A new collectathon platformer is always something to celebrate. Clive ‘N’ Wrench has spent a long time in the works, and we were able to pose some questions to Rob Wass, the game’s developer. Wass dove into his design philosophy, favorite genre games, and more, so let’s see what he has to say about the new game.
Clive ‘N’ Wrench: Interview with Rob Wass
PC Invasion: Why is Professor Nancy the only major character who talks?
Rob Wass: Technically, Wrench talks too, but rarely and only when he’s got something to teach! I always quite liked the idea of a mute main character though, somebody that the player can imprint themselves onto, avoiding the disconnect that can happen when your character says something you wouldn’t.
I was surprised by how quickly Clive can move right out of the gate. Was the game designed with that level of speed from the get-go?
The game’s levels final levels were definitely designed with that in mind. Snappy quick reactions and the ability to bolt around the levels with ease are something I really appreciate in a 3D platformer. The character feel was pinned down first, and then the worlds were built around them.
How did Trowzer end up getting a cameo in the game?
Most of the credit there goes to Daley at Playtonic! At the time, she was their community manager (now a game designer). She and I were Twitter mutuals for some time, which eventually led to me asking if she’d be up for voicing a character (which she very kindly did, keep an eye out for Nevermore the scarecrow).
As I remember it, she then made the suggestion that we could have some sort of crossover between the two 3D platforming worlds, which of course I jumped at. After a few messages back and forth between studios, we found the right character and context to make for something that hopefully fans of Yooka will get a kick from, and fans of CnW will love too! Naturally, Trowzer having the ultimate pun name fit right in with the rest of the cast…
Clive ‘N’ Wrench has an obvious amount of love for classic 3D platformers. Which genre entries are some of your personal favorites and how did they influence various facets of the game? (Obviously Banjo, but which Banjo game is your favorite?)
If we’re talking about big hitters, then Jak &Daxter, Spyro, and as you say, Banjo (Kazooie being my favourite. As for me it’s the purer/more streamlined experience). Though there are also lesser-known titles like Muppet Monster Adventure and Toy Story 2 that have quite a lot of their own influence. I’ve definitely taken cues from Jak when it comes to snappy cartoon animation, level design philosophy from Spyro, and even the way collectibles work in Banjo. Another example would be the idea of a small character navigating a seemingly mundane environment from a completely different perspective seen in games like the aforementioned Toy Story 2 or even A Bugs Life.
One of my favorite aspects of the game is how littered the entire world is with watches to collect. What made you decide to include so many more of these than collect-a-thon games generally have?
My favourite style of platformer would be Spyro, the instant gratification of finding all the gems scattered around has always been a big draw to me. But the idea of an abundance of small collectibles all over also helps with a couple of things mechanically: Firstly they can be used to breadcrumb paths to help the player find new areas and navigate, but they also help the bigger collectibles (Ancient Stones) feel that much more special when you find them! The gated areas of the game are also fairly generous, so people shouldn’t find themselves bogged down by any of it!
Was there anything cut from the game that was scrapped late in development, such as moves, levels, or bosses?
Naturally, with development as long as this, a lot has been scrapped and/or retooled. More recently, the biggest thing is probably the hoverboard/snowboard. It is/was a fully functional rideable vehicle with the ability to zoom around even faster than on foot, as well as jump higher and hover over water! As cool as it is though, I could never get it to feel quite as polished as I’d like, and it became apparent that really it was hurting the pacing of the game.
Most 3D platformers have the hover mechanic only last for a set time, but Clive ‘N’ Wrench has it last indefinitely. What made you want to focus on that?
I really love freedom in 3D platformers. My favourite Mario game is Sunshine, and the hover move that FLUDD pulls off is a lot of fun, but it always felt a little restrictive when you reached its limit and plummeted. I guess probably because I grew up with Spyro and MMA, the limitless glide ability always felt like the best way to do it, and so CnW‘s levels are built around that idea. The result is worlds that are large, but not insurmountable, with very few areas that are unreachable.
I’ve noticed that the game’s Ancient Coins are littered throughout the levels in a way that’s more akin to Super Mario Odyssey than Banjo-Kazooie. How does this tie in with your design philosophy?
I’m a big fan of really using the space within each level. The Pocket Watches are assigned specific values for each colour, which allows me to place them around with the highest value ones being the best hidden. Of course, if somewhere is really well hidden, or I want to draw a player’s attention to a specific spot, having a tempting Ancient Stone sitting there is a good idea! It also then means that players can choose how to approach each level; they could spend time helping each world’s inhabitants to earn enough Stones to move on, or they could just go exploring… or a mixture of the two!
If you could go back in time to the start of development and give yourself one helpful piece of advice, what would it be? And what era-appropriate hat would you need?
That the nay-sayers aren’t worth dwelling on, and that it isn’t a dumb idea to make a 3D platformer in a time when “nobody is playing them”. I think I’d definitely need a dunce cap though, for thinking that developing a 3D platformer on my own “wouldn’t take that long”
What made you settle on a rabbit and monkey for the characters? And what’s the deal with Professor Nancy’s brother? Why is he running around in circles with coins instead of helping? The nerve!
Clive being a rabbit was a pretty spontaneous choice, given they’re known for their hopping ability it made sense, and it just kinda stuck. Wrench was a later addition, once I realized a second character would make more sense than slapping things like shoes, a jetpack, and a power glove on a rabbit… As much sense as swinging a monkey around your head makes for gliding, anyway! Practically every character in the game is designed with a punny name first, and “monkey Wrench” was no different, especially once I realized I could put him on Clive’s back too. As for Snatcher, yeah he’s a right little scamp, somebody must have given him some blue Smarties or something…
That’s all for now, folks. We’d like to thank Rob Wass for answering our questions and we hope you’re all looking forward to the game. Clive ‘N’ Wrench can be found on Steam and multiple console storefronts.