FromSoftware chief Hidetaka Miyazaki explains why he made a hands-on return to Dark Souls
Dark Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki is mindful of complacency. Players’ appetite for the Souls series appears unyielding, but as his games attest, the FromSoftware boss is keenly aware of hubris’s pitfalls – even during an endplay. We find him in a contemplative mood when we meet to discuss Dark Souls III. You’ve said in the past that you’d only consider returning to Dark Souls if you felt that you could achieve something groundbreaking with it again. Why is now the right time? Originally I was not on the Dark Souls III project. A different director was heading up the prototyping; I was busy working on Bloodborne. The Dark Souls III project was hitting some speed bumps, and that time was also the peak of Dark Souls II’s development work. It was before I became president [of FromSoftware], and the president at the time asked me if I would get on board with Dark Souls III.
Bloodborne was pretty much built at the time. Being immersed in Bloodborne and then looking at the prospect of working on Dark Souls again, it gave me the chance to make comparisons, and come to realisations about what is interesting about Dark Souls’ world, and the differences between what was done in Bloodborne and what could be done in a world of swords and shields, and magic and fantasy. I had a second revelation about the potential of fantasy. So I felt it was a good time to return. I was able to come to some realisations, after Bloodborne, about what types of things might bring more to the Dark Souls experience. People have been playing the original Dark Souls for four years, in all sorts of different ways. Is there anything that they haven’t found yet? Well, there aren’t any undiscovered items, or specific bits of gameplay. But Dark Souls is in some ways an incomplete game, and I like to think that it has been completed by players, by their discoveries, as they moved along. I’d love to say that the nature of this incompleteness was completely deliberate, but it is both deliberate and by accident, in different ways.
I am conscious of that when I make these games: I try to make a game that has beautiful open spaces, gaps, room for players to enjoy it in ways that were not authored. I never want it to be where you have to follow the rules completely, where you have to do things exactly as the designers intended. I like to think that this way of creating – leaving spaces – is satisfying. So if there are incomplete aspects of Dark Souls III, please forgive us. When the player is inside the world of the game, there are various places where they feel they may be able to peek behind the curtain, pry open a window and see beyond.
“If all these people are getting married because of my game, why haven’t I been able to get married?”
There are all sorts of stories about the ways in which Dark Souls has touched people’s lives. How do you feel when you discover those things? I have staff members who were really into Dark Souls and have come to work at FromSoftware. Once, at PlayStation Experience, a fan talked to me and said he’d gotten married as a result of either Demon’s or Dark Souls. I never imagined