Unseen Ninja Theory: Razer

elmet

18 Aug Unseen Ninja Theory: Razer

Note: This post is not about Hellblade, but a concept of a different Ninja Theory game that never made it into production.

For more information on the context in which Razer was created and why it didn’t go ahead, please read The Independent AAA Proposition

Razer is a game concept designed for Xbox One, PS4 and PC that sadly didn’t make it past publishing green light.  It was a game we designed in conjunction with a publisher to satisfy their desirable feature list. At the time we were developing an iOS game, an online multiplayer melee game as well as exploring next-gen art pipelines.

Razer was a game that was to bring all these elements together into an epic massively co-op sci-fi adventure. It involved the idea that a huge alien creature had enveloped our planet. It would take thousands of players months if not years to coordinate guerrilla-warfare on a massive scale to kill this beast.

We worked on the design docs and several previsualisations in house over the course of about 3 months. Most games never made it past the concept phase and the public is never the wiser. In general, publishers will never release these to the public.  As we own the IP, we felt that there would be value in sharing this work on a wider basis as there are so few examples of game design in the public domain.

Here are selection of documents and assets from Razer that, until now, have never been seen before:


alienenvcsketchesRazer suite variationsRazer sketch4Razer sketch2
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Razer trailer:

This is a previs trailer to show how the published game might feel like.  We always create trailers like this for our games and they are never intended to be shown to the public. They serve to get a feel for the gameplay, story and the way you might play it.  They are always entirely produced in-house and this one features our own staff as actors. The trailer was created in Unreal Engine 4 and After Effects.

Razer Art Style Test:

Because you will fight in countless missions, we needed to create a way to procedurally generate landscapes.  We developed a procedural tech within UE4 and created this art style test.

Razer Gameplay Pre-vis:

We often create gameplay previs for our games before we start prototyping. Previsualisation is always built upon a design spec and is planned out by designers and animators working in tandem. It is a great way to rally the coders, designers and animators behind a single vision of what we are trying to achieve.

We tend to create our design docs in a very visual manner that can be easily communicated and understood by any discipline or any publisher without having to read hundreds of pages of text.  The details of the design, the specs, programming TDD’s, Art bibles, animation bibles etc are worked on collaboratively in a wiki (using confluence) and can number the 1000’s of pages by the end of a project.

RazerGDD_01_Overview

This document gives a high level overview of the project.  It is designed to be understood by everyone at a publisher including sales and marketing people.  It references other games so that the publisher can better understand elements of the project in a high level fashion.  At the time, the publisher we were working with wanted a concept that was taking advantage of emerging elements such as cloud gaming, communities and second screen gameplay.  We thought that cloud gaming means very little to people and that it might be cool to turn it into a giant monstrous AI creature that you have to kill.

RazerGDD_02_GamesAsService

This document was mapping out a 5 year plan for the franchise. Unlike usual AAA console games, the idea was to constantly evolve the game over time to organically grow bigger rather than launching a new game annually.

RazerGDD_03_Interface

This is the high level window into the game: the drop ship. It gives an aerial view of the different aspects of the design.

RazerGDD_04_Community

Self-explanatory doc describing the principles behind the community building in the game.  At this point in time, we did now know what next generation features would entail on console so much of this was guess work.

RazerGDD_05_Razer

This document covers the Razers themselves, how they work, upgrade, rank up and equip.  We were designing a system and control scheme that would work for both melee and gun play.  The idea was that you can play in whatever style you wish whether you’re a god of war die-hard or a gears-of-war die hard.  Ultimately, whichever style of play suits you, you would have to find complementary team members and cooperate with them to complete missions.

RazerGDD_05_Razer_Macro

This is a macro doc, with several tabs giving you a complete picture of how a razer would upgrade over time.  The macro design is intended to work out the scope and variation of the design for the Razer.

RazerGDD_06_Missions

The beast you are trying to kill is a complex organism, akin to a giant brain made up of a network of countless nodes, each of which represents a mission.  This was going to be a creature that would reside on a server under a complex evolving AI system that we as developers could control to turn the tide of war.  As a result, the missions would have to be largely procedurally generated from a series of templates.

RazerGDD_07_Enemies

This document outlines the principles behind the design of the enemies.  They were to be continuously adapting to your combat so that you have to change things up and be creative in your strategies.

Razer Experience Walkthrough

As the game can be played on console and phone/tablet, we illustrated how a player might coordinate a mission throughout the course of a typical day.

Razer Game Flow

This gives a high level view of the gameplay loops and how a person might be expected to play the game.

 

20 Comments
  • Dewi
    Posted at 15:40h, 18 August Reply

    Thank you for sharing these. This was all very interesting to read, and it looks like you guys have put a lot of thought into it. It’s a shame this won’t happen, I would’ve loved to play it. I for one would love an online game in which you guys will use the experience you’ve gained from DmC in the combat.

  • Patrik
    Posted at 17:47h, 18 August Reply

    Very interesting to read! This is one game I would have liked to play.

  • Kurt
    Posted at 18:21h, 18 August Reply

    Wow. So much work that went into this. Shame it did not work out. I really enjoy this behind the scenes stuff. Keep it coming :)

  • Marko
    Posted at 18:45h, 18 August Reply

    Looks and sounds interesting. Perhaps you can try Kickstarting this game when you complete Hellblade?

  • Krighton
    Posted at 19:21h, 18 August Reply

    Looks fantastic, would have loved to play it. Appears to be a mesh of WARFRAME, BORDERLANDS and FIREFALL. All three games seemed to have inspired the artwork and ambiance.

    Regardless, definitely something I would have played.

  • Peter
    Posted at 19:24h, 18 August Reply

    THX!!

  • Marta
    Posted at 22:34h, 18 August Reply

    It is extremelly excting to have a possibility to look and read this docs, thank you!

  • Ninja Theory details its cancelled sci-fi action game Razer | Clash Of The Console
    Posted at 03:35h, 19 August Reply

    […] detailed on the studio’s blog, Razer was conceived as a mix between DmC and Vanquish’s combat systems and the action affair […]

  • AAron
    Posted at 11:16h, 19 August Reply

    Amazing. Very Very ambitious project… Would’ve loved to play this game. Kickstarter anyone???

  • Henner
    Posted at 16:20h, 19 August Reply

    I am from Germany and i hope you find a publisher for that very great game.

  • Rafael
    Posted at 17:42h, 19 August Reply

    I don’t care much for this type of game and setting, I very much prefer something on par with Heavenly Sword.

    But I’m really glad with the attitude of posting this stuff and sharing with us, the public. Thank you.

  • Vainglorious
    Posted at 00:33h, 20 August Reply

    While this would not be my type of game, I still want to say that I greatly appreciate all the work you guys put into it. The concept art and documentation is very inspirational to me and my desire to learn more about everything that goes into making games, even if this particular project didn’t come to fruition. Thanks a lot!

  • Robert K.
    Posted at 05:44h, 22 August Reply

    When I look at this material for Razer, I think of WARFAME, which is a highly successful free-to-play game on Steam. I also think crowd funding would have easily put this game on the market. By the way, who said Destiny would prevent a game like this from being successful? That’s just ridiculous, they are worlds apart when it comes to style and gameplay mechanics.

  • עבודות מהבית
    Posted at 20:33h, 22 August Reply

    Damn thats looks good, shame this won’t happen

  • Leo
    Posted at 08:57h, 23 August Reply

    You truly should do a kickstarter for this game. If people actually are interested in this kind of stuff than they will gladly give you money. I know I would. I would like to see this come to fruition.

  • GenoHunter
    Posted at 15:59h, 23 August Reply

    Those armor suits, especially their design then the enemies, i’m guessing it was inspired by Evolva for PC back from 2000.

  • David Franco
    Posted at 20:30h, 26 August Reply

    Thank you for having shared this with the world.

    I am really sad that this game is not gonna be release, it’s really a shame.

    Anyway, thanks again and congratulations for the really awesome work.

  • Deftones
    Posted at 23:10h, 27 August Reply

    Xbox can take this into a real thing.
    Looks pretty cool.

  • Michael W
    Posted at 15:23h, 28 August Reply

    This Game looks awesome, like a mix of Destiny and Warframe.
    Can’t you guys do a Kickstarter or a survey for it to see how many people will buy it? Maybe then it will get greenlit after all hopefully!

  • Michael Shade
    Posted at 15:42h, 28 August Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing. I am a Game Design student at Full Sail University and these docs and concepts give fantastic insight into the development process. Thank you for all you do!

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