Dark Souls: 'Our goal is to make it more difficult'
11th Feb 2011 | 17:30
Last week, Namco Bandai and From Software announced that the spiritual sequel to cult classic PS3 exclusive Demon's Souls will be released this year. Oh, and it'll make you scream, yell and be frustrated too.
Action RPG Demon's Souls was a difficult game indeed, but Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki is committed to making the new game - now set for release on Xbox 360 alongside Sony's box - even tougher.
It's literally a difficult challenge to balance and the From Software team has already axed some Dark Souls content deemed too tough.
We managed to get some face time with Miyazaki-san last week and ask him about his quest to make us shout and scream, the challenges of taking the title multiplatform, and whether Xbox 360 owners will need an Xbox Live Gold subscription to see those online ghosts.
Demon's Souls reached cult status among PS3 users. Why did you decide to ditch the Demon's Souls name and work with Namco Bandai?
What we want to make clear is that this isn't actually a sequel to Demon's Souls, we're treating this as a brand new game created by the same director and producer. The base concept and themes are similar but the story and a lot of the game features have been recreated so that we can present this as a brand new title. It's a new game on its own.
Difficulty is of course a big part of Demon's Souls and you've said you're ramping it up even further for Dark Souls. How much more difficult is it?
It's hard to define how much more difficult it will be, but my goal is to make it as difficult as possible (laughs), but obviously make it possible for players to complete the level and the game.
I want users to feel rewarded when they conquer a mission. A theme we constantly use is 'try to make it as spicy as possible but let the people eat it and feel that it tastes good', that's an analogy we use.
Have you axed any traps or enemies that you thought maybe went a bit too far?
Yes, actually there was a lot that was too difficult and we had to pull. You may not believe it but there are things that are a bit too spicy, aspects that prevent you from eating it (laughs). We're trying to avoid those.
We have some set rules that we use to define difficulty, anything that doesn't abide by those definitions isn't included. This is to stay with the core ideas and philosophies relating to the difficulties of the game.
A good example is the player's skill level, reflexes and control is something we don't want to make a large factor that contributes to the difficulty.
How would you describe Dark Souls to Xbox 360 owners who didn't experience the last game? What can they expect?
I feel that Xbox 360 users really put an emphasis on the online aspect, with things like voice chat and friends. However, though this game doesn't have some of those things, it has a very unique approach and I'm looking forward to some of the feedback that Xbox 360 players will provide when they try the new network system and have a new online experience. I'm looking forward to letting Xbox users discover something new.
Do you have a beta or demo for Xbox 360 planned?
Unfortunately there isn't a plan to release a demo for a couple of reasons. The game requires a lot of patience and time to complete missions and conquer the game. The game isn't meant for a demo so I don't intend to release one.
When demos are released I feel there's a specific way it must be built compared to the actual game. I'm still not sure what that demo should include or how it should be formatted so as a creator I don't feel prepared or ready to create a demo that users can be satisfied with. There's also just not enough time.
Do you think the difficulty would scare people off in a demo too?
I'd hope not. It's not my intention to scare people away. I want satisfaction and happiness from being able to conquer that difficulty. The truth is people may get scared away because the game is difficult, but I'm hoping the rewards would counteract that if a demo was released.
Will Xbox 360 users have to be paid Gold subscribers to see the unique aspects of Dark Souls' single-player online hooks?
That's a difficult question. We're trying to figure out how to provide the same network functions as the PS3. My intent is not to take money from the users unless it is absolutely necessary to provide features. That's a difficult question to answer at the moment but the point is not to make any profit off the network and provide the same experience.
Are you finding it a challenge to bring those online features that were developed for the PS3 to the Xbox 360 then?
Not necessarily. The ultimate goal is to provide the same experience with just simply a different controller that users are used to using. The technical difficulties are there but I don't find it to be a barrier.