Prince of Persia • Page 2

A chat with producer Ben Mattes.

Eurogamer: You mentioned controversial decisions earlier, and one those is likely to be the introduction of the Prince's new sidekick, Elika. For many action adventure fans part of the thrill is the sense of isolation, of going solo. Adding a sidekick doesn't always work out - take Kurtis in Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, for example...

Ben Mattes: Ben Mattes: Did you play Shadow of the Colossus? Did you consider yourself to be isolated in that game? We look at Shadow of the Colossus and ICO as inspirations for the Prince and Elika. You are in this big, scary, oppressive world and the two of you alone have to solve that challenge.

We firmly believe that with the way we're designing Elika's gameplay and the way we're treating her as a character, she's going to make the things you love about the Prince better. His acrobatic abilities - better. His puzzle-solving - better. She brings out the best in him, because her role is to support him and just make him cooler.

In terms of the isolation element, maybe a little of that, you might feel, is lost, because they are going to be talking as they navigate through this world. But in terms of the feeling of it being you against the world, the significance of the challenge that's before you, it's there. It's there in spades.

Eurogamer: Can you give us some examples of how Elika will help you out? How will she help you perform acrobatic moves - will she throw you over a ledge or give you a leg-up, that sort of thing?

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We like the black edging effect, because we can do it in Photoshop and it makes us feel special.

Ben Mattes: Ben Mattes: Yeah, basically exactly like that. Say you're running, you jump from a wall and you need help. You summon Elika with the 'Help Me Elika' button. The AI makes sure she's close enough behind you all the time so if you need her in order to do an acrobatic move, in she pops. By collaborating, the two of you can reach destinations you might not have been able to reach on your own.

In combat - if you're fighting an enemy, Elika's just on the periphery, kind of dancing around and ready when you need her. If the enemy has thrown up a magical shield to block your sword attack, you'll need to break that shield. Press the Y button and Elika will jump into the middle of the frey and perform a magical attack. She's not way in the background casting lightning bolts - she's literally jumping and flipping and attacking with you.

If you keep pressing Y, she'll keep doing magical attacks. If you switch back to X, the sword button, she's back on the periphery. She's there if you need her, but she'll stay out of the way if you don't want her there. That encapsulates our Elika philosophy.

Eurogamer: Atari's Phil Harrison was recently quoted as saying he reckons Alone in the Dark will be one of the last big budget, single-player adventure games, that gamers want more online functionality and downloadable content now. Do you agree?

Ben Mattes: I read that, and I don't totally agree. I know where he's coming from - I certainly see a lot of the industry moving in the direction of more community, more multiplayer, that sort of stuff.

But in my opinion, there are things you can do in a carefully crafted single-player game - experiences you can create, emotions you can elicit and magnitudes of engaging the player - that you're not going to reproduce in the uncontrolled environment of multiplayer.

For some time yet, there's going to be a market of people who say, 'You know what, pander to me. Suck me into your world and just make me believe. I don't want to be distracted by griefers and high scores, and dealing with the stuff not everybody loves about multiplayer games.' I do think there is still a significant market there.

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We do this all the time.

Eurogamer: You've said Prince of Persia is out this "holiday", which suggests it's six months away or so. That's not very long in development terms, and UbiDays is your company's big event of the year, so why aren't you showing the game off here?

Ben Mattes: It sounds like a cheesy answer, but because we want to do it this way. It's part of the PR and marketing plan we created back in January. We wanted to start with screenshots so the hardcore can see the artistic direction, then have the teaser trailer - here's the Prince, here's Elika, they fight together, it's cool, that's it.

Then everyone will get to see the game in action in what will hopefully be a real wow, impactful moment at E3.

Prince of Persia is coming to PC, PS3, Xbox 360 and DS at the end of this year.

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