As Publishing Producer of Dark Souls 3 at Bandai Namco in Japan, Atsuo Yoshimura is certainly aware of the franchise’s lineage and why fans tend to appreciate its hardcore difficulty. And with original creator Hidetaka Miyazaki back at the helm, Dark Souls 3 is very much being perceived as being a return to form for the series after the somewhat disappointing Dark Souls 2. With Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor director Isamu Okano supporting as co-director, as well as Dark Souls 2‘s director Yui Tanimura assisiting in a non-directorial role, the development pedigree for Dark Souls 3 certainly suggests that the series entry will live up to expectations on this occasion. But for a series renowned for its hardcore difficulty, it’ll be interesting to see how FromSoftware goes about ensuring that the latest series title doesn’t alienate newcomers. It was with this in mind that I spoke to Atsuo Yoshimura and also got to ask him as to how development of Dark Souls 3 was impacted by the Sony exclusive Bloodborne which Hidetaka Miyazaki also directed.
Given the fact that Dark Souls 3 is coming out literally less than a year after Bloodborne, what conflict of interest has there been, because Bloodborne‘s director is back on the helm with Dark Souls 3? Was there any bone of contention from Sony, especially when considering that he was one of the fundamental selling points for Bloodborne and why the game was a Sony exclusive?
We cannot actually make any comments about Sony’s business. But it’s good to have Sony working on Bloodborne. We’re getting a good side effect of Hidetaka Miyazaki dealing with, and working on Bloodborne. Miyazaki-san and his team have a lot of experience of the PS4 because they worked on Bloodborne and are trying to reflect what they learned on Bloodborne to make further improvements to Dark Souls 3. We are taking it positively of Miyazaki-san having worked on Bloodborne.
I don’t want to necessarily focus too much on the Sony connection here, but given that Miyazaki-san is in demand by Sony for Bloodborne, which is a Sony exclusive, as well as FromSoftware’s very own Dark Souls franchise which Miyazaki-san is in charge of… has Microsoft ever approached FromSoftware and Miyazaki-san with regards to getting him to work for them and do an exclusive game for them – almost like how Microsoft approached Platinum for Scalebound?
I have not heard anything about it and even if I did hear about it, I cannot make any comments about first party actions to us, so “no”.
You mentioned how certain lessons were taken on board from Bloodborne to Dark Souls 3 with the turnaround time being less than a year after Bloodborne. Were any of the existing assets or technologies from Bloodborne used for Dark Souls 3?
Dark Souls 3 and Bloodborne is using the same graphics engine, that’s for sure. Other than that, I don’t think there are sharing any of assets. For basic technical elements, of course there is basic sharing of the same things between Bloodborne and Dark Souls 3.
Some of the previews have highlighted the extreme difficulty of the game. Although the Dark Souls franchise is famed for its difficulty, do you not think that maybe Dark Souls 3 is a bit too hard for pretty much every single person out there? Because in playthrough demonstrations, if a person from the development team is getting killed repeatedly in the early stages, what hope would seasoned players have in making progress in Dark Souls 3, and would that not be a turn-off for some people?
Yes, the Dark Souls franchise is famous for its difficulty level and Dark Souls 3 will not be an exception. Its difficulty is meant to be high. At the same time, through observation, players should be able to find productive ways to overcome difficulties, and that will lead to discussions of beginners having a chance to join the Dark Souls franchise – especially Dark Souls 3. I’m really confident that all kinds of people, hardcore gamers and beginners, both of them should be able to enjoy the game.
Dark Souls 3 is coming out on current next-gen consoles and there isn’t going to be a cross generation lineage. But the thing is, AAA games take a lot of time to develop. For Dark Souls 3 to come out less than a year after Bloodborne, obviously the game must have been getting developed for a while. Now I know Miyazaki-san is credited as being the director for Dark Souls 3, but obviously this game must have been in pre-production before Bloodborne was even finished. If that’s the case, does that now mean that maybe somebody else, like the director of Dark Souls 2, was in charge of early development?
Okay, you’re actually asking me a very interesting question…
Before you go on, does that not mean that you’re essentially using Miyazaki-san as just a brand name, whereas really, the bulk of the development was done by someone else?
Okay, that is to be clarified. Until the half-way point of the prototype production for Dark Souls 3, yes, there were some other members working on Dark Souls 3. But from the midpoint onwards, Miyazaki-san took the lead in direction. So he became Dark Souls 3‘s game director after the [previous] team ended work until at least the midpoint of the prototype production. From then on, Miyazaki-san took charge of the storyline, world view, as well as the level design creation… basically taking lead of all the important elements of Dark Souls 3. I think it’s safe to say that Miyazaki-san is genuinely acting as the game director for Dark Souls 3.
So inherently speaking, Dark Souls 3 is pretty much a Miyazaki-san game?
Yes, Dark Souls 3 is pretty much being led by Miyazaki-san. There are two guys he’s already mentioned as having worked with him. One being Isamu Okano-san who was director of Steel Battalion for XBox 360. The other one is actually… I’m not sure whether he deserves to be called as game director, but Yui Tanimura-san who was also the game director for Dark Souls 2. So those two gentlemen are helping Miyazaki-san in directing Dark Souls 3, they are helping him for the most part, but all the core elements are being handled by Miyazaki-san.