Part 51: An Audience with PlatinumGames - Part 5
When we first played this game on Climax, we thought: What? No Witch Time? We despaired, but once we had played it a bit longer this mode turned out to be great fun.
Well, the difficulty adjustment takes great care. When Don-san tosses an enemy out to play with his first attack pattern and algorithm, it is too difficult. "No damage" defeating is really impossible. And from that "this is theoretically impossible" point, we have to work to pump in countermeasures to these patterns. The game becomes fun, because we follow this process and we don't spare any expense. If there is an attack off-screen, without any sound, it is unfair. If something comes, there must be a sound as a predicator before the attack. The same goes for motion. First, you start with some flashing effects and then "wham!" This forms a tactic. I want players to react to this.
Can you talk a bit about the sound effects when you rotate the camera to outside the battle area when the enemy does a long-range attack?
Yes. This is also my policy from Devil May Cry. What I like is Marionettes with the shotgun. When it shoots, the wrist rotates. So if you hear a kind of rattling noise off-screen, then you know a shot will come, "boom!" At this moment you will lose a lot of energy. But you heard the rattling, so you could have evaded. If there was no warning, it would be too dirty. It must be user friendly. It's the same in Bayonetta. That's why this game has no complex commands for techniques. Because of false inputs... "If I could do this technique, I could counter, but I failed and was damaged." That would not add up. I want the player to be able to trust in our input method completely. If you were damaged, you may think, "That was dirty!" We make an adjustment so that you then think, "But I was not good enough, because I did not react." That is our method. You can then say, "Wow! This enemy is strong!" This is the key. I can't win, but when I play, I see the attack chance. I had to Evade here and attack. Since I'm an old man, I can't react anymore. Amuro could have won.
yoshesque: The fact that most enemies won't attack you when off screen is a commonly-used exploit for the boss of Angel Slayer. It seems good in theory, but with Joys it can be a pain in the ass because suddenly run onto the screen then attack. There's a more detailed explanation of enemy attacks on the PlatinumGames blog.
Whether it's Rodin or the final enemy of Angel Slayer, we thought, "What the hell!" When we reached the final boss of Angel Slayer, however, we were defeated within 5 seconds. When we tried to write a strategy, we wrote "impossible".
That is the real voice of a player. (laughs)
yoshesque: Just some post-game enemy spoilers. Hover at your own risk!
But on the way, we tried a lot out and found some nice patterns, like keeping this Angel Arm here, and so on. Bayonetta is quite a difficult game for this day and age. Was it the first concept of a game made for the core gamer?
Yes. It has no meaning to create a game of this kind, if we don't do this. If not, we don't need a hardcore game like this. We wanted to work seriously at our aim. So the main game has a high... a challenging difficulty. And we developed Easy Automatic as a basic game (for the non-skilled player), which has a completely separate design.
Putting players off was not what we wanted. We wanted them to have fun with an action game. But this is not enough. In general, we think that not many players want to play challenging action games. We wanted as many players as possible to enjoy Bayonetta. Therefore we developed Easy Automatic mode with a totally different control mechanism. In this mode you only have to press one button. You can have fun by looking at the display and tapping on the button.
Did you create this system so you could also show players what techniques they could employ, if they wanted to?
Maybe for more skilled players, but the most important reason is difficulty. What does a beginner need, if they are to enjoy a game like this? "Enemies with low HP, player with high HP and the enemy is dead." No, not like that. A beginner wants to perform an elegant combo. I think this is the most enjoyable point and the quintessence of this game. How to let a beginner play like that. This was fine-tuned very subtly. But it didn't take that long, because Don-san created this during the development phase of enemies and player characters. The majority of this is based on his talent.
If you simply make the enemy's HP lower and the player's parameter higher... the difficulty of control is still the same. So it's not possible to enjoy the game. What should we do? Develop a function that allows people to play easily with one button! This is our answer to that problem. We have had this automatic mode since Devil May Cry, and now this system has been expanded.
I guess, if we make enemies softer and players harder, beginners will finish the game, but they will have only seen the same punch. They won't have seen Bayonetta's elegant action. So we wanted to enable them to do this. This is the main concept. And if we had tried to cater for both experts and beginners our concept would have been compromised. Therefore we developed a completely different concept for each one.
These kinds of players will play it once and see the ending. And it's possible that they will say, "Okay, that's enough," and won't play it again.
I think that's okay. It's a bit like a DVD. There is no difficulty watching a DVD. The only possible difficulty is falling asleep. But if you beat sleepiness you can reach the end. But, in a game, there are hurdles on the way which can make a player drop out. You're dead. Game over. But they think, "I bought this game. I want to finish." Now, there are many stories with big scenes, "And I want to enjoy them together with stage design." I believe there are players who think like that. It's our answer to this kind of user's needs: "I have fun when I can reach the end," while eating snacks. Hopefully as many people as possible will say, "Well, I want to play now without using Easy Automatic," and then they will discover the fascination of action games, or if they say "I'd like to play better," and come to our level, then we'll be happy. That is what we think.
Umbran Elegance #1 (Kulshedra), Umbran Elegance #2 (Lt. Col. Kilgore), Umbran Elegance #5 (Durga), Umbran Elegance #3 (Odette), Umbran Elegance #4 (Sai-Fung)
So you more or less broaden the entry level?
Yes. It's us developers showing our care for the player. If we use the same difficulty adjustments as we did a few years ago, then we will only cater for the same players. We want as many players as possible to have fun. This is our answer... for an action game.
I believe the fascination of a game lies in the accomplishment of it. For me... probably down to the generation I belong to... this comes from overcoming its difficulties. Nowadays, there is more than a small group that thinks differently. They are the people who say "accomplishment is to see the ending." I think I have tailored this game to both these styles. And the most suitable way to do this was to separate these two game modes.
So that as many people as possible can enjoy it "normally"?
Right. For that reason, we made this quite comfortable. You can change the difficulty at the beginning of the stage. A long time ago I was more dogmatic, because I was young. I insisted that you could only choose normal mode first. If you played that and died a few times, then the easy mode would be unlocked. "Due to your technique, you qualify for easy mode." But now I think more flexibly; things like that are not necessary. So if you play and get stuck, you can go back to the start of the stage and change the difficulty to easy. It's messy to start with a new game from the beginning again. If you play on easy for a bit and learn the ropes, then it's nice to be able to change back to normal mode. You can remove the automatic things any time you want. So it's good to remove them and play manually. Changing from automatic to manual is possible whenever you open the menu screen. So the player can try it out. On that score, we made all kinds of efforts to create a wide entry level.
yoshesque: In terms of gameplay, Easy and Automatic Easy allows the player to play "automatically". In-game, this is due to the Immortal Marionette accessory. It has its own slot around the waist, and when used on Easy and Automatic Easy, allows the player to just press one button to fight angels. If you use the Immortal Marionette on Normal or higher, you'll only show half the amount of combo points you actually earned. The blog has more detailed notes on easy/easy automatic mode. I'll be covering bonus accessories like this in an extras video at the end of the LP.
This game has a lot of system-like accessories and so on. If you invent a new game system, how do you ensure that the game balance is not upset? Just by playing it right through?
Yes, the only way is to play it entirely. This time, we have weapons and you can do an unlimited number of combinations. Well... we have many weapons, but coordinating these was really hard.
People are talking about the Hundred Kilgore technique (where you can perform rapid shots with the Lt. Col. Kilgore weapon). Did you leave this in the game on purpose or was that an accidental by-product?
Well, this is a... glitch. (laughs) But I don't object to this technique. Because it's good for people to enjoy this game using their own style. You get your result at the end of the chapter, but no one has fun just playing in the most efficient way possible in order to get a high rating. I think this is a game where you should be able to have fun by playing with Bayonetta in whatever way you like. So if someone wants this sort of fire power, that's okay. I don't think it is a problem.
In Devil May Cry, there was the hidden... secret weapon, Sparda. Equip this and you couldn't use your devil trigger, but instead, your sword was a bit stronger. There was a special adjustment. It is quite tough equipment. Not so that you are stronger by fighting with it. I saw someone who fought with it like nothing. So insisting on fighting with this was his style. The resultant rank didn't matter. That was fun to me. We give them the game and the players should then play in whatever style they like.