Heavenly Sword devs speak

"We're on the cusp of a new format for adventure games and telling stories in them"

Heavenly Sword was one of the standout PS3 titles at last week's E3 show and the game's creator, Ninja Theory, has been sharing a few of its thoughts on Heavenly Sword itself and developing for the PS3 in general in the latest issue of Edge.

Chief game designer Tameem Antoniades was certainly encouraged by Heavenly's, erm, heavenly reception at E3, and seemed glad to be able to finally share the game with the world. "The problem with just telling everyone your combat system is great or that you've got some of the best facial performances in a game ever, just draws scepticism. It smacks of hot air. That response is natural but the proof is in the pudding."

With Sword now emerging as one of the PS3's flagship titles, it seems Ninja Theory was keen to step out of any perceived 'Japanese shadow' and had a point to prove during the game's development - that it's not just Eastern developers who can produce cutting edge fighting games. Antoniades says, "When people play the game the whole argument about western developers not being able to do third-person combat will go away. Internally Japanese staff have been really surprised by how good the combat looks - and how different it looks from Japanese games. It's not aping their style."

When moving on to the real advantages that the PS3 can offer developers in the next generation, rather surprisingly for a fighting game specialist, Antoniades believes it's the new opportunities to show characters' emotional range and expression that is the real advance. "The problem with emotion in games has been that the technology has been limited. If you can't create believable characters they can't express believable emotion. That for us is the biggest difference between next-gen and previous generations.I think we're on the cusp of a new format for adventure games and telling stories in them."

Antoniades also suggested that developing for PS3 shouldn't, in principal, be more difficult than developing for current gen - just, it turns out, rather more labour intensive. "A title like Heavenly Sword has so many different sub-systems that each one is like developing a smaller game. The combat system is vast in its diversity, but it's formed from elements that were developed independently then brought together. It's an iterative process and I think next-gen doesn't need to be a monolithic process. It can be like developing those old games."