New Alien targets “Red Dead Redemption, Arkham Asylum”

Thursday, 12 May 2011 11:29 GMT By Martin Mathers

Sega studio Creative Assembly is working on a new Alien game for consoles, the developer confirmed in a press conference this morning, and is aiming for the very top with the project.

Creative Assembly, the Sega-owned studio best known for its Total War series, has used a seemingly innocuous corporate event to make another rather more interesting announcement: it’s working on a brand new game based on the Alien franchise.

The project, which was actually leaked ahead of the official embargo by Minister for Communication, Culture and Creative Industry Ed Vaizey on his Twitter account, comes off the back of CA opening a new 10,000 square foot studio in Horsham, West Sussex and showing it off to the visiting politician.

With games based on the Alien franchise being renowned previously for fast-paced action and lots of blasting, though, some people might be surprised that a studio with a reputation for strategy titles like CA might be creating such a title. For Sega though, the decision was simple.

“Specifically, CA came to us with the pitch and we were super excited about it,” says Gary Dunn, Sega’s senior VP of production.

“We thought long and hard about it, but if Creative Assembly is about one thing it’s about high standard, and that DNA will undoubtedly flow through the console team into the game.”

“We’re aiming for the Red Dead Redemptions, the Arkham Asylums; that’s absolutely where we want to be.”

Alien marks the first console game from the UK studio since 2008’s Viking: Battle For Asgard – Stormrise came from CA’s Australian studio – and only the second that it’s created from scratch, but studio director Tim Heaton doesn’t see inexperience as a problem.

“We’ve actually had a console team from the very early days, back when we were doing ports for EA, so the core of that team has been here all the time,” he says.

“When we were talking about what the console team should do next though, we knew that Sega had the Alien license around and so we decided to put together a demo in about six weeks.

“That demo was fantastic and that’s when everything changed – we took it to Sega, showed them what we wanted like to do and they totally got it, totally put their support behind it.”

No gameplay yet

That the studio managed to put the demo together in such a short space of time is interesting in itself, since it suggests that the Alien’s gameplay – which isn’t being revealed at the upcoming E3 show in June – could be of a style that CA already has experience in: strategy.

Indeed, the studio wasn’t shying away from the suggestion today.

“It’s playing to the console team’s strengths, certainly,” admits Heaton. “Let’s face it, the Alien IP is fantastic stuff to work with and the team are all geeks who all love that sort of thing, so it works well.

“One of our big questions marks was that we didn’t want to just make a game out of a film license – you know, just deliver the film and that’s about it. We’re aiming for the Red Dead Redemptions, the Arkham Asylums; that’s absolutely where we want to be. We want to make a 90 percent game that’s easily communicable to people simply because it’s in that Alien world.”

Currently, the developer employs 160 people but plans to expand to over 200 with the hiring of artists, programmers, designers and more to populate both its new console team, who’ll work to bring the Alien game together, and also bolster its Total War team.

That said, the new game is seeing the teams come together, which again gives suggestion of where Alien may be heading.

A job ad logo for the game.

“There’s a certain amount of crossover between the teams,” says Mike Simpson, CA’s creative director and the creator of Total War.

“Not to the extent of a detriment to Total War, but definitely a crossover to some degree.”

What isn’t likely, however, is the inclusion of support for unique peripherals such as Kinect or Move – despite having seen examples of its games hacked into Microsoft’s motion sensor on YouTube, Heaton has his priorities focused elsewhere.

“We’re absolutely thinking of that stuff,” he says, “but we have a core game and we’re thinking how to deliver it.”

Alien is currently being developed for undisclosed console formats – though if it’s not Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, we’ll be massively surprised – and has no release date at present.