We just recently got a chance to review Enslaved Odyssey to the West, and to say we were impressed would not be saying enough. We couldn't help ourselves when we got the chance to interview Ninja Theory and get to know the game a little better. Hopefully you are just as interested as we are!
Answering our questions is Tameem Antoniades, Co-founder and Chief Creative Ninja at Ninja Theory!
PS3Center - We felt that Unreal Engine 3 restricted the potential by giving the game a cartoony look and some harsh frame rate issues during certain sequences. Is there a specific reasoning as to why this engine was chosen?
Tameem Antoniades- With Heavenly Sword we created our own tools engine, which is now owned by Sony and was built for the PlayStation 3, so we knew for ENSLAVED we had to choose a different route.
We went for Unreal 3 because it has excellent tools for artists and designers, which meant that we could start building the game from day one. This really gave us the opportunity to create a longer, bigger and far more complex game than Heavenly Sword. It meant that we could just create and the programming team could focus on work load productivity and other tech like our facial system. The game is meant to look colourful and rich.
PS3Center -We compared Enslaved to an Avatar experience told through an Uncharted style game. What were some of the inspirations behind Enslaved?
Tameem Antoniades- Our primary inspiration for the game was the 400 year old Chinese novel “Journey to the West”. The game is only very loosely based on the book, but we’ve kept several of the characters and the game has the same premise.
There was also a show on the Discovery Channel called “Life After People” which explored what the earth would be like if humans suddenly disappeared. It showed how, over time, plants and vegetation would take over everything left behind by humans. This really got us thinking about what our version of the earth would look like.
Our artists are big fans of Hiyao Miyazaki’s work and the way that his worlds combine nature and steam punk. We also really liked a Japanese film called “Casshern,” which had the futuristic human protagonist fighting robot enemies.
Personally I have always been a big fan of an old video game called “Another World,” which I think was called “Out of this World” in the US. In it the character you play finds himself a prisoner on another planet. He then meets another weird alien guy and you work together to escape. Even though the alien guy spoke another language and wasn’t at all human I think people felt an emotional attachment to him. This was something that stuck with me and a feeling that I wanted to replicate in ENSLAVED.
PS3Center -Looking at past games what are some things you learned going multi-platform for Enslaved? Was it a better experience than building a game exclusively to one console?
Tameem Antoniades- I wouldn’t say it was a better or worse experience; I would just say that it was a different experience. When we started developing Heavenly Sword no one knew anything about the PS3, ourselves included. So we were really developing blind for quite a while not knowing what the hardware would be able to do. We really cut our teeth on Heavenly Sword and learnt a lot about game development. Of course we learnt a lot about the PlayStation 3, but we learnt a lot about just making games in general too.
When it came to ENSLAVED we wanted to take all of our experience from Heavenly Sword and make a bigger, better game across the two platforms. We had to learn some new development skills for the Xbox 360 version, but a lot of our PS3 knowledge was transferable.
We developed the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game simultaneously, so for us it wasn’t a case of developing for one platform and then needing to port to the other. Throughout the whole process we were working on both platforms at the same time.