Part five of the Design Works interview. If you missed the previous parts you can find them here:
Otsuka: There are some really unique weapons and suits of armour, could we speak a little about them? Siegmeyer's armour is one that really stands out.
Miyazaki: The Catarina armour was designed by Mr Waragai. Long before we started work on the game, in fact, not long after he joined the company we actually asked him to produce a number of designs, not for any specific project but more as a kind of test to help us decide which development team to attach him to. During that period I asked him to produce some fantasy armour, and among his designs there was a large, overweight character like Bazuso from Berzerk. It was really distinctive with a spherical, onion shaped helmet and I took to it immediately. Once we started work on Dark Souls and I began to outline Siegmeyer's character, it seemed like a perfect fit so I just used the design as it was.
Otsuka: That's great, so, does it have a special meaning for you since it was one of your first designs?
Waragai: Yes I suppose it does. I've always liked fantasy but it wasn't until I started working on these designs that I really began to think about how the armour was put together. Then I started thinking, how would you construct armour for someone who was really overweight, and this design was the result.
Miyazaki: Although Siegmeyer isn't actually fat, it's just his armour. Haha. It's strange little details like this that I really like about it. If there's one thing I regret about the Catalina armour, it's that I wasn't able to show the helmet opening, it's designed to do that and I have a mental image of Siegmeyer popping it open and hungrily guzzling down some food. I just wasn't able to fit in anywhere in the game. I have to apologise to Mr Waragai for that.
Otsuka: If you get the camera into just the right position you can actually see inside Sieglinde's helmet, she's quite a looker isn't she.
Miyazaki: You did that!? Haha. Well Waragai and the 3D artist he was working with made almost all of the npc's faces.
Waragai: And in a pretty short space of time as I recall.
Miyazaki: In my mind Sieglinde was always a cute character. I specifically remember asking for that.
Waragai: In the end she turned out completely different but at one point you asked me to make her look like Hermione.
Miyazaki: Eh? I said that? Surely I would have asked for Emma Watson, anyway I don't think she ended up resembling anyone in particular.
Waragai: You definitely said it. I remember because I'm also a fan. Haha.
Otsuka: Well, for some reason I was certain that a handsome man and beautiful woman would emerge from that armour.
Miyazaki: Fairly early in development I was actually talking about the game abroad when I blurted out something about her being beautiful, once I'd done that I couldn't go back on my word could I...
Waragai: Although in the end you never see her face. Haha.
Miyazaki: That's Dark Souls in a nutshell. Haha. In the end they lost something of their initial resemblance to Bazuso, but I'm very happy with the way the two characters turned out. Siegmeyer's story, including his touching final scene is actually enhanced by the fact that he's wearing that armour don't you think? …perhaps that's just be me. Haha.
In many ways it's the complete opposite of the Catalina armour but the set which best embodies Dark Souls' dark fantasy aesthetic, and which was consequently featured on the box art, is the Elite Knight armour. Hatayama designed this. I actually showed her the knight's armour from Demon's Souls to use as reference and asked her to enhance it by adding features that weren't present in the initial design such as the surcoat. I really wanted to bring out an air of nobility and refinement. Nakamura designed the knight's armour from demon's souls, and it was such a great design that it actually gave us trouble when it came to trying to improve upon it, there were several times where we took it in entirely the wrong direction, when it started to look like an inferior copy rather than an improvement.
Hatayama: I redrew it countless times didn't I.
Miyazaki: Yes, we struggled at first but I really think the final design is great. In fact when I find the armour in game myself, I can't help but equip it for a while. With the blue surcoat and other additions, I really think it turned into a very cool design.
Otsuka: And what about Mr Nakamura's designs?
Nakamura: In the early stages I worked on the equipment for the warrior, the wanderer, the hunter and the bandit.
Miyazaki: For the warrior we wanted to move away from the traditional soldier class seen in Demon's Souls and instead aim for something more like an adventurer, we used the relatively simple image words of leather armour with metal plating, and I suppose, a little of Parn from Record of Lodoss War...
Nakamura: Yes he did come up didn't he.
Miyazaki: It's not surprising, we're a similar age and both grew up with the series. Also I assumed that players would spend a significant portion of the game using this armour so we actually paid special attention to the back as it's the part the players will be looking at the majority of the time. It's the same with armoured core, we have to ensure that each and every camera shows the player some little detail or point of interest. We tried a number of different ideas but in the end we actually settled on something very close to the initial idea. The final design walks that line between warrior and adventurer so I'm really happy with it.
Nakamura: When I started work on these four designs I decided that I didn't want to just create a standard set of armour and swap parts around,
Instead I aimed to create something that while not traditional, looks like it could exist. Designs which felt like they were from another world but that were entirely plausible. That's what I was really strived for.
It was actually a very difficult period for me, I was determined to have something substantial before I showed my designs to Mr Miyazaki, to be able to explain my choices and defend them if needed.
I worked on them intensively for a long time before I was finally ready to show them to anybody. In fact as soon as I received the OK I went straight home. Haha.
Waragai: Oh yeah, I remember that. The look of relief on your face as you left!
Nakamura: Up until then I was practically sleeping at the office.
Waragai: I remember your look of satisfaction, as if to say "I've done it!"
Nakamura: I heard later that Satake and Miyazaki were discussing my designs over ramen and saying how pleased they were.
Satake: Yes we did.
Miyazaki: Of course I remember too, that was a great moment. Haha
Otsuka: Next is Satake san.
Satake: As far as equipment goes… the Thorn Armour. I remember it didn't start well at all.
Miyazaki: Ah, I was quite rude about the first design that reached me, I apologise. Originally I asked for something like Hydra from Saint Seiya. I like the poignancy of that character, to have gone through such harsh training to earn his holy armour, and after all that, his special ability amounts to nothing more than some claws attached to his hands, you would be pretty crestfallen wouldn't you. We talked like that a lot, but basically our images for the armour didn't match so we spend a long time working on it.
Satake: My first design was a huge guy covered in spikes, but that wasn't what you wanted at all was it.
Miyazaki: The design only began to take shape when we started talking about the trial of the 77 rings from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure. In the first part of the manga there are two characters called Tarkus and Bruford who, in order to earn their knighthood have to overcome the trial of the 77 rings. Each combatant wears a metal ring, the winner taking the loser's and adding it to his own. They have to defeat 77 opponents, but with each victory the number of rings they are forced to carry increases. It's a really cool idea, so we started talking about what it would be like to attach thorns to those rings. The final design was slightly different, but that's where it really started coming together.
On the other hand the design for the Iron and Sun set went extremely smoothly. I really felt like we agreed on the main elements, the large sun symbol and the mismatched, almost hand made look, so the design emerged remarkably quickly.
Satake: I never expected him to be raising his hands like that when I drew it though. Haha.
Miyazaki: Ah, that pose was something I brought over from demon's souls, a holy man always makes that pose. Haha.
Satake: We actually took to calling that his "Power" didn't we.
Miyazaki: Yes we did, although I think the 3D artists would have heard that more than the concept artists, those people in charge of lighting and effects. At first we tried to explain it saying "You know, the light glows behind him like this" but in the end it was just easier to call it "Power" Haha.
That pose actually carries some significance for me. During Demon's Souls that was a holy sign. When I presented the game to the rest of the company I showed them that pose and one of the higher ups told me it just wasn't cool enough. Of course I told him I'd get rid of it but I secretly kept it in the game. So naturally, with this game I was determined to use it.
By the time I began thinking about Solaire's character I had already decided I was going to use it for the Sunlight covenant. By using it for summons it doesn't interfere with the action. I remember I actually acted the pose out so the artist could take pictures.
Waragai: I'd like to ask about the Darkmoon Knightess.
Miyazaki: The Knightess' brass armour was actually one of the starting sets for a while. In amongst the other classes I wanted to create something a little more unusual, and this was designed as a pagan knight, but it was too difficult to balance so we gave it to the knightess. However, that initial image remains.
The majority of the people in the Dark Souls world follow the way of the white or Gwyn and the sunlight covenant, but there is another far more secretive group who follow Gwndolin
and the dark moon. They have developed in almost complete isolation so their customs and traditions are also completely different. The Darkmoon Knightess was designed around this idea.
These ideas, the moon and purity also carry with them something feminine, infact they obsess over the image of a maiden dancing in front of the moon, and strive to capture this beauty.The copper armour's appearance and indeed, the appearance of Gwyndolin himself can be attributed to this.
Nakamura: The skirt like garment he wears on his lower half for example, actually represents female menstruation. An interesting thing is that I actually made his head a little bigger than usual. When Mr Miyazaki saw it he was delighted, saying that it made him look like a little girl and that I had to keep it.
Waragai: Huh? Haha
Miyazaki: It's not what you think. Haha
Nakamura: To be honest I just made a mistake when I copied and pasted it.
Miyazaki: Yeah, I did say that didn't I. When I first saw that you'd made his head that size I thought you were a genius. Haha. But the fact that it was an accident, I was hoping you'd take that to your grave. Haha.
I'm very happy that our feminine image for the Darkmoon covenant made it into the game intact.
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Read part 6 HERE.