Shank

Tue 1st Mar 2011, by | Gdc2011





If you are unfamiliar with Klei Entertainment, then you are not the only one.

Klei has actually made some great stuff but not too many people have been exposed to their games. They created the very lighthearted Eets as well as Sugar Rush; both 2D animated titles. However, Klei’s biggest claim to fame is the recently released Shank which was featured at last years IGF and later published by EA. The very fashionable Klei CEO Jamie Cheng shared a postmortem on the development of Shank.

Keep in mind, although this postmortem (as well as the previous Meatboy postmortem) might seem a little grim, it is not meant to discourage aspiring game developers but rather to equip them so that they may be able to 'count the cost', per se. One of the first things Jamie commented with the 'technical' difficulties of creating Shank. The entire game is about 2Gbs large in size right now but originally it featured 4Gbs of size just for the cinematics alone! So, getting the game down to a manageable size was key to not having problems with Microsoft or Sony when attempting to put it on their respective networks. The Xbox 360 proved to reveal another problem with file fragmentation. The game would fragment and for some people it would take ten seconds to load levels and for others it would take a full minute to load.

Getting Shank to become a reality almost had Klei go completely broke. Jamie gave his employees the choice to take temporary wage reductions, which some indeed took and were paid back with interest. Jamie and some other big dogs at Klei even had to take bank loans against their houses to get more funding!

If that wasn’t bad enough, Jamie’s home office was hit with a flood. All of their computers were on the ground when this happened and, what’s worse, the PC power supplies were on the bottom of the computer cases. Miraculously, all the computers involved in the flood still work till today and Jamie expressed extreme thankfulness that the flood didn't happen in their server room.

On a much brighter side, Klei experienced a very good relationship with EA when publishing the game. Having your game published by EA makes your game an 'EA game' and brings a little bit of notoriety to your title. Jamie’s only qualm was that he was not so in love with EA’s style of PR; he preferred to have actual press conferences where the press would have a back-and-fourth exchange between the devs rather than just sending out press releases. Now, that would be ideal but not very convenient.

Long story short, Shank was a roaring success. It sold more in the first 24 hours of it’s release than the entire lifetime of their first game, Eets! Although everyone loves Steam to death, Shank did better on consoles than on Steam. That’s because platformers like Shank just feel better with a controller. The Steam version does, indeed, support controllers but controllers are not readily available to most PC gamers.


Related links:
Klei Entertainment

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