How Insomniac’s Spider-Man Came to Be | Gaming News
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Marvel gave Insomniac the pick of the litter.
While PlayStation 4 owners around the world celebrate the release of Marvel’s Spider-Man, Insomniac’s open-world game could have just as easily featured another Marvel character.
In this month’s episode of Tech Unfiltered, Ryan McCaffrey sat down with Insomniac CEO Ted Price to discuss how the team got the opportunity to make a game featuring everyone’s favorite wall-crawler. Be sure to check out the preview clip above, in which Price talks about the studio’s decision-making process.
“Connie Booth, who is a great friend, and also one of our partners at Sony, was down at Insomniac,” Price said, “and she said to me, one day, ‘What would you think about working on a Marvel game?’” Price said his immediate reaction was “fairly neutral” and, as the studio had built a following on the back of original properties, he “hadn’t really considered working on someone else’s IP.”
Once he bounced the idea off the other developers, however, he received overwhelmingly positive feedback. “The response I got was eye-opening for me,” Price said, “The answer was, ‘Are you crazy? Of course we’re going to work on a Marvel game!’”
Marvel wasn’t interested in having Insomniac work around a movie or comic tie-in either, they wanted Insomniac to create their own version of a character, and Marvel was willing to let the developer take their pick. “[Marvel said] ‘Look, we’ve got a lot of characters. Pick a character that you guys think works for you, and then we’d love to hear your take on it.’”
Although he does not recall which other characters the studio discussed early on, Price said Spider-Man quickly became the frontrunner, for a number of reasons. The team at Insomniac related to the plucky superhero, identifying as scrappy underdogs themselves. Most of all, however, the team resonated with the dynamic of both the heroic Spider-Man and hapless everyman, Peter Parker.
“He’s so human, and he’s so relatable. He’s also the most popular Marvel character in the world, I think” Price said, “but it was more Peter and Spider-Man that drew us to that particular character.”
From a logistical standpoint, Spider-Man’s web-swinging antics also seemed a perfect fit for the studio responsible for the dynamic traversal system in the critically acclaimed Xbox exclusive, Sunset Overdrive and, according to Price, that fact was not lost on Insomniac.
“We realized that this game we had just made, Sunset Overdrive, really does help us think about how we could take traversal to the next level in a Spider-Man game,” Price said, “because we had been focusing on many of the same challenges within Sunset Overdrive.”
“[For example], how do you traverse through a city quickly in an entertaining and skillful fashion without [it] being too hard or too easy?”
To find out how well Insomniac handled its treatment of Spider-Man, Peter Parker, and the game’s open-world web-slinging, be sure to read our review.
For more Tech Unfiltered, be sure to check out last month’s episode with EA Sports’ boss Cam Weber, and look through the full list of every episode of Tech Unfiltered for more interviews with some of the games industry’s “best, brightest, most fascinating minds.”
Brian Barnett is an Tech freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter @Ribnax or listen to his video game and anime watch-along podcasts wherever you listen to podcasts.