Finally, he points to his role in assigning the pair of replacement game directors – Tomohiro Shibuya and Yui Tanimura – who have now assumed the reins of the Souls series. Both had previously worked on FromSoftware’s mech-action series Another Century, which caters to the tastes of the local Japanese audience and isn’t currently available abroad. (Coincidentally, Miyazaki worked on the mech-action Armored Core series before creating Demon’s Souls, so it’s not as big a leap from mech combat to the fantasy-RPG genre as you might expect.)
Though the discrepancy could well be attributed to a translation error, moments after stating that “there will be two directors for Dark Souls II, which I have secured myself”, Miyazaki tacks on a correction after his introduction of Shibuya and Tanimura, saying “the decision about the new assignments was not made by me; it was made by FromSoftware and Namco Bandai as a whole”. These competing statements make it hard to decipher whether Miyazaki wished to step away from the Souls series, or if he was asked to move aside by the company so that the IP could be steered in a fresh direction. When asked about his new full-time role, Miyazaki mentions that he’s working on a new title as director, but when we ask if it’s a new IP he simply laughs and replies, “Sorry, I can’t answer that.”
“It was a company decision,” clarifies Namco Bandai producer Takeshi Miyazoe. “Miyazaki worked on Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, but for the IP to evolve and provide a new experience within the Dark Souls world the new wind from directors Shibuya and Tanimura is key to providing players with [a] brand new Dark Souls experience. In order to maintain the expectations and satisfaction and the rewards that players experience, this was the right time to bring in the new characteristics and taste[s of the directors] for this series to continue on evolving.”
While it’s sad to see Miyazaki part ways with his fantasy-RPG series, it certainly makes sense from a company perspective to steer him towards a fresh title, especially if it does turn out to be something brand new. Apart from Dark Souls, Namco Bandai’s recent attempts to develop memorable new properties have been largely unsuccessful. If there’s any chance this proven young designer can cause lightning to strike twice, it makes sense to give him that opportunity. For his part, Miyazaki seems ready to access a different part of his psyche. In response to an unrelated question, he says, “sometimes I’d like to work on a warmer game – not necessarily casual, but warmer in terms of the atmosphere and the environment”. It’s the closest thing that we’re given to a hint about the nature of his next project.
So how does Miyazaki feel about entrusting his baby to new parents? “I’m not one to restrict the potential that Dark Souls has by insisting that only I can work on the titles,” he stresses. “I want new expressions. It’s true that I’m sad about not being involved in the development of Dark Souls II, because I’ve worked on Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls’ development for the past five years. I really love those two titles; however, maybe this is the time to have new inspiration, so I’m fine about that. I’m looking forward to playing Dark Souls II not as part of the development team, but with a little bit of distance. Everybody knows what the core of Dark Souls is – the dev team does, the fans do, the media does – and that will never change. I [wouldn’t] really care for Dark Souls VIII to come out. That’s not the point. It’s more, ‘What do the fans want?’ We want to stay true to what they expect.”
At the conclusion of our interview, Miyazaki volunteers some formal closing remarks. He mentions this will probably be one of his last interviews about the Souls series for a while and wants to offer his appreciation on behalf of himself and the development team to fans and the media for lavishing such enthusiastic praise on Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. As he exits the room, the reality sinks in – this is really happening. We’ve been taught that if the Fire Keeper dies, the bonfire they guard turns to cold ash. Let’s hope this is the exception. Dark Souls II has the potential to be a dramatic departure indeed.
You can read part two of our Dark Souls II feature here.
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