Im posting all that I got on the new upcoming Daxter game for PSP:


heres a gameplay vid: mms://zdmedia.wmod.llnwd.net/a111/o1/1UP/Daxter_embedded.wmv

heres a little feature from 1up:
t's easy to understate the important role developer Naughty Dog has played in the success of the PlayStation. Their 1996 release Crash Bandicoot provided Sony with a likeable mascot game back when it was still important to have one on every system, not to mention became the focal point for Sony's holiday marketing blitz at the time; Crash Team Racing later filled the kart racing void on Sony's game machine; Jak & Daxter was platforming perfection on the PlayStation 2; and the technology from Jak helped power another great Sony platforming franchise -- Ratchet & Clank.

So why, then, would Sony go with an unknown and untested developer like Ready At Dawn for the all-important PSP installment of the Jak & Daxter franchise?


Well, maybe "untested" is the wrong description. President and co-founder Didier "Dids" Malenfant explains: "The company was founded by Ru Weerasuriya, Andrea Pessino and myself. We couldn't find any clever name so we decided to go with our initials and make something up. The three of us have very different backgrounds, with Ru and Andrea having worked on Warcraft and StarCraft games at Blizzard and myself having worked on the first two Jak & Daxter [games] at Naughty Dog."

Okay, so the guys at the heart of this upstart developer definitely have the street cred to pull off a AAA title for a top tier publisher. But there's another important factor here: these guys actually give a damn about making a good portable game. Unlike most development teams today, they don't look at creating a game for a portable system as nothing more than a holdover until they get to move on to something a bit cooler.


"We knew that [the PSP] was the platform of choice for us from the very start," says art director Weerasuriya. "Dids was the one who spearheaded that decision and it didn't take much for all three of us to be on the same page. Because of the standards we had been exposed to during our previous games, we placed very high expectations on the team in order to achieve the quality we have been accustomed to. This, in conjunction with working on a brand new platform, has given us the opportunity to place Ready At Dawn at the forefront of PSP developers. It has also turned out to be a great environment in which to build a team without having to deal with any sudden increase in headcount."

So for those of you keeping score, that's a small development team with a rather impressive background (at least regarding the three guys at the top of the food chain) and a passion for making games on Sony's portable powerhouse. But as has been proven time and time again, good intentions and passion don't always translate into a great game. Do the RAD boys know what it takes to make the wisecracking Ottsel's handheld adventure an enjoyable experience?
There are generally two schools of thought on how to develop a portable title. One group feels that a simple port of a popular console game is smart. Considering the power of the PSP, it's reasonable to think that something which works on the PS2 would work on the handheld. The other line of thinking is that console games just don't work on portables. They need to be redesigned with the medium firmly in mind -- short, bite-sized chunks of game play that can be stopped and saved at any time.


According to Daxter's lead designer, Michael John, Ready At Dawn's design philosophy lies somewhere in between. "We hear a lot of hand-wringing in the development community about 'designing for PSP' but we realized from our own play habits that we very often play PSP as a 'mini console' rather than a 'handheld.' We did add more continue points and divided the game into somewhat smaller logical chunks than we would have say on PS2, but fundamentally, Daxter is a console game that you just happen to be able to put in your pocket."

"Probably the biggest handicap is that there are slightly fewer buttons," John continues. "But the PSP still has more buttons than the PSOne [when counting the analog stick], so it's not like this is really a limitation; it just takes a little more thought. Some things are actually easier on PSP -- for instance the screen ratio makes HUD graphics much less intrusive, and the LCD screen is fantastic. I definitely don't miss the "bleeding red" of NTSC television..."


And it's because of those fewer traditional buttons -- and the lack of a second analog stick -- that a lot of PSP developers have been moaning over the difficulty of creating a decent camera system on their portable titles. Malenfant says that's not really a PSP-specific issue, nor it is really a big deal in his eyes. "After working on the first Jak & Daxter, it was clear to me how complex it was to make a good camera system altogether. I don't think the controls on the PSP make it any more difficult. What does create a challenge on the PSP, in terms of camera, is the 16x9 aspect ratio because it shows a lot more things on the sides and makes the player feel like their vertical field of view is restricted. For Daxter, we wrote a camera system that is as advanced as the one you'll find in the Jak games. It was important for us to still give full control to the player so we allow the player to rotate the camera left/right using the two shoulder buttons. It works so well that I find myself wanting to use the shoulder buttons on PS2 now instead of the second analog stick."


Oh, and for all their talk and passion about Sony's portable system, the boys of Ready At Dawn keep the idea of making games for the bigger consoles someday open -- they're just not in any big hurry. "I think short term we're definitely a PSP developer," says Malenfant. "Although we're already pushing the hardware further than any other game out there, we've still got a lot of ideas and things we'd like to do on PSP to get even more out of it. I think it comes down to what platforms we, as players, are using. And since I got my PSP, I practically haven't used my home console."
So what about the actual game itself? Daxter's adventure drops the player squarely into the time between our heroes' arrival in Haven City at the end of Jak & Daxter, and Daxter's subsequent rescue of the new, edgier Jak during the opening scenes of Jak II. Besides, it's about time the little Ottsel got a game of his own. He's technically the brains behind the operation anyway...just ask him.


Malenfant was never interested in doing anything but an original game as his company's first project. "Daxter was one of the projects we had in mind, even before we started the company. When Sony announced the PSP at E3 in 2003, we knew right away that was going to be the platform for our first game. From that came the idea to make a PSP game based on the Jak & Daxter franchise. We wanted to do more than just a port of an existing game, and Daxter was the perfect vehicle to take the franchise in new directions. We pitched the idea first to Naughty Dog and then to Sony and everyone was thrilled with the idea of finally giving Daxter his own game. He's the best character in the series, in my opinion, and everyone adores him."

But there's still an element of the "safe" sequel with Daxter. After all, it wouldn't be kosher to just walk in and rewrite the established rules of the Jak & Daxter universe Naughty Dog created. Keeping that in mind, however, lead designer Michael John is quick to point out that "what's a little unique about Daxter is that the lead character, Daxter, is such a great character; we had to make sure the game does him justice, and that's where stuff like Ottsel mode comes from."


In layman's terms, that means you won't just be controlling a smaller, more talkative, less goateed version of Jak as you work through Daxter's quest. The Ottsel comes complete with special abilities, such as being able to climb walls, giving the game a bit of a Spider-Man vibe. What Daxter lacks in muscle he'll make up for with his quick reflexes, ability to squeeze into tight spaces, and getting the drop on his foes thanks to the aforementioned wall-crawlin' technique.

It all comes down to one common denominator, in John's words: "It's really the same as any ambitious platformer, which is to totally immerse the player in the world (and the character) of the game. Everything, including the way the gameplay is structured, works toward that goal."

Considering the idea for the game has been rattling around the in the creative craniums of the Ready At Dawn team since at least E3 2003, it seems that "structured" would be the key word in John's statement. We posed that question to our interviewees, and it turns out...not so much.

"Funnily enough, the path of the game seemed to come to us naturally as we progressed," explains Weerasuriya. "Although many of us had worked on very different projects previously, we have never differed in our vision of what this game would be once finished. Also, the fact that Naughty Dog had already built a great world made it that much easier to implement our ideas and bring new twists into a platformer starring Daxter."


Nothing like jumping in with both feet and just letting the game evolve. That seems to be one of the main points which comes up over and over as we talk to Ready At Dawn about their game.

An excellent example of such evolutionary design is Daxter's spray can, which, as we noticed during the E3 demo, he can aim at the ground during his jumps in order to hover around a bit. We just assumed this was something the developers added to keep players from constantly missing jumps thanks to the PSP lending itself to a potentially wonky camera setup.

Not so, says Mr. John. "No, the spray-hover move is a whole game mechanic, which the player will use constantly to get from place to place and generally as a new way of doing platforming. Many challenges in the levels are designed around the spray-hover, and we spent a lot of time getting the control and the timing just right. As you noticed, the player can use spray-hover to 'recover' from a bad platforming move -- this is technically a side effect, but is one which I quite like. Though the mechanic is completely different, it has a little bit of a similar effect as Prince of Persia's time-rewind feature in this way. In fact I find now that when I play other platformers, I really miss having the spray-hover move, which I think is a good sign that players will really like it."


In the end, much like Naughty Dog did before it; Ready At Dawn is looking to fill a hole in the PSP's library. The system is in need of a good, original mascot game which is somehow linked to one of Sony's big three on the PlayStation 2 (Jak, Ratchet, and Sly). Especially at a time when the current release list isn't looking super-exciting and the PSP hasn't yet made a significant dent in Nintendo's monopoly on the portable market.

From what we've seen, played, and heard, Daxter is on track to accomplish all of the above (well, except maybe the overthrowing of Nintendo's Game Boy and DS systems). The gameplay already feels solid, and the original story featuring characters and settings from the blockbuster PS2 franchise should draw in a whole new crowd of PSP gamers. It doesn't hurt that Daxter is one of the first two PSP games -- along with the portable SOCOM -- planned to link up with a PS2 game (in this case, Jak X) in order to unlock new characters and other goodies.

Then, of course, there's little replacement for old fashioned hard work "Let's just say that the weeks before E3 2004 were very stressful and that there is nothing quite like having a group of guys sing their hearts out to a cheesy 80's song, at 4 o'clock in the morning," says Weerasuriya. "The name of that song shall, however, remain secret for the time being."

And here are some screenshots:

http://www.1up.com/media?id=1908522&type=lg
http://www.1up.com/media?id=2018464&type=lg
http://www.1up.com/media?id=2018463&type=lg
http://www.1up.com/media?id=2018462&type=lg
http://www.1up.com/media?id=2018461&type=lg
http://www.1up.com/media?id=2018460&type=lg
http://www.1up.com/media?id=2018459&type=lg
http://www.1up.com/media?id=2018458&type=lg
http://www.1up.com/media?id=1908521&type=lg
http://www.1up.com/media?id=1908520&type=lg