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Hidetaka Miyazaki Discusses Dark Souls

Director shares new insights and development secrets for Demon's Souls spiritual successor.

 

4Gamer has posted an extensive interview with From Software's Hidetaka Miyazaki, director of Demon's Souls spiritual successor Dark Souls. In the interview, Miyazaki shared a few new details, and even some development secrets on the new project.

Here's a bit of what was said over the interview's four pages.

Why Not Demon's Souls 2

Miyazaki said that it's difficult for him to give a straight answer to the question of why the new game is Dark Souls and not Demon's Souls 2. He did want to make Demon's Souls 2, but "various things" prevented that from happening. Regardless of this, he's happy that the game has become Dark Souls, as it allows him to show his creative side by using new ideas and not being tied down.

Fully Seamless World

Asked about new concepts for Dark Souls, Miyazaki said the game places focus on the feeling of exploration by making the map fully seamless. 4Gamer asked if this means means the fields will be like the open fields of Bethesda's Oblivion series. Rather than this, he suggested that we think of it as being a full dungeon. Demon's Souls was split into stages like 1-1, 1-2, 2-1 and so-forth. Dark Souls has these seamlessly intertwined.

Walking about the fully connected map is very enjoyable, said Miyakai. The map portion of the game is still not complete though. It's like being between alpha and beta state at present.

The map isn't just expansive, Miyazaki noted. They've prepared a variety of situations. There's more than just Dark Fantasy. You'll also find High Fantasy areas, hell, and other varying maps.

The world will also have great height, although this is something that was true of Demon's Souls as well, Miyazaki feels.

In making the world map, they're considering things like how players will shift viewpoints, general movement patterns and so-forth in order to create a map that's easy for players to get a grasp of. They're keeping in mind how players remember the map in their head and are taking care to not exceed that processing limit.

Volume Up

Dark Souls is expected to have about 60 hours or so play time, said Miyazaki. Demon's Souls, in contrast, expects 30 or 40 hours.

In the area of content, the major point of increase is in enemies. Demon's Souls had around 30 types. Dark Souls has close to 100.

Of course, they're also readying an appropriate quantity of weapons, armor and such. There will be new magic. An example is the ability to turn yourself into objects, which could lead to coming across jars in odd places during multiplayer.

Weapons will have different motions, and some players may choose to keep using weaker weapons because they match their play style rather than switch to more powerful weapons when obtained. The weapons actually see changes in speed and recovery time depending on your character's parameters.

There will also be weapon fortification system in place, an area that Miyzaki felt Demon's Souls failed with. Overseas players in particular said that this area of Demon's Souls was difficult to understand.

Online Play

While not getting too specific, Miyazaki highlighted two concepts for Dark Souls' online play.

First is "shared play experience." Miyazaki wants players to feel that they have friends who are challenging this difficult game along with them. Players will have gradual effects on one another. The goal of this system is to recreate the feeling of playing the old Dragon Quest games, where even though everyone is playing individually, they exchange information and feel happy that someone else is struggling with them.

The other concept is referred to at From Software as "mutual role playing." This involves instances of cooperative and competitive play as an extension of the individual's role playing experience.

We're going to have to wait for details on this area of the game, it seems.

On the Partnership with Namco Bandai

From Software is handling promotions for Dark Souls on its own in Japan. Namco Bandai is doing that sort of work for international markets. Miyazaki said that Namco Bandai's role could be described as collaborating on the game while also taking part in the game's worldwide strategy. From Software is responsible for all the game's content, though.

There won't be any Namco Bandai character cameos in the game, said Miyazaki, because the game's world setting wouldn't really match this. (4Gamer's interview said that they'd been hoping for a Soul Calibur character cameo... or maybe a a sword tie-up ala God Eater Burst).

There also aren't ties to other From Software games, although there may be something like the Moon Light, a sword from King's Field that also appears in Armored Core and was in Demon's Souls as well.

On Overseas Development

Dark Souls, like its predecessor, has been getting lots of attention outside of Japan. But Miyazaki doesn't appear to be actually creating the game for overseas players.

There are only three areas where they are taking overseas markets into consideration. First, the interface and control methods are being made to match up with world standards so long as they don't go against the gameplay ideas the team is considering. Second, they're making it so that localization work will be simple. Third, they're avoiding cultural taboos (see below).

Aside from this, they aren't attempting to design things for overseas players. Miyazaki feels that while some Japanese players feel that Demon's Souls had a western feel to it, for overseas players, the game's graphics, monster design and game design looked Japanese. For overseas players, one of the appeals may have been to see the strange and unknown.

On Download Content

There are currently no plans in place for download content, although it's not something that has been completely ruled out. They wouldn't have a paid system for offering items, though, as these are meant to be rewards for discovery and work. However, if they feel that they can do something interesting online using the Dark Souls engine, this could appear as download content.

Who Is this Miyazaki Guy, Anyway?

4Gamer asked a few personal questions to Miyazaki. It's hard to believe, but Miyazaki has only been in the game industry for six years. He joined From Software at the age of 30. Prior to that, he was just an ordinary gamer who did analyst and account manager work at an IT company.

Miyazaki had wanted to work in the game industry for some time, though. However, after finishing graduate school, he needed money, so he selected a company that paid well. After four years of working in this fashion, he acquired the money he needed, and decided to go make games.

Why From Software? From is among the few companies out there that will hire a 30-year-old planner who doesn't have experience, explained Miyazaki. He felt lucky to get the job at From, as he was actually a fan of King's Field.

Upon entering From Software, Miyazaki first took part in Armored Core Last Raven, joining the game's development midway through. For Armored Core 4, he was main planner, but ended up being switched to director midway through. He then served as director on Armored Core For Answer and, of course, Demon's Souls.

Interestingly, even though he entered From Software as a planner, there are no games in which he appears as "main planner."

On Dark Souls, Miyazaki is credited as "Director and Producer." He was just Director on Demon's Souls, but he was also doing producer-like duties on that game so there isn't really much difference.

Dark Souls Secrets

Miyazaki also shared a few development secrets about Dark Souls.

4Gamer said that it heard last year from someone at From Software that Dark Souls was going to be called "Dark Ring" at one point. The reason this didn't happen is because Dark Ring is slang for anus in England.

But Dark Ring wasn't actually the original conceived name. Originally, prior to the game's unveiling point at Tokyo Game Show 2010, they were planning on going with the name "Dark Race." The game's setting has players being of a race of cursed people, and this race was known as the "Dark Race."

The Dark Race name didn't hold because there was worry that it would be viewed as a racist expression overseas. This concern popped up two days before Tokyo Game Show, which is why the game ended up being announced with the placeholder title of Project Dark.

Following TGS, they kept the Dark and considered such names as Dark Lord and Dark Ring. They couldn't get a trademark for the former. They decided on Dark Ring, but were told of the slang around New Years time.

The concept of "Dark Ring" actually figures into the game, as there's a "Dark Ring" that comes out of the player as a sign of their being cursed.

Release Set for 2011

Miyazaki wouldn't get specific with release dates beyond affirming the promised 2011 time frame.

While From may do demo events, there are no plans to release a downloadable demo, as they don't feel that the appeal of Dark Souls can't be conveyed in a short play experience. Plus, Miyazaki feels that he's not all that great at making demos.

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