Dark Souls II co-director Yui Tanimura discusses development philosophies and game difficulty
posted on 03.19.14 at 01:24 PM EDT by (@iiotenki)
Satisfaction and connections make Dark Souls.

Dark Souls II

In a 4Gamer interview last week leading up to the Japanese release of Dark Souls II (which opened at 261,000 sales across PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360), co-director Yui Tanimura discussed at great length his development philosophies toward making a new game in such a critically acclaimed and beloved franchise without Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki captaining the ship.

Although Tanimura has a lot to say about the perceived increase in difficulty the series is already known for, he also discusses how the game tries to foster a desire in players to explore the world and experiment more thoroughly than they have in the past.

Plenty of ground is covered beyond those sorts of topics, though, so read on below for the full translation of the interview. It’s an interesting read.

4Gamer: Thanks for joining us today. Unlike Demon’s Souls and the original Dark Souls where Hidetaka Miyazaki helmed development efforts, the torch was handed off to you for Dark Souls II, so to speak. Since the game’s release is quickly approaching, would you mind giving us a quick overview of what other games you’ve worked on in the past?

Yui Tanimura: Sure. More recently, I put out Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn with Bandai Namco Games. Before that, I also worked on the Another Century’s Episode series, as well as Shadow Tower Abyss. And ever since Armored Core 2 on the PlayStation 2, I’ve been involved with that series as well.

Suffice it to say that you’re quite the veteran at From, then. That being said, I’ve noticed that you’ve mainly worked on a lot of games with mecha in them. That’s a pretty unusual resume.

I guess that’s true. Actually, between you and me, I’m really into 3D dungeon-crawlers and action RPGs like Wizardry and Dungeon Master. King’s Field was what actually made me want to work at From in the first place, so when they asked me if I wanted to do Dark Souls II, I didn’t hesitate to accept the job on the spot.

Even if you were eager to do it, though, surely you felt some anxiety about developing the game going into it, no? This is the follow-up to Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls we’re talking about here, both of which are very well-regarded around the world.

Of course I felt it, I won’t deny that. I couldn’t begin to tell you how intensely I was sweating bullets while we were making Dark Souls II. I’ll definitely never forget the wave of satisfaction that hit me once we finally went gold and sent off the master copy. But honestly I wasn’t really worrying about the reviews per se as we were developing it. That all comes after you’re all done actually making the game, so I didn’t dwell on that point a whole lot while we were still making it. That’s how it always is when you’re making a sequel to something.

For me, the bigger concern was figuring out what aspects of the first Dark Souls game people liked and why they liked them. That was at the forefront of my mind during development.

What would you say was well-liked about the original Dark Souls, then?

I think the two most critical things that make Dark Souls games what they are is the satisfaction you get from triumphing over adversity and the sort of nebulous connections that players have amongst each other when they’re playing the game. That first point in particular is necessary to the identity of the series. It harkens back to old games that we used to play and how we’d just bang our heads at them until we finally won when faced with a difficulty spike.

But I think it’s the latter trait that really defines the Dark Souls series. There’s a sense of solidarity that you get when you bring in another player to help you out for a rough patch and together you manage to come out on top despite the limited means of communication you’ve both got at your disposal.

That goes as much for the actual summoning mechanics as it does the messages that you can leave for other players, I imagine.

Definitely. Those two gameplay systems are inseparable in our minds, so we made sure to preserve them for Dark Souls II.

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  • Shippoyasha

    My only beef with this game is how enemies slide around the floor like it is an ice rink at times and hit detection can be pretty silly compared to the older games. Enemies often attack your hit box and not your actual character model and it looks silly when it happens. And getting backstabbed when facing enemies face to face is silly too. They really need to improve the hitboxing going into the future.

    • badmoogle

      Not only the enemies.Our avatar also looks as if he/she is sliding their feet on the ground and the animations overall feel weightless and floaty.Very disappointed to see this low quality in a Souls game especially since in the previous 2 games the animations were perfect.

      • adhesive

        I don’t know how you can complain about how Dark Souls 2 feels floaty and say Demon’s Souls was perfect.

        • badmoogle

          Well it’s a fact.And i’m not the only one who says this.The walking/running animations in Demon’s/Dark were perfect.You could feel the weight of each step of your character.
          With DS2 it’s as if the walking/running animation cycle is missing a couple of frames.i don’t know why they did that but the character almost feels as if he/she is sliding on ice.

          • adhesive

            It might very well be a fact, but there’s nothing about Demon’s Souls that felt weighty.

            • badmoogle

              Lol i strongly dissagree.Thank God Youtube exists and everyone who is reading this can make comparisons between Demon’s and DS2 and be their own judge.
              Honestly you’re the first person to say this and either you haven’t played Demon’s or its been a while since you did and you have somehow forgot about it.

    • blank059

      Yeah they need to fix the hit boxes and lock the fps to 30. Also they should give PS3 users the option to turn off v-sync.

  • https://www.teepublic.com/user/ECM ECM

    I can’t be the only one that found this one vastly easier than the other two?

    (And this is not a “look at me, I’m awesome” post–it’s literally quite a bit easier than the other two and, no, I don’t think it’s down to being a vet.)

    • http://shinsua.tumblr.com/ Shinsua

      Not too sure. I found the beginning of the game (mostly just the forest) a bit taxing, but that was simply because I chose Defiled and had no weapon for awhile. I’ve still got one primal bonfire to light, then I’m waiting to see what’s behind the soul doors and the ring doors… but… yeah, I dunno. It certainly seems more… exploitable.

    • MrRobbyM

      The game is even more of a walk in the park than the previous games that’s for sure. Most magic is overpowered as hell.

  • rurifan

    Bonfire teleportation from the start makes this game extremely easy.

    • http://shinsua.tumblr.com/ Shinsua

      Extremely “accessible.” G-get it?