Part four of the Design Works interview. If you missed the previous part you can find them here:
Otsuka: Personally I'd really like to know more about the Ceaseless Discharge
Miyazaki: As with Priscilla, I had a pretty clear image of how I wanted the character to look and behave so I entrusted his design to an out of house artist.
All demons are born from the fire of chaos, but he was the first, born so long ago that the fire wasn't yet stable. He possesses it, but he can't control it and it burns him constantly.
Despite his size, he's actually the youngest of Izalith's children, he stands gazing up at the ruins where his sisters live. The only source of comfort in his pitiful, painful existence is the belief that they are watching over him.
Waragi: Do you think people would have been able to guess all that simply by looking at the boss room?
Miyazaki: I don't really think so. There are a huge number of things that while present in the game, we make no attempt to explain to the player, and many more that they simply have no way of finding out. The Ceaseless Discharge's story is just one of these. I recall the main difficulty designing the character was trying to get across that sense of sadness that I wanted. People just couldn't see past the fact that he's a flaming giant
Satake: Poor guy, everyone just wanted to attack him didn't they.
Miyazaki: It's not difficult to see why, but simply giving him a melancholic expression or making him weep would have been taking it too far in the opposite direction wouldn't it. It was a very difficult balance to achieve.
Otsuka: So in a way, by killing the ceaseless discharge you are doing him a kindness aren't you.
Miyazaki: Yes probably, relief from his pain at last… Although it's extremely difficult and I doubt anyone will ever discover it, I seem to recall there being a way to progress through the game without killing him, although in truth, it's more of an exploit than a valid method.
Waragai: I really like Ornstein and Smough
Miyazaki: Those were both Mr Nakamura designs. I personally really like Smough's armour.
Nakamura: He was the first thing I designed
Miyazaki: Smough came form the initial concept stages, while Ornstein was introduced much later. I remember the channeller's design was put forward around the same time as Smough's and we all took to referring to them as the four knights, knights C and D if I remember correctly. I hoped that by doing this it would ensure that knights A and B were created. Haha.
But of course in the end they never were, the four knights disappeared and the design work for knights A and B was transferred to other characters like Ornstein and Artorias. The channeller was given a different role, so that left Smough. I'm extremely fond of the design so I wanted to do something special, turn him from one of four knights into something almost… heretical.
I'm sure made the designers and programmers really angry because I forced them to make his armour equippable.
Otsuka: You really were fond of him weren't you. Haha.
Miyazaki: He's offers a substantial challenge for the player too doesn't he.
Otsuka: I thought the strongest boss in the game was probably the… Capra demon
Waragai: For me it's undoubtably the fight with Ornstein.
Miyazaki: There's something unnatural about Smough's armour, it doesn't look like something that would have been created by a normal, sane human, I think that's what I like about it. There was a rumour that we were hunting players who bought the game early. I wasn't us, but whoever was, was wearing Smough's armour and I remember thinking how fitting that was.
Otsuka: How about that Chaos Witch Quelaag?
Miyazaki: Quelaag was another character I always had a pretty clear image for. The truth is there is an old board game called Dragon Pass which I really love, in the game there is a special unit called the crag spider, all it is, is a tiny chip with the name, parameters and a small silhouette but for some reason it really stuck with me. Although she developed into something quite different, that's where the inspiration for the character came from. It's not just dragon pass, I love all old table top games and game books, my copies of Titan and Out of the Pit remain some of my most treasured possessions.
Satake: When he's having difficulty trying to explain something he will often take out an old book, point to something and say "Like this!"
Miyazaki: It was my first foray into fantasy so it holds a special place in my heart... but getting back to Quelaag she became strangely popular, perhaps it has something to do with her chest….
Waragai: Ah, her introduction cinematic. Haha.
Miyazaki: I wonder… Personally, and this is also the case with the ceaseless discharge, I'm not entirely happy with the way they turned out, I think we could have improved both their behaviour and the way they are introduced to the player.
Waragai: She spoke at one point didn't she.
Miyazaki: Yes she did, and, perhaps with a better script we could have made it work, but I felt like the character lost something, so we quickly took it out. She's actually one of the few completely silent characters.
Otuka: What boss gave you the most trouble?
Miyazaki: Who gave me the most trouble…. Hmm
Nakamura: All of them right?
Miyazaki: That's the truth. Haha. There are quite a few, when deadlines were closing in and I couldn't get a good mental image of what I wanted, but we had to settle on something. Those situations were the hardest because I knew something was wrong, but couldn't express what I wanted and couldn't give a solution. That was difficult, both for me and for the artists I was working with. I suppose the Bed of Chaos is the principal example of this.
Otsuka: It seems you designed King Izalith at one point too, what was that like?
Miyazaki: Ah yes, evidence of the twists and turns we went through.
Waragai: Initially he was going to be the boss of the area, the Bed of Chaos lies sprawled on the floor and waves it's hands about but he was a king sitting in his throne...
Miyazaki: That's right. We really had trouble with that didn't we. I've already talked about quite a few aspects of the game I'm not entirely happy with, but I'd have to say that my greatest regret is the Bed of Chaos. The artists and designers worked extremely hard and came up with some fantastic ideas, but it exposed a real problem in our production method. We have no way to find a common goal and work towards it when things go wrong. It's definitely something I want to correct in the future.
Otsuka: Well now we've talked about the boss characters I'd like to talk a bit about the normal enemies.
Hatuyama: I want to ask about the black knights. I remember originally they were going to wander the world, why was it that you decided to change that?
Miyazaki: We've been thinking about introducing wandering enemies since Demon's Souls, then it was skeletons and grim reapers… but for whatever reason we've yet to go through with it. The Black knights behaviour was changed slightly, but their role never changed. Since they were burned by Gwyn's fire they wander the land. As far as design goes there were a number of themes I wanted to incorporate. I wanted to make them really detailed models so we gathered a huge amount of reference material, of course cloth wouldn't fit their burned image, but I wanted to design right down to the patterns carved into their armour. I really wanted that quality. I also wanted their armour to look like something a normal person couldn't wear, thick, heavy and almost hollow. I'm really happy with the final result, in fact it really helped us promote the game.
I hadn't expected people to say it looked like a character from Demon's Souls though. Haha. That wasn't at all intentional.
Hatuyama: The fact that they used to be silver knights and were transformed by Gwyn's fire. I was really happy that players actually noticed. I saw someone saying "This must have appeared when they were burned" and I realised they'd got it!
Miyazaki: It's always great to see things like that.
Otsuka: The Mimic was quite different to those in other games, it's certainly the strongest I've ever encountered...
Miyazaki: Yes, the mimic. I wanted a mimic in the game from the very start, but mimics in other games are all the same aren't they. The point of the enemy is to surprise people but in doesn't does it. I love the design but it's just been over used. So I wanted to create a mimic that would surprise the player again, to go against their preconceptions… "Oh this is a mimic isn't it… wait what!" That was the image I had for the enemy from the very beginning, it was designed out of house but as long as it left a strong impression then it succeeded.
Hatuyama: It has an interesting way of kicking doesn't it.
Miyazaki: Yes that actually Super Tiger's rolling sobat. I think I recall saying that Super Tiger's story is one of the greatest ever told, although I suppose that's not really relevant here.
Waragai: How about the tentacled beasts in the Izalith ruins? When I look at them all I see is Mixer Taitei from Kinnikuman. I think some of the players noticed it too.
Miyazaki: well he is one of the few people to ever win against Kinnikuman isn't he.
Otsuka: So that's why he looks so much like Mixer Taitei?
Miyazaki: No, I'm joking. It wasn't intentional. although I have no problem with it looking like mixer Taitei. I'm a fan of the series and people seem to enjoy it.
Satake: I was responsible for designing that. It was actually based on a very old sketch. I was trying to create something strange and unique, like the Great Race of Yith from the Lovecraft mythos, or something with many eyes on springs. There was a period where I was created a lot of designs around these themes, and it was one of these sketches that formed the basis for this particular design. I'd been wanting to do something with it for a long time now so I'm glad we were able to use it in the game.
Otsuka: Of all the enemies in the game the ones which scared me the most would have to be the crow demons in the painted world, and the basilisks in the depths. How about them?
Miyazaki: the crow demons came about during the initial concept stages. I think the animator did a really incredible job.
Satake: I think they are really at home in the painted world.
Nakamura: I like to think that they were humans who wanted to fly so badly that they sprouted wings, but rather than their skeletons evolving over time, they instead twisted their limbs into unnatural positions, forcing their bodies into a birdlike shape, that's how I've always imagined them.
Miyazaki: I always thought of the painted world as somewhere where things go to escape, and the bird men but no different. They were originally designed as worshippers of the Goddess Velka whose bodies were warped by their devotion. I think this obsession makes them really interesting characters.
Satake: In some ways there are very similar to the gaping Dragon aren't they.
Otsuka: How did the basilisk's come about?
Miyazaki: They also came out of the initial concept stages. Although the idea that they could turn people to stone came much later.
Waragai: Yes, it was never designed as a basilisk. In was just one of the many designs created during those initial stages. In the end, we had an out of house artist brush up the design.
Miyazaki: the concept images are extremely rough. They're great for getting the design across, but when it comes to building the model and animating it, it doesn't contain nearly enough information. So we had and out of house artist complete the design for us. The thing which takes the longest time and needs the most communication is of course the very first image, so having this work done for you it actually a very good method. In his book, I'm sure there are a lot of rough concept images, I think is interesting to compare them to the finished images.
Otsuka: Did you all like fantasy before starting the project?
Everyone: Of course!
Miyazaki: Everyone really loves it. There are a couple of people who also draw mechs, but I think it would be very difficult to work with someone who didn't like fantasy. It would be hard to communicate some of the more fantasy based ideas. Haha.
I don't have that problem with people like Mr Nakamura or Mr Satake. I've worked with Mr Nakamura for a long time on both Armoured Core and Demon's Souls, and have always trusted him with the most important designs. I've also worked with Mr Satake since Armoured Core, and on this project he worked with the out of house artists which basically meant he had to translate my abstract directions into something they might understand. Haha. I'm very grateful.
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Read part 5 HERE.