E3 2013 – Interview with Dark Souls 2 Director Yui Tanimura

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During our E3 adventures, myself and fellow writer Ryan Southard sat down with co-director for the much anticipated Dark Souls 2, Yui Tanimura, speaking via a translator, to discuss the sequel to one of the most challenging games in recent history. In this exclusive interview, we talk about how development has been going, the steps they have been taking to improve upon the foundations laid in the previous game, as well as what’s in store for series fans.

 

Nerd Reactor: To get the obvious question out of the way first, how is development of the game coming along?

Yui Tanimura: Yeah, the development is tough, it’s an uphill battle, but we’re about 60% there. We’ve announced that the game will be available in March 2014, and we will continue to develop full steam ahead until then.

NR: Will the game be available for just the current gen platforms, like the PS3 and Xbox 360, or do you have plans to make it available for next gen as well, for PS4 or Xbox One?

Tanimura: Right now we only have plans for the Xbox 360 and the PS3, as well as the PC. We don’t really intend for next gen at this point.

NR: Can you tell us how many more people are working on the environments in the game as opposed to the first Dark Souls?

Tanimura: Ha ha, we haven’t exactly counted how many people there are, but compared to Dark Souls 1 we have about 58% more people working on the environments.

NR: Were those people taken from other teams? Like maybe your mech designing team or something like that?

Tanimura: Yeah, a little bit of both actually. We did have to pull some people from other teams. Obviously the people that worked on the first Dark Souls are being used as well.

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NR: Were you surprised by the success that Dark Souls has taken over the years and the popularity it has gained?

Tanimura: Yeah, it was definitely a surprise. From Software has always created titles aiming at the hardcore gamers, and we’re happy, and a little bit surprised, that a game aimed at the hardcore gamers was as successful as Dark Souls did.

NR: Going into questions about the gameplay aspects of Dark Souls 2, PvP is one of the bigger aspects as far as online play goes. What are your plans to improve upon what was set in the first Dark Souls game? Will there be the return of covenants, new modes to play? What do you have planned for us?

Tanimura: We understand that the PvP was an important aspect to the online, and we are revisiting some of the rules and the design of the invasions and summoning aspects. The important parts that were present in Dark Souls will be brought in to Dark Souls 2 in a slightly different manner. Obviously we’re revisiting covenants, and they’ll be an important aspect to the online.

NR: We noticed in the latest gameplay trailer that when a character is dual wielding, the animations actually change. Do you have a lot of plans with each weapon type, and there are specific ways to do combos?

Tanimura: Yeah, we’ve put a lot of effort into improving the action aspect of the game, especially the dual wielding, and even for other styles as well. We’ve implemented a lot of motion capture so that we can add different variations to moves that you can do. With dual wielding, we do have specific motions for that as well, and new combos have been implemented so that we can improve and enhance on the actual combat system. Certain weapons may also have certain sweet spots that will allow more damage depending on which area of the weapon you strike with. So, in terms of variations with the attacks and weapons, we’re planning a lot so that you can really customize in terms of how you want to play the game and adapt weapons to your favorite playstyles.

NR: Will there be new weapon types that we can have access to in the game? Like, will there be anything new for us to play around with?

Tanimura: Yeah, definitely. We plan to have more variations of weapons. We’re still trying to balance things out, so, we’ll keep you posted in terms of what types of new weapons, but there will be some new variations.

NR: One of the problems with a weapon like the bow is that when it’s drawn, it makes you stand still. Has anything changed with how they work?

Tanimura: Yeah, that’s a good point. For the bows, you will be able to move around as you aim using it. That’s was a needed improvement we noticed as well.

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NR: Another popular aspect of the original Dark Souls was being able to make these crazy, ridiculous character customization builds that may not even work well, but are still ridiculously fun to play regardless. Like, for example, I (Michael) made a Kenshiro build that got a surprising amount of attention from the community. So, will we still be able to have that kind of freedom to make whatever kind of build we want in Dark Souls 2?

Tanimura: We’re glad that you enjoyed the character customization so much. We definitely plan to enhance that, and you will have more freedom and more variations in terms of character customization. We plan to implement other similar aspects as well, which you can look forward to more information going forward, but the character customization we feel was an important part of that.

NR: Will there be some characters from Demon Souls/Dark Souls that may appear in Dark Souls 2?

Tanimura: I think you can look forward to some connections in terms of the story and characters as you play through the game.

NR: Will Dark Souls 2 be as long as the first game, or maybe longer?

Tanimura: In terms of length,  I’m anticipating that it will be a little bit longer than Dark Souls was. The goal is not to make it drastically longer, but I have a feeling that it’s gonna be a bit longer.

NR: The overall theme for the first Dark Souls game was fire, as in you had the bonfires, the quest to link the fire, Lord Gwyn the Lord of Cinder, etc. Is there a similar kind of theme for Dark Souls 2?

Tanimura: The theme of fire will mostly be maintained in Dark Souls 2 as well. Because we’re in the same world, that theme will be common as well I think.

NR: Have there been any changes to the magic system?

Tanimura: It’s hard to say without saying too much right now, but, in terms of categories, we plan to add variation to the categories of magic available.

NR: As far as story elements, what can you tell us about the overall plot for Dark Souls 2?

Tanimura: The story elements are still under wraps for now, so it’s still a secret until we can give more information on that. But, as a theme, undoing a curse is sort of a thematic element to the story of Dark Souls 2.

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NR: What about some of the areas we can traverse through? We went through some unique areas in the first Dark Souls, including Sen’s Funhouse as the community likes to call it, the forests, and even different dimensions. What kind of areas will we be going through in Dark Souls 2?

Tanimura: In terms of variations in the different areas that were experienced in Dark Souls, we prioritized the variations and type of fields that you can go to. So, that will be existent in Dark Souls 2 as well. We will continue to update you, but there will be a big surprise in terms of the different venues you can experience.

NR: How’s the online shaping up so far? The first Dark Souls online was fun, but could have been improved on. We know the game is using actual servers now, so will there be any more improvements to the online infrastructure beyond that?

Tanimura: Definitely. We realized that there were some issues with the online with the PTP connection, so that’s why we opted to use servers this time. Hopefully that will help to improve the online aspect. There’s no real intent to change how it functions, but in terms of how it plays, we do plan to implement some improvements and make it better.

NR: The Artorias of the Abyss DLC added the Arena mode to the game. Do you have any plans to bring that back?

Tanimura: We understand that the Arena was interesting for the players. We’re not sure if we’re gonna implement the arena directly, but we do plan to implement a similar kind of mode where players can interact with each other.

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Michael Revis
Michael Revis 219 posts

Michael is a man of many things. Journalist, writer, gamer, professional procrastinator, cosplayer, super hero, whale wrestler, evil mastermind, and robot master. And that's just on the weekends.