@DrunkOnEstus: I only just saw you comment, but you absolutely made my day!
Best of luck with the Japanese.
@DrunkOnEstus: I only just saw you comment, but you absolutely made my day!
Best of luck with the Japanese.
@Fire_Of_The_Wind: I wasn't sure what to think when I heard he would only be acting as supervisor on the sequel... let's hope the new director creates something in keeping with the rest of the series!
@benjaebe@golguin: The DLC was great wasn't it! There's actually a short interview Miyazaki did with Famitsu just before the DLC was released, I'll try and translate that too once I'm done with all the design works stuff.
In this section of the interview the artists talk about their designs for the NPC characters and bosses found in Dark Souls. If you missed the first two parts you can read them HERE and HERE. Also be warned, some of this could be construed as spoilers so read it at your own risk.
Otsuka: Now we've covered the maps I'd like to ask about the NPCs (non player characters), There certainly are a lot of memorable characters aren't there.
Miyazaki: Thanks very much, we spend a lot of time on them so I'm happy to hear you say that.
Waragai: Personally, I really like Big Hat logan
Miyazaki: That was one of (Mai) Hatayama's designs wasn't it?
Hatayama: Yes it was… but I have to ask, why did you make him naked?
Miyazaki: Huh? I made him naked?...
Waragai: Haha, I'm sure it was your idea mr Miyazaki.
Miyazaki: I suppose it was… Well as to why I made him naked, I wanted to show that the character had found enlightenment, but unfortunately the character models in dark souls weren't built with a wide range of emotional expression, so as I was thinking about how to overcome this problem, for some reason, I hit upon the idea of making him naked… Its Logan's goal to gain the power of the ancient dragons, so in order to do this, I had an image of him casting off his human clothes. It's similar to when when you use the Dragon head or torso stone, you have to remove your equipment don't you. Of course there are gameplay reasons for this to, but there was also this image of the player character leaving something of their humanity behind. Similarly, Logan removing his clothes is his attempt to bring himself closer to Seath in some way. Although I couldn't take his hat off because you wouldn't have known who it was, but personally I like to think that unlike the followers of the path of the Dragon, Logan sought to gained the dragons power, while still retaining his pride as a human.
Hatayama: I drew a lot of designs for underwear so I'm a little disappointed he didn't emerge wearing one of those instead.
Miyazaki: In his underwear… If we had done that I'm not sure it would have been taken in the way I wanted. Haha. But I also really like Logan as a character, so I spent a good amount of time on the design. He's a wise man or a sage, but I really wanted to make him unique, so I had quite a few designs made. Once we arrived on the idea of his big hat the design came together, but that wasn't there from the start and only emerged through continual revisions.
Hatayama: At first I held back thinking "Is it really okay to make his hat this big" but as time went on It gradually got larger and larger until…
Miyazaki: Yes we went through that process many times. Haha.
Hatayama: I thought he'd turn into a mushroom, but I was told that it wasn't a problem so I just went ahead and did it.
Satake: Turn into a mushroom… I like that. Haha.
Hatayama: Artistically speaking I made his hat far too big, you can't actually see his face anymore.
Miyazaki: I think it turned into a good silhouette in the end, he looks like someone who doesn't like other people… I can empathise with that. Haha.
Hatayama: Can I ask aboutGwynevere, because compared to the other female charters she's very different, almost glamorous.
Miyazaki: …. You don't like the design?
Hatayama: No, I just wanted to know what the original idea behind it was.
Otsuka: As a fan of the character I'd be interested to hear that too. Haha.
Miyazaki: Well, the truth is, I just wanted to make a really big woman. I think it was a Fujiko F. Fujio manga, (Yasaragi no Yakata, literally Tranqil Mansion), there was a company president who joins an exclusive club to escape his stressful work life, and there's a giant woman who takes care of the club members, almost like a mother… don't you think that's just a perfect situation? A giant, considerate, caring woman. The kind we all lost when we grew up, that's what I wanted to make. Originally I also wanted to put a mouth in the palm of her hand, and we made all of the animations, but it didn't make it into the final game. Talking of glamour, her breasts are nothing to do with me, they happened without my knowledge. It's all the artist's fault. I think I mentioned it earlier but I always seek a certain refinement in all my designs.
Waragai: Really? Haha
Miyazaki: Yes, But the artist had such a happy look on his face that I didn't have the heart to stop him.
Otsuka: Earlier we were talking about Half breed Pricilla, but are there any other characters whose role changed dramatically as development progressed?
Miyazaki: Oh there are many, for example Andre of Astoria. Originally he played a far more important role in the story.
Satake: Andre is no longer related to Gwin is he?
Miyazaki: Yes, we took that out. He was originally a descendant of Gwin whose task it was to protect a door within the fire link shrine. In the end he was going to push aside the goddess statue to let you progress, but as development progressed he became just a simple blacksmith. Haha
Waragai: But there are still those statues that look like him around the game world aren't there?
Miyazaki: Yes they are aren't they. but I don't think they are related, they're simply vessels which hold the embers.
Otsuka: Next I'd like to ask about the enemy characters, starting with the boss characters…
Miyazaki: There are too many for us to talk about all of them, so why don't we have the artists talk about their favourite designs.
Waragai: I'm afraid I didn't really work too much on the enemy designs.
Hatayama: Really? How about Pricilla?
Miyazaki: Pricilla was designed out of house. I had a pretty clear image of what I wanted for the character so I trusted it to an outside art studio.
Waragai: From my designs… I suppose Nito
Miyazaki: I remember all the trouble we went through naming the character. Waragai thought my original name for the character was too sad. Haha. Dark souls was his first job as an art designer and Nito was his first design so I felt I should respect his wishes. I changed the name slightly, and I actually think the new name fits the character much better. Also Nito was originally created as the boss of the prototype map, and because of that we tried out a huge range of different effects. from that time there was constantly discussion about what colour he should be and how he should look.
Waragai: He was originally on fire wasn't he?
Miyazaki: Yes, Nito is also in the pre-rendered intro, but it's a really intricate design so It was extremely difficult to communicate what I wanted to the animators making it. The character had to be cloaked in shadow, shrouded in a deathly aura, but that's not easy to get across and their first attempt wasn't what I wanted at all.
Waragai: It can be difficult to explain how you want the material to behave to the animators can't it, the feel and the weight of something isn't easy to put into words.
Miyazaki: Yes, exactly. I had a good idea of how I want the materials to move in the pre-rendered scenes, but actually putting it in a way that was easy to understand was extremely difficult. No matter how many times you say "he's always surrounded by an aura" he would just come back covered in smoke. In the end I told them to make it more like cloth. Since he was selected to be in the intro we had a very difficult time with the character, but the fact that he was chosen shows how strong the initial design was.
Miyazaki: Next is Mr Nakamura isn't it?
Nakamura: Right from the initial concept stages, when we were still working from key words like "ancient dragon", "chaos demon" and "undead" I thought long and hard about how to create something fresh and new for the people who played Demon's Souls
Miyazaki: The demon in the undead asylum, the taurus demon and the capra demon, in fact the majority of the demon enemies were designed by Mr Nakamura. I really love all of his designs, they're simple, but not predictable. Exactly the kind of creatures that I imagined populating the Dark Souls world. They're just fantastic enemies.
I'm also a huge fan of the Gaping dragon. It's a little different to the other dragons in the world, It's part of an ancient race of mineral based life forms, existing since long before the emergence of mankind. Yet despite its superiority over us, its time has passed, and it finds itself alone in the world, the last of its race forced to survive in any way it can. As to what triggered this change, well the emergence of life corrupted it, it was warped by emotion and desire…
When we were initially discussing the design we came upon the theme of greed, once we arrived at that Mr Nakamura produced the design remarkably quickly. You would expect designs based around this theme to be either fat or have a huge mouth, but that's a little too predictable. When I saw the design I was genuinely surprised and absolutely delighted.
Otsuka: It just ate and ate so much that he turned out like this?
Nakamura: Yes, it was completely consumed with the desire to eat, so much so that it began to adapt, and the parts of it's body it no used such as it's head, began to retrogress. It no longer eats with it's mouth but takes food directly into it's body, but it had to change in this way in order to survive. Aside from eating It's lost any faculties it may have once possessed and has to survive in this desolate, harsh environment by eating anything he can. It simply did what it had to, to continue to exist.
Miyazaki: You can almost imagine him saying things like "You're too far away", "Get over here, I want to eat you". Haha. Of course these words never came up in the design process as I never imagined the creature would develop in this way, but I think it's a really incredible design. As I said before I love working together with the artists, I really think it benefits both of us. In fact I'd go so far as to say that it's my favourite part of the job.
Nakamura: Before we move on, I'd like to ask you about the Demon enemies I designed, specifically those designs which incorporate some type of symbolism. I know that you dislike designs which are too easy or obvious, but spending too much time trying to force symbolism into designs can also be just as damaging to the development of the world. So I just wanted to know how you feel about the demon enemies overall.
Miyazaki: I think you're thinking too much. Haha. To put it plainly, I'm delighted with your designs.
It can certainly be difficult to achieve the right balance of symbolism in designs. It's true I dislike designs which are too obvious, but there are times when I feel a design lacks a certain something. At times like this I have been know to look through the reference materials, pick out things I like and simply stick them on. The capra demon's head is an example of this, it gives a sense of ceremony and long held tradition, which in turn hints at a developed culture. Details such as this can really improve the designs giving them a significance not present in initial image. Symbols contain inherent meaning, they wouldn't be symbols if they didn't, but it's difficult to then add new meaning to that symbol. So I think this can be a really powerful weapon for the artists. Anyway getting back to your question, I think you did a fantastic job.
Nakamura: I'm relieved to hear you say that.
Miyazaki: Really? I wish you wouldn't talk like that, It's almost like you're scared of me. Haha
Otsuka: What were you in charge of Ms Hatuyama?
Hatuyama: The black knights and the gargoyles!
Miyazaki: She joined us slightly later in the project, when we'd already finished the initial concept stage, so I had her work on those designs which had to adhere to a more rigid set of conditions. As Ms Hatuyama just said, the gargoyles where one of those designs. This enemy would appear just before you rung the bell in the church tower, this much was decided but I couldn't get a clear image for the creature. Originally the centipede demon from Izalith was here, but looking at the route you take through the opening stages of the game, to Sen's fortress and Anor Londo beyond, it doesn't really fit. It's also the first large boss enemy you face so I wanted something a little more typical. So since it's a church and we have a relatively open space, we decided on gargoyles. It was one of your first designs wasn't it Ms Hatuyama?
Hatuyama: I think it was the second design I worked on…
Miyazaki: This was my first time working together with Ms Hatuyama, so I wanted to begin designing something that was relatively orthodox, and use the opportunity to get us thinking on the same wavelength, unite our ideas of fantasy if you will. I think that was my plan… but it took quite a while to get right.
Hatuyama: I'm very sorry. Haha
Miyazaki: It turned out well thought. It was even featured in the commercials wasn't it!
Hatuyama: I was so happy!
Miyazaki: I remember we talked about a great many things, how to make the creature fit in, about it's heavy thick armour and it's level of technological advancement. I don't really remember what I said in too much detail, but looking back I think I bombarded you with too much at once.
Hatuyama: No, not at all I think you pointed out a lot of useful things, I think it really took me to places I wouldn't have gone to before.
Miyazaki: Thank you for saying that.
Otsuka: What about Mr Satake?
Satake: I don't really have to speak do I?
Miyazaki: What are you saying! Let's talk, you were in charge of the last boss Gwyn lord of cinder, how was that?
Satake: Well we had a good initial image for Gwyn so I remember it going relatively smoothly. His armour, or more accurately his clothing needed some work but other than that… We simple continued to adjust the design, checking it in game as we went.
Miyazaki: We wanted his clothing to look ancient didn't we, he is an old king after all. I researched a lot of old clothing but I couldn't really find anything that looked *cool*. Short pants for example wouldn't create the image we wanted for the character. I'm happy with the final design though so…
Satake: Yes, as design progressed he really turned into the type of king who would fight at the head of his troops didn't he.
Miyazaki: Although as far as the game is concerned I think we could have done a little more with the character. He's the last boss and the concept of the character was to have the player use all the skills they'd developed through the game. I wanted them to have to use everything they've learned in order to beat him. The reason that he uses such a simple single sword fighting style stems from this concept, but in the end we ended up taking a different direction.
Waragai: Parry, parry, parry. Haha
Satake: Yup parry, parry. Haha
Miyazaki: That's the truth… I regret that the fight turned out this way… That's probably about it as far as it goes for bosses, of course there are other designs that I really like, the iron golem for example, is a great large powerful enemy.
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Read part 4 HERE.
The next part is all about the NPCs so if you found the Priscilla stuff interesting you should enjoy it!
Part 2 of the Dark Souls Design Works interview, this section takes a more detailed look at each of the game's main areas.
If you missed the first part of the interview you can read it HERE.
Otsuka: Next I'd like to talk about each of the areas in the game in a little more detail. I suppose we should start at the beginning in the Undead Asylum.
Waragai: I was in charge of the Undead Asylum, but in was actually the last thing I drew.
Miyazaki: It may sound strange, but it's quite common for the tutorial to be the last thing to be integrated. It's much easier to design once you know what needs to be communicated, and have thought about how best to explain it to the player. I remember saying that the Undead Asylum should take Dark Souls' dark fantasy aesthetic and just distill that to it's purest essence. We began with the image of a gloomy basement cell and the stone architecture, and also incorporated that cold, sad atmosphere I mentioned previously. Once we decided on this direction the area came together fairly easily. In many ways it fell directly in the centre of designs we had been working on up until that point...
Otsuka: Next I'd like to ask about a very important area, the Firelink shrine.
Miyazaki: The Firelink Shrine was Mr (Daisuke) Satake wasn't it?
Satake: Yes. From what I remember it was originally designed as a water temple. But as work on the game progressed, and the image of kindling and fire became more prominent, the water gradually dried up. Haha.
Miyazaki: Yes that's right. The Firelink Shrine is what serves as the hub for the game so I initially wanted it to be a very healing place with water, greenery, soft light and subtle music. and while that never really changed, as Mr Satake said factors like the introduction of kindling and frampt's arrival later in the game, meant the water gradually disappeared from the area. We realised that when Frampt appears he bursts through the ground, so the water that used to fill that area would all have to drain away...
The other thing is the bonfire placement. It use to be in a different location, the place it's in now used to be a small pond. We had problems with the original placement because when the ground wasn't flat it interfered with the players sitting animation. So we had to search for a level place to move the bonfire and that's were it stayed… but of course you can't have a bonfire in the middle of a pond so that water had to go too.
Waragai: But it feels like a place everyone will gather so I think this location actually worked really well.
Miyazaki: Yes, I had an image of people gather around the fire from the very beginning, but getting back to the subject, the Firelink Shrine was one of the first places we designed, it's a small area but it connects to many different places and has many hidden areas, It was actually a very enjoyable location to create.
Satake: Yes. It was made to connect with areas in every direction. In fact we had to remove some routes from area in the final game, as well as some other things. Initially Pricilla was the heroine of the story and she was going to be there for example…
Miyazaki: That's not really something I want to talk about just yet….
Otsuka: Pricilla is certainly the most beautiful character in the game
Miyazaki: Thank you, she was the heroine of the story at one point so I'm glad you think so. Moving on to the undead burg. We never really spent much time working on the look of the area. It was the first map we created and the large bridge, the church and the other structures were already planned out by the 3d artist who was in charge of the area. As the lead artist on the project, he had already decided exactly how he wanted these things to look right down to the smallest detail, even the levers and statues.
Otsuka: Next I'd like to travel upwards to ask about Sen's Fortress...
Miyazaki: Sen's Fortress and Anor Londo were both overseen by Mr Waragai. As for me, I had a definite visual image right from the beginning and a good idea of the concept behind the area i.e. the trial to reach Anor Londo, full of deadly traps. The designers had real trouble with this area I seem to remember. We spent a long time on the rough map didn't we.
Waragai: Yes we did, but the image of a trap road was fairly straightforward. The pendulums, rolling boulders and other major traps were all there from the start. Infact we almost tried hard to make them obvious and create things that screamed trap!
Miyazaki: It's almost comical how obvious they are, but I think things like that are all part of Dark Souls' appeal. Personally I love the stone launcher, the way it endlessly fires the boulders, and the strange complex contraption build to achieve this simple action. It's things like this really add a sense of intrigue to the Dark Souls world. In terms of achieving the original design aims, I think the area works really well.
Satake: I really like the way the stairs are worn away where the boulders roll down.
Waragai: I think that was Miyazaki's idea
Miyazaki: Was it?
Waragai: Yes, the idea was that the worn steps might give players a warning as to the dangers ahead.
Miyazaki: I see, although I doubt people will be able to pick up that on that small detail, especially on their first time through, Haha, perhaps the second time it will serve to remind them.
Waragai: Diligent people will notice I think, by that point you've already seen several large boulders haven't you...
Miyazaki: Well I'm glad we were able to create a design that really incorporated all of our ideas. Haha
Otsuka: Next up is Anor Londo.
Miyazaki: There was a lot I wanted to fit into Anor Londo. As I mentioned before I wanted it to feel like a reward after finishing Sen's Fortress, but I also wanted it to be an area with no clear road, to have the player walk in places that you wouldn't normally walk such as the buttresses. Then there was also the image of the setting sun, and the way it the area changes once night falls. I really like the way your eye is drawn to to different features like the revolving staircase elevator.
Waragai: That was Nakamura's idea, I remember him saying Life is like climbing a great spiral…
Miyazaki: Nakamura comes out with some strange things doesn't he. I mean that in the best possible way of course. I think this idea works really well, there are several spirals in the area and I'm glad that we were able to incorporate that idea.
Otsuka: Did you use anything for reference when designing Anor Londo?
Waragai: We had the image of walking on buttresses from the start, so that I suppose. Their actual purpose is to support the walls so they can build them even higher, but when I visited the cathedral in Milan, I walked beneath the buttresses and I thought how fun it would be to walk upon them…
Miyazaki: There was one more thing I wanted to achieve with Anor Londo, the last game I directed Demon's Souls was based in the early middle ages so it was extremely difficult to gather reference materials for the area design Dark Souls is based in a later time period so with Anor Londo I saw a chance to create an area that felt more cohesive and full of the kind of detail that we couldn't achieve in Demon's Souls.
Otsuka: How about The Duke's Archives and the crystal caves… The library looks a little like...
Miyazaki: Yes the revolving stairs are from Harry Potter aren't they. Haha. Personally I was really interested in creating a library or archive, but if I'm being honest I would have liked to spend a little more time on some aspects of area.
Otsuka: How about the Old Londo Ruins?
Miyazaki: We tried a slightly different approach with the New Londo ruins, closely basing it on existing architecture, in this case Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. Of course it's not exactly the same but if you compare the two, the similarities are obvious.
Very much like creating the cities in armoured core, it's much easier for the planners, designers and 3d artists to start with a bases in reality than to start from scratch. Real things contain such a mixture of influences and ideas and such an abundance of information, so I wanted to try using this technique in dark souls too. Of course some things worked out better than others, but I think in the end we created something that wouldn't have been possible starting from zero. Even with the areas that didn't turn out as I'd hoped it was a pretty successful experiment. Looking at it against the other areas I think the difference is actually fairly obvious. But since we used this different approach for this area it was the last area the artists worked on.
Waragai: Yes. While I was in charge of New Londo, the fact that it was based so heavily on a real world location meant there wasn't actually a great deal of work to be done. All but the finest details were already in place.
Otsuka: Well then moving on to the Depths and Blight Town
Miyazaki: Well the depths were based around the image of an underground aqueduct, but it's aesthetic is very similar to that of the undead burg. It also shared the same lead artist so the two areas really fit together well.
As for Blight Town, I started with a number of images I wanted to incorporate, but due to the complexity of the area it would have been difficult to try and design everything all at once, so instead we began with large features like the water wheel elevator and, with the designers and artists, gradually build the area up from there.
Otsuka: Moving even further down to the Demon Ruins, they have a different feel to the previous areas don't they.
Miyazaki: I mentioned previously that Dark Souls is divided into three main sections or themes. The demons in are all based around the idea of chaos, but we had to think long and hard about how to convey that image in a map. We decided upon an oriental theme. I'm worried people may this that the wrong way but oriental things possess a kind of chaos, or to put it differently they lack a kind of peace or order and that's what I wanted to try and capture. The best example of this is found at Angkor Wat in Cambodia and in the areas surrounding it, where east and west asia meet.
Otsuka: How about the Catacombs and the Tomb of the Giants?
Miyazaki: The Catacombs and the Tomb have a similar atmosphere to that of Blight Town, but both contain a great many more man made objects, which meant more work for the artists. In our team the 3d artists will sometimes be called upon to do work more akin to that of a traditional artist so we tried to utilise their skills as much as we could. As I said before we don't have many artists to start with, and just throwing more people at something doesn't guarantee a better result.
Otsuka: On to the Great Hollow and Ash lake
Miyazaki: These two areas were entirely created by the designers, with little to no concept work. I had a clear image of both areas from the beginning, and as work progressed I continued to modify that so as to be in keeping with the other areas we were creating. Most of the work was done directly from the rough map, but there is also more than a little Avatar in there I think. Of course if the area hadn't have come together I'd have had the artists create some concept art, but in the end it wasn't needed.
Otsuka: Now, a very interesting area, the painted world of Artemis
Miyazaki: We drew a great deal of concept art for the painted world. It was actually based on the map used in the dark souls prototype. Of course the prototype is your chance to really get across your vision for the game so we spent a long time on the area. So much so that I really wanted to use it in the full game but I couldn't find a way to make it fit with the other areas. In the end I cheated and put it in the painted world.
Waragai: It's the only area with snow so it would be hard to put anywhere else.
Miyazaki: Yes. it may sound like a poor solution, but I actually had an image for the painted world from the start, I'm just happy I was able to combine that image and the prototype map.
Otsuka: It was here you decided to put former heroine pricilla wasn't it
Miyazaki: Yes. I think she she works well here… she's kind of snow coloured after all…. but I also think the painted world is place where someone who's being chased might go to escape, and she fits that description doesn't she.
Waragai: Like she's been chased from her natural place?
Miyazaki: Yes, although "natural place" means something slightly different in this case. Haha.
Otsuka: I think it's a really unique area, I remember before travelling there I was excited to see what would happen.
Miyazaki: Thankyou. I'm very happy with the area overall. It was the important first map and I think I was able to incorporate the new ideas I had while not taking anything away from the original design of the area. When collaborating with the team I often come up with ideas, and I enjoy trying to fit them in as we develop the world. Of course I also have to be careful not to break anything. I think this method of continuous improvement can really help add to the atmosphere of an area, infact we also used this method on the last game I worked on "Demon's Souls", the problem is that there is a tendency to over produce things and before you know it the project can spiral out of control and work can slow down.
I suppose I'm getting off subject slightly so I will stop there but it's something I want to work on in the future.
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Read part 3 HERE.
@mrcool11: I see what you did there :D
I hadn't thought about it until reading your post, but for the sake of those people who haven't finished the game yet, I'll be sure to mark anything that could be construed as spoilers.
@psylah: Yeah, they actually touch on that a little later in the interview, some of their other influences may surprise you though...
Thanks for the comments everyone,
I've already finished a rough translation for part two so it shouldn't be *too* long coming...
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