Acclaimed author of The Beach â??effectively became a level designerâ?? says Ninja Theory

Famed writer Garland an â??eye-openerâ?? for Enslaved

British studio Ninja Theory says its new partnership with author Alex Garland has brought an ‘eye-opening’ perspective to the Enslaved project.

Garland, a self-confessed game addict, is the mind behind a number of acclaimed paperbacks such as The Tesseract and The Coma. He also writes for film, with previous scripts including 28 Days Later.

Garland’s involvement in the Enslaved project could, possibly, challenge the established view that games are oblivious to the power of considered narrative – and Ninja Theory is already signaling that his involvement has brought about a welcome change to the deign process.

”In the first instance we brought Garland on for writing, but what he ended up delivering was way more than that,” says Ninja Theory creative director Tameem Antoniades.

”What I didn’t realise was how much story telling was non-verbal and wasn’t done via cut scenes.

”[It’s the] camera placement, the atmosphere, the sound cues and so many little things make up a good visual narrative, and that is what he brought.”

In a wide-ranging interview with Develop, Antoniades insists that for a game to effectively cross-pollinate atmosphere and script, the writer must meet minds with the level design team.
”[Garland] worked with our designers, first to lay out the first draft of the script so we could shoot it, and then he worked with us in-house once a week, all day long, to help set out the level design, because you can’t separate level design from the story – it has to be as one.

”Effectively he became a level designer,” he adds.

”Later on [in the design process], when we had all the elements in the game, [Garland] would look at it as if it was a first cut of the movie. He wouldn’t just give feedback on where the video lines should be placed, but also on the staging of the events, and how to add tension and drama through camera angles and music and so forth.

”He has impressed me deeply and every member of the team thinks he is the don. We have learnt so much off of him, it has been eye-opener.”

A follow-up to the PS3 title Heavenly Sword, Enslaved is a post-apocalyptic action-adventure title for both the Xbox 360 and PS3. The project will also be enriched with the versatile talents of prized actor/director/Gollum Andy Serkis.

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