Devil's Third Developer Discusses Its Unique Approach, and Learning From Nintendo
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
"I had this opportunity to learn about Nintendo culture"
Devil's Third was a major surprise at E3; the Valhalla project formerly in the works for PS3 and Xbox 360 was announced as a Wii U exclusive. Its absence from the the Nintendo Digital Event was hardly a surprise considering its tone and genre, but it did raise eyebrows and will stand as one of the few online-focused FPS action titles on the system.
Tomonobu Itagaki, best known for franchises such as Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden, seems like an unlikely collaborator with Nintendo, yet he speaks positively about working with the company. When speaking to Polygon he's emphasized that, despite some disagreements, he has been given a fresh perspective on development when working with Nintendo's Hitoshi Yamagami and Yusuke Nakano.
There are also cultural differences between the way that I've worked and the way Nintendo works, which is when it comes down to the basic grammar of games, the method of game creation. And so we certainly fought some, but I think that I saw the value in a lot of the ways that they do things and learned a great amount.
Now this is close to a trade secret so I can't say too much, but I feel like I learned the most fundamental meaning of what it means to push a button. When you tell someone, 'Push the A button,' there's a wealth of information there. And I feel like all of us who have worked on this project, as a result, have grown a bit.
Of course, the project had been in development for a sustained period before THQ, the original publisher, had financial difficulties and withdrew. It's natural, then, to question how much influence Nintendo has had as publisher. Itagaki-san addresses this — suggesting a 90% / 10% split in influence — and the perception that the gory shooter / action brawler is an odd fit for the Wii U.
I think a lot of people might have been surprised that such a violent game was going to be released on a Nintendo platform. But I think that you can say, from a certain perspective, things are getting interesting for Nintendo as well, making these kinds of choices.
That other 10 percent I think really has been flavored by this cooperation with Nintendo. Now, as I'm sure you're aware, Japan is a small country in terms of landmass, but it still has an amazing concentration of lots of different cultures within it, and I think that Nintendo culture is one of those, and I had this opportunity to learn about Nintendo culture through the years working with them.
Much of this interview ultimately focuses on the gameplay experience that Valhalla is trying to achieve, combining elements of the FPS genre with action combat; the setting of a world fallen into World War and chaos with technology crumbling certainly fits the guns and sword-driven gameplay. The online aspect is key, especially as players will be able to customise fortresses, essentially opening the title up to exceptional diversity in its maps.
Danny Bilson, former senior vice president of creative development at THQ and friend of Itagaki-san, is now involved in the project — he explains how the development team is aiming for a unique experience..
That's always really important to me, that we stand out and we're our own game. I think when you play this game you'll find that it's absolutely its own game. It's not Ninja Gaiden, it's not Call of Duty. It's not anything like you've played before, and I think that the goal is always to deliver a new experience.
The multiplayer is really fully featured with the kinds of combat that I haven't played in multiplayer before. I've never really scurried up a building, saw my friend running down before I jumped down with a sword and lopped his head off. It's all of this grand, over-the-top, cinematic violence that becomes, in action, hilarious.
We certainly recommend reading the full feature for a detailed history of Devil's Third's development history. Meanwhile, let us know whether you're excited about this one coming to Wii U.