Part 47: An Audience with PlatinumGames - Part 1
Could you introduce yourselves please?
My name is Kamiya... I was responsible for directing the game.
And I'm the producer... Hashimoto.
First of all... How did you come up with the idea of making Angels the villains and Demons the heroes of this game? What were the stepping stones to that design?
When I first planned to make a 3D game, I came to the idea of making a female as the main character. In Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe I put male main characters in the front row. After these games, I was satisfied how I represented male characters. This time I wanted to make a woman the main character, so that I could do something both strange and interesting. The theme "woman" sounded very attractive to me. And the battles being performed by women... well, a battle with normal human beings has its limitations. That's why I thought about settings like Superman. It's just my personal taste - I wanted to base the setting on: "She uses powers from the dark side". And a woman with dark powers is equal to a witch, so that was the birth of the witch idea. And this witch is going to fight with... superhuman powers. Then I talked to my staff about who could be her enemy. They came up with Angels! Angels fighting isn't something we have seen much of. And their existence is very imperial; therefore they would be extremely powerful, for sure. The main character has the dark power... the negative power, and the other side has... how can I put it?... the power of virtue. It's the opposite of what is normally presented as the image of good and evil. That sounded interesting to me. That is the reason behind this game design.
So the angelic side has a human shape, but with a different face and so on.
Yeah, that's right. Hashimoto-kun should talk about that. For the time being, he was in charge for the special effects. Originally, the idea for Bayonetta came from him... we were working together in the DMC team for eight or nine... almost ten years. We both had to give up DMC after finishing the first game and so couldn't make a sequel to it. Then, when we were chatting after PlatinumGames started up, he told me:
"I would like to see a 3D action game from you, Kamiya-san."
"I hadn't thought about making a game like that."
A long time has passed since DMC, but we still have a lot of staff who are expert in that. So I thought, if I could work with these people and include all the ideas I had gathered in those eight years, then we could make a great game. So Bayonetta began from that. We had been chatting when we created.. or were on the way to creating the team... which only consisted of a few members at the start. We hadn't decided who was responsible for what job and there was no specific designer. Then he started as effect designer. But he could also draw. So when we were talking about the Angels, I told him to draw something he liked, so that I could make a project book. Well, it wasn't quite "I told him to draw"... it just happened like that, Hashimoto drew.
Because he was the only one who could draw. And the pictures he gave me were cool. So I wanted him to expand this image.
Yes. At the time... we thought the Angels should have a celestial existence, but the Angels were also an enemy in the game. So they had to be menacing. The most important point for me was to show a simple divinity, which is complex at the same time. Nothing I have seen anywhere else, except a divinity... causes fear by its mere existence.
You didn't have anything in particular in mind to create a scary, but divine, thing just from your imagination?
Designing things which humans believe are divine are tricky... the look may differ, but there are also common points. So I took these parts as reference. That's how I came up with the design of the Angel.
The basic idea was the eternal image. Angel's halo, a white image like that. This goes for the devil and Angels too. No one has ever seen them. Therefore it's just an image. And when I saw his drawing, I thought, "Well, if someone told me "This is an angel", I'd believe them." Somehow, not like a human and giving a surprising impression. It also gives you a feeling of awe. It has an element of this. It's mysterious... so one can say its ghastliness was perfect as an "existence" to fight against. It has a presence.
So, did you start by creating Bayonetta as the main character and then the Angels as the enemies?
Yes, that's right. We created the concept of "Bayonetta the witch" in the early phases, but we had to travel a long way before we finished her design. But to tell you more about the the Angels... the Angel design was decided almost immediately.
He wanted me to draw, just for drawing's sake. So I drew a lot, really.
The Angel's look was finished first, even before we started to design the game.
So, was the design of the enemy the first completed element of the game?
Yes. Not wishing to sing my team's praises, but when I saw his drawing, I thought, "That's great!" I didn't want to say anything at that stage, so I asked him to draw by instinct, just draw as many pictures as he could. Then we put his drawings into the game. I told him things like, "This enemy should be bigger. Let's make it a boss enemy." A bit later on we changed their design because of the game. Things like, "I want this enemy to perform a punch, please add claws." So we added a few things afterwards. But getting his original drawings into the game - that was the basic flow.
yoshesque: Some notes from Hashimoto about his angel designs.
Glory, Golem (Phantasmaraneae and Scolopendra form), Iustita
So this project began with you two?
Yes, the trigger came from us two.
Yes, the trigger. As I said before, he said to me, while we stood talking, "I'd like to see an action game from you." I was inspired by his statement and so I made a project book. At the same time, PlatinumGames asked me, "How about a 3D action game?" That was a lucky coincidence. So, in that way, he was the trigger of it all. And during the early phases, where we only had a few members... well, working on ideas during this phase is very joyful. He was one of the most important people at this time.
How many people were working on Bayonetta during the final phase?
By the end... 50 or 60 core members.
Red Hot Shot, Broken Witch Heart, Angel Flute, lollipops
You said that a long time elapsed between the initial concept of Bayonetta's character and the final design. What was she like at the beginning?
Hmm.. our designer had trouble understanding my concept at the beginning. Our designer is called Shimazaki. I felt sure she would be the only one who would be able to create Bayonetta's character design. Of course, she can take a unique idea and create a design that works. Most of all, she is a designer who pays a great deal of attention to detail, particularly from the woman's perspective. Something men don't have. Sure, this is a 3D battle action game, but I didn't want typical male imagery: a battle-capable woman in a battle suit. Since we had a woman as our main character, I wanted to created a fashionable design. We needed a person who was interested in fashion in their private lives as well and who would be able to reflect this in the design. She was the only person I thought could do this, and I wanted her to create the design at any cost. The power of colour fashion - and this is a game with battle elements - meant the clothes had to be black, the colour of witches. Combining these elements was quite difficult for her. I didn't create a detailed brief. I just gave her an abstract image, similar to what I have just said. Then I looked at what she gave me and said, "No, this is not what I meant." This was repeated many times.
yoshesque: Mari Shimazaki on designing Bayonetta, and Kenichiro Yoshi Yoshimura on how Bayonetta's fine derrière was lovingly crafted.
Bayonetta, alternate designs
Bayonetta has a perfect body. This is rare, and also rare in a real model. Did you create this image at the beginning?
Yes. But I didn't show her a real person and say, "Like this image." So, in the final version, we cannot say that Bayonetta is similar to someone.
Bayonetta is a very womanly character, something we have never seen before.
The typical female main character has big boobs and shows her skin - a male image of women, designed to win men's favour. This type of design happens all the time. Women's beauty is not like that. This is what I always told her. And I think she got that. I said, please avoid any poor taste. Eroticism is something that every man can imagine easily. I wanted to create a character who wouldn't be offensive to women. Her back is quite bare. This was her idea. This method of showing skin has a woman's touch. An open back is an elegant way to show skin like a dress. Also, in game view, the player often sees her from behind. And when the player sees her back, it makes the heart beat faster. This type of presentation is very feminine. I guess these elements are the key to successful design in Bayonetta.
When and how did you come up with the idea of hair being her weapon?
There was a mixed set-up, until we finalized her actual design. When I chose a woman as the main character that, of course, made her a witch, so her image, her colour, had to be black. And I attached importance to her black hair. Action movements look best when you have moving objects. It makes playing with the controller fun. Dante has a fluttering coat; Joe has a fluttering scarf. These are elements that make a player's movements look great. So I wanted to use a similar prop this time. I thought of long hair, 'cause she is a woman and I wanted to attach importance to that. And talking about the colour, good and evil are inverted here. So I wanted to emphasize the dark image and, because she is a witch, black is her colour. First of all, we simply created a character with long black hair on the screen. During the first phase, her upper body was covered with hair from her head. The player could perform any action as much as he wanted, but her hair covered the movement and the action couldn't be seen clearly. So we thought, "What can we do with her hair?" This was the most important point.
yoshesque: You should watch this video showing how Bayonetta used to look and feel. Note how slow the gameplay is, as well as the hipster glasses. Also, bloody DMC-style girly menus and UI
Bayonetta, initial version
Our modelling staff and the designer Shimazaki told me that this hair wasn't going to work. Then we had some compromise ideas, like a bizarre hairstyle or braid. But I didn't want things like that. For me, a compromise idea was like no hair. Nevertheless, I still wanted to attach importance to her hair. Then we went through various character designs and became deadlocked. So we decided to go back to square one. The first design communicated itself clearly to me. We tried to make a main character from this basic design. After many trials and selections, the original design had become distorted. However, it was that very first design that had excited me. So I went back to it. And this design was Bayonetta in a full black suit with long hair. I guess that was her drawing choreography - Bayonetta's hair does not fall down straight; it entangles itself with her arms. This was pretty interesting and we started working on it. But then I thought: This is it, this is what is interesting. And I imagined: What if I use this design? Hair following her body shape... or better still, I thought, what if everything was made of her hair, so she can use her magic powers to form it like clothes to fit her body. This concept had a witch-like element and was convenient, because of the way her hair would behave. It settled everything nicely. Then I asked her to draw the design again with these concepts.
Bayonetta, final version
The result: a new design was born, with her hair united with her arms and hanging down around her arms. We could keep the long-haired image and at the same time we had elements that made her actions look better. We did, however also want witch-like movements; like summoning huge arms and legs from devildom in order to hit or trample an enemy. She is a witch, after all. So we tried to pull this idea into shape. On the one hand, there was this elegant image of a woman; on the other hand, a monster would appear suddenly. These images were too distant and did not work together well. But if she could transform her hair into clothes, she would be able to use hair as a medium to summon arms and legs from devildom. That was a relationship that could be made to work. And then we combined these elements. If she uses her hair to summon monsters... she will have to use her hair, which also covers her body. So, her skin is shown... We started expanding on this. All the men in our team were excited. So developing this idea went quickly.
That was the fastest development time ever. (laughs)
The idea to peel off her clothes came incredibly fast.
That was finished before I noticed.
Some hair is left covering her intimate parts though, isn't it?
She leaves hair covering these areas.
Were they there during the development phase as well?
Well, I think we actually took everything off during the development phase. But in-game as well, she loses all her clothes during a great summon.
But hidden with spiral-shaped hair.
Yes, those do veil her. Hide her from the camera. The attacked Angel can see things at the final moment, but that Angel will be beaten up really badly instead.