Mark Cerny explains Knack development, its nostalgic appeal

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 21:47 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

PS4 system architect Mark Cerny and Knack developer has said while the game may look like it will appeal to a younger audience, the firm is going for the “nostalgia” factor with it as well, and it will come with a hard difficult setting in order to challenge core players.

Speaking with the PS Blog, Cerny also said Knack is a very story driven game with a control scheme ” on the simpler side.” Still, players will have to have a think on how best to use it.

“I think many people will go to the store and get, say, Watch Dogs, or Killzone or the like, for themselves and they’ll get Knack for another member of the family. But I also think a lot of core gamers will end up getting Knack for that old school – with a twist – feel,” he said. “It’s not apparent from the E3 demo, but it is a very story driven adventure. The first time through should take about ten hours, and then we have included a lot of features that make it interesting to play again.

“For example, there are hundreds of secret rooms and many contain treasure chests. Some of those are part of gadgets that will help Knack in his quest – you need to collect all the parts before you can build the gadget. Others are crystal relics where if you collect enough of them you can unlock a variation on the Knack character you can use in a subsequent play-through.

“There are also a couple of additional features that we’re not talking about at this point.”

Cerny said the core idea for the game was to create a character who could pick up items from the environment and incorporate them onto his body; however, it turned out a bid harder than that for he and his team at Japan Studio.

“Our initial concept was that Knack would maybe break down a building or a wall, and he’d incorporate the resulting bricks into his body, but when we prototyped this we ended up with a giant amorphous blob of a character,” he explained. “It took a year and a half to figure out that the secret was to design the character more intensively. The character is made from ‘relics’ – these are left over from some long lost civilization, if you dig down deep into the earth you find them.

“They’re a power source, and the doctor has managed to imbue them with consciousness. With that storyline we were able to then design relics in specific shapes and build various versions of Knack out of them.”

Cerny said the development of PS4 shaved a year off the project, because of the system allowing developers to implement a “character that has 5,000 objects driven by a custom physics simulation.”

Knack will change depending o the level as well, as in some he will grown slowly while in others larger much more quickly.

“In some levels he’ll slowly grow, and in other levels he get big really fast – by picking up icicles for example — but then if he goes out into the sun he’ll melt down quickly,” he said. “The way I look at it – there’s a bit of Crash Bandicoot in there, a bit of Katamari Damacy, which is a game I love and must have bought three or four times over the years.

“And there’s a bit of God of War too. You can see that game’s influence on Knack – especially in the control set, where the right stick is the dodge. Actually God of War 3 was one of my consulting projects.”

Knack is a PS4 launch title.