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The Challenges Behind Shank’s Co-Op Campaign

Jamie Cheng's Avatar + Posted by Jamie Cheng on Jul 30, 2010 // Co-Founder, Klei

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.

//Add Your Own

36 Comments

1

+ UNCyrus on July 30th, 2010 at 12:13 pm said:

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


2

+ SNEED on July 30th, 2010 at 12:13 pm said:

online co-op or just local?


3

+ Airwalkinman17 on July 30th, 2010 at 12:16 pm said:

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?


4

+ sam_i_jam on July 30th, 2010 at 12:18 pm said:

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.


5

+ Ruffday on July 30th, 2010 at 12:28 pm said:

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?


6

+ nYcFrEeWiLL82 on July 30th, 2010 at 12:34 pm said:

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 me..as 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 glove..so 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


7

+ BlooodyCow on July 30th, 2010 at 12:37 pm said:

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?


8

+ ForgiveMyAim on July 30th, 2010 at 12:41 pm said:

From what I can tell, it looks fun.


9

+ Marston43 on July 30th, 2010 at 12:42 pm said:

I’m buying this game day one.


10

+ JetSetFuture on July 30th, 2010 at 12:54 pm said:

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.)


11

+ DZORMAGEN on July 30th, 2010 at 1:16 pm said:

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


12

+ kassatsu on July 30th, 2010 at 1:23 pm said:

@SNEED

It is local co-op only.


13

+ xRedxViolence on July 30th, 2010 at 1:30 pm said:

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.


14

+ jh6269 on July 30th, 2010 at 1:34 pm said:

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!


15

+ AJC3317 on July 30th, 2010 at 1:35 pm said:

online co op? please? pretty please?


16

+ plaztiksyke on July 30th, 2010 at 2:11 pm said:

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?


17

+ atone1382 on July 30th, 2010 at 2:51 pm said:

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.


18

+ BigBoss712 on July 30th, 2010 at 3:16 pm said:

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


19

+ burnedearth on July 30th, 2010 at 3:37 pm said:

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…


20

+ silver_ninja25 on July 30th, 2010 at 4:43 pm said:

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


21

+ barnaclejoe on July 30th, 2010 at 4:54 pm said:

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!


22

+ x_JoSplash_x on July 30th, 2010 at 5:06 pm said:

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


23

+ epiphaniesarefun on July 30th, 2010 at 5:47 pm said:

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!


24

+ CDubyahS on July 30th, 2010 at 5:58 pm said:

RESIDENT EVIL 5 CO-OP IS TOUGH BECAUSE AI SHEVA CANT HELP FOR JACK

THIS LOOKS LIKE AN IMPROVEMENT


25

+ bushisprez on July 30th, 2010 at 9:35 pm said:

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

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


26

+ Destiny89 on July 30th, 2010 at 11:42 pm said:

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


27

+ Irriada on July 31st, 2010 at 2:49 am said:

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


28

+ Chase167 on July 31st, 2010 at 10:45 am said:

custom soundtracks ???


29

+ FireDragonGod on July 31st, 2010 at 11:52 am said:

Price ???


30

+ loadstone007 on July 31st, 2010 at 5:01 pm said:

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.


31

+ solace357 on August 1st, 2010 at 12:08 am said:

looks AWESOME. day one buy.


32

+ Rhino136 on August 1st, 2010 at 1:28 am said:

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.


33

+ oBlossom92o on August 1st, 2010 at 3:03 pm said:

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


34

+ sdmf4ever on August 3rd, 2010 at 11:19 am said:

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!!!


35

+ samuraix98 on August 4th, 2010 at 10:43 am said:

My most anticipated PSN Title this year.


36

+ Dirtman11 on August 6th, 2010 at 10:45 pm said:

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


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