The day is almost here! Kena: Bridge of Spirits’ free “Anniversary Update” will go live on PS4 and PS5 on Tuesday, September 27. We were very happy to see the positive fan response to last month’s announcement, and now we can’t wait for everyone to check out the new content!
To celebrate the release, we wanted to share a look at the creative and technical process behind creating Kena’s new outfits for the “Anniversary Update”. If you missed our announcement detailing all the other new content, be sure to check it out!
Our approach in developing cosmetics for Kena really boiled down to three main goals. First, it always feels good when an outfit requires real know-how to obtain. We wanted to wear them as badges of honor. Then we thought each should remind us of the story and characters encountered along the way – constant reminders of who we’ve met and where we’ve been. Finally, we like to have a good variety of options that allow for self-expression and the ability to change things up as you go. With these ideas in mind, we got to work!
To make sure all outfits represented a real sense of achievement, we decided to tie them to Spirit Guide Trials (another major new addition included in the “Anniversary Update”). As players progress through the main story, new trials become available at the Central Mask Shrine. Only by completing these challenges will players be able to unlock the new outfits. Players who have mastered each of the trials will eventually have access to the full range of outfits, signifying their remarkable skills.
We then turned to visual designs. During initial development, we paid a lot of attention to designing our cast of characters. We decided that these characters provided the perfect inspiration for Kena’s outfits. Each new outfit players unlock is inspired by a different spirit Kena helps on her journey, but uniquely reworked and tailored to her. This way, even after players move on from a particular story, they can still keep a memento they can wear.
For example, one of the first new outfits players can unlock is inspired by the village outfit worn by twins Beni & Saiya and their older brother Taro. Later, other cosmetics become available, such as Rusu and Hana inspired Archer and Bombmaker outfits. Each takes details from their character for inspiration like Hana’s unique satchel or Rusu’s owl-crested cape. (We won’t spoil them all.)
These new outfits provided a great opportunity for our art team and character artist to shine. Incorporating such a variety of new textures, fabrics and accessories while balancing the designs with Kena’s design really brought out our team’s attention to detail. We are very happy with the results!
But it’s not just about visual design. Hunter Schmidt, our Animation Director, shares more details about Kena’s cosmetic development:
“Of course, another important aspect of the new outfits is how they move…and this was an opportunity for our team to practice more with fabric and physics. We found the most success with the bone riders and Unreal Engine’s Anim Dynamics.
But Kena’s original animations presented some challenges when combined with the layered clothing as we see in these drawings. Sometimes, for exaggerated and stylized effect, the animations push his posture beyond what is normally possible, with jumps or twirls at abnormal speeds. Even sitting cross-legged while meditating, resting, or some of the new poses we’ve added in the improved photo mode were particularly difficult.
So while Anim Dynamics and Bone Pilots provided a good cover solution for most cases, we wanted to make sure Kena and the new outfits looked good at all times. In these scenarios, we selectively animated these details by hand, mixing physics and hand animation where necessary. Old habits die hard.”
Finally, once we landed on our outfit designs and worked out the animations, we still wanted to make sure we provided a good amount of variety. We decided that the best way to maintain the quality of all cosmetics while gaining more versatility was to create special color variants for each outfit in the base game.
At first we weren’t sure it would yield the variety we were hoping for, but by really curating the color variations, we ended up with an exciting range of different outfits that allow for a great sense of diversity and expression. Color variants can be unlocked by completing bonus objectives in Spirit Guide Trials.
We’ve even created an entire outfit exclusively for Deluxe Edition owners! (featured at the top of this blog).
We hope our existing and new players enjoy all the new content included in our “Anniversary Update”, including Kena’s new cosmetics. It has truly been a fantastic first year of sharing Kena: Bridge of Spirits with the world.