The Challenges Behind Shank’s Co-Op Campaign

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Hey everyone! I’m Jamie, co-founder of Klei and I’d like to share our journey leading up to our decision to include a co-op campaign in our new title, Shank – and why we felt so strong about creating it as a separate mode altogether.

When Shank was shown at PAX 2009, there were two questions that I couldn’t answer which came up over and over again. The first was, “What platform is it coming out on?” The second “is there going to be co-op?”

I answered the first question, with my own question. I stuffed our dev kit into a ghetto cardboard box, labeled with a large question-mark and strung a handful of controllers (including Atari and Dreamcast ones) from underneath it for added effect. At the time, nobody had played Shank, and I didn’t have platform approval yet. Thankfully, the gaming community and our fans spoke up, and I got my wish — we were able to negotiate a deal to bring the game to the PlayStation Network.

The second, co-op question – proved to be much trickier.

On one hand, we felt strongly about the classic, couch-play beat-em-up genre; very much like Double Dragon – which is an awesome experience and one of our main influences – but, on the other hand, our single player campaign was something special and truly unique. Every camera is hand-crafted, ever scene and enemy is carefully placed, achieving our vision of the “cinematic brawler.” Moving or shifting one piece of the single-player puzzle, could easily spell disaster.

PlayStation Network: Shank Co-Op

Having two players in our orchestrated brawler tossed a huge wrench into our development plan. It’s challenging to keep both players on screen, so we can’t be sure how wide the camera will go. We also need enough enemies to keep both players busy, but the added chaos – while fun – introduces a different experience altogether. To make matters worse, building bosses that required two players, served no guarantee that the other player would be around to help. What we definitely didn’t want was to have a lame-o, tacked-on feature that just wasn’t very fun for the second player.

So we bit the bullet.

PlayStation Network: Shank Co-Op

We said, “we’re going to make a whole bonus co-op campaign, and in each separate campaign, we’re going to play to their strengths.” The solution was to design the single player experience to be far more cinematic, allowing you to really enjoy and savor each action packed moment. We then kept the co-op rooted to the good ol’ fashioned beat-em-up formula that encourages players to help each other, especially during our though boss battles – which we went back and designed specific boss battles that can only be won with a second player at hand. As a finishing touch, we used the co-op campaign to delve even deeper into each character and foe that will eventually mess Shank over, leading up to the events in his story.

At the end, it presented a long list of challenges and obstacles, but it proved to be well worth it when trying to achieve our unique vision that is Shank and it’s co-op experience.

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  • Played Shank at PAX-East… this game is Epic! And did I mention, delightfully bloody?

  • online co-op or just local?

  • So awesome to see you guys going the extra mile for customers such as myself who truly enjoys videogames so much more with someone next to me. THANK YOU!
    The game looks awesome and a nostalgic throwback to the classic games of yesterday. Day 1 buy for me.
    So excited for this and Scott Pilgrim vs The World game.
    August is going to be awesome.
    Just to be sure. Shank is released August 24?

  • Best of all, they got the God of War writer on this project, so the story should be just as entertaining as the over-the-top art style. Looking forward to it.

  • The pix are awesome! I’ve gotta say, the Cat game and this are on my list of to get games. Can we get a Ps+ discount on this?

  • at first i was big on co-op..but i already own a few games with it and for some reason nobody i know like to play co-op..they get bored of the game ..( i guess im surounded by LAME PLAYERS) so now it doesnt really matter if its co-op to long as the game has a great story line and theres a good amount of weopns or vehicles..and ofcourse ACTION..and GORE this game DEFINITLY fits the im DEFINITLY getin it! kinda sucks that i go back to work the same day it gets released..but i guess it would be a perfect time to use a PERSONAL DAY :p

  • don’t know why, but this game reminded me of the original Metal Slugs games. Those games were great with co-op and I hope this game turn out to be half the game those games were. Will there be a demo?

  • From what I can tell, it looks fun.

  • I’m buying this game day one.

  • Everything I’ve seen and read on this game is awesome. Long live 2D! (And bonus points for mentioning Double Dragon — one of my favorite arcade beat-’em-ups.)

  • Bought!! There are some really good PSN games coming out in Aug! This is one of them….

  • @SNEED

    It is local co-op only.

  • is the game going to be downloadable on the PSN?

    If this co-op is online multiplayer i’ll likely grab it. if not i’ll probably have to pass on this one sorry.

  • Wow, the co-op sounds great. I’ve only seen trailers of this game, and the single player looks amazing. I was sold on this game before, and this makes me even more eager to get this game.

    Thanks for choosing PSN and for all your hard work–I can’t wait!

  • online co op? please? pretty please?

  • The flickr screenshots are 720p, but I thought I read this game would be 1080p native render and assets?

    I’m glad to hear about local co-op; I hope it also has a decent story. It would also be cool to have team-up attacks like in X-Men Legends 2 and Penny Arcade Adventures.

    Does the game pack losslessly compressed HD audio (e.g. 24-bit FLAC)? Or at least maximum bitrate AAC?

  • Day1 download right here. I’ve been anticipating this game more and more, it looks like such fun. An extra co-op campaign is like the cherry on top of the sundae.

  • So many good downloadable games coming out soon, Shank, Dead nation, Scott vs the world, castle crasher.. getting them all!

  • How much longer will the videos be unsupported using the ps3? when i first bought my ps in 2008 i did not have this problem. what kind of software can’t support its own videos? is this an inside joke? let me guess, no response…

  • AUGUST 24th!!! WOOT! CANT WAIT!! :D

  • You know… I think that I pretty much have to buy this game now. I was definitely very intrigued by the trailers I saw.. but to read how the designers went out of their way to craft a co-op campaign just because so many people wanted to see it…. THAT is what I like to hear.

    I agree with #3 “Airwalkinman17” …I’m really looking forward to this and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World the videogame. :D

    Do Want!

  • If its not online coop I might not buy it. With online. I’ll def buy.

  • epiphaniesarefun

    Looks freakin awesome :)

    I actually hope it has local co-op, not online :P I prefer to play online with my buddies on the couch ;)

    Thanks for making it, it’s definitely a day one buy for me!



  • JEFF! So can you confirm online, offline coop or both?

    Online coop or not it still looks like a buy to me.

  • cant wait,also would love to see more games like DeathSpank

  • I’m agree, this game reminded me of the original Metal Slugs games too. But it looks great!

  • custom soundtracks ???

  • Price ???

  • Too bad the game won’t support co-op for the entire game. You should learn something from Fat Princess… it’s a hit for a reason.

  • looks AWESOME. day one buy.

  • Thought the idea of this game was too silly for me, but then I saw this vid and saw how cool the combos looked so now I can’t wait for it. Shank, Castle Crashers and Dead Nation are killing me by making me wait.

  • @19 i recently bought a used ps3 and i can view these and most other videos just fine.

  • CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS ONE!!!!!!! August 24th couldn’t get here any sooner…the waiting to play this is killing me….HURRY UP ALREADY….MUST…..MAKE…THE….EARTH…ROTATE…FASTER!!!

  • My most anticipated PSN Title this year.

  • I’m getting this how much is the game and is it online co-op

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