Max Parker: Firstly, the question that all of the hardcore fans want to know: will the difficulty level that was experienced in Demon’s Souls be returning in the sequel?
Hidetaka Miyazaki: First of all, Dark Souls is not a sequel to Demon’s Souls although it was created by the same development team. However, I know that it is easier to describe about difficulty of the game comparing with the one of Demon’s Souls. The difficulty level of Dark Souls is actually higher than the one for Demon’s Souls. But it does not mean you will simply face stronger enemies during the gameplay. We have implemented more tactical and strategic elements into the game. Those elements will bring Dark Souls more difficult than Demon’s Souls.
More importantly, I would like a player to feel sense of achievement by overcoming these difficulties in the game.
MP: What caused you to go with a “spiritual successor” rather than a true sequel?
Dark Souls has a similar look, feel and gameplay to Demon’s Souls. It’s by the same development team, and even has a similar name. Do you think this will confuse fans of Demon’s Souls who might think this is an actual sequel?
HM: Dark Souls is not a true sequel of Demon’s Souls because it is completely a different game. As you mentioned, Dark Souls is developed by the same team that made Demon’s Souls. And I admit the game has similar atmosphere. But in Dark Souls, the main focus is roll play element. We have implemented a lot of features that will help players to take different role in the game. And depending on the role a player takes in the game, the way of enjoying the game will be varied. And I think I designed the game well enough to make fans to think it is a different game from Demon’s Souls.
MP: Will someone that didn't play Demon’s Souls be able to jump into Dark Souls?
HM: Yes absolutely. Even though I mentioned previously that the game is actually more difficult than Demon’s Souls, all the difficulties can be overcame by many trials and errors. I think the game is like a very spicy food. Yes it is very spicy, but still edible.
I am sure you will die a lot in the game, but the game is designed in a way which a player can learn from his deaths. By experiencing a lot of deaths in the game, I am hoping that a player can find out how he can overcome each difficulty in the game.
Finally, the difficulties in the game can be overcome by trial and errors as well as careful observation. A player does not have to be really good at playing an action game. All you need are observations and trial and errors. So people who did not play Demon’s Souls will be able to play this game for sure. Even though I am not good at playing an action game, game design was created so that even I can beat the game.
MP: Trial-and-error gameplay is a staple of early video games. Did you create both Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls to play like a throwback to the trail-and-error video games from the ‘80s and ‘90s?
HM: I did not intentionally try to create a game which need a lot of trial and error just like games in 80’s and 90’s. But I wanted to make a difficult game.
We believe that high difficulty was needed for players to feel a sense of achievement.
When the difficulty is high, all the values of things a player find in the game will be very precious.
MP: What are some of the major gameplay changes from Demon’s Souls to Dark Souls?
HM: The unique element of Dark Souls I think is “Bonfire”.
A player can use this Bonfire as a place to rest in the game. By lighting the Bonfire, a player can restore health gauge as well as recovering items and spells. Also Bonfire will work as a respawn point when a player dies in the game. Bonfire is placed in many places in Dark Souls’ extensive map. So, as a player proceeds in the game, a player will try to find a Bonfire to use as a next check point. Finally, the Bonfire has some emotional element as well. When you are resting by the Bonfire, you will see some other online players’ vague shadows resting by the same Bonfire. So you will feel that you are the not the only one trying to proceed in this fearsome world.
MP: What caused you to switch to an “open world” setting from the dungeon crawler gameplay of Demon’s Souls?
HM: I designed the world of Dark Souls completely seamlessly-connected because I would like a player to enjoy discovering the extensive world of Dark Souls. If you find any place you think it is reachable, please try to get there. Almost all of them are reachable.
MP: Will multiplayer be returning and has it seen any notable changes?
HM: Yes Dark Souls is supporting multiplayer. A player will be able to leave many kinds of messages on the ground. That message might be a notice to inform other people there is a treasure chest near by you. Or it could be a trick message to deceive other players.
Also, a player will be able to summon other 2 players into your world to fight with you as a coop gameplay.
Not only a co-op play, a player can break into other player’s world to fight against him as a VS gameplay.
Also, Covenant system is very unique in Dark Souls. As I want a player to enjoy roll playing element in the game, I have prepared various kinds of Covenant which a player can belong to. Depending on a Covenant a player chooses in the game, your enemies in the game will change. This will bring you a lot of roll play experience in the game.
MP: Since Dark Souls will not be a PS3 exclusive, is there a console that you would suggest using to play it?
HM: The gameplay experience in both platforms is exactly the same. So there is no suggestion which console to use.
MP: Are you planning any downloadable content after Dark Souls release?
HM: As for Dark Souls, we are not planning any DLC at this point.
Dark Souls will be available for the 360 and the PS3 on October 4th.