Train2Game news: Ninja Theory are looking for two Junior QA Technicians

Train2Game students might be interested in this opportunity with Ninja Theory, the Cambridge studio is looking for two Junior QA Technicians.

Ninja Theory are the team behind Heavenly Sword and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.  Their next title is DMC, a reboot of the Devil May Cry Series.

The two advertised positions don’t require any previous experience and could therefore potentially provide two Train2Game students with that vital first job in the games industry.  The Ninja Theory Job advert reads as follows:

“We’re looking for two Junior QA Technicians to join our experienced QA team for a four month contract. Under the guidance of more senior team members you will conduct functionality and play-testing as appropriate during the development cycle in order to detect and confirm software deficiencies, reliability, ease of use, and any other areas as directed in order to ensure the overall highest quality of the project.

You’ll take part in maintaining efficient and accurate play-tests producing accurate and detailed reports and working to an ethos of continual process improvement. Following industry and internal best practice guidelines for process of play testing and usability tests you’ll need to highlight any potential risks found with milestones, production tasks and wider studio output.

It’s important you can explain any bugs you find to other studio members so it’s crucial that you are able to create and maintain strong working relationships with other disciplines gaining a good understanding of each requirements and specific method of working.”

Naturally, this could be a great opportunity for a Train2Game Games QA Tester in particular, but Train2Game students of all disciplines may be keen to get their foot in the door.

For more information about the Junior QA Technician positions, and to learn how to apply, visit the Ninja Theory website.

Good luck to any Train2Game students to apply for the positions.

Keep up to date with the latest news in QA Testing here on The Train2Game Blog.

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

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.


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.

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.