The original pitch for Ratchet and Clank started as a simple premise scribbled on graph paper by Brian Hastings, then a programmer at developer Insomniac and now the studio's CCO.
Hastings discussed the origins of the IP in a recent interview with Waypoint. The idea was simple: "an alien traveling from planet to planet with gadgets and weapons," as Waypoint puts it. Hastings says this was inspired by the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, specifically Calvin's Spaceman Spiff character, as well as Looney Tunes' Marvin the Martian
"I was thinking about what existing characters really have a world that I would want to be in, that I would actually want to go into," Hastings says.
At the time, Hastings hadn't planned to start a series that would last 20 years – and is going stronger than ever, as we said in our Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart review. But after a short pitch and prototyping stage built on this basic idea, Hastings says the original game came together remarkably quickly. Insomniac wanted to do something new and different, so it took a bit of a kitchen sink approach and folded in cool ideas as it went along.
"We had the plan for 'OK, Ratchet and Clank are gonna meet, and then they're going to beat this villain and they're going to become friends,'" Hastings told Waypoint. "But we didn't really have an arc beyond that, except that we want to explore this world."
As much as it's changed and evolved, Ratchet and Clank has always stuck to what Hastings jotted down on that graph paper all those years ago (graph paper which has sadly been lost to time). And as random as its inspirations seem at first blush, Calvin and Marvin are right in line with the tone of the series. 'A cartoon about aliens on other planets with frankly absurd weapons' is still a pretty good summary of Ratchet and Clank, both its gameplay and storytelling. Rift Apart especially comes across as the kind of animated adventure that Pixar would look to for inspiration, which makes the series' cartoon roots seem almost poetic.
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