The great thing about the Ratchet & Clank universe being such a diverse and creative place is that you can take something like a robot-spy-themed game and it fits perfectly in. Our Designers do such a great job of helping the Environment Artists visualize the world that on Secret Agent Clank we started with a brainstorming meeting between the two departments.
This consisted of the Designers saying something like “We would love to see Clank stealthily going through a Rio de Janeiro-esque carnival level,” and as the creative types we are as Artists we would say “that’s neat but how about a Space Circus?” After their laughter died down we would bounce ideas around until we all settle on a common vision such as a bird-people carnival level.
So for the carnival level it started as simply as having a tropical, but not beach, level that Clank would stealth his way through. Then the Art Director, Lead Artists, and the Environment Artists would get together and throw around some inspiration (art work, movies, tv shows, books, crayon art on napkins, etc) till we all could envision the level. Once that was settled on then one of the Artists create the concept art that you see below strictly in a 2-D painting program, sketch pad, oil paints, etc.
After this was settled on and everyone agreed that this was the amazing level that Clank will be spying, fighting, platforming, and just plain being a super robot spy guy in then we created it in 3-D so we could run around in it. The final product of which ends up looking like is the shot below.
The bird carnival level is actually one that stayed very close to the concept art. Some however just use the concept art for color palette, themes, etc. One of the later levels in the game, the half desert, half ocean planet is a good example of this. The concept art is very well done. But the level itself is actually just inspired by the concept art and not a spot on image of it.
The actual level turned out similar but is definitely different. Sometimes this happens. Once you get it up in actual 3-D and running around it feels different or needs of the level change throughout development. Regardless, it retains the overall feel of the concept art but has is different feel.
Other level fall somewhere in the middle. The 3-D levels aren’t dead on to their concept art counterparts but they aren’t completely different either. The nighttime skyscrapers level is a good example of this. The concept art was open enough but also had a great feeling to it.
So once it got into full production we ended up changing a few things. But keeping the tone, look, and overall feeling of it. It’s definitely much more similar to the concept art than the half desert, half ocean planet is but also not spot-on like the bird carnival level is either.
Whether the final level is a splitting image of its concept art, similar to the concept art, or vaguely like the concept art, the whole team is proud of what we’ve been able to push the PSP to in Secret Agent Clank and look forward to seeing what the fans think of all the cool, exciting new worlds that we’ve come up with here at High Impact Games.