Hidetaka Miyazaki, the godfather of Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, is clicking his ballpoint pen repeatedly. He’s sitting across the table from us, wearing his trademark casual navy blue jacket over a buttoned-down shirt. His hair looks slightly more dishevelled than usual, hanging noticeably limply across his forehead. The atmosphere in the room has grown suddenly charged. The virtuosic young Japanese game designer has dropped a bombshell.
“I will not be involved in the actual development of Dark Souls II,” he says matter-of-factly. “I want to clarify that I will be a supervisor, not the actual director or producer.”
This is a crushing revelation for any hardcore fan of Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, akin to a cinephile learning that Pulp Fiction 2 is in production, but that Quentin Tarantino isn’t attached to the picture. The strong personal tie between Miyazaki and the two dark fantasy RPGs he’s created to date has been well established. He explained to us in a previous interview, for instance, that the veil of ambiguity hovering over the Souls games grew out of his experiences as a child poring over western fantasy literature. Due to his patchy comprehension of English at the time, there were large chunks of each book he couldn’t decipher, leaving him to fill in the details with his imagination. He set out to create that same sense of awe and bewilderment in his games, letting players fill in the gaps with their imagination instead of having every plot point and objective clearly articulated through in-game text or cutscenes.
So what does it mean that Miyazaki is a supervisor on Dark Souls II? When we first hear the word, we imagine him popping by at the end of every workday to check in on development and see how things are progressing, maybe even signing off on features and visual concepts as they’re being prototyped – you know, supervising. In reality, his role is less involved and ongoing than the term ‘supervisor’ would suggest, having simply ensured things got started on solid footing before stepping aside. So what has he contributed to the project?
For one thing, Miyazaki has insisted on setting the top-line level of Dark Souls II’s production schedule. “I’m aware that many fans were a little bit frustrated about Dark Souls in terms of the scheduling – more specifically speaking, about the patches that we’ve released,” he says, alluding to the consequences of pushing Dark Souls out the door before it was 100 per cent polished. “I really regretted that, so I reviewed all those kinds of things that I worked on in Dark Souls to make sure that Dark Souls II is ready on time.”
The second item that Miyazaki claims to have looked after is the transition from a peer-to-peer online system to server-based network play, which promises a markedly improved online experience.
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