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EGM Interview:
Dark Souls Director Hidetaka Miyazaki

By
Posted on April 17, 2012 AT 08:30am

If you want proof of the power Japanese game developers can still wield, look no further than From Software’s Hidetaka Miyazaki. Miyazaki is the director of both Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls—two games that found audiences where some thought there’d be no audiences, and which conquered the West when some thought the games would die in those territories. Instead, it was players who died, over and over and over again as they braved the dangers of the games and enjoyed every minute of doing so.

Now, Miyazaki and his team are preparing Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition—a new version of Dark Souls crafted for Namco Bandai to satiate the legion of PC gamers who want their turn to play (and die). After a Q&A session with Miyazaki—which I recommend you head over and read by clicking here in case you haven’t yet—I got the chance to sit down with the From Software director and dig a little deeper into the PC version of Dark Soul, the questions fans have, and what to call a spider’s sister.

EGM: Shuhei Yoshida said it was a mistake to not publish Demon’s Souls in North America. Not many people originally thought such a game would be popular with players in the West, but both that and Dark Souls have found a huge following here. Have you been surprised by the reaction those games received here in this country, and were you also surprised by how many people wanted a PC version of Dark Souls to happen?

Miyazaki: Obviously, yes. We were surprised, and I’ve been very excited seeing the support the games have gotten—especially the petition. We had no plans at all to create a PC version, so the petition surprised us, and I’m glad that we now have this chance to give Dark Souls to those players.

EGM: So, originally, did you think that a game like Dark Souls wouldn’t be fitting for the PC market, or was it simply something you just never considered?

Miyazaki: I had no experience making PC games, so it was simply a case of never even thinking about it.

EGM: One of the big components of Dark Souls is its player-vs.-player elements. On the console versions, there were a few patches that came out to help prevent players cheating, or to fix bugs which caused balancing issues. When bringing the game to the PC, however, you’ve suddenly got a platform where modifying games or applying trainers or bots is far, far easier and prevalent. How do you deal with those concerns for the PC version?

Miyazaki: If I said those concerns didn’t exist, of course it’d be a lie. However, we didn’t want those concerns to stop us from bringing Dark Soul to the PC. So, for now, I guess what I can say is that I feel some anxiety over the issue. [laughs]

EGM: One of the other questions that’s come up among PC gamers is Dark Souls being a Games For Windows Live title, as there’s quite a divide in the PC market between GFWL and those that are built on Steamworks. Did you at From Software make the decision as to what platform the PC version would be using, or was that a decision made by Namco Bandai?

Miyazaki: That was completely the decision of Namco Bandai. However, while for now we’ve only announced support for Games For Windows Live, that’s still to be determined—we might work with Steam as well. We don’t know yet.

EGM: As much as people loved Dark Souls, a few fans did take some issue with the late-game areas—particularly locations like Lost Izalith. Was there any consideration for making actual changes to what had been created now that you were making the PC version, or did you decide that you wanted to stay true—as much as possible—to what had been created for the console versions other than the new content?

Miyazaki: The plan was for this to be a complete port from the consumer version, so I never thought about making major edits such as that.

EGM: Then I also have to ask, if you’re saying this is a complete port—I don’t know if I’d call it a “feature”, or simply a part of the game, but in Blighttown the framerate can get a little rough at times. Can you say anything on a technical level on how the PC version of Dark Souls will run framerate-wise in sections like that?

Miyazaki: Unfortunately, at this moment, I don’t know the answer to that. [laughs]

EGM: But, of course, you know that that’s something players are eager to know about, and potentially see from a PC version.

Miyazaki: I’m fully aware that players want such a fix not only from the PC version, but also the console versions. [laughs] I’m very sorry about that.

EGM: In this being a new venture for you in terms of bringing the game to the PC market, was the whole idea of porting Dark Souls to the PC frightening? Was it overwhelming? Was it exciting? What feelings did you feel in now realizing that you had to make a PC version of the game?

Miyazaki: I was excited, but as I don’t have that experience in making PC games, I was also a bit afraid. I had concerns about making the PC version in terms of things like technical issues, but it was thrilling to get that chance. Having that chance to work on a platform that’s new to you is fun; it’s a challenge.

EGM: If you think that challenge is fun, then you should also challenge yourself more by bringing Dark Souls to the Vita.

Miyazaki: That’s not my decision I’m afraid! [laughs] Personally, though, I like the Vita.

EGM: At this point, you’ve said that you can’t give us any big details regarding the new bosses that are in the game, but can you speak at all to the inspirations your team had that brought us the new enemies we’ll be facing?

Miyazaki: I might not be directly answering your question, but we visualized the character of Artorias from the text and NPC conversations that were a part of Dark Souls. So, that visualization of who he was was part of the inspiration for making the new bosses or NPCs that will be in the PC version. For us, that was a fun and exciting part of putting together this project.

EGM: Then, to finish up, I have two more light-hearted questions about Dark Souls. First, what was your favorite part of the game? It can be a character, a weapon, a location, anything.

Miyazaki: That’s very difficult! [laughs] As I am the director of Dark Souls, I like most of the various pieces of the game. But if I have to pick one specific thing, though, I’d probably pick the covenant system. I thought—and still think—there is real potential in that system, but even with what we did in Dark Souls, we weren’t able to reach a point with the covenants where I’m fully satisfied. Still, that was my favorite part—especially the Covenant of Solaire.

EGM: That’s a great set up for my final question, then, as it also connects with the covenants, and one of my personal favorite parts of Dark Souls. And you might not know this, but I have to ask since I have the chance. One of the covenants deals with the daughters of chaos, and is centered around the sister of Quelaag. But—there’s a lot of discussion about what Quelaag’s sister’s name is, and nobody seems to know for certain. Can you, here today, give me a definitive answer?

Miyazaki: I can’t! [laughs] I’m sorry!

EGM: But that was the most important question that I wanted to ask you! [laughs]

Miyazaki: I’ve actually been asked that before, but I’ve never been able to help anybody out with an answer. I apologize for that!

 

Eric L. Patterson, Executive Editor
Eric L. Patterson got his start via self-publishing game-related fanzines in junior high, and now has one goal in life: making sure EGM has as much coverage of niche Japanese games as he can convince them to fit in. Eric’s also active in the gaming community on a personal level, being an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming and consumer rights. Stalk him on Twitter: @pikoeri. Meet the rest of the crew.

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