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Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time Offers New Gameplay Mechanic 106

Ars Technica has a great look at the latest installment in the Ratchet and Clank series, "A Crack in Time." Along with the great looking graphics and same great gameplay, A Crack in Time offers a brand new game mechanic: "time pads." Time pads allow you to make a copy of yourself and move through a series of action, then shift back to "real time" and interact with your past self. "It's a game mechanic that's hard to describe in words, and wrapping your head around it inside the game isn't much easier when it's first described with an example or two. You have to play with it and bend time to your will before you see just how ingenious the whole thing is. The puzzles begin simply and grow harder as the game moves on. The use of time is done very well and elevates what we've played of the game from another platforming experience to something truly special."
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Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time Offers New Gameplay Mechanic

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  • by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Friday September 25, 2009 @05:23PM (#29544205) Journal

    I think the indie game Braid [] was the first game to make this approach of time in games great. And if you develop the game good around that, it's great.

    I loved Braid for the fact that even if I made a mistake, I would push the go back in time button instead of repeating quick-save/quick-load all the time when I fail. The levels could be made harder and more unforgiving too because you could always go back in time. And on its philosophy side it made me want to do the same thing for my past relationships, which is part of the story. Great game.

    Actually I would like to see this in more games. Just go back in time instead of the quick-save/load bashing. It's a lot more fun too.

    • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @05:27PM (#29544271) Journal

      Actually I would like to see this in more games. Just go back in time instead of the quick-save/load bashing. It's a lot more fun too.

      That's weak.

      I play every game in Rogue-mode. Die once, start over from the beginning.

      This tempers a truly superior video-game warrior, one who laughs in the face of adversity and spits in the face of death.

      But man, Oddworld games sure are a bitch.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward


        Actually I would like to see this in more games. Just go back in time instead of the quick-save/load bashing. It's a lot more fun too.

        [Carry on.]

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        That's weak. I play every game in Rogue-mode. Die once, start over from the beginning. This tempers a truly superior video-game warrior, one who laughs in the face of adversity and spits in the face of death.

        Everyone is entitled to their own way to enjoy games. You may find his style weak, but I find this concept of a "truly superior video-game warior" pretty weak. Let the guy have fun the way he wants, and we won't laugh at the way you want to have fun either. ;)

      • While I probably think you go a bit too far, I think that a lot of games don't quite have enough consequence. For instance, A lot of old driving games I used to play, such as Need For Speed IV, used to actually damage and degrade the driving ability of your car when you crashed. It seems like this has gone away, and that now there isn't really any driving skill in these games, and it's more about trying to run people off the road, rather than try to race without destroying your car as you would have to do
        • I'd suggest playing a more simulation racing game such as Gran Turismo (PS2/3) or Forza Motorsport (Xbox) rather than the notoriously arcade/unrealistic Need For Speed series.

          • Or the old Carmageddon series. Forget the race, smash the other cars! Your car get too smashed up and you can't even drive in a straight line. There were no weapons either, just good, old-fashioned cars killing cars with their bare tires; the way it ought to be.
          • by Nick Ives ( 317 )

            None of the Gran Turismo games have a damage model, although one is planned for GT5.

        • I've loved Dirt (and its predecessors, the TOCA series) for this. Unfortunately they've added a feature in Dirt 2 that lets you rewind the action and continue from where you screwed up, and while it seems like a nice idea, the whole reason I loved playing this series of games was for the realistic rally driving experience.

          How does it change things? Well, if you're on a half hour long course and you know that crashing will wreck your car (or damage it severely), you have to decide on your level of caution

          • Racedriver GRID... limited replays, makes the lemans 24h (24min gametime... unless you really want 1:1 timing) quite tricky with only 3 replays

            Its not a bad racing game... but remember, try before you buy.

            • I didn't like the feeling of the physics in GRID, nor the graphics anywhere near enough to buy it. I still play TOCA & Dirt (and GT5:Prologue of course).

      • wow... world of warcraft must suck for you :P i have to tell you the game becomes a whole lot better once you leave the starting area
      • So I guess you could never beat Mega Man 2 then aye?

        (For those who don't know, you have to die at least once to beat the game.)
        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It's entirely possible to beat Megaman 2 without dying.

          The boss in Wily stage 4 is difficult to beat without dying (you cannot waste a single crash bomb), but it can be done. (Here [] is a video showing how).

    • I would buy so many more games if they offered instant load-state save-state features like my beloved emulators. That's what immediately drew me to Braid. That game is genius. This post is hype.
    • by BluePeppers ( 1596987 ) <> on Friday September 25, 2009 @05:34PM (#29544349)

      Actually, there have been flash games based on this concept for ages. But apparently they aren't "proper" games...

      See [] for a good example.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Yes: ChronoTron.

        I loved this game. They even accounted for Paradoxes. But, the concept does get a bit old when you beat you head on a puzzle trying to plan "x" far ahead in order to complete the puzzle. (coolest effect - using "pause time" in one loop, then seeing it get used in a later loop)

        So, yeah. Not so new.

        And so now, two games that might make me want to buy a PS3. Hmmm.. Still not worth it.

        But then, I bought a Xbox 360 for one game: Fable 2. So, what do I know about worthwhile purchases.?

      • Hey you beat me to that! Yes, indeed that was a good game, ars is being and arse claiming this is a brand new concept simply because it is the first large budget game to use it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by StingRay02 ( 640085 )
        Also of note: Cursor*10 []. Less direct interaction, but more planning ahead.
      • In the spirit of bringing up the huge amount of prior art disproving the summary's assertion, I'd just like to mention the interactive fiction title Mobius [].
    • Cursor*10? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @05:49PM (#29544473) Homepage Journal

      When I read the description, the first thing I thought was that it was the little Cursor*10 flash game. Very cleverly done, it kept me busy for a while. []

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Prince of Persia Sands of Time was the first game on a mainstream platform to have the go back in time because I made a mistake feature you describe, which is the main gameplay mechanic.

      However Braid DOES have the "new gameplay mechanic", it's when you create a shadow of yourself to help you get through a level, not the feature of rewinding and fast forwarding.

      And if you want to get into a pissing match of "xy did it first!" then yes, the shadow mechanic has been in flash games long before anything else.

    • by Jearil ( 154455 )

      Actually before Braid, or even Prince of Persia Sands of Time as someone else pointed out, there was Blinx: The Time Sweeper which used the original XBox hard drive to record all actions and allow you to replay them back again.

      You could do several time related actions, one of them being record where you do something for 10 seconds, then time reverses and replays again with your green "ghost" going through while you played your character normally. There was also the ability to slow down time, stop it, speed

    • No, this is a new meaning of the word "new." This meaning is actually "not new."

      What's amazing to me is that the submitter (presumably) follows video games, and yet has never played Braid, one of the best indie games ever made, or any of the hundreds of Flash games that are based on this idea. How is that even possible?

  • Braid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sqrt(2) ( 786011 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @05:23PM (#29544215) Journal

    I'm pretty sure this has already been done. It's the entire point of the game Braid, and was probably done even before that.

    • I can think of 3 other games besides Braid to have done this Mechanic!
      A top down game very similar to Chronotron (you were a robot, I remember)
      Some Oriental Mouse-click game where you simply try to get to the last level before the time runs out - and if time Does run out, you are sent back to level 1, but then a ghost of your last round would preform your same actions.

      Ars Technica obviously isn't into Flash games.

      • Chronotron was the game that came to my mind when I read this. The entire point of the game was based around time travel. Each level contained puzzles that could only be solved by being in several places at once, so you had to go and be in one place, then go back in time and be in another place while your earlier self was in the first place and so on. Given that it's a free online flash game, it's a very easy place to steal ideas from.

        If you're counting having your ghost present, then pretty much ever

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      It's a well known fact that the first *popular* game to do something is the *first to have done it ever.* I can't count the number of popular games touted as the "first to have done something" when in fact it had been done ages prior.
      • The ghost was present in the last mention because it was an integral part of the gameplay because while you yourself didn't have to interact with it, it still did interact with the environment. And everytime the timer ran out a new ghost was created. The objective was to reach the end in the quickest time possible.

        For example, one level would only let you reach the next level once All the boxes in the room are destroyed, which is done by clicking on them. Remember you are trying to do it as fast as possible

      • by sqrt(2) ( 786011 )

        Like how Halo invented regenerating shield, and the FPS genre.

      • That may be so, but Braid is pretty fucking popular. Has a 93% aggregate review score. Was the second highest-selling Xbox Live game for 2008... etc etc, you can read the Wiki article yourself.

        Whoever wrote this bullshit press release either doesn't play games at all, or is just a liar hoping that we're all too stupid to point out the lies. Shame on Slashdot for reprinting it.

    • Well yeah, sure, WE know that, but this reviewer is actually a time traveller from the past! A friend gave him Braid, he "couldn't wrap his head around it", and accidentally transported himself several months into the future. This is all new to him.
    • With a slightly less interactive level, the Ocarina of Time features solving certain puzzles and then going back in time with the results and solving different ones. Much more simplistic perhaps, but conceptually similar.

  • Chronotron. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @05:26PM (#29544251)

    It's a game mechanic that's hard to describe in words, and wrapping your head around it inside the game isn't much easier when it's first described with an example or two.

    Well, here's a handy tutorial [] then.

  • by JustinRLynn ( 831164 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @05:26PM (#29544259)
    Does anyone remember Blinx: the timesweeper for XBox that was released at the beginning of the decade? If you're familiar with that game then this game mechanic seems not so new and maybe even a bit more limited (because of the pad requirement, if it is one). I hope it's well implemented because then it has the potential to make for some really awesome puzzles. I'm glad to see they're experimenting with higher dimensional puzzles again.
    • by nwf ( 25607 )

      Yes, I picked up a copy of Blinx and it was what I thought about when I first read this article. However, R&C games are very well done (having played all of them) and very fun. I'm totally looking forward to this one.

      • Yes, you guys beat me to the Blinx the Timesweeper reference.
        The point is, it's not a "brand new game mechanic", it's been done before.
    • by mrbene ( 1380531 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @05:53PM (#29544525)
      Blinx had several different ways of interacting with time (FF, REW, and so on) that could be used on demand. It's Achron [] that's really looking cool in the time-front.
  • Familiar (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MorderVonAllem ( 931645 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @05:27PM (#29544265)
    Sounds like the movie "Next".
  • I don't recall the name, but one of the indie developers at PAX '08 showed off a game with basically the same mechanic. You'd have to solve puzzles by having your character perform a task, then go back to the time machine and work with your past self/selves to achieve a goal.
  • I love when the marketing department takes off to promote gimmicks like these. Who cares if there's a new gizmo in the transponder that makes the electrofuzz rain golden teardrops on your soul?

    What matters in a game is if it's fun to play. Previous Ratchet & Clank games were fun, and I have reasonable hopes for this one as well. As for the gimmicks, I could care less (unless they start to detract from gameplay).

    • by nwf ( 25607 )

      Well, the gimmicky gadgets are part of what makes R&C so fun. They've had quite a few clever ones over the years, but they support game play, not detract from it.

  • Not that I mind a bit of ripping off, but I wouldn't call it new.
  • and Time Donkey (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Time Donkey!
  • by M0USER ( 1644517 )
    We've been working on this gameplay mechanic for more than a year now with our UT3 mod Prometheus. Here's a link to one of the completed levels to check it out. It's nice to see that others also see this as a new gametype that has a lot of potential. [] We've been making this mod for the latest MakeSomethingUnreal contest and have placed 1st for Phase 2 and 2nd for Phase 3, Phase 4 just closed a month ago and our fingers are crossed.
  • That doesn't sound so puzzling but I might be thinking four-dimensionally like Doc Brown told me to... no actually I think I understand it because I can imagine how it is programmed: it makes a savegame, then it records a demo of you playing, then it loads the savegame and plays the demo but lets you play while the demo is running...

    so it might be like this: go and push the button that opens the door across the room (which closes when you leave the button) then you shift back, the recording of your actio
  • les paul (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    so if maxx payne had "bullet time", do we call this concept "les paul time"?

  • The underlying mechanism here is a way to record actions for later playback. Combine that with multithreading and it provides side-by-side scripting. Various shell environments provide different levels of keystroke recording for playback, for instance in a kiosk mode for demos. As somebody said, this is by no means new - I think there were teletype games with similar features.

    How many levels of replication are possible? It would be pretty cool to clone an army of yourself through a few levels of binary

  • Prince of Persia? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kyjl ( 965702 )

    Uh guys, you mention Braid all the time and it's time-reversal schtick... What about Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time []? It's not as prevalent in the game but it was released many years beforehand.

    Just putting that out there.

    • The press release doesn't talk about time reversal, which tons of games have-- they'd be *real* frauds to claim that was new.

      What they're talking about is where rewinding time creates a "ghost" of your actions before you rewound. Actions you perform the second way around might depend on the "ghost" being in a particular place, or taking a particular action. It is kind of hard to explain in text, play Braid. Braid has an entire level based on the concept, and it's an excellent game.

    • Prince of Persia was earlier with time-reversal, yes, but Braid did many different types of manipulation.

      Backwards time, different flow of time depending on direction you walked, co-operation with your past self, time travel-immune objects and other things.

      There's also a recent iPhone game named TimeLoop, which does pretty much what A Crack in Time does. Definitely not a new gameplay mechanic :)

  • Cursor 10 (Score:3, Informative)

    by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @06:42PM (#29544929) Journal

    It's not exactly Interacting with yourself in the past, but its the first game I can recall that had this type of gameplay. It came out long before Chronotron, features the same puzzle elements as Chronotron, and was originally in Japanese.

  • I played this game a while back, and it seems to have a similar game mechanic. The basic premise is that you get ten goes to get to the top of the tower. but each time all of the ghosts of your prior plays help you collect things or break things or hold down buttons so you can proceed, etc. but you can do fun things like hold down the button for a while, so your future self can proceed, then go back and do something else with that turn. I got a huge kick out of it, and i would hope that the mechanic is simi
  • WOW (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JMZero ( 449047 ) on Friday September 25, 2009 @07:32PM (#29545265) Homepage

    Will this be as big a hit as Blinx: The Time Sweeper [], which had pretty much the same mechanic in a high profile 3d platformer 7 years ago?

  • Back to the future 2 and 3 (one game) did this back in 1989, but the object was to avoid contact with yourself and in turn avoid blowing up the universe.

  • Creative types tend to be connected to some kind of "thought-wave" generator which spits out whole-cloth ideas at the same time and broadcasts them to the world. If the "thought-wave" is strong enough and enough people are affected by it, they squirrel away and work on some version of the idea and then birth it into the public a couple of years after the wave front hit. Then the whole planet is affected. High-level culture engineering.

    This one I felt strongly a few years ago. I suddenly woke up one morn

    • This one I felt strongly a few years ago. I suddenly woke up one morning with the overwhelming desire to make an RTS game with a time element.

      Sit down my son [].

      • No, that's just a narrative device. Time travel stories are old as the hills. I'm talking about something else entirely. . .

        The guys making Acron [] were tuned into the same idea at the same point. Their product is on about the same release schedule as I would have been had I been a game designer, (which thankfully I'm not! Obeying your muse is hard work.)


  • If anyone's interested, there's an old Flash game with a similar mechanic here []. Clever little diversion, and time can be both a fun and non-gimmicky mechanic.

  • All of these Slashdotters talking about new-fangled games like Braid and Chronotron, but not one mention of the game which did it 25 years ago [].


"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351