INTERVIEW: Ready at Dawn Ready for Next-Gen
Ready at Dawn president Didier Malenfant tells us what the developer has up its sleeve following the launch of God of War: Chains of Olympus and the upcoming release of Okami for Wii, and what next-gen means to him.
Formed in 2003 by ex-senior members of developers Naughty Dog and Blizzard, Irvine, California-based Ready at Dawn’s enjoyed outstanding early success. Its debut title, Daxter for PSP, has sold more than two million units. It then took one of Sony’s flagship franchises, God of War, to PSP, and the recently released Chains of Olympus will likely exceed Daxter’s sales heights. But having shown the development community what can be achieved on Sony’s handheld and with an Okami Wii port nearing release, Malenfant says Ready at Dawn’s itching to mix it with the big boys at the home console table and achieve its ambition of developing original IPs.
“We initially set out to do games that showcased the hardware and became flagships for the PSP. We feel like we’ve achieved our goal of not only making great games but making games that are hardware-sellers. We’ve now come to the point where we have the team, the technology and two IPs that we think would make absolutely incredible games so we’re going for it.
“It’s two totally different genres,” he teased, not yet willing to spill the whole tin of beans on what the developer has in store. We do know Malenfant’s a sucker for racing and skateboarding games though, and the 40 strong Ready at Dawn team is littered with hardcore fans of combat games. “We have a couple of things in the pipeline, mainly because we can’t put the entire company on pre-production for a single game. So we’re splitting off some guys to work on a smaller project, and those guys will rejoin the rest of the team when the other project enters full production.
moscallout“We’ve got the third version of the Ready at Dawn Engine running on both the PS3 and the 360.”/moscallout“Even though we only just shipped Chains of Olympus, everyone here can’t wait to get started on our own stuff,” he went on, and you can understand why. Although SCEA Santa Monica were “very supportive and offered their help whenever they could” during the development of Chains of Olympus, Malenfant says Ready at Dawn had to “fight the powers that be at every step of the way with what we wanted to do with the franchise”. No longer will that be the case.
“We’ve got the third version of the Ready at Dawn Engine running on both the PS3 and the 360. We had to make sure we had the tech all set up to start our next projects. The most obvious benefit is processing power. Just like on the PSP when we finally got access to the 333Mhz clock speed, our engine is entirely scaleable so we can just crank up a few dials and start using all that extra power. So what I’m most excited about is seeing what our artists here will do with all this. If you see what they did on PSP it’s easy to imagine that it’s going to be quite something.
“I’m also excited about online distribution on both these platforms because that’s how I like to get all my media now, not just games. On the Wii, having just finished the port of Okami on that platform, I’d love to see what our tech could do on it too. I think people are so focused on the controls that we don’t get to see what the console is really capable of graphically. It would be awesome to have both.
“We have no plans to develop games on the DS at the moment,” he added. “As always, we never say never, but we’d have to have something that’s a good fit for the platform and our ideas right now aren’t really achievable on the DS.”