Hellblade Dev Diary Showcases Player Character’s Control And Movement

Ninja Theory chronicles the task of making Senua move and control believably.

Ninja Theory has released a new Developer Diary video for its current project, Hellblade, a third-person action/adventure game. The video talks about how the studio created the main character’s movement and animations (via GameSpot).

As the developer notes in the beginning of the video, players can constantly see the player character, which means the way the character moves through and interacts with the world should be authentic and believable. While the studio was technologically limited for its past titles like Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and Heavenly Sword, they have more memory and better animation tools this time around. Still, the team only has two animators, so they built their own basic motion capture studio to lessen the workload.

This move helped them immensely, as instead of creating every animation from scratch, the animators only have to smooth out any inconsistencies from the mo-cap, while adding nuance to make Senua more believable and responsive. Still, this is a laborious process: even Senua strafing involves stitching five or six individual animations together. After basic movement, they had to add the different “layers” of context, like walking through water, in rain, or walking fearfully. To achieve this, they had to simulate certain interactions, like water’s resistance to Senua moving through it, in order to make her movement believable. They also added variety to looped walking by adding different characteristics like coughing. In total, the team shot three to four days of movement, which Ninja Theory says “gives us the bulk of what we need.” They’ll capture more movement on an as-need basis.

This is the 20th video in the studio’s behind-the-scenes series of developer diaries. One of the more interesting entries last year chronicled how Ninja Theory used a new face-scanning technology to bring Senua to life.

Hellblade was originally announced in 2014, and explores ideas and themes surrounding mental health. The game will launch simultaneously on PlayStation 4 and PC later this year.