We spoke with Ninja Theory about Bleeding Edge and life as an Xbox Game Studio

By Sean Carey,
We recently got the chance to play Bleeding Edge, which you can read all about here. We also sat down with the game’s creative director, Rahni Tucker and senior designer, Gerald Poon and talked about what it’s like working under the Xbox Game Studios banner, launching their game into Xbox Game Pass and the creative process for developing a colourful cast of characters for a new multiplayer brawler.

Bleeding Edge

The game’s roots took hold in 2013. Tucker had come up with the idea after noticing a gap between genres: a competitive multiplayer game with third-person melee combat didn’t exist. Tucker got a prototype working, but, at the time, Ninja Theory didn’t have the resources to put into her concept. “We didn’t have capacity at the studio to properly start making it, so we put it to the side for a while,” said Tucker. It was when the team realised that Hellblade was shaping up to be something special, Tucker was then given the green light. “Around halfway through Hellblade, It was like ‘this Indie AAA thing is going quite well — it seems to be working out. We have a little bit of bandwidth to start a new thing. Rahni, are you still interested in making that other game?’” Of course, Tucker jumped at the chance and development started soon after, “It’s a massive passion project for me, and there are tonnes of other guys on the team who are massively into competitive multiplayer games, so it all just made sense.”

The idea for Bleeding Edge came well before Microsoft’s acquisition of Ninja Theory. Now firmly nestled under the Xbox Games Studios umbrella, Ninja Theory has been left alone in terms of creative decision making, and the team hasn’t noticed much difference. The obvious significant benefit of having a parent company such as Microsoft is the resources and the opportunities it provides. “In terms of day-to-day, it really doesn’t feel any different to me. The thing that I guess is awesome about [working with Microsoft] is the access to cool stuff, like being able to launch a game at E3, being able to go to the show floor at X019 or Gamescom. Just having the support network as an indie developer is incredible.” Poon adds, “It’s just having resources as well. We’ve had people testing the game for us, people checking standards and things like that, just from that support front, but, yeah, the day to day hasn’t changed too much.”

Bleeding Edge release date closed beta

The game features a cast of twelve colourful and expertly designed fighters; you can tell a great amount of effort and passion has gone into their creation. From the cosmetic side, you have bizarre amalgamations such as Cass who sports cybernetic legs, which are similar to a cassowary. Kulev was a 126-year-old history professor from Cambridge University and has had his skeletal body reanimated by a bionic snake that now controls his body. The ideas for these characters are a team effort and are usually born from a hole found in the roster lineup. “A lot of them are gameplay first. We come up with an archetype or a role that we want to fill. We prototype the moves and the abilities that we feel we need to fill that gap, and then we get everyone in a room, and we ask ‘who would do this in our world?’ We form the visual idea from that.

This isn’t strictly true for all fighters — particularly the new one Ninja Theory has just announced. Mekko is a Dolphin that sits in a fishbowl and pilots a crab-like mech. Mekko takes on the role of a ranged tank and is striking in his appearance. He was actually one of the first designs the team had for Bleeding Edge, according to Tucker. “Mekko is pretty off the wall. We’ve had the concept for ages; he was one of the first ones!” Poon excitedly adds, “I think we saw the character and we just had to make it into something. We had to!”

Mekko

“I feel like we need the kind of starter set of characters that are a bit more understandable,” says Tucker. “He was one of the first concepts we had and was kind of waiting patiently for us to make him into a gaming reality.“

With Bleeding Edge coming to Xbox Game Pass, Tucker understands that the game is going out to an audience that might not be used to playing team-based games. “With Game Pass being a thing for us, we knew there would be people coming into the game who might not be so familiar with the genre. Maybe they’ve not played a class-based game before — maybe they’re just not used to it, but we wanted to make sure those players could transition a little easier.” A degree of care has been put into the game to make it friendly for new players. Fighters are rated by how easy they are to play and learn. The Dojo is a training area of the game that features AI characters to practice against, and tutorials have been introduced. Most of these ideas have come from community feedback.

When asked her thoughts on launching Bleeding Edge into Xbox Game Pass, Tucker is enthusiastic and is excited to reach a potential new audience, “It’s great getting access to a massive bunch of gamers and maybe people that wouldn’t have looked at that type of game before. It’s amazing.”

If you want to know more about Bleeding Edge, check out our preview. You can also access the closed beta on March 13th if you’ve pre-ordered the game or if you’re an Xbox Game Pass subscriber.

Bleeding Edge launches on Xbox One, Windows 10 and Steam on March 24th and is available to play via Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass for PC.

Bleeding Edge
Bleeding Edge

Grab your team and tear it up in Bleeding Edge, an electrifying online brawler where every fighter comes mechanically enhanced for mayhem!


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Sean Carey
Written by Sean Carey
Hey everyone! I'm Sean. I have been writing gaming content for various outlets over the past few years while studying a degree in Journalism. I grew up on everything PlayStation — mainly Metal Gear Solid, with a brief foray into the world of Xbox. Nowadays, you'll find me mainly playing multiplayer PC games, but with the recent addition of the Xbox Game Pass for PC, I'm looking forward to improving my TA Score.