We had an exclusive opportunity to speak to Jamie Cheng the man behind Shank, the upcoming side scrolling action game from Klei Entertainment.
GB: Shank looks to be taking us back in time to the 2D side-scroller slashers of old. What made you decide to experiment with the side-scroller genre?
Klei Entertainment: I really enjoy the simplicity and elegance of 2D games. There’s still so much to learn and experiment with in 2D, that we didn’t feel any need to extend beyond that. We wanted to see how far we could push the classic side-scrolling beat-em-up, and I’m really glad stuck with the core essence of that, and evolved elements around it.
GB: Shank also uses a vivid and colourful art design, with buckets of blood thrown in for effect. How did you create this ‘cell-shaded’ style, and how do you make the various animations so slick?
Klei Entertainment: That’s kind of backwards, isn’t it? Cel-shaded is a way to emulate the 2D look when using 3D models, whereas Shank is 2D through-and-through. Our animation team comes from a cartoon background, and we built a custom pipeline to allow them to work naturally and integrate it into Shank.
GB: Where did you draw your inspiration from?
Klei Entertainment: Jeff (Creative Director) and I drew most of our inspirations from Double Dragon, for the gameplay, and Desperado for the feel and settings. Jeff also took a lot of artistic inspiration from graphic novels and Golden Age comics.
GB: What sort of ways will your players have of dispatching their foes?
Klei Entertainment:All I have to say about that is: there’s a lot of animation in this game.
GB: Will there be an online dimension? How will the local co-op work?
Klei Entertainment: Shank is strictly couch-play co-op. We created a separate co-op campaign where players are Shank and Falcone, playing through missions that are the backstory to the singleplayer campaign. Actually, I recently did an interview with the Playstation Blog about getting to the decision of making the co-op campaign (located here: http://blog.us.playstation.com/2010/07/30/the-challenges-behind-shanks-co-op-campaign/ http://blog.us.playstation.com/2010/07/30/the-challenges-behind-shanks-co-op-campaign/> )
GB: Will you be making use of Playstation Move, Kinect, or 3D?
Klei Entertainment: Nope — we currently don’t have any plans for that.
GB: We’ve seen a few videos of Shank, including some boss fights. How will you make your boss fights innovative?
Klei Entertainment: I’m not sure we set out to make our boss fights “innovative” as we wanted them to be just plain fun. We love the personalities that we created in each boss, and there’s definitely the classic 2D “figure out how to beat this boss before he stomps your ass” mechanic.
GB: Are there already any plans for a sequel?
Klei Entertainment: We didn’t build Shank with a sequel in mind, so, no there’s currently no sequel planned.
GB: When will we see the release of Shank?
Klei Entertainment: August 24th for PSN, August 25th for XBLA. The PC version is coming Fall 2010.
GB: Is there anything else you want to tell us about Shank?
Klei Entertainment: I just can’t wait to see the game come out. Seriously, it’s a tough wait. If you’re looking for us, I’m usually trolling the Shank facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/shankgame).
We thank the team at Klei Entertainment and specially to Jamie Cheng for the interview.