The keyword for Jeanne’s concept design in Bayonetta 2 is “casual.” Design started when Kamiya came up to me and said “I want to put her on a bike. Draw me a biker suit.”
Jeanne is one of Kamiya’s favorite characters, so most anything Hashimoto and I said would get shot down instantly. I just drew biker suit after biker suit until one was approved. There were actually a few more he liked, but they all maintained a relative simplicity similar to her final approved outfit.
I didn’t intend to accentuate this part of her in my concept art, but Kamiya said Jeanne looks flatter than ever. He was happy about it too, so that’s fine I guess.
For this blog, I’d like to talk specifically about damage motion for enemies. You know, that motion you see when you land a huge deathblow on an enemy and they get knocked back and explode or whatever. You might have never thought that deeply about it, but for an action game, getting the right reaction out of the enemy after you’ve pulled off a killer combo is absolutely critical. Do a slack job and the thrill of battle will turn into a total letdown. Enemy damage motion is something I’ve always regarded as highly important in the games I’ve worked on. I always am asking myself if there’s not something new I can try to create more satisfying combat than before.
My challenge to myself for Bayonetta 2 was to create the right enemy motion for each attack. We had plenty of enemy reactions that would change depending on what attack Bayonetta performed, but I wanted to take this further for Bayonetta 2.
Doing a little research, I realized that the enemies in Bayonetta 2 have an average of 3.5x the number of reactions as those in the original.
We were asked all sorts of questions. A favorite question of mine was, “Most games fall back on a hero rescuing some helpless female character. What were your reasons to have Bayonetta feature a strong female protagonist?” This was more a question directed toward the Bayonetta series rather than just Bayonetta 2. There were people who doubted the choice of a female protagonist ever since we first revealed the original game’s development. Our internal team, on the other hand, didn't mind. We just thought it would be interesting to have the main character be a witch. From there, we expanded on the concept: instead of thinking about how a female protagonist would limit us, we thought about what we could do because Bayonetta was female.
I liked the concept art for the first game better, but oddly enough, I do think the in-game models based on these new designs are an improvement. I don't know if it's that the modelers and animators are better this time around or if the new designs are just better suited to 3D.
Anyway, it's interesting to see how much thinking and effort goes into every tiny detail, like the colour balance on Bayonetta's guns or the curvature of the roads. Also, you don't think much about the enemy reaction animations when you're playing a game (unless they stand out as particularly stiff or particularly excellent), but when you look at the videos directly comparing Bayonetta to Bayonetta 2 you can really tell the difference. It definitely looks like hitting enemies will be more satisfying with the new animations.
And notice the reason for Bayonetta being a strong female protagonist: "We just thought it would be interesting to have the main character be a witch." Not "we felt we needed to balance inequalities, we did it for justice, it's our responsibility to represent the underrepresented". No: "we thought it would be interesting, we thought it would be cool, we had a creative idea-- our taste guided us".