Train2Game News EGX 2014 Developer Sessions

EGX 2014Gamer Network has announced the full developer sessions line-up for this year’s EGX event, taking place next Thursday 25th to Sunday 28th September at Earls Court, London.

This year’s line-up is arguably the strongest in the show’s history, featuring future blockbusters like The Witcher 3, The Division, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Dragon Age: Inquisition alongside fantastic-looking indie titles like Never Alone, Heat Signature, Volume and The Magic Circle.

The developer sessions are often a very popular part of the event giving you a look into the developers mind and thinking between some of the most important decisions behind the years blockbusters.

The four-day schedule runs from noon UK time (BST) each day. If you’re heading to the show, look for signs to the developer sessions – and remember to leave a bit of time for queuing as they often prove very popular.

The full schedule is as follows:

TTHURSDAY

12pm – Dead Island 2 (18+)
Yager’s senior gameplay programmer Isaac Durham Ashdown talks about zombies in the Hollywood Hills with Dead Island 2.

1pm – Dragon Age: Inquisition (18+)
Neil Thompson, director of art and animation at BioWare, invites visitors to discover the vast open world of Dragon Age: Inquisition through a gameplay demo and more.

2pm – Death, Stealth, Money & Power in Elite: Dangerous
Combat, piracy, bounty hunting, trading and exploring – David Braben explains how you can do it all in Elite: Dangerous.

3pm – Roll7 Exclusive Announcement
The team behind OlliOlli and Not a Hero take to the stage to announce something brand new.

4pm – The Next Total War
Creative Assembly reveals the next title in the award-winning Total War strategy series.

5pm – Alien: Isolation (18+)
Al Hope, Alien: Isolation creative lead, introduces a behind-the-scenes look into how the team at Creative Assembly created the incredible new Alien world. UI design lead Jon McKellan and audio designer Byron Bullock reveal how they created the immersive world of Alien: Isolation including bringing back the original Alien cast for the first time.

6pm – Never Alone
Gloria O’Neill of the Cook Inlet Tribal Council and Alan Gershenfeld of E-Line Media share their approach to inclusive development for Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) as a model for sharing, celebrating and extending world cultures through compelling, commercial video games.

FRIDAY

12pm – Eurogamer Let’s Play LIVE
Gamer Network video heroes Gav Murphy and Ian Higton present a live Let’s Play of something incredible!

1pm – The Division
Brand art director Cortes Rodrigo Javier presents the realisation of the world of Tom Clancy’s The Division, and how the team at Massive developed some of the key pillars of the ambitious brand new IP from Ubisoft.

2pm – Heat Signature
Gunpoint developer Tom Francis will be flying through an infinite galaxy and hijacking randomly generated spaceships in a live, unscripted playthrough of his new game Heat Signature, explaining things as he goes.

3pm – Until Dawn
Supermassive Games presents a live playthrough, with commentary, of Until Dawn. The session will be followed by an audience Q&A.

4pm – Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault
Company of Heroes 2 director Quinn Duffy will be joined by producer Greg Wilson to give COH2 fans an in-depth look at the all-new standalone content, Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault.

5pm – Nuclear Throne
Nuclear Throne is a game about action and randomness. Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail talks about randomness in games, how Nuclear Throne handles its level generation and how all of that leads to the challenging game that so many people have been playing over the past few months.

6pm – Battlefield Hardline
Steve Papoutsis, general manager of Visceral Games, details the inspiration behind Battlefield Hardline and how his team at Visceral are putting their own, new stamp on the Battlefield franchise.

SATURDAY

12pm – Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – The Art of Inspiration
Glen Schofield of Sledgehammer Games talks Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’s creative development.

1pm – McNeil & Pamphilon Go 8-Bit with The Comedian’s Comedian Podcast
A very special edition of The Comedian’s Comedian Podcast with Stuart Goldsmith, interviewing McNeil and Pamphilon about their career, with a focus on their live videogaming/comedy show “Go 8-Bit!”

2pm – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (18+)
Bob Roberts, lead designer at Monolith Productions, brings the latest news on this open-world RPG.

3pm – The Magic Circle
Jordan Thomas demonstrates the core gameplay and themes of The Magic Circle – a darkly comic story about the hero of a legendarily unfinished game who attempts to complete it from the inside.

4pm – Volume
Mike Bithell will be showing a few unseen mechanics from Volume, his upcoming PS4 and desktop stealth game, and doing a live Q&A.

5pm – Evolve (18+)
The Turtle Rock team presents a unique multiplayer runthrough of Evolve followed by a Q&A session.

6pm – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (18+)
Using the latest video and gameplay stills, CD Projekt presents the various mechanics which combine to create the living and breathing world of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

SUNDAY

12pm – Dying Light (18+)
Maciej Binkowski, Dying Light’s lead game designer, unveils some exciting news regarding Techland’s new game.

1pm – Hellblade
Dominic Matthews will discuss Ninja Theory’s new title Hellblade, the studio’s bold independent approach and an update on the game’s development so far.

2pm – LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
Arthur Parsons, game director at Traveller’s Tales, will present the latest on LEGO Batman 3.

3pm – Lords of the Fallen
CI Games’ executive producer Tomasz Gop presents an exclusive look at the upcoming action-RPG Lords of the Fallen, providing an in-depth discussion of the design process behind the game’s challenging yet rewarding combat. Showcased via all-new gameplay, attendees will also get the opportunity to put their questions to the developer.

4pm – Tearaway Unfolded
Rex Crowle and Michelle Ducker present a playthrough of Tearaway Unfolded for PS4, highlighting the exciting new gameplay mechanics in this expanded retelling of the BAFTA award-winning Tearaway.

5pm – Online Worlds with Dean Hall
DayZ creator Dean Hall argues that multiplayer sandbox gaming is the future.

Train2Game News: A day at Eurogamer Expo: Part 1

On Saturday I was sent to the Eurogamer Expo held at Earl’s Court in London. I am going to give a recap of my day for anyone who couldn’t be there.

My first clue that the day was going to be a good one was seeing The Mask queuing to enter. I was surrounded by hundreds of other early entry ticket holders all eager to burst through the door and get their hands on the up coming games.

As the doors opened and we all filed in. I knew exactly what I wanted to play. I walked straight to the over 18 area to finally get my first taste of Arkane Studio’s Dishonored.

The demo gave you a good taste. I got to use the possession skill, walking around in guards bodies to sneak around, before falling out and assassinating them. The blink skill is a good mechanic, similar to that of Nightcrawler from Xmen, you can teleport short distances without being detected and get to hard to reach areas. The world its self looks beautiful and the level design is so versatile. I can not wait to get my hands on this game.

Next up I had a shot at Hitman: Absolution. Everyone who played the Square-Enix game got a little Agent 47 model, who now sits proudly on my desk. The graphics are of a very high standard and the game play is typical Hitman from what I could see. Having only played Hitman:Blood Money previously, I was happy to see the ability to peak from hiding places, which was seriously lacking in earlier games. This will probably be another one I end up getting.

After seeing highly amusing stickers that were for the iOS game Carmaggedon I had to hunt down the stand. It is a remake of the game released fifteen years ago that had so much controversy surrounding it. When the game was first released the public didn’t like the fact that you had to run over people. They had to change it to zombies or face the game being banned. Now that times have changed the game is back in all its glory, the way it should have been.

I then visited the Train2Game stand to say hello. I was happy to see many students and potential students attending. Royal Rush, the winning game from the world record winning Game Jam, made by RetroMetro, was playable at the stand. Train2Game held competitions daily, who ever got the highest score on the game was awarded a prize later in the day.

At midday it was time for the Dishonored developer session. We all took our seats and were introduced to Christophe Carrier and Dinga Bakaba from Arkane Studios. They took us through the story and some of their development ideas before doing two demos for us. The first time through they demonstrated the stealth aspects of the game, using the blink mechanic and distractions to get to the end of the level. No one was killed and he was only spotted once before disappearing out of sight. The second time was much more brutal. Killing everyone he could find using different methods. The highlight of which being the moment he froze time with a bullet in mid air, possessed the guard who had fired it and walked in front of the shot before leaving his body and unfreezing time, making the guard shoot himself.

That covers my morning at Eurogamer. There was so much to do and see through out the day I am going to have to split this in to two blogs across the day. Check back later for the continuation.

 

Eurogamer Expo: Enslaved Developer Session with Ninja Theory’s Tameem Antoniades

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West hits the shelves today, and after getting a decent hands on with it at Eurogamer, I hope its successful title for developers Ninja Theory. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West has been received positively by the gaming press, and arguably rightly so given the effort that Ninja Theory went through to produce their latest title.

Ninja Theory Chief Designer and the main man behind Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, Tameem Antoniades hosted a Sunday developer session at the Eurogamer Expo, and it was very interesting indeed. The session provided a massive insight into the development and production of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and was well received by the audience. Many who attended the Ninja Theory developer session had been queuing for up to an hour, but the wait was surely worth it!

Tameem Antoniades provided a very interesting talk, which would have been useful to any Train2Game student. However, if you didn’t manage to make it to the Ninja Theory developer session, fear not, for I was there. So here’s a look at the development of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.

For those unfamiliar with Ninja Theory, they’re a development studio based in Cambridge, and were responsible for the highly acclaimed, PlayStation 3 exclusive, Heavenly Sword back in 2007. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is their first multiplatform title but it looks set to improve upon the already excellent story telling of Heavenly Sword. Ninja Theory’s next title will be DmC, a reboot of the Devil May Cry series.

But for the past three years, the main focus of Ninja Theory has been on producing Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. To start the Eurogamer developer session, Tameem explained that the original concept of Enslaved was to produce a game based on “a buddy road movie” exploring the relationship between two main characters.

But of course, an idea alone can’t make a game, so what Ninja Theory did next was to produce a concept trailer. Tameem explained that this trailer was pieced together by Ninja Theory, using various clips from unrelated films and TV programmes to show the main themes behind Enslaved.

The concept trailer is three years old, and we in the audience were lucky enough to be the first people to see it in public. The trailer was very cinematic, and full of robots, martial arts and Eastern themes. At this point the game was called Monkey: Journey to the West, but needed to be changed to Enslaved: Odyssey to the West for copyright reasons.

We then got to see another trailer for Enslaved, and this too was a first public viewing. In order to try and get a publisher on board, Ninja Theory produced a CGI trailer for Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. This was produced almost three years ago and shows that the original concept of Enslaved was a lot darker than the game that’s been released today, but it was very impressive nonetheless. Tameem Antoniades stressed the importance of game studios producing good concept trailers, explaining that “Better trailers are more likely to be signed up” If that isn’t sound advice for Train2Game students, I don’t know what is!

The Ninja Theory Chief Designer then went on to discuss developing the art style of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, complete with plenty of images to illustrate the changes that occurred during development.

In the beginning, Monkey looked a lot more like a primate, with Tameem explaining that the character was originally based on a Gorilla in Barcelona zoo. The concept art for Trip was rather different to the somewhat innocent character in Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. The original designers were darker, more gothic, some would say sexier: the concept designs of Trip in a very low top raised many an eyebrow.

Tameem explained that when Ninja Theory were casting for the role of Trip, they sent this concept out work to agencies in order to get women who actually looked like the character. However, the developers were surprised when 40 girls turned up, in costume, in the same outfit as the rather oddly dressed Trip! Who knew that actresses were so enthusiastic about playing roles in games?

Next, we were shown concept art for locations in Enslaved, and once again these looked very impressive. Tameem was keen to explain how Ninja Theory wanted the concept art to be evocative. Of course the next step was to take the concept art and put it in a 3D environment. These art style tests involved creating 3D landscapes with cameras panning all around them in order to make sure they had the right feel for developing further. All this effort before even a single game level is produced!

We also got to see some exclusive character style and animation tests that were produced early in the development of Enslaved.  Tameem explained that this was much like casting the characters, with every movement they make in-game based on these original tests. Naturally, Monkey’s movement style is rather beast like with his own distinct style of running and jumping. Meanwhile, a more comic character in the form of Pigsy is slower, and bumbles a lot more. Still, in these basic tests it was entirely possible to see that the characters were already taking shape…and that was before the actors got involved.

Ninja Theory are well known for their use of actors and motion capture in games and Enslaved is no different. We got to see yet another exclusive video showing Andy Serkis – who plays Monkey – performing tests for motion capture in order to research facial movements. This involved the actor spouting random lines, most of which made no sense whatsoever! Tameem explained that when it comes to the characters faces, the only thing that’s added artificially is the eyes.

We also got to see plenty of clips showing the actors doing what they do best, acting! It was amazing to see how the main actors were interacting with each other, and items around them, then seeing their movements translated perfectly onto the characters in the in-game world. Motion capture in games surely has to be the way forward. The acting in Enslaved could equal that of any film.

Tameem closed the Eurogamer developer session by discussing writing for Enslaved, and the influence of Hollywood screen writer Alex Garland. We were shown an early scene from the game in which Monkey and Trip needed to get over a bridge. The dialogue went on for awhile, and Tameem explained how Garland pointed how scenes, in both films and games, should conform to “one scene for one purpose” We then got to see the final cut of the scene, with flowed a lot better than the original version. Apparently, Antoniades and Garland then repeated this process for most scenes in the game.

As you can clearly see, a lot of work went into producing Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, with development from concept to release taking three years. If you want to learn even more about the game, you can take a look at this developer diary from Ninja Theory.

Still not had your lust for information from developers tended to? Then why not read about the Shogun 2: Total War developer session from Mike Simpson of The Creative Assembly.

So, what are your thoughts on the Enslaved developer session? Does it provide you with a better insight into how games production works? Has it made you keener to produce games?

As usual, leave your thoughts here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.