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Notak is a planet in the Bogon Galaxy featured in Going Commando. It is a dark, water world home to Canal City, a city built on water which prominently features canals and boat travel. Other notable areas in the city include a shopping district in the promenade, a wharf, and a large Megacorp chemical factory out to sea.

Ratchet and Clank visited Notak while trailing Angela Cross, who had visited the world to pick up chemicals. While she left as soon as they arrived, they were able to find more clues to her whereabouts in the chemical factory, while fighting through her hired Thugs-4-Less security.

History

Angela Cross visited Notak in search of chemicals. Unaware of the Thugs-4-Less' picnic in the Feltzin System, a company bonding exercise, she furiously contacted the Thug Leader and threatened to cancel the contract if his men did not meet her at Notak.[1] Ratchet and Clank intercepted the transmission, and traveled to Notak to catch up with her. On the way to Notak, they also saw a broadcast of Behind the Hero, featuring updates on Qwark.

The Unknown Thief leaving Canal City

As soon as they landed, they saw her leave in her ship. Though they had been too late, they searched the city to find her next destination. In "Search Canal City for thief", Ratchet and Clank explored the city, and investigated the wharf area to find her. They eventually found a telescreen ad for Slim Cognito's Ship Shack with coordinates to it. Ratchet considered taking a detour to visit Slim's, but after a disapproving look from Clank, instead suggested visiting the chemical factory instead, believing it may hold clues.[2]

Clank speaking with the worker bots

At some point, Angela sent another transmission back to the chemical factory requesting more chemicals to be delivered, after the Protopet destroyed many of the ones she had only just picked up.[3] When Ratchet and Clank explored the factory, they came across a group of worker bots who had seen the transmission. The worker bots charged 6,000 bolts to view it, and Ratchet and Clank gained coordinates to Siberius, where Angela had taken the Protopet to her frozen base.

In "Explore the Promenade", Ratchet and Clank searched Canal City's promenade for useful items near the shopping district.[4] Though they found no items, they acquired a nanotech boost.

Years later, Dr. Nefarious had a framed photo of Canal City in his office when talking to Clank.

Geography

Overview

Map layout of Canal City

Canal City, as its name implies, is built on top of water, with canals in between the many large buildings and streets. Tall and brightly lit skyscrapers comprise much of the city, while waterboat and skyway traffic is seen throughout. The city's buildings and streets are situated on artificial metal platforms, as no natural islands are seen nearby, and the planet has little sign of organic life above water level aside from some grass and trees planted alongside some of the streets. A promenade area in the inner city features many stores with mannequins seen from glass windows, and a wharf area appears near a large suspension bridge connected to the a Megacorp chemical factory found out in the ocean. Sharkigators roam the waters, and are even present within the chemical factory.

Canal City

Most of the buildings in Canal City are large skyscrapers, many of which are connected by bridges, both found in the inner downtown area and out in the distance connected by docks. They are brightly lit, both by lights from the windows atop large buildings, street lamps on the platforms below, and many other light sources. Several signs are also found throughout the city, written in binary.[a]

A landing pad for Ratchet's ship is located on a balcony on the side of a building, with an elevator shaft leading down a slope to a long street below, with a canal opposite it.

Promenade

The promenade is visited in "Explore the Promenade", and entered through a tunnel on the left end of the first street. The tunnel has a spherical holographic sign above it with text written in binary, and leads to a store room with four mannequins behind glass ceilings in the walls, a glass floor in the center, and another tunnel out to the first area of the promenade.

A canal cuts through the entire promenade area, beginning from its first area. This area is virtually dominated by the presence of an immense floating globe hovering a top a pillar in the center, with several smaller 'moons' and rings surrounding it. Surrounding this is a large wall, with four statutes holding aloft more large globes, and a fountain located opposite the tunnel entrance to the promenade.

The rest of the promenade encompasses stores found on the streets located either side. Much like the store at the tunnel leading to the promenade, these also have several mannequins behind glass ceilings, holographic text written in binary (or Megacorp logos), and often times statues with astrographical bodies. The promenade has two upper levels, separated by a canal lock, from the lowest level at the start, each of which are reached by an elevator shaft along the sides of the street. On the very top level is a display case with cylindrical windows, as well as a small area with a teleporter hat returns to where the ship lands.

Wharf area

The wharf area

The wharf area is visited in the concurrent missions "Search Canal City for thief" and "Investigate wharf area", and is reached by crossing a suspension bridge just ahead of the the elevator shaft from the landing pad. Crossing the bridge will lead to a short street with medium-sized houses on either side. Near the end of the street, the right area has a large dock area out to sea, the path ahead has a small tunnel to another street (blocked by a forcefield when Ratchet arrived), while the left side has an open entrance to a building. The building resembles a pumping station, containing a long water pool through it and rows of large pumps either side, at the end of which is the pier.

The piers are narrow, and have three levels connected to different skyscraper buildings nearby. The lowest level is connected to the pumping station building, while the highest level pier is connected to a platform with several buildings high up in Canal City, overlooking the street below from where the pumping station building was located as well as a large suspension bridge across to the Megacorp chemical factory.

Chemical factory

The chemical factory exterior (top) and interior (bottom).

The chemical factory is visited in the mission "Search Canal City for thief". It is an immense Megacorp factory out to sea built on rocks, connected to Canal City by a long suspension bridge. Throughout the main two rooms of the vactory is a vast water basin (initially frozen) in a central area, around which the chemical factory is based. Aside from some walkable ground surrounding the basin, and a retractable bridge, most of the chemical factory is normally intraversible without the use of a Thermanator or without swimming. As the only known operators of the factory are the three worker bots, it is possible that organic lifeforms were not meant to use the factory.

Surrounding the main basin are several smaller cylindrical pools. Many of these pools are connected by tunnels in between them, and several of the pools contain sharkigators that were also found in the waters surrounding Canal City, making them typically too dangerous to enter unless the water is frozen. Near the top of the chemical factory is a small room with a large screen and several computer terminals, where the factory's worker bots are found, as well as a balcony outside with a taxi.

Behind the scenes

Notak was one of the first planets that Insomniac Games developed for Going Commando, and the first planet ever programmed by then-junior programmer Tony Garcia.[5] This meant that the Thugs-4-Less Henchmen became the first enemies he ever programmed. Garcia was given few instructions when programming his first level: he was simply given a basic prototype as a layout with only meshes and had to work from there.[5]

The level had to be scaled back in ways from the original design. Robot pedestrians would have appeared in the level walking across blue ventways, and energy doors would appear for the pedestrians to walk through, and close behind them as they left. Designer Mike Stout programmed them, but they had to be removed due to time constraints.[6] Notak was also intended to use different swarmers other than the Chickenbots: instead, six-legged small aliens had been designed as the swarmer enemies fought alongside the Thugs. However, Garcia could not get them to behave properly, due to his struggles with programming swarmers, leading to the Chickenbots being reused.[7]

Colin Munson designed the "Explore the Promenade" section and, sharing Garcia's desire to not have enemies idling, came up with the idea of them posing as mannequins before they engage Ratchet.[8] The mission was originally going to lead to a gadget, namely a modification for the Hydro-Pack called the Gunsled. This would have attached two torpedo launchers next to the Hydro-Pack to fight underwater. The gadget was cut as there was no use for it, and the reward at the end was replaced with a basic nanotech boost.[9]

At the beginning of the level, the elevator takes Ratchet down diagonally forward. This was done because the camera would not allow Ratchet to go straight down while looking forward.[10]

Craig Goodman, who designed the art for the level, came up with the idea of binary text throughout the level, and left binary in the level that would spell out a message in ASCII.[11] Binary was used as Insomniac could not have English text in the game, since it would make it more complicated to localize for different languages.[12] One of the signs in the promenade shows the binary code for "Dan", a reference to Dan Johnson.

The chemical factory in early builds of the game was much more difficult to complete, as the ice could freeze anywhere instead of snapping into certain spots. In the final release, the ice snaps at certain points into a position that makes it easier for Ratchet to progress.[13]

A forcefield was added before the player visits the chemical factory to stop them returning to their ship, preventing them from getting lost.[14]

Notes

Annotations

  1. It is possible that the main population of the planet are robots that communicate in binary. The only inhabitants of the planet found are robots that communicate in a computerized language only intelligible to Clank, all text is in binary, and all the mannequins on which clothes are displayed in store windows are designed based on robots.

Citations

References

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