Dark Souls Q&A

We speak to development director Hidetaka Miyazaki about why hard games are OK and how Dark Souls is a lot like real life.

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Dark Souls is on the horizon, and if you couldn't get enough of its predecessor, Demon's Souls, here's your chance to once again die countless times in From Software's upcoming role-playing game. Not for the weak-willed, Demon's Souls was a brutally challenging game that forced you to get better--and quickly. Death is a common theme, which you'll come to know quite well. And while some people may balk at the idea of the game being too difficult, From Software is pushing to make Dark Souls even more so, and the developer has no qualms about it.

GameSpot: Why did you decide to do a game like Dark Souls as opposed to a traditional sequel?

Hidetaka Miyazaki: From a creative standpoint, I'm glad that it's not a direct sequel and that we're calling it Dark Souls, which is a new game, simply because we don't have to be bound by the features, the game design, and the content of Demon's Souls. So we were able to try out new things, take the experience from Demon's Souls, and put it into a brand new game.

GS: What do you find interesting about the fantasy setting and themes associated with Demon's Souls?

HM: So, there are two answers to that. First of all, my past experience with creating Demon's Souls [was] a good experience. But I want to express being strict. Life is not easy, you know. I wanted to express being in a devastating situation and being able to fight against it to try and succeed. [This doesn't just apply to games], but sort of to life, and that's what I want to express.

And when you think, "OK, how do I express this or where do I express this?" the dark fantasy world was a perfect place to sort of communicate to people that play this game to constantly stand up--to constantly fight. Perhaps it's not as deep as I sort of make it sound, but to answer your question, one is my past experiences, but the next is sort of the message I want to try and get across.

GS: One of the things Demon's Souls is known for is its difficulty, but was there any internal concern over making a game so challenging?

HM: In terms of game difficulty, there were definitely some arguments or discussions that went on within the development team itself. And there have been requests for different modes, like an easy, normal, and difficult or hard mode. But the reason why we [said no to those modes] is we want to give rewards for something…being able to carry out and achieve something very difficult. As soon as you start to make an easy mode and as soon as you bring down the barriers for that difficulty, then what we're trying to create and what we're trying to express isn't going to be true. It's not going to be real.

Secondly, the messaging system in the game--similar to the one in Demon's Souls--and the feelings you have from reading the messages is simply because you know that other people are facing the same difficulty. The way I express it to my team and help them understand is this: It's like throwing seeds into a dried-out land, basically. You throw seeds out, but sometimes the seeds will bloom. That's sort of what I'm trying to express with Dark Souls.

But I don't feel all games have to be as difficult, but for this game, that's the concept I have in mind. There's no intent in making the game any easier just because of the rewards, happiness, and satisfaction you get from seeing the seeds sprout out of dry land.

GS: Early reports suggest that Dark Souls is even more difficult than Demon's Souls. But one of the biggest hurdles in Demon's Souls came from understanding the rules of the world, rather than the combat. Is that the case in Dark Souls as well? Or is the actual combat going to be more difficult as well?

HM: So in terms of difficulty, there are several ways of increasing the difficulty. But one thing I'm set on is to not make the game more difficult based on skill level. I don't want the users to necessarily have to be quick or necessarily have high-skill level in terms of how you control the game. That's not where we're trying to create the difficulty.

What I'm trying to achieve is a game that anybody can clear. It may take time, but a player who is attentive, can strategize, and create their own game style…that's how the player will be able to complete the game.

The way I plan to make Dark Souls is a little bit more difficult than Demon's Souls. We will require players to pay a little more attention and be a little bit more careful as opposed to being strictly not quick enough [to use a bunch of different moves]. That's not how we will make the game difficult.

GS: So more paranoid?

HM: Paranoid, yes. Yeah, so if you try to continue on with the same strategies for every situation, you're going to be in a tough situation every time. So you have to be attentive and have to learn from what you experienced in the game.

GS: What sorts of limitations exist when dual-wielding weapons? Does it restrict your movement or magic abilities? What sort of dual-wielding combinations are there and how will that help you survive?

HM: In terms of dual-wielding, the quick answer is it's a demerit or it'll make the game a lot more difficult for the player. The difficulty of the game has been tuned based on having one shield and having one sword. And using a shield has many advantages against enemies, obviously. Taking that shield off and putting weapons in two hands will cut down on the amount of stamina that the character has and will make the game a lot more difficult.

But if that's the game style that the player chooses...if that's the offense that he decides to take, the game will become difficult. We wanted to leave that choice up to the user. [At the same time], we don't want half the users to be dual-wielding. That's not what our intent is. Hopefully, very few players make that choice.

I love the shield. And so that's where the difficulty has been set. But if there is a player that decides to use two swords, he's more than welcome to do so. But I want to make sure that having two swords is a cool characteristic and that's an aspect of a character or of a person's way of thinking. So if everybody uses two swords, it's not going to look as cool. So we're trying to have a small number of people go for that extra coolness, but I fought against the difficulty--the increased difficulty--by using two swords. So that's sort of the balance that I want to keep.

GS: Do you have more choice in whose game you play if you join in cooperative mode than in Demon's Souls? Is voice chat possible if you team up with a friend?

HM: In terms of ways to cooperate, the number of variations has increased from Demon's Souls. But as a basis, we want to make sure that players use the network to share their experiences. There's no concept of friends, or there's no concept of voice chat. Each player will play their role in the world and there will be a way to contact each other within the game. But the obvious concept of it is not to hold hands with somebody, obviously.

The network feature for this game is designed to enhance the single-player mode. It's designed so that players playing single-player will be able to have that [new game plus] effect when playing the game. And that's something that's original for this game.

There are lots of games out there that allow people to play multiplayer or play with friends or voice chat, but that's not what we're trying to provide the user. I understand people may want multiplayer mode or people may want voice chat. But for this game, because we are trying to achieve an original sort of game standard, we have deliberately not put in any voice chat. And, again, the network system is not to support multiple people at the same time but to enhance the single-player mode.

GS: Are there any significant changes, such as being able to ride animals or dabble in alchemy or other crafting activities?

HM: Riding animals. I actually put some thought into it, but I cut it out of the features.

GS: What about downloadable content?

HM: We're at a difficult stage to be able to really explain new features to you. So we can't tell you very much, but I guess in terms of new features, we can tell you the recovery system has changed drastically. It has changed from Demon's Souls, where you have to collect grass to recover yourself, to something a little bit different.

And the interesting aspect about this new feature is--for really hardcore players--the game will probably be a little bit more difficult. And for casual players, the game will be a little bit...not easier, but this feature will be a little more helpful and accessible.

GS: One of the most noteworthy aspects of Demon's Souls was the sense of discovery. Not only do you have to learn most of the rules of the game yourself, but every level also had many shortcuts, items, and buried treasures that made replays enticing. Is that still the case here?

HM: Definitely. I understand that this was one of the big key points in Demon's Souls, and we have implemented even more discoveries for Dark Souls. So hopefully, even the players that love Demon's Souls will come back to Dark Souls and have a lot more discoveries as he or she plays the game.

GS: Are the classes still based on basic archetypes, such as wizard, barbarian, or warrior? Are there any additional classes or are different races going to play a part? Do you still play the human regardless of your skills?

HM: The base concept of having different classes and archetypes is very similar to what was in Demon's Souls. We will have prepared several archetypes, such as wizards, that the user can choose. But, again, the concept is how the player chooses to live life within the game. Yeah, so we haven't shifted very much from that.

But an additional comment is that the volume and what you can reveal from the different archetypes has increased as compared to Demon's Souls. The options have grown and the users will have more freedom to sort of...again, live within the Dark Souls world.

GS: So will it be out before TGS?

HM: Nice try.

GS: Had to try! Thanks for your time.

Discussion

317 comments
meleekill989
meleekill989

if you can't take the heat, stay out of the soul kitchen. october's going to be a great month for me.

Agent-M
Agent-M

I love the new changes they are creating for the game, hopefully they didn't don't follow the last game and focus so much on game-play that they forget to implement a dynamic storyline to this one.

Rat_King
Rat_King

Demon's Souls had potential to be one of my favorite games of all time. And I definitely think it's a great game....but I don't like how people keep saying it's so difficult. Yeah when you're playing in black (or is it white?) mode it's going to be more challenging, but for the first playthrough it's really not that hard. The only "difficult" part is no save, so if you die you start the whole thing over again. I don't really understand this...if you're going to die you're going to die. I understand this is the feature that set it apart and made it so "difficult" but it's the only thing that turned me off. Just give me one save slot and this will be one of the best games ever made for consoles.

thebruceshow
thebruceshow

It seems everything that made demons souls unique and great was completely intentional. If they can pull off a successful sequel to demons souls with out losing some of the core values ( precision swordship ), and hopefully improve other things, then they will be well on there way to becoming game of the year. I think that is saying a lot considering the great line up this year, one word (Skyrim)......

Rump3lstiltskin
Rump3lstiltskin

Finally a follow up to the greatest game every developed for consoles since Golden Eye. I just hope it lives up to its predecessor, and doesn't flop like some resent games have, i.e. Dragon Age 2, and GT5. I imagine it will be amazing (knock on wood) and I can wait to get my ass handed to me all over again. I could never understand why some people would just give up on this game. They get hacked a slashed the first couple times playing, gave up and traded it in for some common shooter like Call of Duty 4. Where a game like that gets release every 4 months. To each their own I guess... All I can say is you guys missed out on a rare gem that only comes around every decade on consoles. Let the soul collecting begin!

shadgrindk
shadgrindk

The distance between Demon's Souls and my 2nd favorite game of all time is so far away it has made it virtually impossible for me to enjoy any new game that's come out since. This will be my fix! My gaming life is, "Do I want to give this Red Dead Redemption a try, or should I do what I know I'm gonna and play my way through Demon's Souls for the 10+ time? Easy decision. I wish these American game developers will wake up and realize that there are about a million different ways they could take what From Software gave us and manipulate it into something Demon's Souls'ish because any rip off or reinvention of it would be so much nicer than the crap they keep pumping out.

Dragonballz290
Dragonballz290

I haven't played the first one yet but thanks to this I will. It looks like these devs have heart and aren't sell outs like a lot of shooter devs.

DamacosG
DamacosG

in demon souls how come they never had an ad-on for the gaints of the northern land arcstone?

DamacosG
DamacosG

ALL OF YOU, your soul is mine muhahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!

dante-1776
dante-1776

nice! i just loved demon souls. but if you ask me they can make it a little more easy to play. it wood be nice if they make the exploration a little easy er and hard boss battles.

be_skeptical
be_skeptical

Harder than Demon's Souls? Pass. Waaay Pass. As in not even gamefly pass. I'll keep my sixty bucks and set it on fire in the yard. That is the kind of pain the first one gave me.

Maxxgold
Maxxgold

Can't wait. Demon Soul's was one of the best games I have ever played. Finally a game where you have to have some skill to beat it and the developers don't wuss out and make it easier for the people who suck at games. I wish more game developers would adopt this type of system. I hate games that come out with different difficulty levels. Games should have one difficulty level and you should feel like you accomplished something when you beat the game.

slainta
slainta

Even harder then Demon's Souls? That can't be. I am at my 4th play, starting from scratch because my PS3 r.i.p., and even exploiting some glitches for fast leveling I still die miserably sometimes. Crazy. Still, I won't mind much. As long as they get a rid of the luck factors like geckos and pure bladestones from dual katana black phantoms!! Well, not to mention the Marrowstones. That was (still is) too much.

final_fantasies
final_fantasies

Ok, I am really happy to see a new game like demon souls. But anyone knows if they plan to make a sequel to demon souls as well? thanks for any answerrrrr.

ljb70
ljb70

Beware the Flameluker

Spasymagee
Spasymagee

This would really suit pc gaming

Thehobb
Thehobb

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Caliburn1989
Caliburn1989

While a little late to the party I really think Dark Souls could use some friend list support for multiplayer. It was a massive hassle early on in Demon's Souls to find your friend due to what I perceived to be different instances of the levels. If there was a join friends game option, it would be greatly appreciated. Communication can be circumvented via Skype, Ventrillo and the like while playing with friends or getting help from people from various communities.

jad206
jad206

I am really looking forward to this game. Not just for myself, but for my friends on Xbox who never played Demon's Souls'. I hope I can stay in a Party when playing this game.

CLOCKWORKIAN
CLOCKWORKIAN

@Hoski0999 Yes, well spoken; the lack of voice options helps give the feeling of isolation by ten fold. And yes! Ha ha ha! Changing your voice would be hilarious! And I can only (safely) assume that given the difficulty of the game and the discipline needed to beat it, there wouldn't be as much children running their mouths off with obscenities like you see in the Call of Duty games, for example. Overall though, like we both discussed, I do prefer if there is no voice chat. But the potential could be a fun idea. Maybe another title?

rockford417
rockford417

OMG I can't wait. I am wetting myself prematurely. Hope they hire the same sound people. The music alone from Demons Souls was scary just by itself. It looks like it is the same dark wet dreary gloomy place as before. I can't wait. I hope it is longer and they open up more areas. I hope it is as unforgiving as before. The very best game of all time in my book!

GodOfSyn
GodOfSyn

@rodman1 I'm not saying all out voicechat where ever you go, because that would ruin the message dropping, which is part of the uniqueness and toughness of the game. What I do think they should do, is to at least make it easier to communicate if you are in a party, or at the very least, leave voice clips instead of writing on the ground, that alone would make it easier for example, my buddy BaldEagle to come in and join my world as long as we are in the same level range etc... That was my point. To just leave it out completely, made it so damn tough for us to team up, and when we are waiting for someone whether friend or stranger, or trying to coordinate with a phantom that joins your party to take on the next boss, was just ridiculous, we ended up having to open up text chat on the dashboard, and thats just ridiculous in this day and age. To just sort of have a multiplayer element to a game, but not completely, doesn't do the game justice, it needs some sort of voice/chat system to bring down some of the tediousness with the game. I do understand what he's going for but he does make the whole process a bit more tedius if you decide to play it the way you want to.

turok0
turok0

DS was hard only if you were playing recklessly. But if you take the time to learn the nuances of combat mechanic, the caractheristics of your weaponry, the behavior of the enemies, and advance slowly, paying attention to your surroundings, it was positively easy. I mean easy compared to antique games like Contra, Ninja Gaiden, or even Super Mario Bros. I wish they make Dark Souls a lot harder.

rodman1
rodman1

GodOfSyn the reason people are saying it was 'easy' was after the initial learning curve of understanding how the game works, it was in part easy. My 1st playthrough was tough but I loved every minute of it. Why? Demons souls was more about what you were going to run into next or what weapon one could make or find. The game was simply magic the whole time I played and there are so many cool points like finding the wood stick to use magic and world tendency such as 4-1 and find Satsuki there asking you to find the makoto. Yet then to have him charge you in Black tendency. My point is the game has so many variable ways it could play out I was blown away. I like playing a game or watching a movie with no idea of what is going to happen and Demons souls is just that. However after my first time through I died maybe 10 times and was in body form about 95% of the time. So yea it was 'easy' (yet still unpredictable) after you got a understanding of the game, learning what weapons and armour worked best ect. Also you are out of line with the whole players want voice chat, friends list crap. Your kidding right, like he said we are not going to hold hands and talk about how good sue looked in her mini skirt today. You join in a game just as you did in Demons Souls as a blue or black phantom with a job to do good or bad. What your basicly saying is hey lets make this game less of what made Demons souls so great. HM should and will do it their way and end up with another great game.

GodOfSyn
GodOfSyn

I still don't get how some people thought it was kinda easy, there is too much trial and error for someone to say that. Not to mention, I noticed depending on world tendancy some areas are easier, but still tough. Either way, the game was by far the hardest game I've ever played and I've played damn near all of them in the past 20 years, and can definitely say this is the toughest. Also, I still think HM should be concentrating on what the community/user base wants, not completely what they think it should be. For instance, the whole voice chat thing is kind of a joke. I understand his reasoning, but players want this. I understand that it should be limited otherwise leaving notes would be useless, but if your going to try to get a friend in your world, or you in his, its pretty damn annoying not just hard, but annoying to try and coordinate with each other. If you were that character in real life, I'd hope the phantoms would have some type of audio, and be able to talk to you. Either way, that part of his convo was disappointing, I really think he should rethink this.

RitsukoEX
RitsukoEX

@Blackbird34 you sir! have made one of the stupidest sony fanboy comments I ever seen! ( besides from Lykanthropie's comments ) and the reason to get it on my Xbox360...

RitsukoEX
RitsukoEX

@TheMoreYouOwn well I'm going to buy it AND play on my Xbox360! little sony fanboy!

2chase
2chase

me: *dies* Demon's Souls: U Mad Bro? amazing game once you adapt to the style and break through that initial confusion

Alex_09
Alex_09

Awesome news there's a sequel to demon's. That is the best game on ps3 in my opinion, I loved how challenging it was when I tried it.

TheMoreYouOwn
TheMoreYouOwn

Doesn't have guns, so 360 owners aren't gonna play it. ;)

dragginteam
dragginteam

the bosses need better AI comperes to DS. you could just stay in blind spot for the bosses and spam arrows until it died.

offman81
offman81

@turok0 That mean you're god among players. It took me 80 h to finish it first time and over 150 h to get Platinium and I think it was the hardest game i've ever played.

turok0
turok0

don't understand the fuss about DS difficulty. I actually found it quite easy.

nnn2004
nnn2004

@Ch1d0r1_666 i mean when you play the game on new game + it will be more difficult and some Demon's will kill you with one hit.

Black_Adder_
Black_Adder_

Demon's Souls is the best RPG on PS3 still, so you better get Dark Souls and try to not to c-r-a-p yourselves when you find out that there's a game where dying can be fun.

nate_c-12
nate_c-12

It definitely has my attention...I'll keep my eye out.

Ch1d0r1_666
Ch1d0r1_666

@ nn2004 how can you beat the game on Hard? it has no difficulty, Ive beat the game 4 times but theres a few enemies i just cant kill with out help. Specially when you have your body, the difficulty seems to increase. It does get harder when souls are hard to come by.

Triangly
Triangly

nice to see it hitting the xbox 360 market, havent gotten the chance to play demons souls but from what Ive seen and heard it seems like an awesome game. and this one will definetly be on my list of gamestoget.

nnn2004
nnn2004

Demons souls is not that much hard first time you play it ya you feel it hard but after a while its feel as easy as any other game i beat the game on the second run on hard without feel any difficulty ( except for the spider boss ) the key to win is avoid any critical hits and DON'T wear heavy equipments.

Alvinegro7
Alvinegro7

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

BombayNugz
BombayNugz

DARK SOULS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Frisky_Flamingo
Frisky_Flamingo

Demon's Souls really wasn't as difficult as everyone made it out to be... once you figured out how to use your character. It's just that most other games now days are too easy. Back in the day on the Atari and the NES, games were one difficulty, and when you beat it (ex. super mario bros) it became more difficult. What do you really accomplish when you finish a game on easy anyway, Woohoo, go you!

SiLeNtWrAiTh234
SiLeNtWrAiTh234

looking forward to it.. kinda pissed off that there won't be a friend system and you will have to time it just right to play with someone on your friends list. on a side note can you still use a sword (spear, dagger, hammer, axe ETC) with 2 hands instead of one ((that really helped me get through specific battles)). WHEN WILL IT COME OUT SO I KNOW WHEN I COULD PREORDER :D

dmblum1799
dmblum1799

I loved demon souls, I beat it and have several high level characters. However, I would have played it more if it weren't so hard (re: frustrating). First off, I've always been a pc gamer and PS3 was the first console I bought. Demon Souls (I love Rpgs) was the first game I played on it, so getting use to a controller instead of keyboard/mouse was a challenge. But my main complaint with the difficulty is that I have fairly stressful job. When I come home at night to play games, the last thing I need is more stress. And if you tell me Demon Souls doesn't cause stress I simply don't believe. It's not that it's hard. It's that the system of often dying is stress full. Even that would be okay if you had a chance to opt out and take a "casual" mode. Why not give gamers choices. I'm not the same guy I was in college when I could spend all day playing EQ (that could be a hard game if you were doing bosses with poor gear). Give gamers the option of easy fun and difficult challenge. Anyway, I'll play it, I love rpgs to much. But only on weekend afternoons when I have some time to waste.

XenRox
XenRox

I found Demon Souls to be medium-hard difficulty, I beat it in less 15 hours on my second char. I jus hope they add more weapons and have more then 1 uber weapon for each type of weapon, some weapons jus sucked while other were too good. I also hope they can add more variety of armor, and if possible some custom designing on the armor which i doubt. Lookin forward to Dark Souls and the Multiplayer.