DmC Devil May Cry: NInja Theory & Capcom Interview
DmC – Devil May Cry is bold project for both Ninja Theory and Capcom. The demon-slaying escapades of Dante hold a special place in the hearts of many gamers, and the fan base is so devoted, that any game attempting to reboot the franchise needs to be better than acceptable; it needs to exceed expectations.
No pressure then, but after chatting with Ninja Theory’s creative chief Tameem Antoniades and Capcom’s lead producer Alex Jones, it’s clear the studio is treating Capcom’s IP with the utmost care, and then some. Read on to discover why DmC could set a new benchmark for the series.
Before you dive in to the interview, check out this stunning new DmC trailer ‘The Fight’.
The specific plot of DmC has been shrouded in mystery so far. Would you consider the game to be a direct reboot, or does it fall in line with the series canon?
Tameem Antoniades: It’s a re-birth of the series that doesn’t adhere to the original canon but draws heavily from it. If you’ve never played a DMC game before, you can get stuck right in from the beginning with our game. If you have, then consider this an alternate take on the story.
Alex Jones: We’re essentially building on the gameplay foundations laid by the previous four games, whilst at the same time taking the series in a fresh direction.
We’ve seen a few instances of DmC’s younger Dante in combat. In an industry where intricate brawlers like Bayonetta exist, do you feel in any way pressured to match the intensity and depth of that game, or indeed the brutality of Devil May Cry 3?
TA: The short answer is “yes”. Intricate combat, depth, variety, and brutal challenges are the minimum we want to achieve. We also want to add new play styles in combat involving aerial combat and instant switching between several weapons.
I believe the combat should be a brutal expression of style so we are trying to give the player the tools and method to express themselves.
On top of those foundations, we are adding gameplay elements that complement combat such as elaborate traversal, a more dynamic world and a videogame story, which hopefully for once, treats us like sophisticated adults.
Say what you will about Dante’s appearance, it doesn’t really matter if the game is good, right?
Can you give us an insight into how Dante handles in the game, and which of his previous Devil May Cry iterations he falls most closely in line with, and why?
AJ: We have of course taken inspiration from all of the previous games, but Dante in DmC has very much his own feel. Dante is young and relativity inexperienced in DmC, with a real anger and sense of rebellion about him. As a result Dante’s fighting style is more that of a street brawler than the choreographed fighter seen in previous games.
In the most recent trailer, we saw Dante reverting back into his ‘old Dante’ guise. In what ways can you give us an insight into this mechanic?
TA: What you’re referring to is Dante’s Devil Trigger. When Devil Trigger is activated in DmC, Dante gains in power and speed, while all of the Demons in the current encounter are lifted from the ground and suspended mid-air ready for some aerial pummeling. The longer you stay off the ground, the more damage and longer your Devil Trigger lasts. It’s a test of skill.
AJ: Visually what you’re seeing when Devil Trigger is activated is Dante tapping into his inner devil. Even though a large part of the DMC fan base are spitting blood and want clarification on the matter of hair colour, I don’t wish to give away any spoilers at this point.
We’ve also heard recently that DmC will take place across parallel worlds. What will this mean for the plot and gameplay? What freedom does this feature give you to explore characters and events from across the series?
TA: There is a parallel world behind the real world, a demon dimension called Limbo superimposed over our human one. From here, the demons are instigating an invasion, controlling all parts of society behind the scenes.
Dante is able to go into Limbo and see the truth behind the illusion. He can see the wretched, malignant version of our own world and take on the demons.
Combat is looking insanely deep, with tons of juggle and multi-weapon combos.
What specific qualities did Capcom see in Ninja Theory that might have landed you the DmC job? Did you have to produce a proof of concept, or prototype to seal the deal?
TA: I think one of the key factors that attracted Capcom to us was our experience in telling stories through games. They told us that they wanted to give Devil May Cry a refresh, a new lease of life and part of that was to give the series a more contemporary feel.
As a studio we have a real focus on narrative and a belief that you can create evermore immersive game experiences by pushing storytelling techniques. I also think our distinct art style was one of our attributes that Capcom could see fitting within the Devil May Cry franchise.
Bosses have always been such a huge part of Devil May Cry’s novelty. Can we get an insight into what you have done to ensure that these encounters will still in the mind?
AJ: We’re taking traditional Devil May Cry boss fights and thinking about them in the context of Dante’s new abilities and our dynamic, surrealistic world.
By doing this we’ve come up with new ways to think about boss battles, particularly in terms of what tactics are needed to succeed in them. This has been a particularly deep area of collaboration with Capcom.
Overall, what or who would you say have been your biggest influences when creating DmC, and why? How did these inspirations help guide the project?
TA: I’d actually say that the most powerful influence has come from the team at Capcom that we’ve been partnering with. Working with people like Hideaki Itsuno, Director of Devil May Cry 2, 3 and 4, has enabled us to tap into a real wealth of Devil May Cry knowledge and development experience, especially in combat.
On the story side, Alex Garland, who I worked with on Enslaved has really inspired me personally and has continued to mentor me through this game. On art, Alex Taini, our visual art director and Stuart Adcock our technical art director always inspire me with their bold vision.
It’s already clear that DmC is another visual triumph for Ninja Theory.
Motion capture has become Ninja Theory’s bread and butter. In what ways has Capcom encouraged you to explore that side of things again in DmC?
TA: Performance capture is a technique that we really believe in and use to push the way we tell stories in our games. It’s the driving force behind the DmC narrative. By using our own techniques and technologies we’ve been able to take things a step further from Heavenly Sword and Enslaved.
We capture voice, face and body simultaneously, a technique we pioneered in gaming. In addition, we are also capturing all on-set camera motion for a more realistic feel.
This is also the first game I’ve written, cast and directed myself. If i do my job right, you should be seeing a story of Dante that breaks the myth that all videogame stories are trite and will never stand up to the best that theatre and film have to offer.
We shot DmC at Giant Studios in LA, where Avatar was shot, using a lot of the Avatar crew and similar technology. As you say, utilising performance capture is something that we’ve become known for, so Capcom were of course keen that we used our expertise in this area for DmC. They pretty much let us get on with it.
We’ve read that Capcom was prepared for a negative reaction to new Dante. Can we expect similar bold decisions to be made with other aspects of the game; narrative, gameplay, motion control and so on?
TA: We were all prepared for a negative reaction to an extent. Capcom moved one of their much-loved franchises to an external studio for it to be taken in a new direction. It would be naive to think that there wouldn’t be a reaction.
But we’re happy and we have the full support of Capcom with our chosen narrative and gameplay direction. This approval alone should assure people that although this is a re-birth, with some bold decisions being made, we are not just a bunch of monkeys.