Chris Easton on Prince of Persia
Ubisoft's new-look Prince of Persia will be delivered into gamers hands tomorrow, the French publisher introducing a new 'illustrative' art style, and a sexy side-kick for the Prince: Elika. The Sands of Time may be gone, but Elika will be there instead to save you during those mis-timed leaps, as well as providing the key to the game's Persian mythology-inspired plot. We sat down with community developer Chris Easton to learn a little more on this stylish platformer.
Why the new direction with the art style, Chris, and why now?
Okay, well, The Sands of Time trilogy finished with The Two Thrones, obviously that was the end of that trilogy... we couldn't continue that story because it is finished. So, we wanted to create a new Prince of Persia game, and when you create a new title in such a franchise you need something to differentiate it from previous games.
That's one of the things with this new game, we've taken everything and sort of tweaked it a little, imagine a row of knobs... we're just sort of tweaking everything a bit higher. So we need to differentiate ourselves, plus we'd always had this concept art... these drawings and paintings which were used as references. The Prince of Persia world has a unique heritage; it calls for what we call visual poetry to be true to that heritage. So, when we have these artworks, when we're making photo-realistic worlds, we always try to come back to them more.
So... we're trying to bring these pieces of art to life through this visual poetry; through the illustrative art style. The analogy I always give is that if you imagine someone's drawn a painting and the camera zooms in more and more until bang! It comes to life. That's why we have the art style, we have living-breathing paintings that look great and stay true to the mythological world, this magical world.
Have you had any feedback from the community; the fans surrounding the series?
Oh yes. I was at E3 demoing this, at ComiCon demoing it, at Games Convention demoing it... every single person has said "Jesus Christ this is so beautiful!" The feedback's been fantastic, I showed the game to Jordan Mechner at ComiCon, he saw the game, he thought it was beautiful and he's the creator of the Prince of Persia which is a fantastic seal of approval.
All the journalists that have seen it have loved it... you know, the public at Games Convention were like "wow, that's amazing".
I heard a rumour that the new Prince of Persia movie might have been pushed back to allow its creators time to improve the visual side of the flick as a result of this game. Is that true?
Well, this Prince of Persia game is entirely separate from the movie. We've got nothing to do with the movie... if that is the reason then that's a compliment, but I don't know the real reason for their delay, so...
And with regard to the flow of the gameplay.... do you feel this title is a lot more fluid than past iterations?
I think yes... yes it is. The previous Prince of Persia set the rhythm for the platforming... wall to pillar to pole; the flow through levels. That's one of the key pillars of the series. So, in this game you're achieving that movement, moving smoothly through huge levels - a really cool flow of movement. There's a rhythm definitely, it's like bang, bang, bang... like parkour. Like Assassin's Creed... you nail that rhythm of movement. The Prince has a strong acrobatic sense, like the wall runs, but there's definitely a nice flow.
The last title in the series wasn't as well received critically. Is there an effort with this game to go back to something more 'pure'?
Well, I actually thought The Two Thrones was well received... that title was in the middle in terms of gameplay...
But there was obviously a desire to change things. The designers wanted to mix things up a bit?
Right, exactly, yes we wanted to create something new because if you keep doing to the same thing for too long... you know, people get bored, you have to do something interesting. Another analogy I like to use is the dials one. You know, tweaking them up just a little more each time to create something better. In The Sands of Time trilogy, you used the same mechanics for three games, you learn from your mistakes. You take the feedback, the lessons, and try to create something new. Create cool gameplay situations that make for something new.