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Dark Souls Q&A: Variety is the Spice of Death

Sid Shuman's Avatar + Posted by Sid Shuman on Feb 04, 2011 // Senior Manager, Social Media

Fans of 2009’s PS3-exclusive RPG Demon’s Souls are sure to have questions about Dark Souls, which is being produced under the watchful eye of Demon’s Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki. Though the game was formally revealed just days ago, I had a rare opportunity to speak directly with Miyazaki about his plans for Dark Souls. We discussed the game’s soul-crushing difficulty (it’s going to get harder, not easier), his favorite new feature (a new form of “emotional communication” via Beacon Fires), and the games he’s most excited to play in 2011 (hint: UNCHARTED 3).

Dark Souls for PS3

Sid Shuman: Would you describe Dark Souls as a sequel to Demon’s Souls, or a spiritual successor? Does Dark Souls reside in the same universe as Demon’s Souls?

Hidetaka Miyazaki, director, Dark Souls: Dark Souls is not a sequel to Demon’s Souls by any means. However, it’s created by the same producers and director and so the ideologies, concepts, and themes have carried over and are similar. It’s a totally new game with similar concepts.

SS: Demon’s Souls is infamous for its difficulty. Will Dark Souls be as difficult?

HM: Yes, Demon’s Souls was known for its incredible difficulty [laughter]. With Dark Souls, there is no intention to decrease the difficulty at all. Actually, we intend to increase the difficulty of the game. (Sid: !!!) But not simply by making the game more difficult, but by giving players the freedom to strategize freely and conquer that difficulty, and to be rewarded accordingly.

This is an analogy we often use: We are trying to create a game that is spicy. And we want to make it as spicy as possible. But it’s edible and tastes good and leaves you wanting more.

SS: How do you keep a difficult game from becoming punishing, and drive the player to quit in frustration?

HM: Good question. We can’t tell you all of our secrets, but there are a few ways we prevent users from drifting away. Number one, the difficulty is not dependent on the skill level of the user. We have not created a game where players who react faster or press buttons faster are better than others. Second, when a player dies, we try to leave a sense of “maybe if I try a different strategy I can succeed.” Things that you lose in death can be outweighed by what you gain by trying again. We try to give players lots of freedom to design their own gameplay style, and we’ve implemented enough content to enable users to continue challenging themselves and continue making progress.

One more aspect is the difficulty based on repetitiveness. We don’t want users to have to constantly carve away health from enemies. We’ve created all characters — including enemies and the player — to have high attack power but low defense. We don’t want users to hack and hack and hack away to defeat an enemy. It’s more strategic. We want users to think, “if I avoid this enemy, maybe I can overcome him.” We don’t want players to be frustrated by doing the same things over and over.

Dark Souls for PS3Dark Souls for PS3

SS: Death was a part of life in Demon’s Souls. But it required that you replay the entire level from scratch with enemies in identical locations. Will Dark Souls force players to restart levels? Will levels be less repetitious to replay?

HM: The main concept has not changed: You try something, die, learn from your mistakes, and eventually overcome those mistakes. In Dark Souls, we’ve added the ability to players to choose their recovery point — essentially respawn points. If you die, you won’t be taken back to the beginning of the level. And as you explore the world, you can carve out your own territory and retry quests you failed. That’s a big difference. It’s an aspect that we want players to use to strategize their approach to the game.

SS: Will Dark Souls have a less intimidating control scheme than Demon’s Souls?

HM: In Demon’s Souls, when you finally get used to the controls, it feels pretty good. So for Dark Souls, the controls and feel won’t change too much. However, we are adding a tutorial so players don’t have to fight to learn how to play. We don’t want to take the players step-by-step, we just want them to get past the first step.

But generally, for Dark Souls, learning commands and controlling your character is probably a little bit easier. But to counter that, we’ve added a lot of aspects that users must learn beyond the controls. The amount of magic, the number of weapons, the types of weapons, the moves attached to the weapons…there is a lot more that players must learn in order to conquer the challenges.

Dark Souls for PS3

SS: Does that mean we can expect a lot of new weapons with unique functions?

HM: The simple answer is yes. But we’re not just increasing the number of weapons; we want to improve the uniqueness of each weapon. Each weapon will have characteristics that are vastly different from other weapons in the game. As an example, the player starts with a Long Sword. Eventually he might find a Holy Sword, which is far more powerful but is used very differently. Some players will choose to continue using the Long Sword simply because they’re more comfortable with it.

We want to give players many options, even if that means they use the sword that ‘fits best in the hand.’ We want you to become emotionally and physically attached to the weapon you’re using. Perhaps the Long Sword, after you’ve used it for so long and taken such good care of it, is the real Holy Sword. [laughter] The real Holy Sword, though, might be very hard to master despite its power. And some players will say, “This is difficult to use? Leave it to me, I’ll master it!” [laughter]. The mind games and strategizing — that’s the most fun aspect of the game to me.

SS: How will dual-wielding two weapons impact combat? Is dual-wielding a successful strategy, or more of an “expert’s mode”?

HM: Dual wielding is an option, but it’s a very difficult choice for novice players. The default fighting style is holding a shield in one hand, a weapon in the other. And the shield adds a lot of protection, it’s quite effective. If you see another player dual wielding, we want you to think, “Oh my god, this guy is special!” Dual wielding is a way to challenge yourself, but it has a lot of downsides and makes the game much harder. When you’re in trouble, you’ll want to return to your shield and sword.

We want to keep dual wielding special. It’s a very unique strategy that will hopefully give a new experience to the player as well as those watching him.

Dark Souls for PS3

SS: Like Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls will include online co-op and competitive play. Are you planning any broad changes to the multiplayer?

HM: Yes. Throughout the game, there will be both cooperative and competitive play with other players. Each user will enjoy a unique single-player game; at times, they will cross paths with one another. Depending on the situation, the time, and the players’ goals, those players may cooperate or compete against each other. The multiplayer system we’re creating will envelop the single-player mode. Multiplayer will enhance single-player, make it more unique, compared to other games that emphasize traditional multiplayer co-op or competitive play.

SS: What’s the single addition to Dark Souls that you’re most excited by?

HM: Probably the Beacon Fire. It stands for a lot of things. It serves as a recovery point; when the player’s health is low, the Beacon Fire helps you recover. It serves as a respawn point as well. So it’s powerful from a gameplay perspective. Secondly, the Beacon Fire will be used to share experiences with other players. It’s a place where players can gather together and communicate — not verbally communicate, but emotionally communicate. Third, it’s probably the one place in Dark Souls where users can relax just for an instant. In this cold, dark world, the Beacon Fire is a place of warmth. It’s one of the few locations in the game that is heartwarming. It expresses this dark fantasy world I’m trying to create.

SS: How will character creation work? Are there still classes? How can I augment and customize my character?

HM: The basics are quite similar to Demon’s Souls, but you can customize the physical build of your character now in addition to his face. There’s a lot of customization in terms of gameplay styles and parameters. It’s very open, and there are many more options than in Demon’s Souls. You can create any type of character you’d like to create.

Dark Souls for PS3

SS: What’s your philosophy regarding monsters in Dark Souls? Are you going for really grim, grotesque creatures?

HM: Calling it a “philosophy” is probably overstating it a bit [laughter]. I want to expand the range and variety of all the enemies, whether they’re hideous or beautiful or strong. I don’t lean towards any particular type, but [high-level enemies] will be pretty disgusting. And you might not believe this, but all the monsters I design — from Demon’s Souls to Dark Souls — are “beautiful” to me, no matter how gruesome their appearance.

SS: What games are you looking forward to playing in 2011?

HM: Politically this is sort of a difficult question to answer! [laughter] I’m a big gamer. But to be honest, right now I absolutely love Magic: The Gathering Online. For 2011, I’m really looking forward to UNCHARTED 3 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

UNCHARTED 2 came out around the same time as Demon’s Souls, so it was a big competitor for us at the time. But UNCHARTED has done so well, and now I’m really excited for UNCHARTED 3. I’m quite interested in Skyrim because the fantasy world is something I really look forward to in games.

//Add Your Own

131 Comments   27 Replies

51

+ jqtaxpayer on February 4th, 2011 at 3:20 pm said:

Demon’s Souls has been one of my favorite games for the PS3, and is probably one of my proudest platinum trophies due to how hard-won it was.

I like what I’m hearing about the weapons — I hate how in many games, at the end of it all everyone’s using the same high-powered sword. Having more variety in that regard would truly be a special thing. I also like what I’m hearing about the customization not being changed too much — Demon’s Souls was one of the few games where I felt which class you chose really made a tangible difference, and it really adds to its replayability. And, personally, I thought the controls in Demon’s Souls were fine.

Regardless, keep up the fantastic work and I can’t wait to get my hands on Dark Souls — I’m excited to hear more info as it becomes available.


52

+ Brutananadlewski on February 4th, 2011 at 3:24 pm said:

Hearing this news made my day. Demons Souls is one of my favorite games this gen and all time. Beat it 4 times and still have tons of fun with it. I can not wait for this. I will be buying Dark Souls first day.


53

+ Red_Wolf92 on February 4th, 2011 at 3:24 pm said:

@ people complaining about multiplatform…

Get over it. kthxbai.


54

+ PhadedWun on February 4th, 2011 at 3:25 pm said:

Demon’s Souls was challenging but nearly as challenging as many people made it out to be. Was it one of the hardest games I have played lately? Absolutely. However, it could be much more difficult.

I look forward to the higher degree of difficulty with Dark Souls and even if I break a controller or two – I know in the end I will enjoy the game.


55

+ Dakiero on February 4th, 2011 at 3:25 pm said:

Emotional Communication? I’m guessing no support for voice chat, just more character emotes?

Voice chat between cooperating players would be a nice touch, its really hard to coordinate in DS using text chat cuz you have to find a spot with no enemies around just to pop up to type then return to the battle before some invader hops in and stabs you from behind.

Hearing Dark Souls being more difficult than Demons Souls just makes me think that we have to start the game on NG+ difficulty, which is where anyone who thinks DS is easy hasn’t tried.

I love Demons Souls and still looking for that elusive Pure Bladestone just so i can platinum this game.

Any idea of when we can expect this in America? Late 2011 or somewhere in 2012?


    Sid Shuman's Avatar

     

    + Sid Shuman on February 4th, 2011 at 3:39 pm said:

    They’re saying 2011 in the trailer…nice observations, btw!


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+ PhadedWun on February 4th, 2011 at 3:29 pm said:

Oh – I also have to say. I hate the concept of the beacon fires and the fact that they are a ‘checkpoint’.

The lack of checkpoints is part of what made Demon’s Souls “difficult”, the reason to avoid death all the much higher.

I’m not sure how much “harder” it’s going to be with the addition of beacon fires.


    Sid Shuman's Avatar

     

    + Sid Shuman on February 4th, 2011 at 3:48 pm said:

    Well, we don’t know much for now — I wouldn’t make too many assumptions just yet. I think a big goal of theirs was to cut down on frustration while retaining the high difficulty. And as a player who was utterly spanked by Demon’s Souls, having to restart the level on death was extremely painful. We’ll see what they settle on for the final game! I’m definitely curious.


57

+ KimimaroX on February 4th, 2011 at 3:32 pm said:

“Actually, we intend to increase the difficulty of the game”

I love you.

I Platinum’d DS, and I plan on doing the same for this.


    Sid Shuman's Avatar

     

    + Sid Shuman on February 4th, 2011 at 3:48 pm said:

    ^_^


58

+ DarkRecoil on February 4th, 2011 at 3:44 pm said:

If Sony dont believe in this game enough to publish it and own the rights for exclusivity on PS3, why should i be interested?


59

+ Neil on February 4th, 2011 at 3:54 pm said:

One of my favorite games but I never beat it.


60

+ boxmyth on February 4th, 2011 at 3:57 pm said:

I’ve been tempted to pick up Demons Souls several times but never have due to difficulty + my temper. Reading that there will be a tutorial in Dark Souls might push me over the edge for that one however.


61

+ Mattsta001 on February 4th, 2011 at 3:59 pm said:

Didn’t SCEJ assist From with Demon’s Souls? Takeshi Kajii was the producer. A bit of an insult to Kajii for them to turn around and go multiplat.


62

+ alexiswahale on February 4th, 2011 at 4:00 pm said:

Looks stunning.

I played Demon’s Souls for 150 hours and still only got 50% of the trophies, i’ll get around to grinding that ore someday. Definitely hyped for this.

I like the sound of the beacon, i get the feeling it’ll be like the campfires in Stalker, only with actual people instead of npcs.

My only concern would be ending up on an empty european server again, hopefully it’ll release earlier here this time so there won’t be as many people importing.


63

+ AriesWarlock on February 4th, 2011 at 4:01 pm said:

i think difficulty should come from gameplay, not lack of checkpoint.


    Sid Shuman's Avatar

     

    + Sid Shuman on February 4th, 2011 at 4:31 pm said:

    That’s my thinking as well.


64

+ Cat_Corye on February 4th, 2011 at 4:08 pm said:

So does this mean we need to worry about XBL users jumping into are games? Because I think that be freaky and fun.

Anyways I hope we can make are characters more to what we want, that was one think I didn’t like but it didn’t effect me playing the game and finishing it.


65

+ DHILIFE on February 4th, 2011 at 4:17 pm said:

Ah man, this and The Last Gaurdian are my most anticipated games. Can’t wait!


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+ BrianC6234 on February 4th, 2011 at 4:18 pm said:

This is a game that needs to remain PS3 only. Just look at what most 360 gamers buy. They don’t care about much other than first person shooters. Hopefully the PS3 version won’t be ruined because of this.


    Sid Shuman's Avatar

     

    + Sid Shuman on February 4th, 2011 at 5:00 pm said:

    Don’t stress out! I’m sure it’ll work out fine.


67

+ ImFromIndiah on February 4th, 2011 at 4:40 pm said:

i wonder if the max for co-op is still 4 and how the pvp will work


68

+ that-acmilan-guy on February 4th, 2011 at 4:41 pm said:

1 question, will it have a story? I was disappointed that Demon Souls presented such a bleak world and great depressing backdrop, yet the game ended the way it began :\


69

+ phinnv8 on February 4th, 2011 at 4:49 pm said:

PS3′s best remaining exclusive now gone.


70

+ ForgetfuI on February 4th, 2011 at 4:53 pm said:

No comment on GT Academy. Why am I not surprised.


71

+ KGH on February 4th, 2011 at 5:03 pm said:

jonestly. Demon’s Souls really isnt as hard as most people portrays it to be… its a challenging game but, ive never been dicouraed by its difficulty. I cannot wait for dark souls. demon’s souls was such an incredible game i just dont know how it can be topped


72

+ boricuacookie on February 4th, 2011 at 5:09 pm said:

I really don’t like this re-spawn point idea in the new game, I just hope they add new elements that make sense for this feature, I am just so used to just plowing threw entire worlds and not dying, this game really makes you a great player, when you die, it is you’re fault, not any glitch or game design defect, that is the genius of this game, it is just amazingly well done, would be nice to increase difficulty when doing co-op.


73

+ cool_trainer on February 4th, 2011 at 5:26 pm said:

I didn’t realize some people didn’t like the controls of Demon’s Souls, I loved how the controls were. I also loved the difficulty because when you did succeed the satisfaction of finally overcoming something was very rewarding. Because of that I am definitely looking forward to this one.


74

+ MGS4_80GB on February 4th, 2011 at 5:37 pm said:

@DarkRecoil:

Because Sony isn’t God and made a horrible mistake by not supporting the first game?

Developers don’t like that crap, hence the reason why they went multiplatform with the ‘sequel’.


75

+ Boss_Tycoon_ on February 4th, 2011 at 6:00 pm said:

Day 1 buy for sure.


76

+ DeadCell34 on February 4th, 2011 at 6:01 pm said:

@70

This post was about Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. Not GT5! Get over it.


77

+ Jimmy_Cosmos on February 4th, 2011 at 6:12 pm said:

Sony dropped the ball BIG TIME not securing Demon’s Souls as a future exclusive. Them publishing the game in Japan and then deciding not to bring the game to the West and leaving it to two other publishers to do so, they let what could have been a very unique & special exclusive slip through their fingers. Something that wasn’t another military FPS or racing game. What a terrible mistake. Now that it’s multi-platform get ready for the stupid fan boy comparison crap and the PS3 getting a shoddy port job. Thanks for nothing.


78

+ SarshelYam on February 4th, 2011 at 6:13 pm said:

Man o man, this has to be one of my most anticipated titles this year. I’ve played through the Asian, North American and European releases twice each for an accumulated several hundred hours, so you can be sure I’m amped for this one.

I want a demo!


79

+ ZephLaeliash on February 4th, 2011 at 6:18 pm said:

Demon’s Souls got a little old fast, not because of dying repetitively (no big deal), but because of the insanely tedious problem of having to repeat the entire level every time it happened. I don’t care if the next game is harder just as long as I don’t have to lose 15-20 minutes every time a (frequent) death occurs, I may actually enjoy this one.


80

+ neuropunk on February 4th, 2011 at 6:54 pm said:

This may not be a sequel (the same way that most Final Fantasy games are not sequels), but I do definitely consider them to be the same series. (Dark SOULS, Demon’s SOULS) so we might as well call it the ‘Souls’ series. After all, Dark Souls is what Demon’s Souls 2 woulda been like. So, this game might as well have been called Demon’s Souls 2: Demon Harder.

Anyhow, looks like my dream game is coming to reality.


81

+ LightAce on February 4th, 2011 at 6:58 pm said:

If its similar to Demons Souls but better than that’s a first day purchase for me, cause I loved Demons Souls.


82

+ theultimatenub on February 4th, 2011 at 7:10 pm said:

looks great never played demon souls but might go check it out


83

+ benjiedude on February 4th, 2011 at 7:24 pm said:

Can we please get the trailer on PSN in1080p? Also, how could you not ask if there would be a collector’s edition with strategy guide? …I mean seriously geesh


84

+ Ckrovax on February 4th, 2011 at 7:25 pm said:

What a fantastic addition to the gaming world and a great follow-up to one of the disputed best games on the PS3 period. DS is such a powerful title and sets a very high bar for Dark Souls. I actually bought a PS3 initially just so I could play DS as it sounded so epic via word-of-mouth. Let’s see if they can deliver on Dark Souls.

In terms of difficulty, please crank it up and please make bosses more spontaneous/intelligent. More customization and unique weapon styles and animation sounds amazing.

Bring on the pain and thank you for creating/producing this title.


85

+ EggySong85 on February 4th, 2011 at 7:42 pm said:

Congrats on spreading the Souls experience to more consumers with this one! I hope the inevitable success from going multi-platform will lead to more entries in this fantastic series! Just don’t give the PS3 a watered-down muddy port of the other console’s version, please!

I hope we can summon spirits from our own friend-lists, and that NGP gets a port that will play cross-platform with PS3 gamers.


86

+ Airwalkinman17 on February 4th, 2011 at 7:42 pm said:

I’m a very varied gamer. I love all types of games. MGS, Uncharted, Resistance, KZ, Critter Crunch, Shatter, LBP, MNR, Heavy Rain, etc. etc. When I first heard about Demons Souls was was it being “difficult”. It turned me off, but I gave in and gave it a try. When I got my hands on this masterpiece my mind blew! Easily todays most underrated Masterpiece. The graphics, art style, smoothness of character controls, environments, atmosphere/mood all were so astounding. I literally WALKED slowly through the entire game, with my shield up, watching my surroundings, spooked at what was around every corner. The sights. The sounds. This game is just so amazing. I will say that this is my favorite game this generation for me period.
About to platinum this baby. I’ve put in over 100 hours (with multiple playthroughs) into this game and I still play it. Its that good.
When I read other reviews that said the game was too hard it actually wasn’t! It was very fair and balanced! Just throw it on. Crank up the Sound. Dim the lights, and jump in. Your in for one awesome adventure.


87

+ TruStrike on February 4th, 2011 at 7:45 pm said:

Three words that Demon Souls veterans will know: Sticky white stuff.


88

+ StealthReborn– on February 4th, 2011 at 7:55 pm said:

I’ve never played Demons Souls before Sid, and keep hearing good things about it. Is there any chance of it possibly being released on PSN as downloadable instead of disc so I can give a crack at it?


89

+ aerosmith760 on February 4th, 2011 at 8:00 pm said:

awwwww why did you have to go multiplatform?
Dont you like PS3?
Demon souls was the only game i could brag to my friends about. Now i am going to get picked on again. :(


90

+ RavenSPe on February 4th, 2011 at 8:17 pm said:

I feel like Miyazaki made this game just for me, it is seriously my idea of the perfect game. From what I’m reading and based off of my experience with Demons’ Souls I’m confident this will indeed be everything I could hope for. The only thing I could ask for is please include some sort of voice communication, even if it’s only available at Beacon Fires. Day one buy for me, can’t wait for this game!


91

+ Jeigh on February 4th, 2011 at 8:56 pm said:

“Not a sequel”? Final Fantasy has been making “non-sequels” in this manner for decades now.

I shudder, thinking of what this could have been as an exclusive. (Ironically, another issue Final Fantasy 13 faced; the PS3 version could only travel back as far as what was on the final disc of the 360 version. Coincidence?)


92

+ Keyeszx on February 4th, 2011 at 9:41 pm said:

Slow down! Why isn’t SCEJ publishing this or Atlus? Why is namco bandai getting their dirty little hands on this perfect game? From Software can’t let them do this. You can’t put it on the 360 every game that has been for the 360 and was originally for the PS3 turned out bad, Tekken series, dragonball z series, naruto ultimate ninja storm series, final fantasy series, metal gear solid series(rising will destroy the series). Please cancel the 360 version so you can focus all the resources you have on the PS3 version and make it that much better.


93

+ Sekoku on February 4th, 2011 at 9:45 pm said:

Will they unlock the gamesave and have it be like LittleBigPlanet 2 and lock trophies for those saves that aren’t signed as your PSN id?

No? Because they want to protect the “trophy integrity?”

Can’t care then. Call me when putting 100+ hours into an online RPG isn’t for naught if your hardware breaks.


94

+ MadMeat001 on February 4th, 2011 at 10:58 pm said:

nice interview, but i honestly can’t wait for SKYRIM (question about the move thing before people ask it everywhere xD) :D


95

+ terranwolf on February 4th, 2011 at 11:24 pm said:

Please bring the Demon’s Souls Nexus Dynamic theme over to America!


96

+ Jedah_PR on February 4th, 2011 at 11:34 pm said:

Since Sid seems to be paying attention to this Blog post, how about you answer us this, when can we finally get the Dynamic theme for Demon’s Souls that’s been out in Japan for well over a year?

We US DS fans been waiting too long for it. I mean really DS is one of the best exclusive PS3 games, the game as an “Greatest Hits” version, and now a spiritual successor, yet we still haven’t gotten the dynamic theme?


97

+ Brameriz on February 4th, 2011 at 11:50 pm said:

I will purchase asap the day it comes out it’s mine can it Be reserved yet ? #TeamBON


98

+ PuppetShoJustice on February 5th, 2011 at 2:28 am said:

It sounds as though they want online play to be a thing that occurs by happenstance rather than being actually organized by players. I was really hoping they’d make it more easily accessible this time around and perhaps even have the game itself be so difficult as to make players want to go out of their way to work together.

I can understand going the route they’re seeming to take though. It probably fits better with what they aim to accomplish as far as mood and all. But it disappoints me. My third and final playthrough Demon’s Souls was done entirely co-op with my best friend and it was literally the best co-op console gameplay experience I’ve had in the 26 years I’ve been gaming.

Oh well. Here’s hoping organized co-op is still possible.


99

+ mastorofpuppetz on February 5th, 2011 at 6:18 am said:

@9, agreed, Sony was stupid to not secure rights to this, the PS3 is really lacking good RPG’s this gen except multi-plats. Sony really makes some bone headed decisions.


100

+ mastorofpuppetz on February 5th, 2011 at 6:20 am said:

@88, what are you on about? The ps3 has 4 times the top rated exclusives as 360, besides Demons Souls……………. Eve hear of uncharted? God of War? MG2 4? infamous? and on and on and on….


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