Dark Souls III launched in March and shipped three million copies, setting a new franchise record. Developer From Software is supporting the game with at least two expansions (the first one is coming this fall and the next in 2017), so players can continue to enjoy the world for a while longer. But what's next for From Software and president/director Hidetaka Miyazaki?
He's not yet talking specifics, but told GameSpot in a new interview that he sees Dark Souls III as being a "turning point" for the franchise and From Software overall.
"We will strive in continuing to create special games of value, so that when people look back to the Dark Souls series, they will distinguish it as the beginning of a new stage for From Software," Miyazaki explained.
In April this year, Miyazaki revealed that From Software had started development on a new IP. He told us that he's now working on "new titles," though he didn't say anything more about them.
In our post-mortem interview of sorts, Miyazaki also talked about the challenges associated with Dark Souls III's development and shortcomings. He said he was generally pleased with the game's maps ("much larger and dimensions than before"), but frankly acknowledged that the way maps in the game are connected is "a bit weak." As a result, the level of freedom players have is narrowed, he admitted.
Miyazaki also told us about how there are no plans, at least not right now, for a Dark Souls IV or Bloodborne 2. Additionally, he cleared up his previous comments about a potential Demon's Souls remaster and explained what he hopes the Dark Souls legacy will be.
The complete interview is below.
GameSpot: What is your reaction to Dark Souls III shipping 3 million copies and breaking franchise records? It's such a resounding success, but how do you feel about the seeing the series grow from this niche, beloved title to one of the biggest game releases of the year?
Miyazaki: As a member of the Dark Souls III team, and as the director who worked in development from the first Dark Souls game, I couldn't be any happier. I'm sure everyone on the team feels the same, too.
We couldn't have accomplished this without the gamers. If I may, I'd like to use this opportunity to extend my thanks to everyone. Thank you all for playing Dark Souls III and the Dark Souls series.
How do you feel about things like the comics and mobile games that tie-in to the franchise?
The Dark Souls series is Bandai Namco Entertainment’s IP, so those kind of decisions are under their jurisdiction. Mind you, I don't want to be scolded for what I say [laughs].
That said, personally speaking, doing collaborations have never crossed my mind before. It's because I figured there wouldn't be enough time for me to work on one, and that would probably lead to something worse.
Looking back, how do you feel about Dark Souls III's development? Is there anything you would have done differently?
Similar to all the other titles I've directed before, I think there's a good and bad side to Dark Souls III. But, because the game still has updates, regulation adjustments, and DLCs to come, I think it's a bit too early for me to come to a conclusion.
With that said, if we talk only in relation to portions of the game which won't be affected by updates and add-ons, I think there was room for improvements, such as with the map design.
I believe the maps we prepared are well-suited for exploration considering that the size of the map is much larger and dimensional than before. But, I also feel that the way the maps connected to each other was a bit weak, narrowing the level of freedom in relation to the order in which players could face the game.
Also, this was the first time I decided to work in tandem with other directors. Okano and Tanimura participated as co-directors, and working with them was quite stimulating. This allowed me to have them control a number of duties, such as working on the game’s networking and balancing of the multiplayer.
I believe this experience will help us in the future.
Dishonored developer Arkane recently spoke out to praise From Software for bucking industry trends with Demon's Souls and taking risks. Do you go into your work wanting to "break rules"? Is that the kind of feeling you want to carry forward in your career as well?
Personally speaking, I don't think I was "wanting to break rules." The closer description would be that I "wasn’t trying to follow rules." I'm interested in "rules," and there are a lot to learn from "rules," but that's merely an ingredient to help instigate game design. This approach I have isn't going to change over the course of my career.
What were some of your personal highlights from the development of Dark Souls III, and the series in general?
I have a lot, actually--game designs, level designs, art designs, and even in regards to the text.
But, if I was to bring up one concept in particular, I would say it's my personal want of having things hold a sense of beauty within them. No matter how hideous something is, I want to see a spark of beauty within it. Or, I want to create something of beauty that shines when it is next to whatever that hideous something is.
Are there any characters/items/stories that have stuck with you or that you have a personal connection to?
That's a tough one to answer. Similar to the previous question, there's a lot to bring out.
That said, if I was to choose one thing, it would be in relation to the "bonfire." It symbolizes the concept of "fire" within the world of Dark Souls, and is also a place where players find solace in during the game. The "bonfire" is an image I held from the very beginning when designing Dark Souls.
Which is your favorite Dark Souls boss?
Another tough question to answer... Strictly keeping it within the Dark Souls series, that would be the Gaping Dragon from the first Dark Souls, or the last boss in Dark Souls III.
"I'm confident it will bring a different side of Dark Souls III to our players in a special way" -- Miyazaki on Dark Souls III's DLC
I'm particularly fond of the Gaping Dragon's design. I always get excited when I see something come to life beyond my expectations during the course of working with the art designer, and this particular boss was the pinnacle of them all.
In regards to the last boss in Dark Souls III, I like that particular boss in terms of how the boss epitomizes the theme of "a world that came to be by the fire keepers who have appeared throughout the Dark Souls series."
Are you involved much in the Dark Souls III DLC? How is that coming along?
My involvement in it is no different from my involvement in the actual game. I'm working with the co-directors, and letting them handle what they can handle, while I supervise the title as director. Right now, we're in crunch with the first DLC. I'm confident it will bring a different side of Dark Souls III to our players in a special way.
How many pots have you rolled through in your lifetime (in-game or real-life)?
I don't know exactly how many I rolled through, but I don't think I'm that much of a crusher [laughs].
You've said you're done with Souls, but does that mean this is the end of the Souls franchise, or do you expect to hand that off to other directors? Does that extend to Bloodborne as well, or are there lessons you've learned from Dark Souls III that you'd like to take into another Bloodborne?
This game marks a major "turning point" within the Dark Souls series. Just as it's been announced, we have two DLCs planned, but as it stands now, I'm not thinking about making any sequels or spin-offs. That applies to Bloodborne as well.
I keep referring to the series as a "turning point," and I'm avoiding use of the word "finish," since saying it would completely "finish" the series.
If someone says they want to make a Dark Souls game using the latest in technology, and if it is sufficiently attractive, then it wouldn’t be fair for me to just finish the series.
To add, I can't deny the fact that, maybe down the line, I want to go back to the series and make one more game before I retire. I don't want to be branded a liar if that happens [laughs].
You've said you don't want to remake Demon's Souls, is that set in stone? If fans showed support for it would you (or From Software) reconsider?
It seems like there was a misunderstanding in a previous interview in relation to a remake or a remastering of the game, so let me reiterate here.
The Dark Souls series is Bandai Namco Entertainment's IP, and Demon's Souls and Bloodborne is Sony Interactive Entertainment's IP. Hence, the decision to do a remake or remastering is under their jurisdiction.
"We will strive in continuing to create special games of value, so that when people look back to the Dark Souls series, they will distinguish it as the beginning of a new stage for From Software" -- Miyazaki
For me and for From Software, I don't think we'll be involved with their happening, but it could happen through another developer.
Do you worry that the games you make from this point may not have the same kind of impact the Souls series has had?
I would be lying if I said "no." I'm keeping my mind away from worries. I don't think I'm good at using worries into a driving force to help develop games. I mean, the new titles I'm working on now makes me feel excited instead of bringing me worries. Mind you, I'm basically an optimist [laughs].
With other high-profile gaming franchises going into movies (Warcraft, Assassin's Creed), have there been discussions for a Dark Souls movie? Would you support such a thing?
In regards to movies, my stance doesn't change from what I feel about collaborations, which I mentioned earlier. It's not my jurisdiction, nor do I think I'll ever be involved.
But, if I have to say something about it, I just hope that it puts an emphasis on the story, which players have experienced through the course of the series, and that it doesn't dampen such player experiences.
What do you hope the Dark Souls series' legacy will be? That it was a super hard game that cultivated a rabid fanbase or that it gave birth to a new type of gameplay experience or something else entirely?
I think it would be great if something from the Dark Souls series stays with the players as an experience which holds meaning and value to them. What stays with the player forms their opinion on what the Dark Souls series was about, and that's something I appreciate, regardless of what players think of the series.
We will strive in continuing to create special games of value, so that when people look back to the Dark Souls series, they will distinguish it as the beginning of a new stage for From Software.