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A PlayStation Blog post released today includes several details about the design of Kena. Kena is a young spirit guide seeking an ancient mountain shrine. The game releases next week, and Hunter Schmidt, the animation director at Ember Lab, has shown some behind the scenes of character design.
“Kena’s original character designs were created by Wanchana ‘Vic’ Intrasombat. He was a close collaborator on our commercial projects in the past, but this time he had a blank canvas and we can see so much of his charming and unique view of the world in all of the character designs.”
The original design for Kena was of a younger girl. However, as development progressed, the developers realised that they would need their character to have more life experience. As such, Kena was aged up a little to fit better the actions she would need to perform in-game.
“Kena was realized in 3D for the first time by Rodrigo Gonçalves. He built the prototype model and later continued to refine and explore real-time techniques for various details like her hair. We also collaborated with Carlos Ortega, who many revere for his beautifully clean 3D character work.”
To help assist with the animation of Kena, Ember Lab created a library of expressions to encompass various hand and hair poses. Using this base library, all further animation would come from the same base concepts. This ensures that Kena feels like the same person from the start of the game, all the way to the end. While physics simulations were used for other characters throughout the game, all of Kena is hand-animated, right down to the wobbles of her hair.
Kena: Bridge of Spirits is out on September 21 for the PS5, PS4, and PC through the Epic Games Store. The game is a timed console exclusive so it may come to other platforms in future.
Elsewhere, Star Wars: Hunters has received a new trailer that features two Jawa’s in a trench coat.