Bayonetta’s Backgrounds


Filed: Bayonetta, Community, Games, PlatinumGames

Hello, everyone. I’m Washi, background design lead on the Bayonetta team. Pleased to meet you all.

I’ve been working with Kamiya-san since Okami, and I’m incredibly excited to be working on this game everyday.

Anyways, I wanted to make an appearance on the blog and tell you a bit about the background design (stage design) in Bayonetta.

Writing the word background makes it seem like it is all just simple scenery, and calling it a backdrop makes it all sound a bit too boring… Bayonetta, it goes without saying, is an action game. Moreover one that’s even been labeled a ∞ Climax Action game.

In an action game, backgrounds (and sorry if this is a bit obvious) don’t simply function as a tool to express the world the game takes place in, but also are the arenas upon which battles with your enemies play out. This is both the most difficult and most enjoyable aspect of creating stage backgrounds.

When you are fighting the same enemy on a different stage, it’s pretty clear that you end up with a different fight, right? Then if you have stages that change in real time, you should expect the amount of fun to multiply, as well. So what if you had lots of those kinds of stages?

To tell you the truth, when we started working on Bayonetta, the stage design team spent an enormous amount of time using the newly attained expressive power of the so-called “next-gen systems” trying to figure out how much prettier we could make the graphics. The amount of things we had to do had increased drastically from before, leading to repeated trial and error, but eventually development progressed and we were finally able to set our sights on a level of graphics we could accept. However, if we would have stopped there, we would have ended up with nothing more than pretty backgrounds. They’d have been backdrops.

You could say that this is where the real work began for the stage design team.

There are various elements to ∞ Climax Action, and each section within the Bayonetta team carries their own weight and has included numerous ideas into the game. The background team in charge of stage design takes the ideas drawn up by the game director or planners, and then coordinates with each section of the team – the programmers, effect and motion designers, the sound team, etc. – gaining their support in creating the stages while we design. This time, we made an action game filled with a non-stop assault of Climax scenes!!

When I thought about how our users are going to enjoy the game, or be surprised by its content, it was clear that stages with movement were an absolutely fundamental element. If the stages we tried to make at first were to be labeled with the idea of tranquility, these stages were to be about movement.

However, even if you say “stages with movement,” if they end up as simple “moving backgrounds,” they won’t pack the right punch. What becomes important here is the game camera.

Normally, and especially with the things we like to identify as the climax scenes in a film, I think one way they are able to ratchet up the excitement in scenes are with things like incredibly audacious camera work; however, in the case of games, if you go too far you’ll end up in a situation where the player can’t follow the game, and they will feel the camera is a hindrance to the game/battle. And there is no way you could just leave the best parts, the battles, to be played out in a cutscene. That’s just a waste!!

If it can be achieved, we want to fight a real battle inside something that feels like a cutscene!

With that concept in hand, our director and programmers arrived at a wonderful solution to our camera setup, and once it was put into a stage, we were finally able to say that we had completed a “stage with movement.”


As one progresses through a game, the way the game balances out and presents the various forms of “stress and release” is something I believe to be an important point. With Bayonetta’s stage design, we’ve linked this idea of “stress and release” with the concept of tranquility and movement.

The distribution of these moments is something that we are, of course, paying very close attention to as we proceed through production; however, if I had to put a word on what Bayonetta is like, it would have to be thrill ride!

Not to beat a dead horse, but it’s all because the game is a non-stop assault of Climax scenes. ∞ Climax Action! When I pick up the controller to play a stage we have finished, if someone says to me, “This is kind of boring right here,” I respond, “Well, then let me toss in a little bit more of the ol’ Climax!” (Even though I don’t really have time…) That’s kind of how things are in the studio right now.

In any case, Bayonetta is turning out to be pumped full of all sorts of big and small tricks; a full on rush of outrageous stages.

I’m sorry I could give you even more detailed take on the stage design in Bayonetta, but when you are talking about things like this, there is no escaping the fact that you can’t be too detailed or you will venture straight into spoilers. For now, I’m giving my work my all in hopes that it will get the game into your hands even just a day sooner, so look forward to the final product!!


22 Comments Add Your Own

FAUNA Posted on July 2, 2009 at 4:28 am

I'm glad you made the point about "stress and release." I think it is extremely crucial for a game to have the right balance. I know its Climax Action, but I prefer to explore the environments between combat. Also, is there a free rotating manual camera? I hope so. By the way, you are all geniuses and masters of your craft at Platinum Games!

Ken Posted on July 2, 2009 at 6:15 am

You guys rock. Seriously it's so great to hear you are putting your soul in this game.

gpsato Posted on July 2, 2009 at 7:28 am

Awesome, I like environments also. o/

When I play, I believe to be in another world XD, and I live out at the story, as if I was there, and when the game is balanced and very well prepared, it makes me very happy ^ o ^. I like to observe the atmospheric, I spent several hours watching every detail of the background, you are doing a wonderful job, at the videos of the game, I can notice the work of your team. ^ – ^

Congratulations! m( __ __)m

Pheonix03 Posted on July 2, 2009 at 7:51 am

Excellent!! Thanks for your hard work on the backgrounds. They're the setting for all the climax action, and setting is simply essential. I can't wait to play these trilling climax scenes!!

DancingRobot Posted on July 2, 2009 at 8:46 am

I'm happy to hear you guys are trying to make the game cinematic and that we can actually play. I am always very disappointed with works by Hideo Kojima or even in the case of Mr. Mikami's Resident Evil 4. Where I get to watch this really cool action, and I can't help but think, 'Man, that'd be cool to play. Why isn't this scene playable.'

And then developers started to do the most annoying thing ever…quick time events. I love Resident Evil 4, God of War, and so on, but I would like a bit more interactivity with my game other then just pushing buttons while watching a movie.

I wouldn't be surprised if Bayonetta has quick time events, and I'll be more then happy to forgive, because I'm sure the rest of the game will be amazing.

I guess you guys can't really get too in to the details. But it sounds like you're trying to make the game stages very dynamic. Which sounds really fun. I'd really like to see a follow up blog or something to know how you go through some of the design choices. Not to offend, but this blog was so vague, and I would love to hear more.

60Hertz Posted on July 2, 2009 at 11:28 am

Yeah playing bayonetta was like an extreme rollercoaster ride! I look forward to seeing more dynamic stages!

Humberto Posted on July 2, 2009 at 11:34 am

maybe we can get more details after the game is released…

actually, it didn't occur to me that the bayo-blog would continue pass the game's release, in fact, i assumed the blog would end immediately after the game's release. i hope i'm wrong.

SonicTHP Posted on July 2, 2009 at 11:43 am

I played the demo at E3 and I felt that what you have said about the moving backgrounds has absolutely been achieved. When I was fighting the giant angel (sorry, I don't remember the name of him) on the bridge that he tore apart and was swinging around, I felt like I was playing a cut scene. I thought that if it was any game before it, it would have been simply press the right button at the right time until the scene is over, but here I was, actually playing it. I was amazed, and I knew that this was truly and surely the new gold standard in action games.

I can't wait to have ∞ Climax Action in my own home.

Marink Posted on July 2, 2009 at 4:55 pm


I game that's not boring is a great game.

So keep it up with the climax.

It looks like you guys are doing a great job. :D

Rizhall Posted on July 2, 2009 at 8:20 pm

That's awesome. So in essence, we're fighting both the enemies and adapting to the changing environments. Should make for some amazing battles with some depth to it as well.

Ninja99 Posted on July 2, 2009 at 8:51 pm

I always enjoy posts by designers that reveal a sample of the ideas that are informing Bayonetta's design process. I was very happy to read that the background team is focused on finding ways to enhance the cinematic feel of the game without taking the controls out of the player's hands. The trend in recent games is to do exactly the opposite. I think PG's priorities are right on target here. The impressive gameplay footage from E3 shows beyond any doubt that your hard work is paying off. As ever, I look forward to the release of Bayonetta.

Now how about a demo? ;)

FAUNA Posted on July 3, 2009 at 12:42 am

I hope Bayonetta has a ton of cutscene cinematics even though you are trying to make it mostly playable. I love story and cinemas.

ShinAkuma200X Posted on July 3, 2009 at 11:28 am

This is looking excellent. Bayonetta is bad@ss and from what I've seen so far, this game is going to be awesome. Can't wait to play it! Hot female character and some extreme combos? Yes plz! So would bayonetta unlock more costumes, or simply create her own? Haha

twenty1 Posted on July 3, 2009 at 1:25 pm

more great info to keep our mouths watering……go PG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

EdSabre Posted on July 3, 2009 at 10:43 pm

Oooh, moving backgrounds! Im getting more and more excited! ^^

RVR- 42 Posted on July 7, 2009 at 6:20 pm

Oh yes! The environment and stage designs of games is something I really get into. I think you are doing a fantastic job Washi-San. I'm mesmerized by the stages in this game. Truly epic. From what i've seen there are no "boring" stages in this game. Frantic, crazy fun! Everywhere. :)

baberific Posted on July 8, 2009 at 10:51 pm

hoho, the whole "you are playing a cutscene" scenario was in full effect when I played the e3 Demo.

I say that you and your team have perfected the crazy out of control feel of the bayonetta universe.

I can't wait to see what the Infinite climax world of bayonetta has in store!

Post a Comment: