Health, Nexus, and Sunset

by Mike Daly
Jun 22, 2014

Hey folks, here’s what’s been going on in my life for the past few months (categorized for your convenience):


So going into my surgery last year I was told that there was actually a pretty significant chance of post-surgery complications (two likely complications had a 30% chance each) because it was such a major operation. I’m happy to report that I’m feeling great. I seem to have gotten away from the surgery without suffering any major complications. How my body behaves is a little different but talking about how often I get gas is boring so I’ll just leave it as "I’m fine".

Insomniac Games

Did I mention that Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus was released? It was. It seems to be well received. I think it turned out great, so pick it up if you have a chance! Here’s some of the things I worked on for this game:

  • Coding some of the weapons (Warmonger, Nightmare Box, and Winterizer)
  • Design contributions for weapons and weapon ability upgrades
  • Coding for the weapons upgrade system
  • Creation and balance for all weapons’ upgrade grids
  • Coding for the Arena and some tuning/balance
  • Difficulty system and difficulty tuning/balance work
  • Challenge mode implementation and balance
  • Platinum Tier arena challenges design
  • Economy system implementation and economy tuning/balance work, including:
  • Setting Bolt values for enemies, crates, and weapon prices
  • Rubber banding system and thresholds
  • Hero XP and HP progression rate
  • Enemy attack strength (at each difficulty level)
  • Weapon XP and power progression
  • Raritanium acquisition rate and upgrade grid sizes
  • Telemetry analysis

It was a super fun game to work on. There were a bunch of fun challenges in both programming and design that I’d never had to deal with before. I especially liked working on the weapons, where I got to try a bunch of crazy stuff to see what worked.

I don’t mean to make it sound like I was the only one doing a lot of the design and tuning/balancing mentioned above; a few other people were involved that made a huge contribution. I just wanted to make a list of the stuff I contributed to.


After Nexus shipped, we decided to adopt a new team structure which meant introducing team leads. The result of this process, to my surprise, was that I ended up in the role of Design Team Lead. So not just did I have to grapple what it meant to lead a team but also switch departments (I was previously a Gameplay Programmer).

This was pretty intimidating at first because the designers I was leading all had a lot more design experience than I did. However, I’m feeling pretty good about it now. The team is very supportive in areas where I don’t know much and I’ve found that there are some areas of design in which I bring a lot to the table. I think that organizing the team has helped take some pressure off of the directors and has resulted in more attention and thought getting put into decisions and a high and low level. So far I love being in the design department and I like being a team lead. I hesitate to say whether it is better than being a programmer until I’ve shipped a game in this role; you don’t know a game dev job very well until you’ve gone through an end-cycle with it.

Speaking of shipping a game, Sony announced that Insomniac will be bringing Ratchet & Clank to the PS4 next year at their E3 press conference. I’m working on that, so I guess I don’t have to wait long to see what that feels like! Did you know that there is also going to be a Ratchet & Clank movie coming out next year? I think it’s looking pretty good. Check out the E3 trailer.

Although I haven’t worked on Sunset Overdrive, I’m still proud just to be associated with it because it looks like it kicked some serious butt at E3! There’s so much cool stuff about that game, I can’t wait for it to come out later this year.

I’ve done some hobby stuff too, but this is already running kind of long so I’ll touch on that later.