Metal Gear Rising 2nd Anniversary!

METAL GEAR RISING

Filed: Games, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, PlatinumGames

Last week, Metal Gear Rising Revengeance celebrated its 2nd birthday!

Hey, everyone!
It’s Kenji Saito, director of MGR.
In order to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of my brainchild, I decided to play through it again recently for the sake of nostalgia, but man, I suck at parrying nowadays, haha.

I can’t believe it’s already been 2 years since this game’s release.
We’ve actually got several people working at PlatinumGames who entered the company because they loved Rising so much, which really made me aware of the impact a game like this can have on people’s lives.

As I write this, I’m looking at the Gecco Raiden figure (sorry, the site is in Japanese only, and the figure is sold out!) that I received from Hideo Kojima.
When the package arrived, I was as happy as a kid on Christmas!

Yong-Hee Cho, designer of Mistral, and Tomoko Nishii, who drafted the original design for Monsoon, have both provided some special 2nd anniversary artwork to commemorate the occasion.

Cho: Second Cut

cho_1280

Happy 2nd birthday! I wonder what Raiden’s been doing the past 2 years…

Nishii: The Only Thing I Know For Real

nishii_1280

To this day, I still wonder if anyone helped him to pull of his little show in File R-03.

It’s been 2 years, but cutting and slicing your way through bad guys and, well, pretty much anything else still feels as good as ever!
Don’t forget to occasionally use Zandatsu as well though!

And if you haven’t played Metal Gear Rising Revengeance yet… What are you waiting for!?

Tagged: , , , , , , ,

PG Inside: Atsushi Inaba & Hideki Kamiya (Pt. 3)

Platinum Games

Filed: Community, Games, PlatinumGames

The Instrument Called PlatinumGames

Kamiya: I feel a certain bond of trust with all of us who entered Platinum the first year it was founded. It makes you wonder why they chose to come to our company in the first place. My team: Shirai, Sada, Ohkura.

Inaba: We couldn’t do the usual recruiting cycle right after founding the company, so instead we went around asking at game design colleges. I was surprised how many hopped on board this brand new company whose name they had never heard. Of course, it’s those very staff who today form the core of our development teams.

inside_6

Kamiya: I believe there is something about our company that attracts people who like to try new things, explore uncharted territory. The reason we are able to split up into teams and make games is that we respect each individual’s originality. Of course, this style can cause some conflicts with new hires who are used to the culture of other companies. But there are also many cases where they are able to move past those conflicts and embrace the PlatinumGames way.

Inaba: That’s true, since you cannot expect a company’s culture to change to fit what you are used to. When you are committed to creating brand new games, the individuality of each staff member becomes very important.

When you think about it, in time this leads to the company taking on a personality of its own. For you, Kamiya, if you cater to the users’ every whim and compromise your vision, it will probably be the last game you ever make. That is why you have to let that personal touch permeate your games. If you have an idea you cannot just keep your mouth shut. If you betray the players’ trust, it will come back and bite you in the ass. It is true that from a management perspective it makes sense to forget inspiration and uncharted territory and go for stability with sequels to proven series. But stability is not the be all and end all. There is nothing wrong with a sequel to a great game, but sometimes there are other things you want to do, things that you need to do.

Kamiya: This may not be directly related, but the games I played before entering the industry hold a special place in my heart. They represent something I aspire to, something I devoted myself to more than studying or relationships. To a certain extent there has been a retro revival in recent years, with many games from the 80s being made available on download services like PS, etc. However, many of the minor titles never have a chance to see the light of day. I think this is the one of biggest shortcomings of modern gaming culture. There is a treasure trove of great games out there, but they are being thrown out and forgotten like yesterday’s trash. A lot of those games are no longer playable. This is a challenge that we, as an industry, have to face.

Inaba: I agree. We grew up alongside games – they are more than just a job for us. I am sure there are others out there who feel the same way about video games. Who knows, in the future there may be fans who feel just as passionately about PlatinumGames titles.

Kamiya: If those people, in turn, end up pursuing a career in the game industry, we can really say we had an impact on their lives. Those impressionable years back in middle school ended up determining the direction of the rest of my life. If we can inspire others to devote themselves to games, nothing would make me happier.

Inaba: To make that dream a reality, it is up to me to foster an environment that allows people like Kamiya to continue to express their creativity. At the same time, I have to keep an eye on the next generation, and make sure they are able to produce Kamiya’s games after me. Well, until Kamiya’s career is finished, I’m prepared to keep supporting him as his producer.

inside_8

Kamiya: Yeah, I have been getting all self-important about my style as a director, but at the end of the day I’m just happy to be able to make games in a place like this. I mean, there are plenty of companies who keep you on a tight schedule, making sequels to games where they could change the entire development staff without anybody noticing. The only reason I am even able to go on like this about creativity is that I work in this environment. I’m not out there making games by myself – it is thanks to the development staff and everyone at PlatinumGames. I can’t picture myself anywhere else.

Inaba: I agree that our development environment is essential. But for me as a producer, I have to take a more active role in creating and maintaining my ideal office space. I don’t mean that in the sense of a floor plan or anything like that – I see the PlatinumGames environment as an “instrument”, a tool to bring out the best in our employees. In a way, it is a bit similar to a theme park, guiding the experience of those inside. I can’t say I have realized my ideals yet, but slowly but surely I am getting there.

Tagged: , , , ,

PG inside: Atsushi Inaba & Hideki Kamiya (PT. 2)

Platinum Games

Filed: Community, Games, PlatinumGames

key-visual10

For the Sake of a Better Game

Inaba: One of the projects I worked on together with Kamiya that I remember particularly well is Viewtiful Joe. He had been a director before for Devil May Cry, but for Joe, I had him do the original game design documents and control the direction of the entire project. I told him, “I want you to work this out alone, without anyone’s help!” In order to give him free reign over the feel of the game world, I oversaw the project as a producer, and kept the team size small.

Kamiya: When I first entered the industry I went right into work on Biohazard. There was already a large team involved, with many experienced staff ready to lend me a hand. But with Viewtiful Joe I was in charge of all the planning and directing from the beginning.

Inaba: I still remember, during the days of Viewtiful Joe and Okami there were times when I thought you had totally lost your way. At one point during the latter half of development, you stopped giving people directions and handed the staff a design document that was basically a blank sheet. I should point out, the way Kamiya makes games is not logical; it starts from a feeling, “This scene looks good.” A director`s job is to fix an overall direction that a game will take, look at what his teams brings him each day, and decide whether it is good or bad. The problem was that there was a while when you weren’t able to make those critical choices. When a director is able to logically oversee a game without any issues, a producer like me can just focus on the people, resources, and capital management needed to deliver a solid product. But back then, I was mostly preoccupied with supporting you and making sure you were able bring things together.

Kamiya: I honestly had no idea what kind of game it would turn into.

inside_3

Inaba: I still occasionally reflect on the project. It wasn’t a logical game from the very outset. Whereas with Okami it started with you saying “I want to draw nature,” and I was just like, “Wow, that`s cool.”

Kamiya: I put a large emphasis on the quality of graphics in my games; I want the player to feel like they can almost taste the air around them when they are moving through the game world. Unlike the horror games I had worked on in the past, I wanted players to feel good when they saw the vast and beautiful landscape. That was the thought process that gave birth to the idea for Okami.

Inaba: However, the original concept you pitched back then was impossible to realize on consoles at the time. It would probably still be impossible today. About 2 months into the project we realized this and changed the art style accordingly. Originally “Okami” was supposed to be a game in which players could create realistic drawings through gameplay. It became clear this was just not feasible. However, through this process the concept of drawing a 3-dimensional ink painting was born, so I can`t say we were just wasting our time. That said, even though we had the art style in place from quite early on, the all-important game system itself took much longer to come together. I remember getting pretty angry, not just at Kamiya, but at the rest of the team as well.

Kamiya: Unfortunately, no matter how much I get yelled at I can`t come up with ideas I don`t have; I mean, it`s not like I was just fooling around all day. That said, the work we did at Clover Studio felt like the beginning of a large swell of creativity that continues to this day.

Inaba: The title was already announced and was being held up as the first big original game from Clover Studio. The only thing we had at that point was the promotional footage, but man, did it ever look pretty, haha. I`ve mellowed out quite a bit so I can no longer bring myself to get mad at people who are at least in their seat each day trying their best, but back then I didn’t show much compassion, and I was basically just yelling at people all the time.inside_4

Kamiya: At the time the team got together and we were all wondering if Okami would end up a failure. There was even some talk of it being cancelled. I responded saying that it would be a tragedy to release the game out into the wild in the state it was in; that`s how rough a state it was in for a while. I would start to shudder just imagining the users trying the game and feeling disappointed…if it was going to come to that I`d rather the game be cancelled.

Inaba: Yeah, and just forget the whole project ever happened. The time and love you put into it won’t be returned; those scars remain. But at least the users are spared. In that sense it can sometimes be better to cancel a game.

Kamiya: It`s true that both Inaba and I have a ton of treasured memories about games, but on the other hand we`ve suffered our share of disappointment at the hands of ill-fated projects. Back when we were kids, games were even more expensive than they are now. If you could get even one game per year you were lucky. Make a mistake and you wanted to scream, “I spent my hard-earned cash on this!?”

Inaba: We still face challenges as a small-staffed studio working on high-spec hardware. There are certainly times when we have to cut various features due to limitations on our end. However, I refuse to let challenges on our side dictate the entire course of production; it is not fair to the player. Instead of using these difficulties as excuses for compromising on quality, we just need to be that much more creative.

Kamiya: I`m not the type to organize all the individual moving parts of a game beforehand, so there are often times when I haven`t worked everything into the schedule. I often come up with good ideas in the middle of production, and the finished product ends up even better than I expected. I know it is a bit risky; I often think, “Man, I really came up with that in the nick of time.” But if that idea will make the game better, you have to do what it takes to get it in there.”

inside_5Inaba: Kamiya`s experience combined with a certain logical backbone are what allow him to see how the parts of a game fit together, but he comes out with the wildest ideas at the 11th hour. “Oh hey, I just came up with something!”
We have all come to dread those words. But when it turns out to be a great idea – and as gamers ourselves we all know a good idea when we see one – we just have to pull up our bootstraps and get it done.

Kamiya: It just so happens I was talking about this with a second-year programmer named Hirate today. If we as creators start deciding right off the bat that something is impossible, we will never be able to make anything. Imagine a game designer who is told by his artists and programmers that what he`s asking is impossible. It`s not like he can do those things himself; he`s finished. Good designers and programmers don`t let it end with “impossible.” The type of staff I trust the most are the people who will offer suggestions: “I can`t do that…but what about this?”
I believe that there are many people like that at Platinum. The thing that gets me most annoyed is when people come to me asking for me to okay some decision. I think I`ve broken everyone`s bad habits, but in the past it was rampant. I`d ask them to do something for me, and they`d come back saying “Is this okay?” I`d reply: “Don’t ask me what’s okay, show me what you think is okay!”

Inaba: On the other hand, you’re putting a lot of responsibility on their shoulders like that. But I have to admit that I too, as a producer, most enjoy the moments when someone reports back to me with an idea that exceeds my expectations.

Kamiya: Exactly. As a game fan myself, that joy even rivals that of trying a brand new game. That feeling of excitement takes me back to my experiences as a kid. The games I`ve worked on are filled with ideas that I didn`t come up with, ideas I couldn`t have come up with… in a way that`s what allows me to keep making games I truly enjoy.

Tagged: , , , ,

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

Platinum Games

Filed: Community, Games, PlatinumGames

key-visual10
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.

inside_1

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.

inside_2

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.

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.

ohkura_01

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.

ohkura_02

(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!

Tagged: , , , , , ,

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.

kuroda_01

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…?

kuroda_02

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.

kuroda_03

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!

kuroda_04

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.

kuroda_05

kuroda_06

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!

kuroda_07
(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!

Tagged: , , , , ,

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

wanwan1

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.

wanwan2

(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.

wanwan3

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

umbran_stop

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.

beetle

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.

Tagged: , , , , , ,

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!

Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

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!!)

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Climax Situation Process

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hi, my name is Hirono Sato, I was a game designer who planned the “Climax Situations” in Bayonetta 2.

We’ve tried our best to have just as many impactful game play situations in Bayonetta 2 as we did in the original. Just how did we do it? I’ll illustrate that here with some examples.

 

Define your Objective.

The first Climax Situation I worked on in Bayonetta 2 was the fight with the giant dragon angel boss Glamor.

paul01

Director Yusuke Hashimoto’s Glamor concept art

I was asked to take this boss and think of a way to fight it that would really blow people away.

When I was assigned to this boss fight, there were actually two versions of it already. The problem was, the director wasn’t a terribly big fan of either of them and was asking me to rework some of what wasn’t interesting about it. You usually get problems like this in development; I always deal with them with the following mindset—

You can’t make something lackluster fun with just a little fix.

Sometimes, you have to look over the entire problem from another angle.

I know that the team tries their best. But if something is boring, it needs to be given a complete facelift.

The problem with the proposed Glamor boss fights when I started working on them was that neither of them felt fast-paced or suspenseful enough. So I got an idea that appeared in the original Bayonetta as well, surfing.

In the first Bayonetta, you fight this giant boss while surfing and I wondered to myself if we couldn’t make something similar work for Bayonetta 2.

At this point in development we already had the plans for a “mysterious youth” character that Bayonetta needed to chase after and save, so there was no problem justifying a surfing battle with regards to the scenario.

Also, this is obvious, but in order to surf, you need water to surf on. At first we were thinking of having Bayonetta fight Glamor inside some kind of whirlpool, but that was the same idea they used in the original Bayonetta, so I wanted to try something different.

Eventually I came to the idea that if Glamor has this dragon-like appearance, maybe we could incorporate a tornado somehow (Japanese: Dragon-竜 Tornado-竜巻). Yeah… like a tornado of water…

paul02

Concept art by our artist Kan, back when the fight was planned to be inside a whirlpool.

 

Implement the Idea into the Game.

We had the basic concepts for the fight: Surfing, chasing Glamor, fighting on a tornado made of water. The next step was to combine these ideas and implement them into the game. It’s very important that you’re careful here to not ruin your perfectly good ideas when you try to build them inside the game.

Fortunately, one of our artists created an awesome piece of concept art depicting Bayonetta surfing on a tornado, chasing after Glamor. All we had to do was bring this work to life within the game.

paul03

Concept art surfing on a tornado of water

Since we couldn’t really have the exact same combat here as the rest of the game, we made the fight principally about dodging debris from buildings destroyed by Glamor. Though, if you were just doing this the whole fight you’d probably get pretty burned out, so we made sure there was a section halfway through where you could just wail on her.

 

Think of What Else You Can Add.

Now that we had our basic layout for the fight, next we had to think about how we were going to give it a climactic ending.

What about having the the tornado shoot up into the sky and end the fight in a “sea of clouds”? With that wording, it probably wouldn’t be unnatural if we had Glamor swimming around in there, and that would be pretty epic too.

Since Glamor is essentially running away from you in this fight, we also figured it’d create a healthy dose of suspense if we were able to express “if she gets this far, it’s over” somehow. Well, since we’re fighting an angel in the sky, why not have a door to Paradiso then?

The director and some of the rest of the staff, however, were not appeased. A lot of people spoke up and said, “I think we’re tired of seeing Glamor at this point.” Honestly, I kind of felt the same way.

“We needed something more!” Well, when you’re making a game, you hear that a lot. Whether you can do something about it or not, sets the pro game designers apart from the rest. When this happens, I don’t want to just make a gimmicky change, I want to add something that wasn’t there before. So instead of trying to change something about Glamor’s moveset and so on, I multiplied Glamor into three and had you fight all of them at the same time.
We’re nearing Paradiso, the enemy base, so I thought it would only be natural if the player was encountering more angels. I think this was successful in giving the fight a stronger sense of urgency/peril.

paul04

This is just one of the dozens of Climax Situations that we’ve included in Bayonetta, so do yourself a favor and try it out more than once, try it out multiple times—I hope you can get as much enjoyment out of it as possible.

Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,