Demon's Souls really established FromSoftware's reputation as a developer that wants to take your sense of hope and gnaw on it using the jaws of zombified rats. Dark Souls, the game's spiritual successor, took that and ran with it.
Dark Souls II
... well, we thought we'd catch up with the game's director, Yui Tanimura, to see how the game will deal with that legacy. We discovered that, for him at least, it's a legacy that goes further back than you might expect...
First, could we get a little background information on yourself? What interested you about working on video games and how did you get into the industry?
The King’s Field
series brought me to the game industry. I like playing games and was fascinated by epoch-making games such as Wiz
and one of the unforgettable titles for me was King’s Field
. I thought King’s Field
was a western game due to the game universe and state-of-the-art game technology. Then I realized that it was a made in Japan game created by a Japanese developer called FromSoftware when accidentally finding a job offer in the job centre of my university. To be honest I did not have strong wish to be a game creator at the time considering my long term career but decided to try the interview since King’s Field
was my favourite game. As a result of that, I am now creating games in FromSoftware. So I feel it was by chance that I engaged in game development.
What kind of environments will we be able to explore in Dark Souls II? Should we expect to see the same kinds of medieval environments – dungeons, castles and forests – or will you be broadening the landscape?
One of the characteristics of the Dark Souls
series is to sincerely pursue a good-old and distinctive fantasy [while] adding originality at the same time. The new title also keeps the characteristics, so medieval and classic fantasy-look environments will be laid in the game along with impressive cut scenes and gimmicks. Some hints have been given in the announced information but the details can not be revealed yet.
Dark Souls taught players through death, but not necessarily trial and error. Is there a way for players to actually avoid some deaths the first time around, if they are clever or agile enough?
As with the first Dark Souls
game, FromSoftware continues to focus development of Dark Souls II
on providing players with an incredible sense of achievement when overcoming the challenges in the game. The game will be balanced and tuned so that players who pay close attention to their surroundings and learn from how they die will be rewarded. Even newcomers to Dark Souls
should be able to immerse themselves into the vast world and grave wonders that await them. Ultimately, this is a game where you Go Beyond Death. We want players to experience the exhilaration of constantly walking the line of death as they reach for that faint glimpse of light that lies past their fear.
How do you think the series has evolved, from Demon's Souls to Dark Souls and Dark Souls II? Have all three games focused on one theme, or do you feel that each game has its own message?
'Sense of accomplishment' and 'Sense of Loose solidarity' are common themes in the whole series and we, the developer, are creating the sequel aiming at polishing the sense. In this way the core theme and message are the same. On the other hand, there [are] themes especially focused on in this title such as 'Freedom', 'Diverse death' and 'Connection'.
Is there anything from Demon's Souls that you thought was lacking in Dark Souls that you would like to include in Dark Souls II?
Though the detail can not be unveiled yet, I could say that it is a heroine who leads the player.
Dark Souls II has been likened to a survival horror game in terms of style and approach. Are you taking a slightly different direction with this game?
The standpoint, a survival horror game, is slightly surprising for us since we are not conscious of horror elements so much in development. This time we are paying more attention to the use of light and shadow that differentiates visible and invisible points, which triggers players’ fear. This may lead to a survival horror aspect. Another point we are focusing on this time is [the] various reactions of maps and enemies and we are aiming [to be] better than the previous title in this way.
How important is the PC platform to you, now that Dark Souls II is being developed on PC at the same time as consoles? And do you feel like you could have done better with the PC version of Dark Souls?
In order to reflect what we reviewed from Dark Souls
we, FromSoftware, are also working hard on PC platforms in this title. Compare to the situation that we started to create the PC version after development of the console version of Dark Souls
, [and] we are currently developing both the PC and console versions simultaneously. That is why we can guarantee high quality in PC platforms by spending more time on its development this time.
There's a lot of support and love for Dark Souls, because of its difficulty. Do you feel that video games are getting too easy? Should more video games offer a challenging experience?
I get the impression that there are less games emphasizing high difficulty as their selling points in the market nowadays, which is not a bad tendency. I believe that games should be diverse, as both challenging and easy casual games are important. My games may be slightly hard for beginners, so I hope more people who started playing and became casual game fans will enjoy my titles as well in the future.
How challenging is it for you to develop Dark Souls II, with the pressures of maintaining a balance between good level design and high difficulty?
I suppose creating a sequel to Dark Souls
, which has [gained] so many fans gives me huge pressure. That is why our development team is working on this project with responsibility every day. However, we take the pressure as motivation to make the game better. Dark Souls
surely takes over the genuine spirit of FromSoftware, led by King’s Field
at first, and the development team of Dark Souls II
consists of prominent members who have created the great games and spirit of FromSoftware. I am sure that we can make a surprising game, though it is challenging.
Thank you for your time.