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From Software’s Hidetaka Miyazaki on the Secrets of Elden Ring’s Development

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From Software’s Hidetaka Miyazaki on the Secrets of Elden Ring’s Development


When From Software’s Elden Ring launched in February, it took the gaming world by storm. Bringing fans of From’s earlier games together with new players, Elden Ring provided one of the most streamlined, accessible experiences the team had ever created. What’s more, for the first time in a From game, it was all wrapped in a beautiful, expansive open world that begged to be explored. The game was a massive hit right out of the gate, with millions of players striving to sit atop the Elden Throne.

We recently had a chance to speak with Hidetaka Miyazaki, the longtime From Software Director who has been instrumental in bringing games like Dark Souls, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and Elden Ring to fans all over the world. He gave us some insight into how Elden Ring was designed, which bosses were his favorite, and how to cope with the nightmarish Fingercreepers.


Xbox Wire: How did designing for an open world change your creative process from your previous games?

Hidetaka Miyazaki: In terms of overall game design, the sense of accomplishment is a theme that has maintained since Dark Souls and the like. As well as that, we placed major focus on a “sense of adventure” that allows the player to engage with this huge world, with its many unknowns and threats, at their liberty.

From an actual production perspective, the game became far bigger than anything we’d made before, so you could also say the responsibilities handed to staff other than myself were much greater this time.

To put it another way, there are many staff here now who’ve grown and gained experience over the years, and the fact that so much could be entrusted to them was one of the reasons we decided to make Elden Ring when we did.

Xbox Wire: What was the thinking behind the Ashes of War system? Was it designed with flexibility in mind?

Hidetaka Miyazaki: Flexibility was definitely part of it. We wanted to put emphasis on giving the player more freedom in various ways, and the Ashes of War represent a link in a series of such efforts.

The goal was to increase the degree of freedom in the context of strengthening your weapons and customising them in your own way, and I think this feeling of weapon customisation ended up being something quite expansive and fun.

Also, the Skill system itself was created with Dark Souls 3, as a means of improving the distinct characteristics of each weapon category. It entrenched the nuance of power necessary for battling in a high fantasy world of myth and legend, which resulted in a greater range of ostentatious or idiosyncratic Skills in Elden Ring.

Xbox Wire: How did you design the different type of Ashes you could summon?

Hidetaka Miyazaki: The Spirit Ashes were essentially picked from enemies, but it came down to how they worked in gameplay. Where possible during their selection and design process, we tried to remain conscious of each summon’s unique qualities and what they brought to the game.

Then on top of that a layer of personality was added from a role-playing perspective. While this wasn’t true of every single one, I personally have a bit of a thing for the role-playing aspect, so it’s something I hope players can enjoy in that sense as well.

Xbox Wire: there any design decisions that helped determine which boss was in a particular area in the open world?

Hidetaka Miyazaki: When we start designing an area, the setting establishes from an early stage which boss will appear in that area, particularly for the major ones.

In this way, the boss character’s gameplay forms a premise for the area design, and the boss gameplay, too, can be adjusted based on the map in which it appears.

Xbox Wire: Who is your personal favorite boss in Elden Ring?

Hidetaka Miyazaki: It’s very difficult to make my mind up, but I’d have to say Radahn. I find him fascinating as an individual character, and I’m fond of the Radahn Festival as a situation. As well as capturing that literal festive atmosphere and sense of exaltation, I suppose it has that lonely and oppressive feeling that you could associate with our games.

It feels like only yesterday we were talking about the “Radahn Festival” idea… No one on the team took me seriously at the time! (Laughs)

If there’s a runner-up prize, it would go to Godrick and Rykard.

Xbox Wire: Did any particular open-world games serve as inspiration for your design choices in Elden Ring?

Hidetaka Miyazaki: There wasn’t one specific game that served as inspiration, but we’ve enjoyed many classic open-world games from a player’s perspective and each one has given us a unique and wonderful incentive.

There’s no end to this list of titles, but “The Elder Scrolls” series and “The Witcher 3” are on there, plus “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” as a more recent example.

Xbox Wire: Is there a way to unsee the Spider Hand enemies? I see them every time I close my eyes…

Hidetaka Miyazaki: What can I say to make up for this… I’m really very sorry… The Fingercreeper is actually one of my favourite designs…

I think making a conscious effort to unsee them is going to have an adverse effect. If you want to topple your trauma, you have to fix your gaze directly on them, never looking away as you strike them down. Maybe that’ll work…?

Xbox Wire: Has Elden Ring’s hit status had any effect on your mental state?

Hidetaka Miyazaki: As a member of the production team, the fact that such a huge number of people are playing Elden Ring brings me enormous joy, and has come as a great surprise.

Speaking both for myself and on behalf of everyone at FromSoftware, as game developers we’ve always felt exceedingly fortunate, and this time has really driven that feeling home.

I’m not sure if you’d call it a mental state, but our stance towards game production hasn’t really been affected.

Up until now, we’ve made the games that we ourselves find fun, and I don’t imagine that’ll change going forward.

We’ll continue to make new, fun games in this way. I believe that’s the best method of conveying our delight and appreciation to the players.

Xbox LiveXbox Live

ELDEN RING

BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc.


1425

$59.99

THE NEW FANTASY ACTION RPG.
Rise, Tarnished, and be guided by grace to brandish the power of the Elden Ring and become an Elden Lord in the Lands Between.

• A Vast World Full of Excitement
A vast world where open fields with a variety of situations and huge dungeons with complex and three-dimensional designs are seamlessly connected. As you explore, the joy of discovering unknown and overwhelming threats await you, leading to a high sense of accomplishment.

• Create your Own Character
In addition to customizing the appearance of your character, you can freely combine the weapons, armor, and magic that you equip. You can develop your character according to your play style, such as increasing your muscle strength to become a strong warrior, or mastering magic.

• An Epic Drama Born from a Myth
A multilayered story told in fragments. An epic drama in which the various thoughts of the characters intersect in the Lands Between.

• Unique Online Play that Loosely Connects You to Others
In addition to multiplayer, where you can directly connect with other players and travel together, the game supports a unique asynchronous online element that allows you to feel the presence of others.

Xbox LiveXbox Live

ELDEN RING Deluxe Edition

BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc.


12106

$79.99

The Deluxe Edition includes:
• ELDEN RING (full game)
• Digital Artbook & Original Soundtrack
Allows players to enjoy viewing concept art and listening to in-game music of ELDEN RING exclusive to the Deluxe Edition.

THE NEW FANTASY ACTION RPG.
Rise, Tarnished, and be guided by grace to brandish the power of the Elden Ring and become an Elden Lord in the Lands Between.

• A Vast World Full of Excitement
A vast world where open fields with a variety of situations and huge dungeons with complex and three-dimensional designs are seamlessly connected. As you explore, the joy of discovering unknown and overwhelming threats await you, leading to a high sense of accomplishment.

• Create your Own Character
In addition to customizing the appearance of your character, you can freely combine the weapons, armor, and magic that you equip. You can develop your character according to your play style, such as increasing your muscle strength to become a strong warrior, or mastering magic.

• An Epic Drama Born from a Myth
A multilayered story told in fragments. An epic drama in which the various thoughts of the characters intersect in the Lands Between.

• Unique Online Play that Loosely Connects You to Others
In addition to multiplayer, where you can directly connect with other players and travel together, the game supports a unique asynchronous online element that allows you to feel the presence of others.

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Game Developers Find Their “Superpower” with Xbox Game Studios Game Camp

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Game Developers Find Their "Superpower" with Xbox Game Studios Game Camp

Xbox Game Studios Game Camp was founded in 2020 on the belief that extraordinary talent resides everywhere. The goal of the program is to enable people from traditionally marginalized communities and non-traditional backgrounds to realize their potential in the gaming industry and grow thriving games communities and industries in places all over the world.

In this Q&A series, we aim to highlight the stories of Game Camp Alumni with unique game creation journeys. Today, we will be chatting with the CEO & Creative Director of LemonJuice Game Studio Austin-Taylor Caldwell, about his experience at Game Camp and his current project, Beyond the Nightlight, a 3D horror adventure game that sheds light on mental health and addiction.


Tell us about yourself (if applicable: your team and the game you’re working on)?

My name is Austin-Taylor Caldwell. Like most other individuals in the gaming industry, I grew up playing video games. However, to think about making a career in gaming was laughable to me from a young age. I was raised in the poorest county in my state where resources and connections to the tech industry were extremely far and few. Fast forward to 2020, I decided to jump into the deep end and founded LemonJuice Game Studio to make cinematic games within the horror genre. From solo development to Game Camp, LemonJuice now stands at 20 members who are working closely together on our current title, Beyond the Nightlight. It is a 3D horror adventure game that centers around mental health and addiction in hopes to shine light on the topic and potentially help those struggling with these illnesses every day.

Why did you decide to center Beyond the Nightlight on mental health and addiction?

Beyond the Nightlight centers around the study that when we die our brains have seven minutes of activity left, during this time is when our life ‘flashes before our eyes.’ Our protagonist Jolene is in her final seven minutes and does not know it yet. She races through this odd world in a porcelain doll body, chased by Death, to reclaim her memory of what happened to her and how she can get a second chance at life.

I lost my mother in 2019 to drug addiction and that was probably the hardest point in my life. A year later, I found out from my therapist that I have both depression and anxiety…which didn’t help the situation. Beyond the Nightlight is built from real trauma and experiences from real people to show the players that do struggle with similar if not exact issues, that they’re not alone.

“Xbox Game Studios Game Camp taught me things I would have otherwise taken 10 years to learn. Game Camp helped me identify my “superpower” in development and focus on that instead of spreading myself thin.”

Austin-Taylor Caldwell, CEO & Creative Director of LemonJuice Game Studio

Walk us through your game creation journey before you attended Xbox Game Studios Game Camp?

Before Game Camp, I taught myself game design through Unreal Engine Documentation and a ton of YouTube. Working a full-time job made devoting time to learn game development difficult, but not impossible. I would wake up a couple hours early to get through a few lessons or add a new feature to my project, then go into work and use my lunch to research various systems or solve some problems I may have run into that morning. Returning home after work was when I really put in the work by staying up way later than I should to continue adding features to my project and learning everything I could to make a playable product.

What are some of the key takeaways you learned from your experience at Xbox Game Studios Game Camp?

Xbox Game Studios Game Camp taught me things I would have otherwise taken 10 years to learn. Game Camp helped me identify my “superpower” in development and focus on that instead of spreading myself thin trying to be distinguished in every department. That alone is invaluable, but more than that it also taught me how to manage a team, communicate and network to establish long lasting relationships, how to create and manage a development pipeline, and so much more. Game Camp truly changed my life.

What excites you about the game creation process?

Seeing the first prototype is a feeling words cannot describe. Spending days on days crafting this world and seeing it come to life is enthralling. Directing that is extremely fun to me and seeing others get inspired and watching their eyes light up over a new idea they propose is truly what makes game development so beautiful.

What are some unique challenges your dev teams overcame? Were there any tools/services that helped overcome this?

The biggest challenge we faced was switching our 2D project from Unity to the 3D project it is now within Unreal Engine. Having to rebuild the code in a different language took a bit to get off the ground, but Unreal Engine Documentation helped us as a team get our bearings together and now, we are back up on the ground and sprinting!

Image containing the 5 prototyped characters.

Tell us about the tools you are using for game development and why.

We are utilizing Unreal Engine 5 and Quixel Megascans for Beyond the Nightlight . We decided to work within Unreal Engine 5 as the amount of tools provided free of cost truly tip the scales on what we can accomplish. Plus, having Megascans that we can use with ease and easily import into Unreal Engine is amazing for painting a very detailed and immersive environment.

Can you tell us about your experience working with an Xbox Game Studios mentor and what you learned from them about the game creation process?

Working with our mentor, Rosa Dachtler, was a great experience. She was extremely helpful and always available to help in any way she could. Particularly, she guided and supported us as we made an extreme switch in production with only 2 weeks of production time left. She taught us how to build a powerful narrative around action-packed gameplay and how departments can better communicate with each other throughout the design process.”

Now that you’ve attended Xbox Game Studios Game Camp, what’s next for LemonJuice?

Game Camp readied LemonJuice with the tools and knowledge needed to dive headfirst into the industry. We are currently in the final stages of wrapping up our prototype for Beyond the Nightlight. We intend to bring it to publishers so LemonJuice as a collective can work on this project full time and be equipped with the necessary tools to make it as beautiful as we have envisioned. I have always dreamed big, and it is still my dream and goal for my company to become a 1st or 2nd party studio for Xbox Game Studios.


To learn more about Xbox Game Studios Game Camp visit xbox.com/gamecamp.



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