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Unlike DmC: Devil May Cry, Hellblade isn't all about the combat. Combat is important
to Hellblade, but at its heart, Hellblade is about the journey and the struggle of Senua
on a mythical adventure.
In the famous book Don Quixote, the hero sees the world interpreted through madness, seeing giants instead of windmills, and in a similar way when you play
the game you experience the world through Senua's mind's eye. (Senua knows that there
is no going back to how things were) We like to think that we experience the world almost
like a high-definition photograph as it really is. Actually, a lot of the time what we're
doing is using what we already know to shape and govern what we perceive. If we recognise
that principle of how the brain functions. It may be that we can begin to understand
what happens in the context of psychosis, because psychosis can't easily be understood
as just some malfunction of the mind. It's actually a very creative process where somebody
constructs a world. (She has finally arrived at the land of mist and fog. The place the Northmen call 'hell')
In Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, I play a character called Senua,
who is a Celtic warrior who goes on a vision quest to the Viking heartland. It's a journey
of suffering, which can be quite dark and sometimes brutal. Everything that Senua sees
is shaped by visions from her own past, but also Viking mythology.
At the start of the project we researched as much as we could - Viking mythology, the art and culture, but
the more we looked into it the deeper we went, the more I started to feel like we were out
of our depth. So we reached out to Dr. Elizabeth Ashman Rowe, a leading scholar in the department
of Anglo Saxon Norse and Celtic from the University of Cambridge. We showed the game to Dr. Elizabeth
Ashman Rowe, and she gave us a lot of very detailed feedback on Norse art, culture and
myth. We realised that we could go a lot deeper on the Norse legend. She agreed to come on
board as consultant and presented a trove of reference materials to the team. I was
talking about idols, and we don't have a lot of them left. We hear many descriptions of wooden men, of sacrifices on poles.
The more we learned from Elizabeth, the more we wanted
to share these myths with you. So we created lore stones and scriptures that relate to
the Norse legend for you to find throughout Senua's journey. (The secret path along the
cliffs will take you to Gjallarbrú, the bridge that separates the living from the dead. The
roots of the tree of death will take you to new lands, where you will face the trials)
(Look around and you will see them. The drowned. The sick. Here they lie, rotting in the fields
and rivers of hell) I've often been struck by the sense that I get talking to people
with psychosis that they do feel themselves on a quest. It may be a figurative one, and
in some cases people actually experience a genuine physical quest. They're looking for
someone or something or some answer and with the feeling that if they can only achieve
that, there will be a release or a resolution to all of the things that are plaguing them.
(She will fulfil her vow. Whatever the cost) We've covered in previous diaries how we've
worked with experts, organisations and with people with lived experience to simulate
voice hearing and visions. Another lesser known aspect of psychosis is the ability to
see patterns and associations, and find meaning in them. One individual we spoke to told us in
vivid terms how this felt for him, where every day felt like a puzzle, the clues of which
were found in symbols, sounds, colours and visions in the world all around him. I and
my colleagues at Cambridge University have been doing a lot of work exploring how people
can use their prior expectations to increase their sensitivity to stimuli in their environment.
One of the very striking things that we found recently is that people with psychosis or
prone to experiencing psychotic symptoms may actually be remarkably good at that. Maybe
under some circumstances they're actually capable of using their prior knowledge to
really enhance the way in which they see patterns and put things together. The idea of illusion
and shifts in perception is common in both psychosis and Norse mythology. These ideas
form the backbone of the puzzle experiences in the game. But it's not just a gameplay
mechanic. Some of it is more experiential. Perhaps the wind is connected to your movement,
or just paying attention to something changes the way it sounds. A good example of where
perception changes gameplay is a section of the game where Senua loses her sight. She
must rely on sound and the barest of vision to navigate the world. One of the service
users we worked with told us about her experience with catatonia, where she felt completely
cut off from the world. So we put a section in the game where Senua can barely see or
hear anything, and as a player you have to try and find a way out of it. When I did the
body mocap for that section, I tried to perform everything with my eyes shut so that I could
get a sense of fear and anxiety. Hopefully you will feel this when you play the section.
We've now captured hundreds of animations to make Senua believable in both gameplay
and cutscenes. The decision to create a low cost mocap space in the studio has really
paid off, as otherwise the costs would've been prohibitive. Given the complexities of
intertwining mythology, backstory, art and gameplay, it took us longer than we expected
to get to this point. Now all of the story scenes have been captured, all of the VO recorded
and the gameplay is fully playable from start to finish. We now run dailies, where representatives
from art, story, sound, design, and gameplay are all present and we spend an hour every
day reviewing a section of the game, and that very day we implement everything that we can
think of to make it a polished experience. This is a process we're going to rinse and
repeat every single day until we've finished the whole experience. (She sounds too scared.
The breathing is good, it really gives you presence. The breathing has got to be timed
even when she's not scared) We've just completed our alpha milestone for Hellblade: Senua's
Sacrifice. That means that for the first time, you can now play the Hellblade experience
from beginning right through to the end. This however doesn't mean that the game is finished.
There's still a huge amount of work to be done, but all of the levels, gameplay and
story are now in place. It does mean that we can now focus on what really matters, and
that's the player experience. We look forward to bringing you another update soon.
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Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice | Dev Diary 26 | Myths & Madness

140 Folder Collection
蕭胖 published on March 6, 2017
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