Starting development of DkS II, what were some of the main things you wanted to do differently? And what did you want to keep?
Main objective: streamline away the fat. Get rid of things that may hinder the experience.
Give an example of 'fat'.
It's a small thing, but some players got frustrated because they couldn't jump properly. So now we've changed that and added the option for a dedicated button. The difficulty in this game shouldn't come from not being able to jump properly or at the right time.
In the demo I've also noticed that bonfires are closer to each other. Is that another example?
Definitely. Some people say that the bigger gap between fires is a good thing, because it creates a bigger risk. That's one way of thinking. Now however, we've been able to finetune and balance the game so that the closer bonfires don't take away from the experience.
After DkS I, the dev team thought that having to travel all the way back and redo everything - that you already knew how to do! - was something that could be changed.
So what you're saying is that this won't happen as much in II? We'll get bonfires closer to bosses for example?
Not everywhere! But it's something we did try to enhance, yeah. One frustrating aspect about DkS I was that, for a particular area, you knew it all: the enemies, the path, placement,... You knew everything, you just had to do it. It was tedious at times. That long distance dent ultimately didn't add to the experience.
Does this 'streamlining' extend to the storytelling? Or is it still up to the player to tie everything together, without much exposition?
The latter, definitely. It's up to you.
There are some cutscenes at the start, but this won't be a regular thing throughout the game?
Nah, just the main ones in the beginning. No more after that.
When looking at combat in videos and now from having played the game, I'd describe it as 'slower' or 'more deliberate'. What did you want to improve after DkS?
We wanted to improve on how it felt. After DkS we hope that the combat feels more natural.
Since we're talking about speed, just looking at the new stats, Agility seems incredibly useful: faster dodging, blocking, chugging estus,... Seems a bit overpowered even...
I think the dev team has balanced and tuned it in a way that this won't happen. You might experience a difference, but not so much that it 'breaks' the game.
Elements from Demon's Souls are seeping back in to the Dark: you don't level up at bonfires but at the maiden, and your max health drops every time you die in hollow form. What's the reason for bringing this back?
The main goal of director Yui Tanimura was to blend the greatest things of Demon's and Dark Souls into a new experience. He liked the Demon's Souls design of a 'hub safe place' better.
But why put leveling there then? Since you can now fast travel from the very beginning, isn't this just creating an extra step?
I think the director wanted Majula to be the 'safe place from danger', where you can regroup and strengthen your character, with everything that entails: buying or upgrading weapons, leveling... It's an emotional thing.
Has the team taken steps to reduce the amount of 'power users' invading new players? I see that armor sets now require certain stats... Is that one way?
Yes, but we also looked at the matchmaking system. This time around, it's a lot more complex. For DkS 1, what counted was mainly the level you were at, like you could only invade someone 10% lower and higher. That's changed. We realized this was an issue and gave it another look. It's more complex.
It considers gameplay time, your number of souls, etc. There are more parameters now in the progress.
In DkS From hid large and impressive areas like Ash lake and Painted World, knowing that certain players would never see them. Just fishing for a hint here. I'm sure it's back, right?
I'm.... sure it is (laughs) I really have to avoid talking about this too much... But I can assure you: this is what FROMsoft does. You won't be disappointed.
A quick jump back to DkS: on july 1st, the GFWL service will be shut down. Will the pc version of DkS be patched so that online play is still possible?
I hope so (laughs). We realize how many players there still are for DkS I on pc. We're still working hard on finding a proper solution, but I don't have the answer yet to be honest.