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Ninja Theory: designing games purely for fans "will kill a series"

Capcom "felt Devil May Cry was a little stuck in its ways"

Ninja Theory's on-going scrap with Devil May Cry purists makes for fascinating, if frustrating reading. Fans of the Capcom series complain that Ninja Theory's new Dante is a bastardisation, and that the developer doesn't have the pedigree to compete with either past Devil May Cry titles or present-day stunners like Bayonetta. In a punchy new PSM3 interview, design lead Tameem Antoniades has spoken up once again in the team's defence.

Reboots are always subject to hostile scrutiny, argued Antoniades. "Nothing needs a reboot unless that reboot works. Look at Batman. The parallel to the Batman reboot was Catwoman. Nobody needed that, but when it works it can change the course of a franchise in a positive way. It can make it survive."

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Blaming Ninja Theory for the franchise's change of direction is unfair, he went on. "The decision as to whether DMC needed a reboot or not: it's irrelevant what my opinion is because that decision was Capcom's. They felt it needed something, which is why they not only decided to take a bold step and reinvent it, but to give it to a non-Japanese dev.

"They had their reasons and that was our mandate. They wanted a reinvention - a reinterpretation - and that's what we went ahead and did."

Troubled by Devil May Cry 4's reception, Capcom invited Ninja Theory to introduce a Western flavour. "There was a feeling from some of the guys at Capcom that it could continue the way it was, but that there were certain tropes that were being - I don't know how to put this... I think when you compare it to where a lot of games have arrived at - Western games in particular, where levels feel more open and the world feels more grounded - it felt like DMC was a little stuck in its ways. It needed to be let loose. That's what we were told as part of our mandate to reinvent it."

Ninja Theory is naturally keeping tabs on fan reactions (including death threats), but at the end of the day, the studio simply wants to do itself proud. "Usually the worst creative crimes are made when you're trying to make a game for someone else - some perceived demographic that, in all likelihood, doesn't actually exist.

"From my point of view there's only one way to try and make a successful game, and that's to make the game you want to play. A game that everyone involved is proud of. So from that point of view I don't care if it sells a thousand units or two million units. I believe the time you spend making something has to be worthwhile. You've got 20 productive years of work in your life; if you're gonna spend ten or 15 percent of it on something, make it worthwhile."

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You have to trust your gut, Antoniades insisted. "Philosophically, the way to make a successful game is to believe in what you're doing, then hope that sales follow. I'm not trying to design around what I think people will want. That's where you get into creative bankruptcy. That, more than anything, will kill a series."

Give the rest of the interview a whirl. It's a good read. There's talk of mammary glands on page three.

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