The lights are on
Though I went into Demon’s Souls slightly terrified by the stories I’d heard of its intense difficulty, I ended up loving it (just read my review to see how much). Impressed by how the game came together but a bit confused as to why I enjoyed it so much in spite (or perhaps because of) the challenge, I decided to get a behind-the-scenes perspective from the game’s creators.
Demon’s Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki turned out to be just the man to answer my questions about why they made the game so hard, how it's connected to King’s Field series, and even some tips on how to pass the most difficult levels. Check out the full interview below.
Game Informer: Demon's Souls has received a lot of hype for being one of the hardest games released this generation. I don't necessarily think that's the most notable aspect of the game, but it's what a lot of people seem to be talking about. When you started developing the game, did you set out to create something that focused on difficulty?
Hidetaka Miyazaki: Having the game be "difficult" was never the goal. What we set out to do was strictly to provide a sense of accomplishment. We understood that “difficulty” is just one way to offer an intense sense of accomplishment through forming strategies, overcoming obstacles, and discovering new things. Our goal of a sense of accomplishment was the basis of the game since the early stages of development, and we never strayed from that.
GI: What was the reasoning behind allowing players to lose souls if they die twice before reaching their blood stain? Personally, I never got hung up on this part of the game, but it seems to be the thing that pops up over and over again on forums. Everybody shares that same experience of frustration the first time they lose a large chunk of souls. If there's anything that would really scare people about the game, I think that might be it.
HM: The nature of the blood stain as you’ve described it was discussed a number of times during development. We do understand the frustration that players have experienced, but the main reason we settled on this system is that if the Souls could be recovered anytime, there would be no suspense or sense of accomplishment. [We want players to feel] like, “I can’t die until I get all those souls back,” or “I did it! I made it to my bloodstain!”
This ties back into my previous answer, but the element of failure, the fact that you can lose lots of souls when you die, was necessary to give players that sense of accomplishment.
GI: The rumor that I keep hearing is that Demon's Souls began as a next-gen King's Field project. Is this true? If so, how far along into development did you decide that Demon's Souls was its own thing and deserved a new title? Will you ever revisit the King's Field series?
HM: Demon’s Souls was not developed as a sequel to King’s Field. King’s Field definitely influenced the ideas behind Demon’s Souls, but we envisioned this as a completely original title, separate from King’s Field. As for a sequel to King’s Field, I’m sorry, but I can’t really give a clear answer whether there will be one in the future.
GI: What really impressed me about Demon's Souls was the brilliant level design. Every location felt very real and very alive...or very dead, rather. What was the process for coming up with each "world," and how long did it take to develop each one into separate zones and finally into something playable?
HM: Counting from the earliest stage of development, materializing the visions I had in my mind for each world, it took a little over two years to create. After I had firm visions of the settings inside my head, I’d say it took about a year to go from the detailed artwork and level design work to the final product.
GI: Not including the Nexus, there are a total of five worlds in the game. How many "leftover" or abandoned world ideas did you have at the end?
HM: I had a lot of ideas during the early design stage. The world ideas that came the closest to making it into the final product were the Library stage and the Outside area around the Nexus.
GI: There's a lot of variety in the bosses, with some battles like Old Hero or Flamelurker requiring serious, intense combat skills, while others like Dragon God are more like big puzzles that you need to figure out. How did you decide the balance for that?
HM: When designing the bosses, I made sure that they would be varied and exciting. I prepared different gameplay and strategies for each one so that players didn’t get tired of the same fight every time. We wanted to surprise players and encourage them to figure out different tactics, to think on their feet.
Each boss has a concept that can be described very simply. The Maneater, for instance, can be summed up by saying “there’s another enemy.”
i haven't even played Demon's Souls yet (i have the deluxe edition but it's a christmas present) and i want a sequel.
This game is great, I hope to see a sequel also. I am glad the PS3 finally got a RPG of our own, and this one is almost perfect.
This game suprised the hell out of me. I thought it'd just be an "eh" rpg, but it sucks you in. I have to say that it was developed very well and very unique. Definitely and RPG to get, hang on to, and continue on with the replay throughs.
I don't have this game but it sounds pretty good and that it would be a lot of fun to play just a huge challnge.
I think the way Demon's Souls is structured as of now lends itself to downloadable content. There is a broken shrine in there anyway, but the worlds could easily be added.
As for a sequel, it would have to have more than just new levels. As much as I enjoy Demon's Souls, I wish the enemy placement was randomized, more "light" armor selection, and some effects on magical weapons. Don't get me wrong, I love Demon's Souls and these are extremely minor gripes, but just some of the things I think would make a sequel good.
(PS: The level design is top notch! Don't ever lose that.)
@Jessie: Maybe randomizing enemy placement in subsequent playthroughs would work, but I think having enemies spawn in the same spots for your first time through is really a necessary and important part of what makes Demon's Souls work. It's why even when you die over and over again, you can feel yourself getting to know the levels better and progressing.
Great interview. I myself hate and love area 5-2. That is currently where I am. Haha :)
The Blue Dragon killed me many times until I removed most of my armor so that I could run fast enough to get behind its fire, then I used magic to finish it off. It is really great to read an article and see that others are in similar situations. Man, I just LOVE this game! I always have trouble finding the words to express how this game makes me feel. Oh well, back to Boletaria I go. Mata ne!
From Software is now on my list of developers whose games I will always check out. I have become obsessed with this game, even with Dragon Age and Brutal Legend sitting on my desk. Even after a frustrating death, you almost always know exactly what you did wrong and you want to jump right back in and get that one step further. The game is not as hard as many of the reviews have said. Just take your time going through. Rushing will only get you killed.
The only gripe I've had is the lack of music in the levels. I've only noticed it during cutscenes and the boss fights. The songs that do play in the game are SO good, I just wish they were heard more.
When I first got the game, I felt the difficulty was really low in comparison to what others said of it. Then I got to Valley of Defilement 2 and found that to be really trying. Both in trying to not get lost and dealing with the giant goblins that would seem to just kill me if they got too close. This also made the False King nearly impossible for me to kill without help. I died to him about a half a dozen times before resurrecting myself and summoning in two blue phantoms.
I had built my character around the idea of being a bow user first, magic user second, and melee third.
Now that I've completed the first play-through in about 56 hours because I took my time to get certain gear forged and I'm on my second play-through and level 109, I find that the game has gone from moderate difficulty to extreme difficulty. And I love it!
I would absolutely love a sequel, but why do that when there's a broken archstone in the nexus between the Tower of Latria and Shrine of Storms. I say, give us a new world to explore! Also, more armor options would be nice. Although, I wear the light armors, it would have be nice if you could forge them as well. And if they're thinking of tweaking the game at all, not the difficulty though, I'd either make the fragrant ring give 1mp/3sec instead of 4 or offer a new ring. This would of course be best done in a new world added. New gear, new blacksmith maybe and the ability to forge armor with hardstones.
Oh and one thing I've never understood about the mechanics of magic and miracles -- why is the Faith stat linked to miracle slots but magic is not? To get more magic slots I have to increase intelligence that increase my MP pool. I'd have made magic slots linked to the Magic stat personally.
LOL wow some interesting info! I learned to enjoy dying because if i die in a spot that is within grasp i can keep gathering up souls to improve my character but this game is just overpowering! Just keep going and never give up but if you die twice..well that just sucks. XD
I think I need to get a PS3.
thank you for writing an article about this game, it's a awesome and intense game, the difficulty really challenges you to think and take careful measures in everything u do. hopefully they can make a sequel to this.
ya this game is gr8 i liked it cuz as they say accomplishment is this game and alot of this generations games lack difficulty or originality so this one captured all of that....AWSOME GAME!!
i really couldnt play this game. i was turned off so fast. i dont get a sense of accomplishment when i play RPG games. i just want to load out my guy with badass equipment, kill huge monsters and push through to the next piece of an awesome story line. the end didnt justify the means for me in this game. BUT if it was less difficult i would have loved it.
This game will remind us of what it means to be "hardcore"
I love this game! So darn hard, it is unlike anything I have ever played before!
While it was more difficult than most games, after an hour or so Demon's Souls wasn't all that hard. Like any game you just have to get used to it, and if not that then you can always grind and level up.