Mark of the Ninja Interview with Klei’s Nels Anderson


Stealth in games is a tricky feat to pull off. Recent hits like Skyrim and Dishonored have had their hand at it with much accolade, but there are few titles that can truly harness the experience. Even with a vast array of programmable actions, high end lighting dynamics and realistic graphics, so few have pulled off the true nature of sneaking throughout the shadows and picking off your enemies one by one. But that doesn’t hinder the genre from growing evermore popular. The highly anticipated Thief is set to come out just next year and even a title so renown for stealth has some dubious of its abilities to live up to our now insatiable standards. So you wouldn’t think a Flash animated side scroller would be a good place to look for stealth at all. Klei Entertainment are willing to surprise you.

Mark of the Ninja hit Xbox Marketplace last September to much user praise. It used the simplicity of flash graphics and added a sneak engine so fine tuned, that some would call it one of the best stealth games in a long time. Taking into account every shadow and light source, the game gives you full control over how to stay hidden in the shade. When the option of darkness is removed, the game adapts an effective line of sight mechanic to allow you to move around your enemies. Combine those elements with a slew of gadgets to knock out lights and guards and throw in some surprises, and you have a stealth game that’s fresh to the public, but never forgets what it is at its core.

The popularity in the title has made Klei a household name in the Arcade Marketplace community and the company has started working on other titles such as Don’t Starve which is already turning into an indie hit to be. But how is the team handling such faith from the notoriously harsh gaming public? Nels Anderson, lead designer, was nice enough to have a sit down with me at PAX East and talk about what exactly made Mark of the Ninja so great for audiences and how trying it was to tweak every detail in the engine to get it just right. We also break down how the studio plans for it’s uprising in the industry and expectations from the populace.