Train2Game news: Ninja Theory – Triple A doesn’t let developers take risks

Train2Game blog readers may have seen a post last month in which Ninja Theory Creative Chief Tameem Antoniades praised the ‘digital revolution’ and the creativity it brings.

Perhaps understandably, he also believes that the traditional Triple-A retail model is in fact harming creativity in the games industry.

“If you’re paying 60 bucks for a game, you want it to give you everything under the sun,” Antoniades told Gamasutra.

“It seems like Hollywood’s got much more diversity than the games industry has. And I don’t know exactly why this is, but I suspect it’s the publishing, retail model of 40 pounds, 50, 60 bucks a game doesn’t allow players to take chances with their money.

“It doesn’t allow publishers or developers to take risks. And the only way you can be sure to sell to someone is to sell them something familiar.”

As previously reported by the Train2Game blog, Ninja Theory’s Enslaved: Odyssey to the West was critically well received, but failed to make the impact needed at retail. As a result, the game won’t be getting a sequel.

However, the Ninja Theory chief believes that innovative games do sell, but the current retail and publishing model makes it difficult.

“I think that ultimately innovation does sell, and messaging is needed,” he said.

“But somehow there’s not enough diversity, I think, in our business models to create interesting, alternative games. At least on the triple-A side of things, the top end market. You’re not seeing very high end innovation happening.” Antoniades concluded.

Yesterday, the Train2Game blog reported that Bioware believe mobile games do let game developers take risks.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Antoniades comments? Is the traditional retail model and the need to be successful stifling creativity in the games industry?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Gamasutra]

Train2Game news: ‘Digital revolution’ encourages creativity say Ninja Theory

 

Train2Game students will be aware that when compared to the traditional retail model, digital distribution provides game developers with a better opportunity to get their titles out there.

Not only does the digital business model knock down the wall of needing a publisher, it also arguably allows developers to take more risks when developing the games. Both of these could potentially be advantageous to Train2Game students.

Indeed, as reported by the Train2Game blog, indie developer Mode 7 Games believes the Steam digital distribution service is ‘essential’ for indie developers.

And in a recent interview, Ninja Theory  Creative chief, Tameem Antoniades also praised digital distribution model, stating it’s good for creativity in the games industry.

“There’s always an opportunity between projects to explore things, a lot of team members are hobbyists, they create their own iPhone games and things like that so I can see us kind of taking a punt with that. It can’t come soon enough” Antoniades told GamesIndustry.biz

For more on iPhone development, see the recent Train2Game interview with indie studio Hogrocket. They recently released their first game for the platform, Tiny Wings.

The Ninja Theory Chief Designer suggested that the traditional retail model is on the way out, and that it’s a positive thing for game developers.

“The whole digital revolution is happening now and it can’t come soon enough. The model we’re under, the big retail model, is creaking” he said,  before arguing that need for games to be successful at retail in its current is stifling creativity because consumers don’t want to spend large amounts of money on an unknown entity.

“It’s such an opportunity for fun creative games to reach a target audience, there’s this stranglehold that the AAA retail model has which I think is just crushing innovation and access to creative content.”

“If you’re paying that much for a game, you don’t want to take chances. You want everything to be there, all the feature sets. You want it to be a known experience, guaranteed fun. That’s not healthy.”

As previously reported by the Train2Game blog, Ninja Theory’s original IP Enslaved: Odyssey to the West failed to be particularly successful at retail, with publisher Namco Bandai suggesting poor release timing was to blame.

Even if Enslaved wasn’t very successful, Train2Game students would do well to read about the Enslaved Developer Session with Ninja Theory’s Tameem Antoniades at last years’ Eurogamer Expo. Expect more insight into how game developers operate as Train2Game will be reporting from the 2011 expo later this month

What are your thoughts on the comments from Antonides? Do you agree that digital distribution encourages creativity? Would an all digital model be good for the industry?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: GI.biz]

Enslaved fails to reach 500,000 sales

Sales of Ninja Theory’s Enslaved: Odyssey to the West haven’t even reached 500,000. That’s according to the Namco Bandai money report which states the new IP only sold 460,000 copies worldwide.

Namco had predicted sales would reach 800,000.

The disappointing figures suggest that Enslaved becoming a franchise might be unlikely, although only last week the Train2Game blog reported that  Namco Bandai  were looking at a sequel.

“It didn’t perform as well as we hoped it would, but we’re very proud of how it was received by both the media and the gamers who have experienced it,” said Namco Bandai Marketing Director Lee Kirton.

“I can’t discuss where we are in terms of a sequel, but we’re looking at reviews and feedback from the press and because of the gameplay and quality that Enslaved delivered, we see it as a great catalogue title going forward.”

Ninja Theory also want to produce a sequel, but for now are working on the reboot of Devil May Cry for Capcom.

Train2Game tested out Enslaved: Odyssey to the West at last years Eurogamer Expo, you can read our thoughts on the game here.

There’s also a report of the Enslaved Developer Session with Ninja Theory’s Tameem Antoniades a highly interesting read too. It contains information that will be of interest to Game Designers, Game Developers and Game Artists! It’s a must read.

You can also check out the thoughts of Train2Game Blog for more information.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the sales figures of Enslaved? Does it show that producing a new IP is a huge risk? Or was the game just released at a bad time?

As usual, you can leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog or on the Train2Game forum. Alternatively, you can tell us your thoughts via the Train2Game Twitter account.

[Source: Eurogamer]

Train2Game, in association with DR Studios and the University of Bedfordshire, will be holding a Game Jam at the end of March. For more information, see this Train2Game blog post or the Train2Game Game Jam Facebook page. Alternatively, keep an eye on the Train2Game Game Jam Twitter account.

Enslaved could become franchise suggests Namco

Last years Enslaved: Odyssey to the West was a game that we at the Train2Game blog followed rather closely, but when it was released it was met with rather disappointing sales despite a lot of marketing.

However, speaking to MCV Online, Namco Bandai has revealed that the poor sales haven’t killed off the franchise.

“It didn’t perform as well as we hoped it would, but we’re very proud of how it was received by both the media and the gamers who have experienced it,” said Namco Bandai Marketing Director Lee Kirton.

“I can’t discuss where we are in terms of a sequel, but we’re looking at reviews and feedback from the press and because of the gameplay and quality that Enslaved delivered, we see it as a great catalogue title going forward.”

Namco Bandai also told MCV that they want to become a top five publisher.

“That’s the ultimate goal. We can’t go into too much detail about new titles and new business but we are working to a three-to-five year plan. We’re working closely with developers, discussing exciting new projects.”

Train2Game was at the Eurogamer expo last year and I personally was lucky enough to get a lot of hands on time with Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and you can read all about here.

There’s also a report of the Enslaved Developer Session with Ninja Theory’s Tameem Antoniades a highly interesting read too. It contains information that will be of interest to Game Designers, Game Developers and Game Artists!

You can also check out the thoughts of Train2Game Blog for more information.

So Train2Game, did you play Enslaved: Odyssey to the West? If so, do you think it needs a sequel? Were you planning on buying it before other bigger titles got in the way? Do you think you’ll look into it soon?

As usual, you can leave your thoughts here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum. You can also let us know what you think on Twitter.

[Source: MCV Online]

Train2Game, in association with DR Studios and the University of Bedfordshire, will be holding a Game Jam at the end of March. For more information, see this Train2Game blog post or the Train2Game Game Jam Facebook page. Alternatively, keep an eye on the Train2Game Game Jam Twitter account.

UK Charts: Medal of Honor out guns FIFA

Medal of HonorMedal of Honor has topped the UK Charts in its first week, despite the ‘Taliban’ controversy that dogged its journey to release. However, this doesn’t seem to have put gamers off, with the Medal of Honor reboot achieving  the biggest ever launch in the series history.  It also achieved what some would see as the impossible byknocking FIFA 11 down to second place in the GFK Chart-Track All Formats Software Chart.

FIFA 11 had sold an impressive 2.6 million units worldwide in its first week, and then last weel comfortably held off the challenge of rival PES 2011. However, it seems that the men with guns in Medal of Honor have proved too strong for FIFA 11.

Ubisofts’ Just Dance 2 has made an impressive debut in third place. The original proved to be more of a slow burner, first entering the charts in 30th before going onto strong sales.

In fact, Just Dance 1 reappeared in the top ten as recently as last week. Nintendo’s Wii Party has jumped from tenth to fourth place, showing that the more casual titles can still guarantee big bucks.

PES 2011 has had a somewhat disappointing week dropping from second to fifth, while F1 2010 also falls two places down the table from fourth to sixth.

Dead Rising 2 had been in third place in each one of its three weeks in the chart. Unfortunately for Capcom, this feat couldn’t be completed a fourth time with Dead Rising falling down to seventh place. Halo: Reach also continues its steady decline down the UK Chart, dropping to eighth place after topping the charts only one month ago.

A third new entry enters the top ten this week with anime title Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 entering the chart in ninth place. Castlevania: Lord of Shadows completes the top ten, having dropped from its entry position of six.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West drops out of the top ten after just one week, falling to eleventh. This is a shame for Ninja Theory who spent three years developing the game. Meanwhile, the Borderlands Game of the Year edition has entered the top 40 in 35th place. Could the promise of a Duke Nukem Forever demo in future have encouraged sales?

The full  GfK Chart-Track All Formats top ten for the week ending October 16th is as follows

1. Medal of Honor (EA)
2. FIFA 11 (EA)
3. Just Dance 2 (Ubisoft)
4. Wii Party (Nintendo)
5. PES 2011 (Konami)
6. F1 2010 (Codemasters)
7. Dead Rising 2 (Capcom)
8. Halo Reach (Microsoft)
9. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2 (Namco Bandai)
10. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (Konami)

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the Top 10? What do you think of Medal of Honors’ achievement despite the controversy and mixed reviews? Who is going to own up and say they bought Just Dance 2? And why has Enslaved: Odyssey to the West slumped so quickly?

Also, with Fallout: New Vegas released this week, will Medal of Honors’ position on top be short lived?

You can leave your thoughts on Medal of Honor, Fallout: New Vegas or any of the above here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West hands on at Eurogamer

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West from Ninja Theory is a game that I’m very much looking forward to.  The title is released on October 8th, but it was available to play at the Eurogamer Expo.

Of course, the Eurogamer Expo was a busy event so I needed to wait until almost the end of the show on Sunday before getting to spend quality time with Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, but boy, was it worth it. It provided me with probably the best 30 minutes of my entire Eurogamer Experience.

Be warned, if you plan on purchasing Enslaved: Odyssey to the West in the near future, don’t want to know what happens in the first two chapters, you should read no further. Here be spoilers.

But why not enjoy this fascinating Enslaved: Odyssey to the West developer diary instead?

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

For those unfamiliar with Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, its an action adventure game developed by Cambridge based developers Ninja Theory. It’s loosely based upon the ancient Chinese novel, Journey to the West, but with a futuristic adaptation to the classic tale. The story focuses around two characters, a man named Monkey and a woman called Trip. Monkey provides the player controlled muscle of the partnership while Trip provides the brains. However, this is a forced partnership with Trip having placed a Slavers headband on Monkey in order for him to help her travel across a post-apocalyptic North America and get home. Monkey is therefore compelled to aid Trip, because so long as he wears the head band, if she dies, he dies.

But, this isn’t how the game starts and when Chapter 1 begins Monkey and Trip don’t know each other.  However, they’re both trapped inside pods on a slave airship and through Monkey’s eyes we see Trip escaping thanks to her technological skills. Soon problems start within the airship and Monkey is able to escape from his broken pod, thus putting the player in control of the main character.

With explosions throughout the airship, and clever camera angles, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West immediately feels like a cinematic experience. The opening section is more or less a tutorial explaining how to run, climb and jump through a variety of increasingly dangerous sections of the ship. Monkey is following Trip at this point but unaware of who Monkey is, Trip is closing doors behind her, thus forcing Monkey to jump and climb around the ship.

Combat is also introduced in Chapter One of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West through a series of battles with Mechs. The controls are simple but combat is satisfying enough. Monkey can employ a mix of heavy, light, ranged and counter attacks. However, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West isn’t a mindless hack and slash affair, and you’ll need to be tactical in order to succeed. Beat a mech during battle and Monkey can finish them with one of many nice finishers that will be seen from a variety of different angles.

After fighting off some more Mechs, and some more fast paced climbing and jumping, Monkey escapes the airship…through clinging to the outside of Trips’s escape pod.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

When Monkey comes round he discovers that Trip has placed the aforementioned Slavers headband on him, and as you’d imagine, he’s not best pleased. Its here we get our first taste of not only the relationship that’ll develop between Monkey and Trip, but also the quality of the acting in Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.  As you’ll know if you’ve watched one of Ninja Theory’s Enslaved developer diaries actors including Andy Serkis used motion capture to film the scenes together and they really do stand up against anything you’ll see in a film.

Of course, it helps that Enslaved: Odyssey to the West looks fantastic. The game may take place in a the warn torn, post apocalyptic environment of North America, but this isn’t  yet another game filled with brown pallet after brown pallet. The second Chapter of Enslaved is filled with an assortment of bright colours as you make your way through a New York city which may have been partially destroyed by war, but that doesn’t prevent nature reclaiming the city.

Unfortunately, my busy schedule meant that shortly after starting Chapter 2, I needed to stop playing Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. However, my taster was enough to convince me that it’s going to be a great game.

Later on in the week, I’ll give you an insight into the production of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West I gained by attending one of the Eurogamer Expo developer sessions.

In the meantime, you what are your thoughts about Enslaved: Odyssey to the West? Is it a game you will be buying? Or would you rather stick to franchises that you know? Maybe Enslaved is a game you’ll buy once the price drops?

As usual, you can leave your thoughts on Enslaved: Odyssey to the West here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

An interesting Enslaved: Odyssey to the West developer diary for Train2Game students

Ninja Theory has released a developer diary about their upcoming game, Enslaved:  Odyssey to the West, and its essential viewing for Train2Game students.  This Enslaved: Odyssey to the West developer diary is titled ‘Behind the game Part 1 : reinventing a legend’ and features the developers –  including Director Andy Serkis – discussing the inspiration and story behind the game.

The ‘Chief Creative Ninja’ of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, Tameem Antoniades, explains how the game is based on ‘Journey to the West’ a 400 year old Chinese novel. Antoniades also describes how they’ve taken the core concepts of the book, but put them in the updated setting of a post-apocalyptic North America, replacing magic with technology and demons with droids.

Meanwhile Andy Serkis – who is not only directing Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, but also plays the role of Monkey – talks about how ambitious basing a game around two characters is, and how games will soon be on par with films when it comes to story telling.

Ninja Theory will certainly be hoping this is the case with Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, having brought on board writer Alex Garland, whose works include The Beach and 28 Days Later. In addition to all of this, the developer diary features actress Lindsey Shaw, who plays the role of Trip, and it explains the basic story behind the game. You can watch the Enslaved: Odyssey to the West developer diary below. After that, you can watch  a previous developer diary here.


For a more in depth look at Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, take a look at Gabe’s impressions on the Thoughts of Train2Game blog. You can also hear Tameem Antoniandes speaking about the game on this weeks GameSpot UK podcast.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on October 8th. However, you’ll be able to get your hands on a playable version of the game at the Eurogamer expo this weekend.

Train2Game will also be at Eurogamer, will be giving away the new PlayStation Move controller with a PlayStation 3 320GB slim.

To enter the prize draw, pick up an entry form at Stand 12 in the Career fair. We look forward to seeing you there.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the Enslaved: Odyssey to the West developer diary? Is having high profile names such as Andy Serkis and Alex Garland a good thing for the games industry? And are you looking forward to the game?

You can leave your thoughts on Enslaved: Odyssey to the West here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Dev Diary – Building Story & Character

Ninja Theory have launched the first in series of Developer Diaries that allow us – that’s you too Train2Game students – a look at their upcoming title Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.

The first Enslaved Dev Diary is titled ‘Building Story & Character’ and looks at the process of doing this for Odyssey to the West. The developers talk about creating the characters of Monkey and Trip, along with developing the relationship between the two. (Monkey is apparently ‘Like Tarzan having a bad day) We also find out a bit about the Chinese origins of the story.

The Ninja Theory team also discuss how the importance of both the acting and writing of Enslaved. Actor Andy Serkis provided character motion capture for Monkey, while screen writer Alex Garland – famous for his work on 28 weeks later – has provided help with writing the game.

The key thing to take from the video seems to be how the developers want Enslaved: Odyssey to the West want the game to feel like a movie. You can watch the Enslaved Developer Diary below.


So Train2Game, what do you think of the Enslaved Developer Diary? Do you think having film writers involved will help the game feel more like a movie? Will you be buying Enslaved: Odyssey to the West?

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