Eurogamer Expo Sessions: Ninja Theory presents Enslaved

Tameem Antoniades on tears, turtles, red carpets and more.

Ninja Theory's Tameem Antoniades will be presenting Enslaved to the Eurogamer Expo 2010 audience on Sunday, 3rd October at 1pm, and for Antoniades his task is a challenging one: convince buyers to take a risk on a new IP at the busiest time of year. Thankfully, he's got quality on his side, not to mention Andy Serkis and Alex Garland: top-tier Hollywood talent that helped build Enslaved from bottom to top. What's more, he's got an exciting session planned where he'll offer a rare glimpse behind the scenes at footage that would otherwise be condemned to the vaults.

Here we sit Antoniades down for a chat about Enslaved and what he'll be showing at the Eurogamer Expo 2010. And if you haven't already, check out our review of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.

Eurogamer: How are things at Ninja Theory - tense, stressed?

Tameem Antoniades: No it's pretty relaxed actually. We're still working on the DLC for Enslaved. There was a leak and it's Pigsy. That's going to be wrapped up in the next few weeks.

Eurogamer: Pigsy is the slightly overweight friend of Monkey and Trip?

Tameem Antoniades: Yeah, "the slightly overweight" would be a kind way to put it.

Eurogamer: So we're gong to find out a bit more about Pigsy?

Tameem Antoniades: Yes, but I probably shouldn't talk about it!

Eurogamer: Is there any more DLC planned?

Tameem Antoniades: No.

Eurogamer: You've gone for the title Enslaved - have you ever been enslaved, Tameem?

Tameem Antoniades: Well, yes. Part of being a game developer... Actually not so much now but in the past you are Enslaved - to your deadlines. You sleep under your desk: that's something I had to do years ago when I was working at my previous company. But myself in a sexual way? No.

The first 15 minutes of Enslaved.

Eurogamer: What's it like being on the road to release? Is it sad, is it thrilling, is it everything all at once?

Tameem Antoniades: It's hard to describe: it's strange. When you're working on a game, every day feels like a constant battle to make things work, make things the best you possibly can. Then you show it to people and it's strange to get an outside perspective, because you've been so close to it for so long.

The sad thing is that, in a way, everyone that's actually be involved in creating this game will never get to appreciate it, because when you play your own game all you can see are development processes. All these things go through your mind: the difficulties of development, the things you could have done, you should have done. It's a whole mixed bag of feelings. You never get to enjoy it for what it is.

Eurogamer: Have there been any tears shed over the course of development?

Tameem Antoniades: No, actually. We made most of the mistakes we had to make during Heavenly Sword because that was our first big game. We went into this game much more battle-hardened, knowing what we're good at, what we're not good at. We were prepared, whereas nothing can prepare you for a console that, in the first instance, didn't exist - the PlayStation 3 - and then started changing all the way through development. Building the technology from absolute scratch not knowing what a next-generation game should be: we were taking so many huge hurdles.

Eurogamer: It must be weird now hearing people start to talk about the next next-generation.

Tameem Antoniades: I haven't really heard anything on the grapevine from other developers. The thing that matters to us is the next big leap in core gamer consoles.

Eurogamer: So you're not interested in something like Kinect or Move for the time being - not even far down the line?

Tameem Antoniades: I'd be interested to try them out and see.

Eurogamer: Try them at the Eurogamer Expo!

Tameem Antoniades: Yeah, I'll do that. But we haven't actually got dev kits or anything like that. At the moment, no, I don't have particular interest in that area, not until I see what they can do.

Eurogamer: I always like asking people if back at concept stage when you were sat down, fleshing out the ideas for a game called Enslaved, if there were any wild ideas pitched that got everybody excited until they realised it was utterly outrageous and couldn't be done. Did that happen on Enslaved?

Tameem Antoniades: There was an idea that we ditched that was bizarre. When Monkey gets onto a robot that Trip has scanned: when he punches this mech in a particular point Trip has identified, we then go inside the nervous system of the mech in first-person, going through all its muscles and bones and structures and you play this weird mini-game where you've got to press buttons at the right time to crack its bones [laughs] and disable it. You see all the bones crack and you're going through all these wires in a Tron-like world.

I was convinced it was going to be the coolest thing ever, and we implemented a prototype and no matter what we did I just couldn't convince anyone it was cool. Couldn't convince the publisher. And then very quickly I went, "Yeah, you're right - it's not as cool as it was in my head."

But that's what you do in games - try out different things - and sometimes they're outlandish and they work really well, in which case they become stand-out features, and sometimes they just fall flat. And that one, unfortunately, fell flat.

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