through efficient adjustments. Anor Londo is a great example of a map that we put a lot of thought into. It has a complex architecture and is a key destination that players drive to reach for the first half of the game. We wanted Anor Londo to be an epic location that will offer the player a real sense of accomplishment once they arrived. After ringing the bell and overcoming the numerous traps, the player gets a step foot on Anor Londo and has that glorious moment when they get a bask in the wonder of their achievement. I think did a great job on that map.
Do your design orders tend to be more abstract in nature?
Miyazaki: It depends on the designer. But if i’d to say one way or the other I’d say they do tend to be abstract. This is because I think if I provided very specific orders the resulting product would be limited by the boundaries of my designing skills and imagination. I typically just communicate the core concept of my idea and leave the rest up to the designer’s imagination. My hope is that the designer would be able to surpass my own imagination by coming up with some kind of by-product that I couldn’t never come up with on my own. That’s why the initial order is usually made of abstract terms or keywords that don’t really make sense to anyone but me. As an example, when ordering a new equipment design I may say something like “I want something… you know… that can make you feel like you wanna to entrust your life to it on the battlefield, something that oozes with a strong conviction or even prayer regarding victory in life. Something that seemingly has the power to dispel death itself”. He laughed. I understand that designers sometimes walk away from our meetings thinking “what the hell is he going on about?”
[…] All the time.
Miyazaki: Sorry [he laughs]. Of course, if things don’t work out the first time, I’m always willing to revisit the order and refine it with more comprehensive wording. Sometimes I’d just start writing stuff all over on a whiteboard too. So my goal is to get the designers into the design process with as few restrictions as possible, so I never give defining descriptions like what colours or shapes to use. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I consider designers to be more than mere tools, if the designers are unable to produce something that meets or exceeds my expectations, that just mean I did something wrong because I wasn’t able to draw the designers full potential, artistic instinct and unique imagination. There’s always something that I’m working on.
[…] I think I know what you mean. That sounds like the kind of issues we face when we were trying to put a book together.
Miyazaki: For this project we’re lucky to have so many design concepts surface early on in the development process that work with our vision. I think Lautrec’s armour is a great example of an idea that wouldn’t came out of the design process if I had forced the developers to focus only in the themes I’d initially thought of. Ideally, most if not all of the design work wide range of creative talents we’ve on the team. I’ll do my best to throw a variety of keywords into our conversations to stimulate each designer’s imagination. If you are able to take Nakamura as an example, I often discuss topics like philosophy in the world as a whole with them.
[…] He’ll start talking about the wonders of the [universe] as the slightest provocation.
Miyazaki: Totally. Specially at the beginning. We often discuss topics as ‘how the World begin’, ‘Life and Death’, ‘the meaning of Fire’, and the position of the Four Kings [related] to humans. I find this conversations inspiring, which helps keeping me from trapping myself in a creative corner. I also try not to be influenced by preconceived notions like ‘what the fantasy genre is supposed to be’. Although I’m of course aware of the key aspects one has to incorporate in a dark fantasy game. I just wanna make sure I never use words like ‘my personal take’ or ‘uniqueness’ as an excuse for getting it wrong.
Otsuka: What are some examples of traits that you try to keep in your games while still pursuing your own unique design style?
Miyazaki: Most people don’t believe me when I say this, but a certain kind of refinement, elegance, and dignity are all very important to me. I’ll usually tell the developers that flatout grotesque or splatter type designs will not get past me. This has everything to do with my own personal sensibilities and into something that I apply to every design that I approve. It’s a like hard to describe if you were to ask me, quote-unquote “well, what do you mean by dignity?” I guess the best answer I can provide is right here in this book and every design you see within its pages. My idea of dignity is something that I pursue with every project that I’ve worked on and not just Dark Souls.
Waragai: I remember when I was drawing the Undead Dragon. I submitted a design draft that depicted a dragon swarming with maggots and other gross things. Miyazaki handed it back to me saying “This isn’t dignified, don’t rely on gross-factor to portray an undead dragon, can you instead try to convey the deep sorrow of the magnificent beast doomed to a slow and possibly endless descent into ruin?”
Miyazaki: It’s not like I’m incapable of compromise though, I can adapt my opinions based on the breadth of the game in the specific situations we’re considering. Blighttown in Dark Souls is a perfect example, as it is quite raw and disgusting. Still when you look at the bigger picture it’s easier to see that my take on “fantasy” tends to be rather chilling and sorrowful, so I guess it’s not like Blighttown looks entirely out of place. I guess you could say this is my “style” or “quirk” in terms of design.
I’d like to move on to discuss in detail the design work associated with each area of the game. Shall we start with the Northern Undead Asylum?
Waragai: I was in charge of the Northern Undead Asylum, but it was the last area I drew.
Miyazaki: It may sound counterintuitive to work on the tutorial area last, but by pretty much finishing the rest of the game first we can go into the creation of the tutorial stage with a complete list of everything that will be vital for the player to learn at the beginning with regards to how the game works, the lore and other information. If I recall correctly, we decided to make the Undead Asylum a place that would summarize the world of Dark Souls and its Dark Fantasy vibe. We decided to be straightforward with themes like a dank dungeon, unfeeling stonework, as well as the chilling and sorrowful flavor I mentioned earlier. Relatively speaking, I think it was a fairly easy area to draw since I described it as being a little bit of everything else we drew for the game.
Otsuka: What can you tell us about the Firelink Shrine? Which was a very important location in the game.
Miyazaki: I think that Firelink Shrine was Satake’s, so I’ll give him the floor.
Satake: Yes, that was one of mine. The main thing I remember about it is that it started off as a water […]. But as the rest of the game took shape and the notion of passing the torch became more prevalent the design of that area dried up until it was all about fire instead of water.
Miyazaki: I remember that. The Firelink Shrine access sort of a base camp for the player so we started of with a more soothing design. It was full of water, greenery, gentle light and calming music. It’s not like we completely scrap that idea, but like Satake said the fire theme became more prevalent as development progressed and we also realized we had to take Frampt arrival into consideration. You know how the ground opens up to give of Frampt, that whole area used to be full of water. But we realized all of the water would drain out when the ground opened up; the location of the bonfire had to be shifted too. The current bonfire spot used to be a small pond, but we had to get rid of the pond when the original bonfire location started to giving us trouble. We realized that the sitting motion would just be odd without a nice flat area around the bonfire and that’s why we choose to move the bonfire to its current spot. Obviously we couldn’t set up a bonfire in the middle of a pond so we got rid of the pond.
Waragai: I think it was a good idea though, the whole ‘gathering around a warm fire feel’ is really nice.
Miyazaki: Yes, and that was a key concept right from the start too. We had a lot of fun working on the Firelink Shrine because it was one of first designs we worked on and despite being such a small area it linked to many other places offering a lot of exploration and discovery.
Satake: We had it so you can basically go to another area from every direction although some of those paths didn’t make it in the final game. We even had plans for Priscilla to be there as a heroine and-
Miyazaki: Let’s not go there right now.
Otsuka: I think Priscilla is the prettiest character in the whole game!
Miyazaki: Thank you! She was originally intended to be the main heroine so I appreciate that. Anyway to get back to the map design discussion I don’t think we had an actual design draft for Undead Burg, it was the very first location we created for the game, so we had some very specific details in mind. The graphic designer in charge of Undead Burg also happened to be the graphics team lead and he had a lot of ideas as well. We ended up finishing that location based on specific design features like levers, altars, statues and reference photos.
Otsuka: Ok, let’s move north now, to Sen’s Fortress.
Miyazaki: Both Sen’s Fortress and Anor Londo were Waragai’s. We had a solid concept and visual image in place for Sen’s Fortress so that went pretty smoothly. Then we had the path of trials and devious traps leading up to Anor Londo. As I recall, we took a lot of time just to get to the right rough draft of the game and had quite a bit of trouble fitting it into the game.
Waragai: It’s true, we did. The “gauntlet of traps” was a fairly easy concept to figure out with things like a pendulum, rolling boulders and such, I just laid out a bunch of archetypical traps that players would be able to easily identify or that they would find it easy to relate to.
Miyazaki: You’d almost have to shake your head at the obvious nature of Waragai’s trap though. Although I think the somewhat humorous approach is another thing that makes Dark Souls fun and appealing to most players. Personally, I like the trap I refer to as the endless billiards mechanism, that sound it makes is quite satisfying and I think it’s hilarious they literally runs on manpower despite its seemingly complex nature. The idea of a fortress is pretty mainstream for a game like Dark Souls so I thought that whole stage was a success in every way.
Satake: I also like how the stairs that the balls rolled down have been carved into crescent shapes.
Waragai: That was Miyazaki’s idea, right?
Miyazaki: Was it?
Waragai: It makes total sense if you think about it. If you sent massive balls rolling down a set of stairs over and over again the steps are going to be chipped away little by little. Since the stairs in other areas aren’t shaped like that, I think that little detail acted like a hint for the player to realize there was a trap ahead.
Miyazaki: I suppose, though it’s something the player will run into early on in the game, so I’m not sure they’ll be looking out for little hints like that yet. Still, once they are crushed by the trap the first time, they’ll look for things like that in the future.
Waragai: I don’t know, I think some of the more attentive and cautious will notice it on their first playthrough. You’ll get quite a few ball traps in that area after all.
Miyazaki: That’s true. I’m glad we were able to incorporate the traps into the map’s design as well. Good job everyone.
Otsuka: Let’s talk about Anor Londo, which you mentioned earlier.
Miyazaki: Compared to other areas, Anor Londo was created based on quite a few concept points, from the satisfaction of arrival we talked about before to the quote-unquote unexpected pathways in the form of buttresses, the visual stunning effect of the sunset and the distinct look of the area at night, etc. We also added some unusual design elements like the spiral staircase that actually moves vertically.
Waragai: I believe that was inspired by something Nakamura’s said. Something about how life is like ascending a spiral or such.
Miyazaki: Nakamura spells some weird stuff sometimes, I mean that in a good way of course. Spiral staircases are fairly common in the real world but there are some double spiral motifs inside the cathedral that I hoped would become a trademark of some kind.
Otsuka: Did you use something in particular as a reference for Anor Londo?
Waragai: Well, we knew we wanted the player to be able to talk across the buttresses so that was something we had to focus on. The flying buttress is a specific form of buttressing that resist the lateral forces pushing a wall outwards and allows for the building to be constructed at higher levels. The Milan Cathedral was a great reference for this type of architecture. I’ve actually visited the Milan Cathedral in the past and we weren’t allowed to walk on the buttresses but we were able to talk directly below them. I recall looking up at the buttresses and imaginating how amazing would feel to walk on them. It really inspires your adventurous side.
Miyazaki: I actually had another intention regarding Anor Londo, which was related to Demon’s Souls, the game I had directly previously. That game took place in an early era of the Middle Ages and the really complex details that required made the design really difficult. I wanted to take this opportunity to fully explore that aspect of the medieval style with Dark Souls. Anor Londo is a culturally rich location, so I figured an intricate design, a detailed approach to the visual side of it would not look odd, so I think it’s safe to say Anor Londo scores pretty high in terms of design.
Otsuka: Now for the Duke’s Archives and Crystal Cave. Where the Archives influenced by what I think it was influenced by?
Miyazaki: I think it’s pretty obvious that the revolving staircase is a reference to Harry Potter. It was a personal desire of mine to have a location called an archive, so that’s where the general idea came from. I do think that we could’ve done more with the details in those locations though.
Otsuka: What about the New Londo ruins?
Miyazaki: We took a somewhat different approach to the New Londo ruins. By that I mean we took the structural style straight from a building that exists in the real world, Mont Saint-Michel. Of course it’s not an exact copy or anything, but I think you can easily spot the similarities if you compare the two. Armored Core taught me that locations and buildings that are based on real things as opposed to coming purely from the imagination of a planner, designer or graphic designer, tend to have a good blend of concepts and intricate layers of details, so I wanted to try it out with Dark Souls. This method turned out to have both pros and cons, but I think it was a worthwhile experiment because it made me recognize a lot of things that I probably would’ve never thought off on my own. The sheer volume of detail is something you can really appreciate when you view it from afar. Anyway, because we had approached the New Londo ruins from this angle, the actual design work came at the end of the process.
Waragai: The New Londo Ruins was another one of mine, and as Miyazaki said aside from some of the more specific details, the general structure and layout were already laid out for us, so it was a relatively easy location to […]
Otsuka: Heading south now, let’s talk about Blighttown.
Miyazaki: The lowest level is like a sewage system, which is a pretty mainstream concept and something it was in common with the Undead Burg. Both locations also had the same graphic designer working on them. They were both based on numerous image boards and it soon became obvious that we wouldn’t be able to incorporate every little detail that we were hoping for. Instead, we had the designer and graphic designer agree on one visual theme and build these locations together through lots of discussions. The only exceptions were the more unique features like the waterwheel elevator
Otsuka: The Demon Ruins seemed to have a completely different flavour.
Miyazaki: For the Demon Ruins we put a little heavier focus in the actual theme. One of the basic concepts behind Dark Souls is that demons are agents of chaos, so we tried to express this theme visually with the Demon Ruins. We ended up incorporating a lot of oriental themes because, and don’t take this the wrong way, I find oriental designs to be quite chaotic. I don’t know how to describe it, but oriental designs just seems more careless in general, without much attention to detail and a sense of order. More specifically, the Demon Ruins were influenced by Angkor Wat. The difference between eastern and western cultural design is pretty easy to spot and can be easily identified by most people. We aimed for something that borrowed that level of depth without going too far. I know I kinda sound like I’m just making it up as I go along now, but I’m being quite serious.
Otsuka: What can you tell us about the Catacombs in the Tomb of the Giants?
Miyazaki: Both of those locations were based on the same basic idea as Blighttown, though these locations have more man-made objects. The graphic designers on our team possess remarkable instinct -as the designers as well-, so we definitely wanted to take advantage of that. As I’ve mentioned before, we don’t have a whole lot of designers on our team, but when it comes to designers I think quality is more important than quantity.
Otsuka: I’d like to discuss the great hollow in Ash Lake next.
Miyazaki: Both of those locations were basically included because we needed them in terms of the game’s story. We had pretty clear images of what we wanted for both of them, so we plan them out as we built the game up. Beyond the initial planning, we left the rest up to the graphic designer. We provided the graphic designer with a rough map of the areas, communicated our basic intentions through words and text, them had them refer to the movie avatar, because it was popular at the time. Of course we had planned to revisit the design if things didn’t work out but the results were good enough that we put them in the game without changing much.
Otsuka: The Painted World of Ariamis is quite an unusual place.
Miyazaki: We produced quite a few design dress for the Painted World. To tell you the truth, the Painted World was based on a prototype Dark Souls map, and the prototype map was designed in great detail in order to ensure we were all on the same page. I wanted to include it in the actual game because we had put so much work into it, but the problem was that it just didn’t link up with the other areas in terms of visual style. That’s why we decided to pull out the notion of a “Painted World”, were we could pretty much get away with anything.
Waragai: Not to mention the snow.
Miyazaki: Exactly. Wait, this makes it sound like a bunch of lazies developers. I can tell you that we had a separate concept for the Painted World but it just happened to match up with most of the prototype map really well.
Otsuka: Why did you decide to put Priscilla there?
Miyazaki: I just thought that the environment suited her. It certainly helped that her color scheme is very snowy in nature. Thinking about it now, I guess you could also say she belongs there because the Painted World is where exiled souls gather.
Waragai: Like a last refuge for those who lost their true place in the world?
Miyazaki: Yes, although I’m not sure you can technically say that about Priscilla -he laughs.
Otsuka: Looking at the Painted World in its entirety, it’s easy to see that many unique details you put into it. I know I was excited when I went there because I didn’t know what to expect.
Miyazaki: I appreciate that. Speaking of all the locations in general I think we were able to bring them together quite well. In order to offer a seamless experience, we stuck to the initial concept for the world without deviating too much, but I also feel like we were able to incorporate a lot of unexpected ideas that popped up during development. Adding new ideas in order to expand the world beyond our original plan is my favorite way to build a world but it can sometimes be difficult to refrain from straying too far of course, and that’s something I’m always wary of. I think this ‘building while we build’ approach infuses the game world with a organic richness that you would not get otherwise, this is a method that I’ve applied to both Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls. The only problem with this approach is the risk of going too far putting too much of one’s personal aspect into the game, which makes it unsuitable for mass production and sale. I’ll leave at that because I feel like I’m getting off topic of design work, but it’s something I feel strongly about and will continue to contemplate.
Part 3. Design of NPCs and monsters.
Otsuka: Let’s move on to the NPCs. Dark Souls has gotten some very positive reviews regarding its cast of distincted NPCs.
Miyazaki: Thank you. I personally have come to love our NPCs and the design work that went into them, so it means a lot to hear feedback like that.
Waragai: I like Logan, his equipment is very lit.
Miyazaki: Logan was Hatsuyama design, correct?
Hatsuyama: Yes, and I always wondered why you wanted him naked!
Miyazaki: Naked? I don’t know what you are talking about.
Waragai: Don’t’ try to play dumb, that was your idea.
Miyazaki: … Well yes, it was my idea. But it’s not like he was totally naked, I guess it was my way of expressing his moment of enlightenment. It was his [Parte 3, 0:57] moment, but I couldn’t figure out how to express that in terms of Dark Souls, and as I pondered it, he somehow ended up like that. I think it came to the concept that you have to remove your clothes to become a dragon or at least close to it, you know how you have to remove your armor when using the Dragon Headstone and Dragon Torso Stone? Of course that was technically due to the mechanics of the game, but it kinda of [1:16] the idea that getting undressed is part of the process of turning into a dragon. As such, Logan removed his clothes in order to feel closer to Seath, an Ancient Dragon. I left his hat on though, because you wouldn’t be able to tell who he was without it. His hat may have also been a symbol of the fact that unlike the humans who made as pact with a dragon, Logan wanted to get closer to the dragons while maintaining his own humanity. That’s what I think anyways.
Hatsuyama: He had prepared several lower torso equipment items so I kinda wish he had shown up in his underwear.
Miyazaki: Underwear? I think that would’ve changed the entire game -laughs. Still, Logan was one of my personal favourites too, so I think we put quite a bit of design time into his character. As far as his rol in the game is concerned, he’s a great sage but I didn’t want him to be stereotypical, so I had the designers do several drafts. I think the process went pretty smoothly once we set on [2:10] giving him a [2:10] big hat. Although the hat hadn’t been part of his initial concept, it’s just one more example of something amazing that came out of the design process.
Hatsuyama: I was pretty nervous about making it too big, so I recall increasing the hat’s size little by little.
Miyazaki: I remember that, we had the same conversation over and over.
Hatsuyama: I warned you that he’d end up looking like a mushroom person, but you told me that would’ve fine so I went ahead and made it really big.
Satake: A mushroom person? That’s hilarious.
Hatsuyama: The hat ended up getting so big that you can’t even see his face.
Miyazaki: I think it gave him a great silhouette, and also I like how he is so antisocial. I can sympathize.
Hatsuyama: Another character I’m pretty curious about is Gwynevere. She’s very different from all the other females in the game and I was wondering why that is. Compared to the other female characters she’s quite glamorous.
Miyazaki: Is that bad?
Hatsuyama: No, no. I was just wondering what the inspiration for her character was.
Otsuka: As a fan, I’d like to know as well.
Miyazaki: Simply put, I wanted to feature a big woman. I think it was one of Fujiko F. Fujio short mangas that was about a strict CEO type of guy being [3:27] acquaintance with a big woman [3:30] like a child at an unique therapy facility. It’s like a personal fantasy of mine. I like the thought of a warming-compassionate woman that’s bigger than me. It speaks to something we lost as we grew up. Anyways that’s why Gwynevere’s a giant. I also made the motions to have the player kneeling and kiss the back of her hand, because that gesture is just something that I like, but it didn’t make it into the game. If you were specifically asking about his ample bosom, that wasn’t my doing. The graphic designer did that for his own personal reasons. As I mentioned before, I’m all about dignity and refinement.
Waragai: Are you telling the truth?
Miyazaki: Absolutely! But the graphic designer looked so earnest about his work that I didn’t have the heart to stop him -everyone rolling on the floor laughing.
Otsuka: We discuss crossbreed Priscilla earlier, but were there any other characters that underwent considerable design or concept changes through development?
Miyazaki: There are a few. Andre the Blacksmith is a good example because he started out with a more vital role in the game’s storyline.
Satake: We [4:33] away with the idea of Andre and Gwyn being related, right?
Miyazaki: Yes, we did. Initially we had plans to make Andre a descendant of Gwyn’s royal blood, it was Andre’s duty to guard the door to the Firelink Shrine, but he was the one who could’ve eventually opened the path to the player. I think a couple of drafts from the stages are actually included in this book, like the one that shows Andre moving the goddess statue out of the way. Anyway, he was supposed to be important but somehow he ended up as just a blacksmith.
Waragai: There are still remnants or descendants of him in various areas though.
Miyazaki: Indeed. I don’t know if i’d call them descendants, but there’s some petrified blacksmiths holding embers that look like Andre.
Otsuka: I’d like to talk about enemy characters next, let’s start with the boss characters.
Miyazaki: There are so many enemies to cover, why don’t we have each designer talk about an enemy character they feel particularly strongly about.
Waragai: I didn’t really design a whole bunch of enemy characters.
Hatsuyama: Really? What about Priscilla?
Miyazaki: Priscilla was outsource, we had a pretty solid image laid out so I asked a trusted designer from another company to handle that character.
Waragai: I think Nito was my favourite.
Miyazaki: Nito… I recall having some issues with naming him. Apparently the name I’ve thought of for the character was too sad according to Waragai. Dark Souls was the first project Waragai worked on as a designer, and within the project Nito was one of the first characters he worked on, so I wanted him to know that his opinion was important and changed the name. We decided on Nito, which I think is a great name for that character. Another bit of trivia about Nito is that he was actually the prototype boss character we created back when we were still working off the prototype map I mentioned earlier. We needed a character like him to test the limitations of effects and such, come to think of it, we did a lot of experimenting with him at that stage too.
Waragai: He was set on fire at first.
Miyazaki: Right, yes. Nito was in the pre rendered cinematic as well and was a design purely based on instinct, so I found it quite difficult to explain exactly who he was as a character when it came to describe him out of words. Take his [6:46] black-death aura, for example. It’s easier to grasp what that’s all about for the new ones, but when someone asks me point blank “what’s that stuff that’s floating around him?”, I just be like “errr…”.
Waragai: It’s hard to get textures and stuff like that across in a pre rendered cinematic.
Miyazaki: Yes, I know. I know what I want the textures to be like, but sometimes it’s really hard to convey that to another person. With Nito my first attempt was something along the lines of “it’s like a miasma of death”. The result was something that looked like wispy smoke, and then I was like “uhh… I guess what I meant was something more like a cloth [podría estar diciendo cloak]?” If I recall correctly. Nito made an appearance in the pre rendered cinematic for the early trailer. The fact that Nito was chosen for such a prestigious role is a testament to the great design role that went to that character. Anyways, who’s next, Nakamura?
Nakamura: Ok. [7:44] back to the very early stages of development, when we all really had to work with mere keywords like ‘ancient dragon’, ‘chaos demons’, ‘undead’, etc. We didn’t even have a solid sense of direction for the project yet, so I thought about it in terms of creating enemies that were pleasantly familiar yet refreshingly new for the fans of Demon’s Souls. It’s been a lot of time thinking about how I’ll make that happen.
Miyazaki: Most of the enemies you will encounter early in the game, like the demons in the Undead Asylum, the bull headed demon and the goat headed demon were all done by Nakamura. In fact, it’s probably safe to say he took on most of the demons. I felt confident about Nakamura’s work because the general themes and stuff that he thought of were all things that I liked. As a result, I’m quite happy with everything Nakamura did. His designs tend to be straightforward without being too archetypical, and do a great job of expressing to the world that is Dark Souls. I honestly think he made some great enemy characters, also, I particularly like the Gaping Dragon. The Ancient Dragons of the Dark Souls world are a bit different from the conventional dragons. They are almost like the very minerals of the land, they are transcendent creatures that existed before life graced the world. However, their time has passed, and any remaining dragons are merely survivors. I was asked “what is happening to the dragons now” and I explained that it’s like they have been eaten away by the toxins of life. [9:10] the emotions and acts that came along with the [9:15] creatures. Then I mentioned the words “insatiable need” and he replied “got it”. Then before I knew, I had a design draft in my hands and I was looking at the Gaping Dragon, for most designers I’d have expected big fat monster with an oversized mouth or something, but not Nakamura. I was very impressed with the way he chose to express what I’ve been trying to describe, at that moment, I was sincerely very happy.
Otsuka: Was the idea that he’s just constantly suffering from the sense of starvation?
Nakamura: Pretty much, yes. That’s all he thinks about. And the obsession literally consumed him to the point where things like his head and other physical features degenerated severely. Now rather than eating with his mouth he uses his whole body to directly consume anything he perceives as food. Adopting this form was the only way he could survive. With all of his other abilities similarly dissolved the Gaping Dragon turned into a specialized creature that only lives to devour. I think his location also contributed to this change, as he lives in a very remote place that’s rarely visited by other creatures like humans. As a result, he was forced to survive by eating things like nasty rotten [10:21].
Miyazaki: I imagine the Gaping Dragon process of evolution was something like “I want to eat!”, “[10:34] in the way”, “why does food have to travel such a long distance to get to my stomach?”, I hadn’t really thought about the design that far and I probably wouldn’t have been able to come up with the specific ‘keywords’ that would’ve guided any other designer to create a monster quite like that. It really blows me away. It’s the beauty of the collaborative effort I was talking about before, each person brings their own unique talents and imagination to the table, and in my opinion, there’s no better work environment that one when you can inspire and be inspired by your colleagues.
Nakamura: Something I wondered about the demons I designed is whether I went too far with them in any way. I was always under the impression that Miyazaki hated directing obvious uses of things like archetypes and symbolism because they can limit the game world from evolving in unexpected ways, that’s why my designs turned out the way they did.
Miyazaki: Hmm… That sounds like you may have worried too much about my thoughts regarding that sort of thing. It’s true that I don’t like making games that look like they were pop out some [11:35] video game industry warehouse, but I’m not so unrealistic as to say that every aspect has to be purely original. For instance, there are times when I’m looking at the design drafts and I feel like there’s still something missing. I’ll start searching through a bunch of photos and other images until something catches my eye. I’ll then find a way to work that whatever it is into the design. So you see I don’t think there’s anything wrong with preserving pre established images or notions, in fact with things like the goat headed demon the reason why I gave him that monster a goat head is it’ll automatically [12:11] a demonic and ritualistic vibe. It’s because the goat head in monsters has long been depicted in that way in various cultures. Sometimes it can be important to perpetuate existing symbolisms because that sort of legacy is what gives these images their power. With that in mind, I wouldn’t reject the idea of a goat headed demon just because it’s been done before. Symbols are symbols because they have established [12:35] for themselves over many years, it’s not too easy for a totally new image to adopt a similar strength or visual influence. Acknowledging this means knowing that symbolism can be a powerful weapon in terms of design work. Therefore trying to bring this rant back to its starting point, I think it’s totally ok to use pre established imagery in designs from time to time.
Nakamura: Ok! Uf… I’m so relieved to hear that you approved my work.
Miyazaki: Of course I did! You are making me sound like a terrifying monster of a director.
Otsuka: Hatsuyama, what designs have you worked on?
Hatsuyama: The Black Knight and Belfry Gargoyles were mine.
Miyazaki: Hatsuyama joined our team halfway through so she mostly worked on things that were still missing from the game or designs that have been planned out already. The Belfry Gargoyles is one of such examples. We knew we were going to have a situation were the player needed to ring the bell at the top of the church with the bossfight waiting on the roof though we hadn’t been able to come with an enemy that felt right. We initially placed the Centipede Demon there, but since that would place it in the path from Sen’s Fortress to Anor Londo, and it was going to be the first bigger boss-type character, we wanted something more mainstream that would better suit the flavour of that area. With it being a church and a large open space we had available to us, it makes sense to [13:53] gargoyle characters than can fly around. Was the Belfry Gargoyles your first design, Hatsuyama?
Hatsuyama: I believe it was the second.
Miyazaki: This was the first time I had a chance to work with Hatsuyama, so I asked her to produce more orthodox creatures [14:08] to get a feel of each other idea about the fantasy genre. Unfortunately the task took a bit longer than I anticipated.
Hatsuyama: It’s true, I’m sorry…
Miyazaki: No worries, [14:21]. Besides, your Belfry Gargoyle proved to be very effective in things like the trailers and commercials.
Hatsuyama: Thank you.
Miyazaki: I’ll admit, I may have talked too much at first. I don’t remember it exactly, but think I gave you a lot of instructions like giving the creature a shape and appearance, without taking it too far. The look of all heavy armor, and information regarding the fictional culture, I probably shouldn’t have done [14:45], sorry about that.
Hatsuyama: Not at all. In fact, I’d say that having that information helped me draw out a lot of ideas and eventually lead me to a place I can probably not have discovered on my own.
Miyazaki: I appreciate you saying that.
Otsuka: What about you, Satake?
Satake: Hm… I don’t think I really have anything to add to this conversation.
Miyazaki: What are you talking about? Come on, join in. Satake worked on the final boss, Gwyn. I had the feel to create a king.
Satake: I recall Gwyn progressing quite smoothly because I had a pretty solid image to start from. [15:18] a few changes to things like his clothes and armour, but all the finer details were tweek as we went along it.
Miyazaki: The biggest issue we had with the clothes was trying to get them to look ancient. We expended a lot of time figuring out how we could make him look like a part of an ancient king. We looked at a bunch of references on ancient fashion but to be honest most of them didn’t look very cool. We even found an ancient outfit that included swords but we knew giving Gwyn swords would make him look very impressive. I think the final design turned out great so I’m happy with that.
Satake: I agree. After many adjustments, Gwyn ended up looking like the kind of king who will bravely stand on the front lines of battle.
Miyazaki: Although I’ll admit there are things that I regret about Gwyn as far as gameplay is concerned. He is the final boss of the game, and with the game concept being what it is, the skill set and fighting style of the player can vary greatly by the time the player gets to the endgame. I wanted the final boss battle to be satisfying to the player, like an epic stage when they could showcase the customized character they have lovingly builded up. One powerful opponent, ready to take every attack and pay it back in kind. Sounds great, right? Well that classic bossfight concept is why I decided on the orthodox style of the sword and shield for Gwyn, but something were terribly wrong.
Waragai: (cof, cof—) Parry.
Satake: Yea… Parry, parryyyy…
Miyazaki: Yes well, we all know the facts. I do sincerely apologize, I’ve regrets. Anyways, I guess that’s all there’s to say about the boss character design. I’ve a few other favourites as well like the Iron Golem who just looks super powerful.