The Ever-Changing Game Design of Bayonetta

Bayonetta

Filed: Bayonetta, Community, Games, PlatinumGames

Hi everyone! I’m Yama-chan, a game designer here.

I was told to write about blog about the game design elements of Bayonetta, so here we go…

Even after we finished work, time passed as I got caught up in anticipation of this and that, but somehow, once I finish something, it seems like I have a disposition to forget what I’ve done. This time is no exception, and I feel my recollections may be rather dim…

That’s why I reintroduced myself to some of the old documents and such that I made. While I was looking at them, I would see things that would make me say, “Oh yeah, we had this!!” So I thought that I’d regret… I mean release these things and everyone could experience some of the trial and error that we went through at the beginning of Bayonetta.

The area around Vigrid Station is 50% larger than the original

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The image above is the original size, and below is the same size as the shipping version, or 50% bigger than the upper image. The health bar is also an old version. At the beginning we decided that we wanted to make things real, which guided our decision making on size, but Bayonetta’s actions were much larger than we imagined, and that plan flew right out the window. Thus, we made the change towards bigger areas. Another reason was because we needed extra distance to compensate for Bayonetta’s fast movement and allow us time to load the stages into memory. The image quality differences are due to the implementation of graphical filters.

The Witch Time statues were originally Crystal Skulls

We had planned to let players carry the skull around like a normal weapon, and by pressing Punch and Kick simultaneously, Bayonetta would throw the skull to the ground and activate Witch Time.

We planned to allow Witch Walk in all areas of the game, instead of just limiting it to selected areas

Here is a peek at some of the Japanese design documents from Chapter 2.

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The pages above are just pages 6 to 10 pulled from a 13 page design document. Unfortunately, I’m not able to share the full document for some “grown-up” reasons. The historic ruins of the Witch and Sage that appear in the full game was originally a church, and we had planned a stage around it where the player would use Witch Walk to move around the walls and proceed through the level. It was a stage with quite a few puzzles. Whenever we would try to include Witch Walk as a normal mechanic, things would almost certainly head for puzzle-laden territory, effectively bringing down the tempo of the game, or causing other side-effects like filling areas that have no connection to the action with Witch Walk. We kept getting further and further away from our original concept, so we decided to limit Witch Walk to specific situations. I think that Witch Walk, as a gameplay mechanic, would probably best be tried in a slower-paced 3D puzzle game. Oh, I forgot to mention that Shibata-san was in charge of the final Wind (Ancient Ruins) stage. I was in charge of the tutorial, and the opening of the game up until Fortitudo. I also had a hand in an area towards the end, but I can’t share much about it right now because it would be a spoiler.

The Torture Attacks originally went by names like Boredom Breaker, or the Fallen Angel Buster

What can I say, we were all raised on Kinnikuman.

The Witch Hearts were once Blue Orbs

Item names are, surprisingly, pretty all over the place until the very end of production. In-production enemy names usually end up being based on how they look or how we imagine them to be from their concepts, as during development enemies tend to change appearance and the like. When Don-san was writing his blog, he said something along the lines of “I don’t really know the enemy names.” Well, the truth is, I don’t know them either. (Yikes!)

Other than that, we even had ideas for an overworld map at the beginning of the game… But to share it now would definitely be a spoiler, so I will hold off. If they ever put out a Making-Of book, hopefully I will be able to share it with you all then.

I also wanted to share with you some full email conversations with myself and Kamiya-san that we shared while he was on a business trip overseas, but they all got cut out because they said that I was “going too far!” I guess there is such a thing as too long a blog…

So what do you think?

There are lots of ideas that are born and die over the course of a game development cycle, and some of these dead ideas had more significance than others. Spirits also rise and fall. Game development is filled with drama.

Hardware changes and so do the player bases… I suppose you could call it the passage of time. Game design is not just a simple issue of trial and error until you find something fun, as you get wrapped up in not only things like changes in hardware and players, but the many other tasks forced upon you that don’t have anything to do with finding fun. These are both production challenges as well as mental challenges…

But I think we got to this point by always going back to the starting point of “I want to make a fun game!” whenever we hit a wall and questioned whether we could honestly pull this off.

I don’t think that PlatinumGames will change it’s core principle – that of making fun games.

So did you enjoy Bayonetta? I hope you find it fun.

Until next time!

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9 Comments Add Your Own

Gem Posted on December 2, 2009 at 10:50 pm

I love the bigger spaces, allows for better camerawork and overal nice atmosphere! This personally is why I think the more recent DMC games dropped a bit because of tight conditions from the orginal.

Plus I just love all the detail gone into the windows and flooring, ahh~

Shawn Posted on December 3, 2009 at 12:55 am

Why do you guys change the graphic filter? The original one looks much better :P

Anyway nice blog post there, enjoyed reading it XD

FAUNA Posted on December 3, 2009 at 6:59 am

Thank you Platinum for blessing us with these insightful blogs. No other game company has a site like this. (And there you go hinting at an art book again. Please make it happen!) While your at it, maybe unveil Mikami-san's game? Anyways… all hail Bayonetta!

twenty1 Posted on December 3, 2009 at 8:18 am

nice…..more bigger…..more better……more bada$$!!!!

Kingwel Posted on December 3, 2009 at 9:34 am

The bigger spaces are better :D

Nice post there,I love read these posts

btw,wow I want to see GeM playing Bayonetta. XD

txGreg Posted on December 3, 2009 at 11:01 am

Nice post, but I wouldn't have minded the "extra content" that got culled. Next time someone tells you it's going ton too long, just remind them that readers can quit reading whenever we want. :)

aXL99 Posted on December 3, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Bayonetta has such an attractive world design that it's always nice to see the progression in all these blog entries. Seeing before and after screens of the work in progress in-game levels was awesome, the graphical filters – and or use of post processing boxes if any – make everything easily visible.

Although the way Witch Walk has been integrated into the game so far was solid, I would've loved to have seen it used for pure exploration purposes and to further immerse players in the environment if they so choose to take a break from all the fighting.

By the way, whose idea was it to come up with the present names for the torture attacks and Witch Hearts?

60Hz Posted on December 7, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Very insightful… I find scale to be one of the major design points that can make a game feel good or bad…

Great insight into the docs as well – too bad i can barely read Japanese – i would love a translation.

And to see the email between you and Kamiya-san would've been priceless! Please include it at a later time or just send it to me via email! LOL!

I look forward to every blog entry on this site and look forward to your next titles! You guys are single handedly pushing action gaming forward!

Shun Posted on December 16, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Good choice on expanding & enlarging the areas!

Bayo-baby, needs alot of room to romp, right? LoL! XD

Also, how come the change of health bar? THe hair design looked plausible (considering Bayo-baby's ability w/ hair).

Lastly (but not least), a Making Of book/ Art Book is on my "Look-Out List"!

Anyway, keep making bad-ass stuff kudasai!

Ja ne! ^_^

(did i use those right?)

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