Archive for September, 2009

Ninja Theory’s Enslaved New Screenshots And Artwork!!

Posted in Enslaved with tags , , , , , , , on September 29, 2009 by HeavenlyNariko

Enslaved Poster Art

Enslaved 1

Enslaved 2

Enslaved 3

Enslaved 4

Enslaved 5

Enslaved 6

A tactical action-adventure game, Enslaved centers on the complex relationship between the two main characters and challenges players to employ a mix of combat, strategy and environment traversal. With influences and contributions from top music and film industry talent, Enslaved combines beautifully rendered graphics and captivating music with seamless animation and engrossing gameplay.

More than 150 years in the future, the world has transformed into an unrecognizable state where all that remains are a dwindling human population and merciless robots left over from wars long past. In Enslaved, players take on the role of Monkey, a strong and brutish loner, and his AI partner Trip, a technologically savvy but sheltered young woman from a peaceful community. Both become captured by a mysterious slave ship, which are rumored to harvest people and take them out west never to return. As they each attempt to escape, Trip realizes quickly that Monkey, with his raw strength and power, is the only hope she has of making the perilous journey back home. She hacks into a slave headband to enslave Monkey and link them together – if she dies, he dies. Her journey has now become his.

Players must make sure both Monkey and Trip work together as they skillfully navigate through the world and survive against the dangerous enemy obstacles that lie in wait. Monkey will deftly wield his trusty staff weapon to attack and defend against enemies, using a combination of melee attacks, blocks and counters. He will also be able to perform spectacular takedown moves, allowing him to rip an enemy apart piece by piece, take its weapon for his own use or destroy it in one final blow.

Ninja Theory has raised the standards for video game development by enlisting highly talented professionals from other entertainment industries. Emmy, Golden Globe and Bafta nominee actor and director Andy Serkis, renowned for his roles in film as “Gollum” in The Lord of the Rings and the title role “Kong” in King Kong, and villain King Bohan in Heavenly Sword has been tapped to not only direct, but portray the lead character of Monkey. Considered to be the “go-to” talent for performance capture acting, Serkis continues his work with Ninja Theory for Enslaved. As with Heavenly Sword, Serkis is a major contributor to the character and script development, casting and directing for the title. Likewise, world-class musician and composer Nitin Sawhney, whose versatility and talent have helped him score more than 40 films and release eight studio albums, has returned to create the riveting score for Enslaved. Adding to the cavalcade of talented professionals is Alex Garland, novelist and screenwriter who has penned works including the novel The Beach and the movie screenplay for 28 Days Later. Enslaved is Garland’s first video game specific project. He serves as a co-writer and has been heavily involved with creating the script and in-game dialogue.


Top Ten Kick Ass Women Of 2007

Posted in Heavenly Sword with tags , , , , on September 22, 2009 by HeavenlyNariko

1) Nariko: Heavenly Sword


No prizes for guessing that she’s number one. No matter how you feel about Heavenly Sword, it can’t be denied that Nariko’s ability to take on an entire regimet of men by herself is amazing. Nariko is not afraid to do all sorts of crazy stunts and take on every enemy thrown her way. I also find her loyalty and love for her family and clansmen to be inspirational. And you gotta love that hair!

Heard About: Heavenly Sword

Posted in Heavenly Sword with tags , , , , on September 22, 2009 by HeavenlyNariko

Heavenly Sword - Nariko

Audio Team:
For Ninja Theory: Tom Colvin (lead audio); Nitin Sawhney (original music score); Dave Sullivan (senior sound designer); Play It By Ear (foley and cut scene sound design); Harvey Cotton (audio programming)

For SCEE Cambridge: Garry Taylor (audio management and cut scene mixing); Lee Banyard, Jeremy Taylor, Andrew Riley (additional sound design); Ed Colyer, Shepperton Studios (additional foley); Dan Bardino, John Broomhall, Kenneth Young, Dave Ranyard (additional audio production); Chip Bell (audio programming)

The Numbers:
10GB of sound FX, approximately three and a half hours of music, 4,500 lines of dialogue

With an epic story, epic game and an epic audio production, Heavenly Sword oozes high production values. Even before audio lead Tom Colvin’s personal two and a half year labour of love began, a belief in the power of sound had already been demonstrated by the team’s calling for potential signature sound designers to pitch – a practice more commonly associated with composers.

Colvin explains: “Al Zaleski’s demo work (at audio team Play It By Ear) stood head and shoulders above the others and his movie pedigree speaks for itself. To top that, he was great to work with. I’m really happy with the foley and combat sounds – all vitally important for a game so focused on graceful, agile, martial arts-style sword fighting.

“For me, sound is very ‘immediate’ to the player. Music has a well-established cultural language; sound is much less clearly delineated – but you can get straight to someone’s emotional responses with it – there’s little time for the brain to analyse. Sound is key in making this awesome weapon – the Heavenly Sword – come to life so you can sense its brooding power and almost hear it feeding off each kill.”

The game features a strong narrative exploring the interplay between heroine Nariko, her father, their clan subjugated by an evil king, and their guardianship of the Heavenly Sword, an historical weapon with the power to change their fate. Cut scenes play a vital role but with visual finessing continuing late into the project, the sheer scope of work was a challenge.

SCEE’s Garry Taylor elaborates: “There’s an hour and a half’s worth of cut scenes in eleven languages, so mixing alone was a massive undertaking. That’s why we ‘in-sourced’ all the dialogue mixing to our colleagues in Foster City, USA whilst I focused on the music and effects mix at our new Cambridge-based recording studio. I kept a close eye on continuity issues to avoid any jarring between in-game and cut scene sound – whether ambiences or relative levels or even matching FMOD’s surround positioning. Some cut scenes are very small segments replayed within complex branching structures so we ended up using three-frame audio overhangs at the top and tail to cross-fade on – it works a treat.”

According to Colvin respected music artist Nitin Sawhney was a clear choice as composer: “We wanted someone with a genuine grounding in Eastern culture who was equally at home with contemporary or classical forms, as well as being completely comfortable with the project’s technological setting. With his eclectic talents, Nitin was perfect and enjoyed the opportunity to create for a wide-ranging and diverse set of requirements.

“In-game, we work a lot with his mix stems (e.g. perc, strings, woodwind) bringing them together in response to game events and status. Several factors (e.g. threat level) are weighted and combined to determine the exact music replay – but it isn’t just a universal ‘cross-fade, catch-all’ approach. We make the engine observe the music forms to allow (say) long emotionally-charged vocal phrases to play out properly, rather than being faded out just because the game state’s changed. This allows the music flow to be maintained – it keeps the connection to the action, without compromising musical sense.”

Taylor and Colvin undertook an overall mixing phase during the development’s final stages, again deploying SCEE’s studio as the objective listening environment and using Ninja’s powerful run-time mixing tools. Explains Colvin: “We have the virtual equivalent of a ‘flying faders’ film mixing console with extensive hierarchical grouping and scene snapshots. ‘Live’ editing of audio at this stage is absolutely essential – not just volumes, but proximities, frequency fall-off – even the listener position…”

Taylor continues: “…and also not being afraid to strip things back if necessary. Sometimes when you stand back and take in the overall sound picture, you think – does that really need to be there? Never distract the player’s focus! The machine’s so powerful now – capable of handling so much audio, which is great – but as we all know when you’re mixing, sometimes ‘less is more’.”

The Game Audio Mixing Revolution

Posted in Heavenly Sword with tags , , , , , on September 22, 2009 by HeavenlyNariko

Heavenly Sword (2007) PS3
Tom Colvin, audio director, Ninja Theory

“Heavenly Sword also used FMOD. FMOD provides the ability to create a hierarchical bus structure as described in the section above. Each bus can have its own volume and pitch values, which can be modified in real-time. At the time, FMOD had some performance constraints related to the number of sub-buses within the bus structure, so we tried to keep the hierarchy as simple as possible.

The Ninja Theory tools team built our own proprietary GUI, which allowed us to configure mix snapshots, and adjust the mix in real-time. We were able to prevent the game from updating the mix if desired, so we could play with a mix template without the game suddenly changing the mix on us while we were working. We also had an in-game onscreen debug UI that showed us what mix templates were active, their priorities and so on.

Mixer snapshots were largely activated and deactivated by scripted events. This was one of the weaknesses of the mix system — the game scripts were not the easiest things to work with — they obviously couldn’t be changed while the game was running, and reboot times were long, so it was pretty time consuming getting the mix templates to switch on and off in the right places.

We decided to set up a blanket set of empty templates before the mix session, so we wouldn’t have to spend time actually getting the templates to switch on and off whilst mixing. This constrained the scope of the mix somewhat.

NT’s audio coder (Harvey Cotton) devised a snapshot priority system, which simplified implementation a great deal. The priority system made sure that the snapshot with the highest priority was the one you actually hear. Here’s an example of how this would work. You’re in a combat section of the game, and you perform one of the special moves, and then pause the game during this special move — what would happen with the mix system?


A default low priority mix would always be active. When the special move was initiated, a higher priority “special moves” template would be activated (we used scripted events fired from animations to do this.) When the user pressed pause, the pause mix would activate, and having the highest priority, would then take over from the special move mix.

At this point, three different mix templates are “active”, but only one is audible. The game is un-paused, and we move back to the next lowest priority template, the special move ends, and we move back to the default. The priority system is important because it prevents you from needing to store the game’s previous mix state, in order to return to it once any given scenario has finished.

Throughout development we constantly checked the mix on as many setups as possible — a reasonable spec TV, our own dev-monitors, crappy PC speakers, etc. During mastering, we had a week to set up the final mix templates. The mixing environment was a calibrated mix room. Our one week of mixing didn’t really feel like enough. There were all sorts of content changes we wanted to make at the mix stage, which just weren’t possible due to time constraints.”


Top 50 Animated Hotties

Posted in Heavenly Sword, Ninja Theory with tags , , , , , , on September 20, 2009 by HeavenlyNariko

30: CHARACTER: Nariko (Heavenly Sword)

WHAT MAKES HER HOT: Fiery redheads are one thing, fiery redheads with giant swords that they wield effortlessly are another. Heavenly Sword’s Nariko is as beautiful as she is lethal, and we have to imagine we’d risk it all to see how “heavenly” it would be. Even better is that she’s voiced by Fringe’s Anna Torv, so it’s like we have two beauties in one.


More Details On Ninja Theory’s Enslaved

Posted in Enslaved, Ninja Theory with tags , , , , , , , on September 18, 2009 by HeavenlyNariko

Gameinformer Enslaved

A few days ago, we caught wind of a new game from Heavenly Sword developer Ninja Theory, Enslaved. Unfortunately, the name was all we knew. Now that Game Informer has been stuffed into our mailboxes by careless USPS workers, we have the full story, which we shall now kindly relate to you.

Enslaved takes place decades and decades after the third and fourth world wars have ravaged the world. Players take on the role of Monkey (voiced and mo-capped by Andy Serkis), a man who has lived a solitary life on the run from nihilistic machines — remnants of a forgotten war who continue to carry out their objectives, even though most of the human race is now dead.

Unfortunately, Monkey gets captured and ends up on an airship with a young woman called Trip. The two escape from the airship, but Monkey is knocked unconcious and awakes to find a headband stuck to his face. The band was placed there by Trip who needs Monkey to help her return home, but is aware that he’s misanthropic and solitary. So, she threatens him with a headband that will crush his skull if he doesn’t do as she says. This naturally leads to a very tense relationship between two people who are prepared to kill each other, but need to work together to survive.

The story is written by Alex Garland of 28 Days Later fame, and is very loosely based on the ancient Chinese novel, Journey to the West. Combat will be similar to Heavenly Sword, but there will be a greater focus on tactical play, with Monkey able to use a dragonfly-esque camera to scout out enemies and detect weak points. For example, Monkey can learn that a particular robot’s machine gun attachments are weak, then pull the guns off and use them for himself.


Enslaved Trip Fan Art

Posted in Enslaved, Ninja Theory with tags , , , on September 15, 2009 by HeavenlyNariko

It’s not even out yet and we have fan art already

This fan art was drawn by Mezmacko a member from the Ninja Theory Forums


Great Work Mez!