstorming sessions through Zoom meetings. Then we put that into the game and test how well it works.

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The speeds you achieve really show the power of the console

A lot of our process involves coming up with something and then testing it extensively. the Web Suites We have already seen him on various covers of comics and movies. So we’ve already got them on our radar. We’ve also added wind tunnels and updrafts that allow you to really increase the speed. So you’re progressing very quickly and we can really show the power of PlayStation in this way.

Insomniac games
© Insomniac Games

The longer the console exists, the more developers will be able to get the most out of it. How difficult is it to push the limits of the PlayStation 5 with this game or how far can you get out of it?
I can’t put an exact number on that, but of course our teams already had experience building Miles Morales (Their previous game Spider-Man, Ed.D.). We have already realized that the PlayStation 5 is very powerful. And we’ve already built up knowledge about loading speeds and how you can zoom into the city and see all those beautiful details. The reason we’re able to do something like this is because we use the same system behind the scenes in all of our games. But of course we’re not just thinking about the technical side, our teams are also thinking about how to use this power to make the player experience the best it can be. For example, fast travel on the map is a lot of fun, and thanks to our technical teams this is made possible.

Insomniac already had experience with Miles Morales on PS5 and is working on that.
Insomniac already had experience with Miles Morales on PS5 and is working on that. © PlayStation

Do you sometimes have to “hack” something together on the console, as happened in the past? Or is it now so powerful that it has become easier for you to realize your ideas?

Well, it’s a combination of both. Our toy prototype has a sticky strip here and there (Duct Tape, Ed.) Let’s quickly see what’s fun and what will work. But we usually have enough time to set up everything and make sure it works properly. There are already some trials involved in the initial phase of development. But I think it will become more stable after a while so we can make sure that the player playing it gets a good cleaning product.

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Insomniac games
© Insomniac Games

How much energy do you put into that very specific humor that you expect from Spider-Man? He’s a little eccentric but he also makes jokes that will make your partner who’s not playing with you laugh too. This is what makes cartoons and comic strips so fun?
We have a really great team of screenwriters and writers and they work hard to find the right balance. You can’t tell a few short jokes that are simply played. It has to really make sense with the environment you’re playing in at that moment. There must be a correct reaction to what is happening in the game at that moment. And we’ve built really great systems to do that. You have conversations with friends and family in the game, but you also have audio files between those plays when you’re spending time in the world. We really have a whole team of specialists who get these dialogues absolutely right.

We have built a system that ensures that the player is not distracted too much

Insomniac games
© Insomniac Games

Is it difficult to balance that? Sometimes, when you’re flying around New York, you have to take a picture or fight. On top of that there is dialogue or podcast playback. Do you experience this and do you sometimes think that something is really too much?
We’ve built a system we call “interruptions.” We have rules for this and prioritize what amount is too much for a player. This takes into account what the player does and the choices they make. We respect that too. Talking to draw the player’s attention away is not allowed. But at the same time, we have to constantly move the story forward. Our dialogue team has done a really good job of this and decides when to pause it or when to resume it again. A lot of effort goes into making sure you get the kind of experience where you’re drawn into the game but not distracted all the time.

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Do you have a different approach than other developers when it comes to playtime?
Our approach is basically don’t pick a game that you have to play for 200 hours. We use our resources and our team above all else to tell the most compelling story possible. One of our goals this time was to increase the number of amazing and sensitive moments. Instead of thinking about playing time, think about how to make it as enjoyable as possible for the player.

Insomniac games
© Insomniac Games

There are games made for a niche audience and for a broad audience. 12 years old or 50 years old can play this game. Was that a goal?
absolute. We want to reach as many people as possible with “Spider-Man 2.” The two characters – Peter and Miles – also resonate with a lot of people. And the nice thing: This might be someone’s first experience with Spider-Man. These characters make a lot of sense. We also ensure that the game is highly accessible, so that the audience that can play it is as large as possible.

You can play with the controller in different ways, and there is the option to play with high contrast for visibility. If you’re sensitive to certain frequencies of sound, you can filter them out. In December, we’ll be adding a Screen Reader that reads your texts aloud and also a narration voice that tells you what’s happening on screen. This way you get additional feedback while playing.

Insomniac games
© Insomniac Games

My colleague asked me to ask: Is the next “Spider-Man” game coming soon?
(Laughs) Well, we’ve just finished this. We will first celebrate our launch and that it has been well received. And so I can’t really talk about that right now. We will now take some well-deserved rest and hope everyone enjoys this game.

Winton Frazier

 "Amateur web lover. Incurable travel nerd. Beer evangelist. Thinker. Internet expert. Explorer. Gamer."

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