LGF: Reality gets an upgrade

The Ninja Theory team offers insight into the development processes behind the upcoming PS3 fighter, Heavenly Sword.

by

LONDON--Four members of the Ninja Theory development team revealed a little bit more of the promising third-person action game Heavenly Sword during a presentation at the Game Developers Conference London today.

Duncan Frostick (combat code Ninja), Nina Kristensen (chief development Ninja), SaiTong Man (combat design Ninja), and Guy Midgely (lead animation Ninja) talked through some of the gameplay aspects and showed off some demo videos to prove their points.

Man explained that the team found inspiration for the upcoming PlayStation 3 game from kung fu movies and current popular fighting games. "We looked at games like Virtua Fighter and Soul Calibur because they have essentially very simple designs." Frostick added: "We worked on a flowing pose-to-pose animation. The inspiration came from kung fu films, not hard, Western-style animation."

Man said that one of the driving forces behind the game was to create something that looked "pretty" and action sequences that flowed together perfectly. "Way back when we first started working on Heavenly Sword, the main thing for me was aesthetics; it had to look amazing. Also, the gameplay had to be completely accessible to the casual gamer, but it had to have depth for the hardcore gamer."

Frostick revealed that the main character would become stronger and gain attack moves as the game progressed, which suggested the game will feature role-playing elements. "Like most fighting games, we worked on the basis that through the game, the bigger and better the moves become. There are two types of synchronised attacks. There are counters and what we call super styles. The super style stuff looks spectacular. These get more and more kind of ridiculous as you go through the game and get more and more powerful."

Midgely went on to talk about how important the flow of the game is to make physically impossible fighting moves look real. "We're taking reality and amping it up to the next level. The players always feel like they are in the game. You don't want to be enjoying playing a game, or watching a kung-fu movie, and think, 'Wait, that's not right.' It takes away enjoyment from the game."

The game, as has been seen from previous videos and demos, will be fast paced--Midgely confirmed that the animations will be running at 60 frames per second, while most games today run at 30. He added that there will also be a slowing effect within the game, which may work out something like 'bullet time,' now common in games.

No visuals of game bosses were shown, but the team was quick to assert that their moves will be equally impressive as those of the main character. Frostick elaborated on some of the boss-related elements: "There are some bosses who do truly spectacular moves. And there are armies, 1,000 people tearing through a valley trying to get you. There is also another element to the game, more cinematic elements, environmental interactions, power jumps, etc."

He went on to quantify the number of attack animations: "For the hero, there are literally hundreds of different attack animations. I'd say around 1,000 animations at the moment."

One revelation that surprised many attending the session was the lack of a collision-based system within the game, but Frostick defended the choice. "We use transitions to take the hero away from the wall into a safe area with cool animations. I'm pretty happy with that solution."

The quartet also explained the creative process for the game. "We were an autonomous unit and the studio heads have faith in what we do. We don't have to go through several people to get what we want. It's talking around the table rather than having to go through lots of red tape to make something happen."

Although some of the fighting sequences in the demo were obviously violent, including one in which a creature was sliced from the groin up, Midgely claimed that the game is likely to receive a T-for-Teen rating in the US.

Discussion

80 comments
yohanjr
yohanjr

sony man gotta point when jak and ratchet came out i didnt know what to think and T for TEEN YEAH ONE KILLER DOWN another T for Altair please...

ZEtAHybrid
ZEtAHybrid

anyone else notice the Heavenly Sword ad during the recent heroes episode "Parasite"? not a commercial, in an actual scene where nikki is playing with micah? anyone notice?

DOOM_SONYMAN
DOOM_SONYMAN

i love all sony development teams!!! i know this game is going to rock..BUT sony ???? what about next gen .....JAK AND DAXTER????????

j55555
j55555

hopefully this game will be a success like gears of war, im keepin my fingers crossed.

jon777dow
jon777dow

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

ziutek2
ziutek2

HS is 30 FPS not 60! http://www.beyond3d.com/forum/showpost.php?p=845524&postcount=81 "Okay this is being taken out of context and mixing two completely different framerate. As an animator Guy (and his team) add points to the animation curve, that could add them at whatever rate gives them enough quality. At the maya level, they make sure its looks good if played back at 60fps, these curves are converted for use in the ingame engine. This then samples them as required, we render at 30fps, so the animations is sampled 30 times per second. However because time is flexible a second in maya time can take alot longer, which is where the extra data they added helps... We don't use collisions directly in the combat system, but we have still have collisions. Instead of using the collision system to tell us when the sword actually hits the opponent we use closely timed animations... The advantage is there is no 'randomity' to our combat, Sai (the combat designer) controls exactly when and how successful a strike is... But thats just for detemining damage/hits... we use a collision and physics (Havok 4 in fact) ALOT. So if u throw a sword at somebody its just what u would expect... the only oddity is that we don't use that in the combat engine... __________________ Spouter of random rubbish @ http://blog.deanoc.com"

gabwa007
gabwa007

lol "go all caps on us" , nice, i ll remember that expression, anyway this game looks amazing, all games should have rpg elements anyway cos it gets boring getting stuck with the same attack thru the whole game, unless maybe ur in an FPS.

Dark_Jak47710
Dark_Jak47710

Calm down, pacman. There's no real reason to go all caps on us...

EPaul
EPaul

Hope it releases close to launch This is going to be a AAA Title

_Sam_
_Sam_

it sounds very promising

maddog123
maddog123

If its anything near God of War i will get this game. Hey, aren't people calling this game 'Goddess of War'? anyway, this is another game that could be a reason to get a PS3, along with MGS4, and Assasins Creed

BYS2
BYS2

looks like its gonna be a nice game

pacman6152005
pacman6152005

GRIMBEE...YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT GENJI 2 ...WHERE BENKEI SWINGS HIS WEAPON AND SMACKS THE CRAP OUT OF ENEMIES....GENJI 1 WAS ALSO A GREAT GAME ....HEAVENLY SWORD WILL BE A GOOD CHOICE FOR WHEN THE PS3 COMES OUT ...

Alcotamaysees
Alcotamaysees

The groin slice eh? Things just got interesting.

Bathyj
Bathyj

Obviously your weapon will hit the enemy and register. I think what he means is you cant get backed into a corner. You might backflip out of it or something. I think it just means the environment will never get in your way so you can concentrate on the enemies.

GrimBee
GrimBee

Way back in e3.. this game looked awesome. But i sometimes confused this game, and another game on the show. Forgot what it was called. But it had this big guy swinging a log around in a fast, but awkward looking manner. The funniest thing about that was when they said "look! real time weapon switching!" That was SOOO funny to me. I hope this heavenly sword game rocks the socks out of that other one.. real time weapon switching.. what a barrel scrapingly good idea! ;)

Lord_Alan
Lord_Alan

"Way back when we first started working on Heavenly Sword, the main thing for me was aesthetics; it had to look amazing." That's the way we like our PS3 games! Shallow n' glossy!

Reetesh
Reetesh

Heaven sowrd.. of the Godess of War :lol:... The hair moving and the dress moving are soo good to see in realtime.. Hopes its not a Button mashing affair.

anamnawshad
anamnawshad

"For the hero, there are literally hundreds of different attack animations" 'Hero' :| And their 'Hero' looks ugly! :P Hope the gameplay will be good.......;)

peeweeshift
peeweeshift

Thankfully game isn't being overhypped.

Jebril
Jebril

This game is one of the few games that I think look intresting for the PS3, I'll just wait 6-12 months after it's launch to see if anything else that I really like comes out and hope for a price drop Really hope/beg.

KnightwingX7
KnightwingX7

"FORZA MOTORSPORT 2 will run at 60 FPS with reflection mapping on the cars also running at 60 FPS." - Microsoft To: kelis77 Pablo620

diablo1000000
diablo1000000

Cannot wait for this - there's something fresh about this game, and a nice mix of styles. Kinda makes me think of a 'God of War with female lead on PS3'... which can't be a bad thing!

kells77
kells77

Pablo620 "but but 60 fps is impossible" - Microsoft

KnightwingX7
KnightwingX7

Hey Pablo, Nice try, Select 360 titles already run at 60fps. FORZA MOTORSPORT 2 will run on 60 FPS with reflection mapping on the cars also running at 60 FPS. . What is impossible is for Sony to make it to launch without lying about some aspect of their system one final time.

Pablo620
Pablo620

"but but 60 fps is impossible" - Microsoft

robfield
robfield

I hope this one turns out good cause its not lookin so good for Sony right now

VanKroy
VanKroy

I have 4 Great ps3 games that I waiting for, Metal gear solid 4, assassin's creed, tekken 6, and heveanly sword, which by the way is looking really good, but I dont know if its really gonna be T for teen. To be T for Teen you have to take all the blood off, and not curse. So heveanly sword can be T for Teen.

Lord_Mango_Jr
Lord_Mango_Jr

This game will be rated M for Mature. You can't slice someone from their groin to their chest and get a teen rating.

Striker426
Striker426

T-Rating my ass...this is going M all the way

gamenux
gamenux

Does it sound bad if i say I plan to play with her all night long. I meant the game.

ArGus88
ArGus88

Thi game sounds very promising.

FstBrk342
FstBrk342

yeah like the other guy said sounds like it will be a style similar to prince of persia...sweet

drangel_jam
drangel_jam

I'm looking forward this game very much, BUT IT'S NOT A FIGHTER, IT'S NOT A FIGHTING GAME, A LA WU-TANG SHAOLIN STYLES, E3 got it all wrong, they compared this with Mortal Kombat Armgadon, and Street Fighter. That's more like a Beat'em all.

Murpheus007
Murpheus007

Hope it delivers, because I think it looks great. I hope it's a lengthy game with a good story too. Alot of times these games suffer from lack of endurance and poor storylines.

runstalker
runstalker

Sounds like a drop dead gorgeous combination of Prince of Persia and God of War. Gimme.

blackIceJoe
blackIceJoe

This game will be an awesome game in Mach and great Launch game for Europe. Plus looked at games like Soul Calibur and Virtua Fighter. Sounds like this game is going to be one awesome battle.

williamwu1985
williamwu1985

this is just like god of war, just wonder why they dont bring god of war 2 one of the ps2 title, that could make a lot of more fans

Optimusv2
Optimusv2

alliend... assassin's creed main hero has 5000 animations not 700.... And the rest of the npcs in the game have over 10,000 animations. Assassin's Creed in terms of animations blows heavenly sword away.

Alpha2
Alpha2

VF is generally simple it's mastering it that's a pain. SC on the other hand has gotten almost incomprehensibly complex in the past few iterations. "One revelation that surprised many attending the session was the lack of a collision-based system within the game " I dont understand exactly what they're saying here either, how can you NOT have collision detction unless they're talking about something totally different. Collision detection is the computer watching for when a hit box suurounding your sword or fist connects with the hit box of your opponent or environment. If you didn't have it your character would fall through the floor or pass right through the enemy so they have to be refering to something else.

gonzalezj1
gonzalezj1

LucasArts: "Animation is out. Simulation is in." followed by Ninja Theory: "Our animations are really cool." Hmmm...

Orasion_Seiz
Orasion_Seiz

SC and VF are simple design? you got to be kidding.

Mr_Saturn26
Mr_Saturn26

Ps3 looking better every day, and i dont care about the bad news gamespot been handing out.

G-Legend
G-Legend

Can't wait for this game!