PG Inside: Atsushi Inaba & Hideki Kamiya (Pt. 1)

Platinum Games

Filed: Community, Games, PlatinumGames

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Carrying Forward Gaming Culture

Atsushi Inaba (Executive Producer): Atsushi Inaba has helped produce almost every game Platinum has released to date. His role is to support and manage each project’s team.

Hideki Kamiya (Director): Hideki Kamiya has been a director of such games as Resident Evil 2, Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe, Okami, Bayonetta, the Wonderful 101, and now Scalebound. His job is to create a vision for the project and act upon it.

Remember the times when almost every day you’d go to some friend’s house in the neighborhood and spend the whole afternoon playing video games? I’m sure there are a lot of us who can answer yes to that question. Out of the ones who can are two of the founders of PlatinumGames, Atsushi Inaba and Hideki Kamiya. Now working as an Executive Producer and a Director, this interview delves into why they chose to work in the game industry.

Why I Make Games

Inaba: The first time I thought I wanted to make games was when I was 12 years old. The PC-8801 was at its peak, and I played games all the time. Back then, hardware and software were fairly simple, to the point that the art, sound, and even programming were often handled by a single person. If you wanted to make games, the easiest way in was to learn how to program, and that’s exactly what I did.

Kamiya: I got into making games in almost the same way Inaba did. I said I wanted to study programming and my parents bought me a computer. Ultimately I played a lot more than I programmed though (laughs).

Inaba: It used to be that you had to go to an arcade to play anything, so it was amazing to actually be able to play games in your own home.

Kamiya: Back then, hardware had limited capabilities, but their limitations made them very logical in design. They were almost like paper, rock, scissors in a way. You would pick from a small number of options, and what you chose determined whether you would win or lose. They were simple with easy to comprehend rules. I entered the industry during the Playstation era, so these kind of games were already long out of production. The first game I worked on would be Resident Evil (which used polygons to make 3-D characters and environments), so I never got to work on a 2-D game.

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Inaba: The PlayStation really ushered in a time of change for video games. I think that’s what first brought us together.

Kamiya: My approach to making games is mostly spontaneous so there’s some doubt as to how well my style would have fit with the logical design methods of the 8-bit era. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to them so much.

Inaba: They definitely have a unique appeal. What I find so amazing about 8-bit games is how I can remember the smallest of details about them, even now. I can still remember buying certain games, how excited I was.

Kamiya: It’s too bad but I don’t feel like the games of today can inspire memories as vivid as the ones back then did. Maybe it’s just because I’m older now. It was different when I was a kid. Back when I was most impressionable, back when I would absorb anything like a sponge, I chose games over school, and that’s what really defined who I am. Ummm, I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to school, kids.

Inaba: When you’re a kid, you have no income, so you put an unbelievable amount of concentration into that one quarter you have to spend at the arcade. You would grip the quarter tight in your hand and think, “I’ve got one shot. I can’t let it go to waste.” So much weight was placed on each attempt, it’s no wonder I remember them all so well.

Kamiya: When my parents brought me to a big department store I would think extremely carefully about the most effective way to spend the little cash my parents gave me. I’d take a good look at everything there and make sure I chose whatever gave me the most for my money. That’s probably how those dot graphics and bleeping sounds became so deeply etched into my identity. They still really mean a lot to me.

Inaba: When I was in middle school I’d frequently drop by the arcade near my house. Getting a new machine in was a big deal. My friends and I would all try to guess what it might be. Also, games didn’t get soundtracks released back then, so you’d have to hold a tape recorder next to the cabinet and record the BGM live. Usually you’d do it while you or somebody else was playing so you’d get a lot of sound effects thrown in—enemies blowing your ship up and the like.

Kamiya: Everyone was engrossed in countdown music shows and pop radio and whatever. I couldn’t care about any of that in the least. Back in 1985, I was all about Gradius. I was still in my first or second year of middle school, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything that can top how I felt then. I would go home and strategize endlessly about how to clear that one part I couldn’t get past yet (laughs). Before I knew it, I couldn’t take it anymore and I would jump on my bike, going as fast as I could to the arcade, wearing pretty much pajamas.

Inaba: I feel where you’re coming from. The smallest amount of money and time used to have so much value to me back then. All of those “unfair” games really honed our gaming skills. The NES especially—so many games spared absolutely no mercy for the player. For the survivors of that era like you and me, a lot of the games today feel like a complete pushover. They’re too easy.

Kamiya: Exactly—way too much hand-holding. I don’t know if people these days remember that sometimes you’d have to sit 10-20 minutes in front of a screen waiting for a game to load before you could even determine if it sucked or not.

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Inaba: I remember this one time I was playing this game and waited 20 minutes for it to load up. After it finally did, the first thing it did was ask you to choose armor for your character before you started playing. I chose what I wanted, pressed confirm, and finally thought things were going to get underway, when I got the following message: “Your armor is too heavy for your character. GAME OVER.” I just looked at the screen and thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” (laughs). But that’s just how games were back then.

Kamiya: Back in middle school, I went over to my friend’s house after I heard he got a computer. Playing games at your own house was like a dream to me, so I was elated to just sit in front of the screen while the game loaded. After everything finally finished processing, I remember the picture appearing on the screen piece by piece.

Inaba: Right. It would take time for the processor to draw something, but what you have to understand is, that didn’t make us bored or frustrated. Every minute we waited just made the excitement build that much greater. It’s probably those memories that inspired us to choose a career in making games.

Lunch with the President

Platinum Games

Filed: Community, PlatinumGames

The latest employee event here at PlatinumGames is birthday lunch month with the president! As the name implies, all employees who have their birthday that month are treated to lunch by president Minami.

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The company started 9 years ago with 40 or so members, but now, with over 170 employees, it has turned into quite a sizeable establishment (from our perspective, anyway). The president suggested this event because he wanted a chance to sit down and talk with all of the employees.

The lunch might also be a way of expressing his gratitude for our work? In any case, it’s a voluminous bento box that looks pretty fancy! (I’m getting jealous…)

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For lunch this time we had quite the range of participants: from new employees who only entered the company in April to veterans who’ve been with the company since its founding, for a total of 8 people.

First of all, the president wanted to know how everyone was doing! So he asked about what they do for lunch. One employee who usually brings her own lunch said, “I’ve been having trouble getting up in the morning to make my lunch these days…” The president shot back with: “But you’re not that busy right now!”

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Then there was some chat about the early days of the employees who’d been with the company since the beginning.

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Next, the president badgered a nervous new employee in his typical fast-talking Kansai dialect. “Don’t you feel homesick, living away from home? Are you doing okay?” It turns out the new employee’s first name is the same as his beloved daughter. His familial feeling must have kicked in, and he just kept spouting out the cantankerous old dad phrases. “Don’t have too much fun!” he chided, chuckling.

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By the time everyone had finished eating, the talk turned to serious work matters. Concerns about how to train new staff, the difficulty of sharing information throughout the development floor, how to pass on expert know-how, how to use lessons learned on subsequent projects… the topics just kept on coming. The lunch had turned into an exchange of opinions that crossed all boundaries of job type and position.

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At one point it got so serious that the president and the CTO, Ohmori, were both holding their heads in their hands in desperation!

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Well, the lunch was only an hour and a half long, so there’s no way all the issues were going to get solved. However, by continuing these opportunities, we hope that horizontal and vertical communication will become smoother, and employees will feel even more comfortable and motivated working here. And of course, we want to create amazing games to pass it back to all of you!

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This was a little longer than our usual lunch hour of 12:30-1:30, but it sounds like it was really worthwhile. Everyone’s looking forward to next month’s lunch!

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Club Activities at PlatinumGames!

Platinum Games

Filed: PlatinumGames

Since a few months ago, the staff at PlatinumGames has been organizing something new: after-hours clubs. Not only is this a good opportunity for employees to hang out and get to know each other better, but it also serves to give them inspiration and new ideas that they can put to use while doing their job.
For this blog post, Eiro Shirahama, Director Extraordinaire of The Legend of Korra, wrote up his impressions of the first night out of his moviegoers club, “Cinema Paradise.”

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Hi everyone! Eiro Shirahama here.

In the Fall of last year, PlatinumGames started a new “club activities” initiative, and although things started off a bit slowly, they’ve really been picking up steam lately!
One of the main goals of the “club activities” initiative is to stimulate communication within the company, and since the higher-ups were kind enough to provide part of the costs involved in running these activities, we’ve already got a decent variety of clubs up and running, including a cooking club, a fishing club, a handful of games clubs (e.g. one focused on board games, and another on beat-em-ups), and several sports clubs.

Today I’d like to highlight the activities of Cinema Paradise, a club I organized for movie lovers like myself.

It works a little bit differently from most of the other clubs, though. Whereas most clubs get together every week, biweekly, or maybe once a month, Cinema Paradise operates on an “invitation-based free-participation” basis, meaning that we basically only have an activity when someone has a movie they want to see and they invite the others to come along.

Here’s a few pictures of what the process looks like.

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In this case, one of our female designers wanted to go and see a certain dark fantasy movie with an attractive male lead, and 8 out of the 9 club members expressed interest in participating, so we went ahead and booked the tickets online. Everything can be done online these days. Why, in my time, we stood in line in the cold for hours to get our movie tickets, not even sure if there would be any left when it was our turn, and we darn well liked it! (Please don’t take my internet away from me!).
Anyway, most of us tend to work late, so we ended up going for the late show, which has the benefit of being cheaper too!

So about 30 minutes before the movie started, we started moseying towards the cinema, which is only about a 12-minute walk from the company. Naturally, there was lots of talking and excitement. When we were finally inside though, everyone instantly switched to “shut up, I’m trying to watch this movie” mode.

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No smiles here, this is serious business!

Of course, after the movie, we all shared our thoughts while enjoying some drinks.

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That’s the Umeda Sky Building in the background! (Sorry about the blurriness)

I think that movies, being the same kind of products of passionate creators as video games, have a lot to teach to us game developers. And of course, as a professional within the same entertainment industry, I feel like I want to create even better products than the movies I watch! At least, that’s what I dreamt about as I dozed off on the last train home…

It was kind of refreshing to get to talk face-to-face with people you don’t normally talk with about your hobbies or other casual topics. I hope that these club activities will inspire us and give us new ideas that we can use for our future games!

Eiro Shirahama, Cinema Paradise Chairman

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A New Year’s Greeting from PlatinumGames

Platinum Games

Filed: Community, PlatinumGames

Happy New Year!

This year, we have a greeting from the president and a video from all our staff. See both of them below!

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Hi everyone, Happy New Year from PlatinumGames.

 

In 2014, we were able to see the sequel to Bayonetta, our flagship title, released to the world, as well as the release of The Legend of Korra, a game available only outside of Japan.

I’d like to express my thanks to all of our fans who supported us by purchasing and playing these titles, and to the staff who worked so hard to make these games’ releases possible.

As a video game developer, a new year doesn’t actually mark an achievement in the history of our company. Our milestones are made when we finish a game and can release it to our fans. Each of those successive milestones has brought PlatinumGames to where it is today.

One way we gauge the success of a game is if our users finish it and think, “I want more.” We strongly believe that Bayonetta 2 would not have been possible without the critical reception of the first. Both of these games represent important milestones for our company, and we are deeply proud of them.

Our other release of 2014, “The Legend of Korra,” involved the game adaptation of a highly popular TV show in the west that has never been released in Japan. The fact that we, a Japanese company, were entrusted with this property, reaffirmed our faith that PlatinumGames is respected across the world. This too, may have been a major turning point for us.

Looking back on last year, PlatinumGames may have advanced from where we were before 2014. Something tells me that, at least. To use videogame parlance, I feel we’ve come to our second playthrough.

In video games, there’s a term called “New Game +”. This is a term for starting the second run of a game with all the experience from your first playthrough carried over.

In a New Game +, you’re powerful enough that you can mostly button mash your way through the repeated areas of the game with little trouble at all, but that’s not what we mean when we say we’re on our second playthrough. We intend to challenge ourselves and explore possibilities we may not have been able to realize until now. This is the attitude we try to maintain everyday as we come to work.

The video game industry is one that is ever-changing. New technology and approaches to game development are introduced daily, constantly giving our staff volumes of new study material. We can’t rely on our past experience to get us through everything. We intend to press forward strongly in 2015, experimenting with new ideas for how to give our fans across the world a thrilling user experience that could only come from Platinum. Thank you as always for all your support.

 

PlatinumGames President and CEO

Tatsuya Minami

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Also, take a look at this New Year’s message from our whole team:

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PlatinumGames’ End of the Year Party

Platinum Games

Filed: Community, PlatinumGames

Hey everyone. This is Kazuyo Tsukuma, PR rep at PlatinumGames. Today’s our last work day of the year, but plenty of staff are still busy trying to wrap up the few final tasks they have. We had some company wide Spring Cleaning (though yes, it’s not Spring) today in between the furious typing away at keyboards.

Earlier this week we held our company-wide end of the year of the party. Including a few guests from outside, attendees totaled to be somewhere over 200.

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Kenichi Sato, head of HR, gives a toast.

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After the initial toast, everyone takes their glass and makes some rounds, expressing thanks to those who have helped you out over the past year. Up until this point it was the same ol’ end of the year party as every year. But…

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Suddenly, a mysterious figure appeared upon the stage. Hey, who the heck are you?

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Allow us to introduce the new unofficial mascot character of PlatinumGames: P-Man. He seems to have been put together in secret by the graduate hires who organized the party.

The designer who originally proposed the idea claimed to have the suit finished in a week. A month later, the suit was complete, just in time for the party. Everyone was pretty impressed with this display of young spirit, really putting in extra effort just to make the night that much more special. It’d be nice if we could eventually find some other way to use P-Man outside of this party…

At PlatinumGames, our end of the year party is typically five percent mingling and 95 percent bingo competition. This year we had over 150 presents donated by different members of the staff as prizes. A few days before the event, a catalog was distributed to everyone’s desks so staff could dare to dream of drawing the some of the more illustrious prizes. Or so they could start to fear how they would manage getting home some of the huger gag gifts.

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By some strange stroke of luck, it just so happens that the staff member who landed the prize contributed by President Minami himself was…

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P-Man?!? The luck of this guy… nice one, P-Man!

Thanks for all the support you’ve given PlatinumGames this year. It’s been a fantastic year for us, and we hope it will be for you as well. We’ll take a short break and see you back in 2015–let’s all make it a great year.

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Conceptual Design in Bayonetta 2

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hello, my name is Mai Okura, I was the conceptual designer for Bayonetta 2. For the previous game, I was in my first year working at Platinum and in charge of its user interface (maps, menus, gauges, etc.). I remember giving then-producer now-director Hashimoto a lot of stress, so it was a bit of a surprise he let me back on his team. Those two games really mean a lot to me.

But anyway. You’re probably still stuck on the title “conceptual designer”, wondering what it means. Yeah, it’s a bit of a toughie. Games and movies as well often have several smaller parts that come together to form that game’s overall look and feel. This can include characters, enemies, environments, and UI too. It’s my job to create a style guide for all of these individual pieces and make sure they make sense when placed together.

This wasn’t my job in the first game, but I worked on UI under the conceptual designer and learned a lot about how important it is to have each of the game’s concepts working together to construct overall world design. I’m still pretty new at concept design and not doing anything that jaw-dropping at the moment, but I thought I’d try to take this blog as an opportunity to talk about what I think is really fascinating about Bayonetta 2.

There are two topics I’d like to touch on. The first one deals with the image below.

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As you can see, the base tones for the original Bayonetta were red and black, whereas in Bayonetta 2 they’re blue (representing Bayonetta) and gold (representing the game’s enemies). Compared to the image above it, you can tell the bottom screen gives off a much brighter, vivid impression.

What was so difficult about this was that while Bayonetta’s key color was blue, the key color for Aesir’s power was blue as well. Ultimately we resolved this issue by changing this mysterious power of Aesir’s to an emerald green, but it’s still kind of hard for players to discern, so I gave Aesir his own unique line patterns in his design to draw distinction from Bayonetta.

The second point I wanted to talk about was how much contrast changed between the two games. The first game has relatively low contrast, whereas colors in Bayonetta 2 are much brighter stand out a lot more. In the original Bayonetta, a lot of our inspiration was drawn from the classical architecture and landscape of Europe: you could see a lot of the curved lines in the works of Mucha and Gaudi, and things had an elegant Art Nouveau tone.

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(Top: Bayonetta/Bottom: Bayonetta 2)
In Bayonetta 2, however, there is a much stronger theme of straight lines and geometric shapes, as you can see looking at Aesir. There are also a lot more colors in this game in total; in Bayonetta and the other characters, the effects, and the UI as well. This might just be because Bayonetta 2 has more characters than the previous game. Looking at the two games side by side, I think you can admit that Bayonetta 2 has a more modern feel, whereas the first game feel’s more classic.

There’s a lot more I realize I could write… but I think I’ll stop here.

They may be the same series featuring the same main character, but there’s a lot in the world design of Bayonetta 2 that you won’t find in the original, and vice versa.

Take care!

*The official art book for Bayonetta 2, “The Eyes of Bayonetta 2”, goes on sale in Japan tomorrow! It includes concept art, 3D character models, the Hierarchy of Laguna, Lemegeton’s Guidebook, comments from the staff, and art from me! Be sure to take check it out!

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Bayonetta 2 Release Event Report & More!

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hey, everyone!

It’s Akiko Kuroda, producer on Bayonetta 2.

I recently bought Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and a really nifty hand blender, so the ratio of playing video games and cooking has increased drastically in my house over the past week or so. I just have to make sure not to get the two mixed up.
I know it’s a bit late, but I have some nice pictures to share today.

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Look at all these people! They were standing in a line that went all the way outside of the store. I wonder what they were waiting for…?

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Why, the release of Bayonetta 2, of course!

These pictures were taken at a special event held in Russia on the day that Bayonetta 2 was released.

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Everyone looks so happy to have gotten their hands on the game, which makes me very happy as well. Thanks for choosing Bayonetta 2, everyone! I hope you’re enjoying it!

 

Actually, there was a special treat for people who bought the game at this event: everyone received a pack of Loki cards, which were only made available in Russia!

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These are replicas of the tarot-like cards that Loki uses in the game.
It’s a full set of the 22 Major Arcana cards created by character designer Mari Shimazaki. If you managed to get your hands on these cards, it would be totally cool if you pretended to be Loki and tried to recreate some of the scenes in the game!*

I hope they turn this into an official product!!

(*PlatinumGames will not be held responsible for any physical, mental, or material damage resulting from recreating our cut scenes, not matter how awesome or hilarious)

 

Let’s look at some other pictures.

These were taken at a special release day event held in New York.
You could have your picture taken with Bayonetta herself, or try out some of the, uh, enchanting witch food.

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I would’ve loved to have been there!

Nintendo shared lots of stories about release day events from various other countries as well, and I was very happy and relieved to see the game was being so warmly welcomed all over the world, so I’m very grateful to all of you who picked it up!

As a small token of my appreciation, I have a few more tips to share, since our last blog was very well received. Hope you enjoy them! (Thanks to game designer Ryoya Sakabe for providing them!)
 
■Touch of Gold
Did you know that the environments you normally just run through actually contain several objects that reveal haloes when you touch them on the Wii U GamePad!? If you search every nook and cranny of every stage, you might become a halo millionaire in no time!

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(This very screenshot contains an object that releases a bunch of haloes if you touch it!)

((only when playing the game obviously, so stop tapping your PC monitor))

■Jeanne and the Ace Pilotkuroda_08

Here’s one about one of the costumes new to Bayonetta 2: The Star Mercenary costume.

You guys are smart enough to have figured out that equipping this costume will turn the fighter jets in the game into the vehicle of a well-known ace pilot. I wonder, though, how many of you have been able to realize this costume’s other bonus feature? If you have it equipped in the shooting stage of the game, pay close attention to Jeanne’s lines—notice that they’re different than before. You’ve heard them from somewhere else, we’re sure… (There’s something really wrong with your G-Diffuser if you haven’t).

Okay, that’s all for this time!

If you like all these tips and tricks enough though, we might just have to come back for a third installment.

Until then!

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Bayonetta 2 – Lesser Known Facts

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hi everyone, this is the producer of Bayonetta 2, Akiko Kuroda.

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, it might look like I’ve recently switched jobs and started working in the pastry industry, but I can assure you — I still work at PlatinumGames. Don’t worry, I just have a sweet tooth..

Usually, as a producer, I’d use the developer’s blog to discuss how I promoted the game and exactly what that entails. This time, however, I’ve decided to change the pace up and talk about some lesser known Bayonetta 2 facts. Buckle up!

Some Tips about the Chain Chomp

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Something tells me a lot of you have probably already acquired the hidden weapon we did with Nintendo, the Chain Chomp. As a dog-lover, I can’t get enough of this little guy’s canine tendencies. The way he hops along connected to his “leash”, the barking sound he makes, how he starts attacking before you even ask him… and especially the way he falls asleep when he becomes bored: everything about this guy is simply great. I’ve got nothing but puppy love for this guy.

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(Here he is taking his typical midday nap).

Phew! Okay, sorry. I’ll try to keep a cork on the Chain Chomp PDA. Let’s get to something you can actually use. So, we all know that the Chain Chomp is a weapon, but did you know you can also use him to sniff out treasure? Sometimes, Chomp might start barking and tugging on his chain as you’re proceeding through the map. This means there’s a treasure nearby and he’s trying to get it. If you feel like you might be missing some of the game’s treasure chests, try him out for a bit.

Just be warned that he won’t react to treasure chests in other dimensions. I guess he can’t catch their scent or something.

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Chain Chomp attempting to drag Bayonetta to a treasure chest.

I still can’t believe Nintendo let us use the Chain Chomp for the game. Originally, when the director Hashimoto sent them some collaboration ideas, we included the Chain Chomp thinking we had little to no chance they’d actually allow us to use one of their most iconic characters as a weapon. Nevertheless, they pretty much gave us consent without batting an eye. We were thrilled.

Later, I was testing it out in a check of the game and saw it get hurled at the enemy and explode. As a producer, I was a little terrified of the thought that we were going to actually show Nintendo one of their most cherished characters blowing up in front of their faces. And yet… they were completely on board with it. I don’t know how it happened, but I’m grateful for it!

Cancelling your Umbran Climax

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I mentioned this on Twitter a while back and got a pretty large fan response, so I thought I’d introduce it here as well.

We all have those times in our lives when we start an Umbran Climax and end up killing everything on the screen in one second, watching our gauge drain slowly to zero with no way to stop it.

Bayonetta, standing around watching her magic gauge drain slowly because she completed a verse right after activating her Umbran Climax. Where are the forces of Paradiso when you need them!?

I’ve got news for you. After you’ve started the Climax, try pressing the L button again. You’ll exit your Umbran Climax and preserve the rest of your magic gauge. You won’t be able to enter Umbran Climax until you build you gauge up to full again, but at least you won’t have to expend any gauge without actually using it.

The Beetles

Some of you may already know, but we here at PlatinumGames have a continued tradition of hiding beetles in our games.

I haven’t heard of anyone finding it in Bayonetta 2, but it’s there! Get to looking.

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Here’s proof!

There should be a good number of hints in that screenshot, so use that as a guide and see if you can find it. And yes, of course there’s one in the original Bayonetta as well. It’s said that those who find the beetles in both Bayonetta games will be rewarded with eternal happiness. Like you need it! You’re playing Bayonetta 2!

 

Okay, well that’s all I’ve got for now. Hopefully I can drop by again sometime!

Take care.

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Creating an Automated Bug Checker

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2, Games, PlatinumGames

Hi, I’m Morita, a programmer.

For this blog I’d like to talk about how we automated bug checking in Bayonetta 2.

Before a game is released and actually reaches your hands, there’re a lot of little things called bugs that we have to take care of. Here’s a refresher course on some of the types of bugs there are:

Freeze Bugs
The game stops responding to controller input, the game freezes, and the player’s only available option is to manually shut down the console.
These are serious bugs, even mid-development. If you don’t take care of them quickly, production of that section of the game comes to a halt.

Collision Bugs
These bugs occur when the player falls through an invisible hole in the ground, gets pushed by an enemy into some area they’re not actually allowed to go (and shouldn’t exist), or stuck inside the walls of a building somehow, etc. If you continue to mess around once these bugs happen, the game might freeze.

When you get close to the end of development, there’s a period called bug check where you try to find and fix all the remaining bugs in the game that you can. This check usually involves the whole internal team, plus dedicated professionals outside the company as well.

There are a few different methods people use to check bugs. For example:
– Full playthrough (seeing if the whole game can be played from start to finish without freezing)
– Playing the game extended periods of time
– Trying to go back after doing something and seeing what happens
– Trying to do something different from intended design
– (Etc…)

Now, do we need every aspect of bug checks to be handled by actual people? My policy is: if a machine can do it, let’s make a machine do it. In this instance, we determine a set of actions for Bayonetta to perform, and make the console play the game over and over and over again.

For example, our first method for bug checking, the full playthrough—if we’re just going to play through the game’s main story, we know what that route is, and what we need to do along the way, so shouldn’t this be possible?

Then there’s bug checking by playing the game for extended periods of time. People need to sleep, eat, and take breaks, but we can make a machine play the game as long as we want and it’ll never even have to use the restroom! This is where automated bug checking really shines.

There also happen to be these kinds of bugs that have a very low chance of reoccurring, sometimes even as low as only a 1/50 chance. If there’s a bug that we randomly came across at one point and want to find the exact conditions for reproducing it, we can program the game to try something in the most precise way possible, and experiment around until we figure out what’s causing the problem.

Looking at all that, you realize there’s a lot that a machine can take care of. If you let a machine handle part of the bug check, you slim down what the rest of the team has to do, meaning they can do a much more specific and faster check, and everything ends up being more efficient.

I started thinking about this autoplay tool around the time development for the first Bayonetta ended. Finally, with Bayonetta 2, I was able to try it out.

In total, the tool has accomplished beating Bayonetta 2 40 times in a row. In actuality, it could probably go a lot further, but by the time it’s played that long, we’re ready to add fixes and update old data, so we have to turn it off once, refresh our data, and then start it up again.

Okay, you’ve dealt with a long enough wall of text. Let’s try looking at a video.


*This video was taken during development, so it looks different from the actual game.

auto01

In the image above, you can see some red cones connected by lines. This is the autoplay course for the game. I had to sit down and write in all this data piece by piece.

The overall setup is simple. Whenever Bayonetta gets to a cone, she performs a pre-determined list of actions for that cone in order. When she’s done with everything, she moves on to the next cone.

This doesn’t involve adding any special actions for Bayonetta. For movement, I started from the intended destination and camera angles and worked backwards determining what direction would need to be pressed on the controller.
It was important for me to make the tool so Bayonetta moved as if the controller had moved her.

The tool could control the following:
– Move to destination
Walk, jump, double jump, warp (this was a special debug-only feature)
– Controller input
Capable of full-circle spins and more.

auto02

– Standby for certain conditions

Besides the basic features, it also has a variety of complex functions, such as “auto-battle,” or operations that are only used for debugging, like outputting a data log, taking screenshots, and so on.

Auto-battle is pretty cool. Bayonetta acts as if she has an Immortal Marionette equipped and pretty much fights as if someone was just mashing the buttons, randomly performing Torture Attacks and Umbran Climaxes when she fills her gauge.


*This video was taken during development, so it looks different from the actual game.

The commands can actually get pretty complex. We can have Bayonetta perform actions while moving between cones, and lots of crazy stuff. Some of the command patterns I programmed were like, “punch three times and then move,” or “do X,Y, and Z while warping in an infinite loop.”

Sorry… looks like I got carried away. I think I’ve written too much already. I’ll talk about the tool’s actual implementation another time.

The tool was used in various ways. I used it for repeating specific actions under individual staff members’ development environments, and I would refresh the data and put the game on autoplay before going home, so basically I was going around asking everyone: “Hey, if you’ve got a PC/dev kit to spare, can I use it?”

Then, when we came back to work the next day, we’d find the game frozen after trying to do this or that, thus helping us discover a lot of bugs that might’ve taken a long time to find otherwise. Next project I hope to make an even more improved version.

Thanks if you’ve read this far. I know it didn’t really have that much to do with Bayonetta 2 itself, but I hope you found it interesting.

I hope it gets across that I’ve tried my best to make sure your Bayonetta 2 experience is as bug free as possible :)
I look forward to getting to speak to you all again in the future.

If you ever want to message me on twitter, follow me @PG_morita!

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Celebrating the Launch of The Legend of Korra

Legend of Korra

Filed: Games, PlatinumGames, The Legend of Korra

Hi, everyone! How are you?
This is Eiro Shirahama, director of The Legend of Korra.

I can’t believe it’s been this long since I first saw Korra and fell in love with her.

After a tough development period, the game was finally released one month ago on 10/21 in the US and 10/22 in Europe.
Please try it on Steam, XBLA or the PS Store, if you haven’t already!

It’s a budget title, but it still manages to maintain that sharp and fast-paced action you’ve come to expect from us!

What’s that? You need more Platinum in your life!?
Well, Bayonetta 2 was released on 10/24 as well, so there’s a double serving of PlatinumGames goodness just waiting to be scooped up!

I’d like to thank all of the wonderful people who worked on The Legend of Korra. I couldn’t have done it without you!

I also want to give a great big hug to Robert Conkey, producer extraordinaire at Activision for giving us so much freedom in making this game. Thanks, buddy!

Also, lots of love and respect for Mike & Brian, creators of the original Avatar series. Your work is amazing, guys!

Thanks to everyone at Nickelodeon as well! The chocolate cake we had in San Diego was delicious!

And the biggest thanks of all to all of you fine people who downloaded the game!
I love each and every one of you!!

IMG_3568(Text on cake: Avatar State!!)

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