A couple weeks ago, Klei Entertainment announced its latest title, Mark of the Ninja. And I’m pleased to announce that I wrote the script. You can see a sample of gameplay above – and check out the promo site, which includes a text adventure that Jamie Cheng, Nels Anderson, and I worked on.
Mark of the Ninja is a 2-D stealth game. It’s built on the Shank engine, but where the Shank franchise features running and gunning, Ninja casts the player as a “glass cannon” – highly maneuverable and powerful in a one-on-one fight, but vulnerable against guns or mobs. While the action’s a hoot, you have to think and sneak your way through to win the game.
I’ve been working on the project since last fall. Though I wrote the script, the story came from the Klei team, and it’s been in place almost from the beginning of the project. I never had to come in and stitch together a lot of random action scenes; the story has always driven the game. Klei is a small team, and I’ve been getting early builds and talking to the team over web conferences since I started. It’s a great situation and I feel really lucky to be involved.
Jamie, Nels and I demoed the game at the Game Developers Conference last week. Demos at GDC run the gamut from the very formal – a hands-off demo or a sample of footage on videotape, scheduled in the W Hotel with publicists watching everything the game’s designers say – to the very casual: sitting cross-legged on the floor of Moscone West with a laptop and a game designer and giving the game a try. We went with the latter. We set up on the third floor (near the press room) and invited people to take it for a spin. We were pretty open that it was a work in progress – the audio was temporary, the tutorial needs a little tweaking, and there’s a whole screed about the metal band Death in the subtitles of the first cutscene – but everyone got to play it hands-on. I can’t speak for the players, but they looked engaged, slapped the buttons a lot, and a few of them talked back to the screen. I took those as good signs.
I’ll have more to say about what I’ve seen and what I’ve learned over this process in the months to come. Klei will be showing the game at a booth at PAX East, and it’s slated to ship this summer. If you get a look at it, let me know what you think!