Ever since the first Ratchet & Clank game launched, fans have written us wanting to see concept art. While concepts are just one of many pieces we use to put our games together, they are a fun way to show the history of the Ratchet & Clank universe. So I searched around the studio and pulled together a collection of images that go all the way back to 2002 when Insomniac started working on a new game…
In The Beginning
…well actually it was 2000. We were wrapping up Spyro: Year of the Dragon and looking ahead to the PlayStation 2. After spending a year developing a new game code-named “I5” and later known as “Girl with a Stick,” we canceled the project and decided to shift gears. (To find out more about Girl with a Stick and its ultimate demise, check out the Full Moon Show podcast #49). That left us with only a few months to present a new idea and we started working on a game set in an alien galaxy that featured lots of crazy gadgets. At this point, our entire studio (40 of us) focused on bringing this idea to life. We started to develop our tech, game mechanics, animation, story, design, sound… everything! On the concept art front, Insomniac character artist Dave Guertin created these early sketches of our heroes:
Our first image of Ratchet. The idea was to create a spunky alien with a crazy gadget gauntlet and some bionic commando traversal abilities. While he barely resembles the final character, Ratchet 1.0 already has many of his characteristics in place – oversized hands and weapons, a gadget glove, three-toed feet, and pilot headgear. Eventually his reptilian body gave way to a more relatable cat form.
Dave’s first designs for Clank were also very different. In this sketch, Clank appears to be a mechanical lizard. Only his eyes and articulated legs carried through to the final design.
At the same time, our environment team was exploring a variety of directions for Ratchet’s universe. In these early sketches it’s easy to see that we were still moving away from Spyro’s fantasy worlds and into Ratchet & Clank’s sci-fi style. “Asteroid Observatory” by artist Chad Dezern (now our North Carolina studio director) shows many of the hallmarks of a Ratchet & Clank level – hoses, antennae, and clustered building composition. This image later became inspiration for Nebula G34- Blarg Tactical Research Station, or as we called it during production, level 6:
This unfinished sketch (by me) displays further stylistic exploration that would eventually become part of our style. Exotic alien vegetation, craters, and retro-futuristic structures with rounded aerodynamic forms. Eventually this concept evolved into planet Novalis – Tobruk Crater, the first full campaign level in Ratchet & Clank:
And that’s just the beginning! For the full story of how the Ratchet & Clank characters and universe took shape, including even more vintage concept art, be sure to visit the Insomniac blog.