The five-time BAFTA-winning team behind Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice break down the development process + describe how the bare bones team of twenty people created a AAA-standard game. See some of our favourite moments below.
1. Going back to their roots
When workshopping their ideas at the earliest stages of Hellblade's production, the team at Ninja Theory took the time to identify the defining characteristics of the company as a springboard for launch. They came up with four clear strands to prioritise:
We focused on that Ninja Theory DNA: character-led storytelling, beautiful worlds, unique art visions + combat gameplay.
2. Paring down resources while amping up quality
We could create something that was creatively rich but still boasted thoose AAA-quality production values.
Working with a small team meant that many members held more than one job. Melina Juergens took on the dual role of video editor + leading actress as the game's eponymous Celtic warrior. They also chose to build their own mo-cap volume instead of renting + came up with tonnes of costcutting ways to achieve the look + function they wanted.
3. Creating an authentic representation of psychosis
By working extensively with mental health professionals + with people who experience psychosis to create an accurate replication of life with the condition, devs learned that people with psychosis actually hear voices as though a person nearby is speaking. To recreate this sensation, they used a unique-looking microphone (it actually has ears) + insist that players wear headphones to get the full experience.
Binaural recording is special immersion [...] it replicates how we hear.
4. Making the development process public
Usually a game is shrouded in secrecy for years [...] it was nice to have a little bit of exposure on what you do, get some feedback on it. It felt a bit more liberating.
Ninja Theory documented each + every step of Hellblade's development process on YouTube, allowing expectant fans to follow along as the game was made. By sharing the journey from the beginning, Ninja Theory hoped to increase transparency + embrace the freedom it gave them.