Scenario Writing in Bayonetta 2

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2, Games

Hello everyone, it’s been a while. This is Hideki Kamiya, director of the first Bayonetta, and supervisor on Bayonetta 2.

At long last, the release date is right around the corner! It’s been a long road getting here, filled with bumps, twists, and turns. There was even a time when we almost lost hope of releasing the game altogether. It makes me happy that we can bring you Bayonetta 2, and I would like to extend my personal thanks to Nintendo for stepping in and making this game a reality.

In a blog a while back, I briefly mentioned my role as scenario writer on this project. To my surprise, a lot of fans seemed really surprised by this news, and I realized that I haven’t properly explained what this entails. This time, I’d like to explain how I worked on the scenario for Bayonetta 2.

But before we get into that, I’m sure many of you are a bit confused about what a game supervisor does. It is quite an important-sounding title, but to put it simply, they supervise the project from a position one-step removed from development. At PlatinumGames, the person who has the final say on what goes into a game, and who is ultimately responsible for how it turns out, is the director. I believe that every game should be infused with the unique color of its director. Because of this, my involvement in Bayonetta 2 consisted of regular meetings with Director Hashimoto where I only provided advice when necessary. The one exception perhaps, was Jeanne; when it came to her character, I butt in with my comments at every opportunity.

That said, not only was Hashimoto the producer on the first game (the person in charge of team management and strategic decisions for the title), as an artist he also designed all the enemy angels. By the way, he is once again doing double duty on Bayonetta 2; this time as director / enemy designer! Since he is someone who deeply understands and shares my vision for the world of Bayonetta, I hardly needed to nit-pick his decisions whatsoever. And Hashimoto isn’t the only one returning for the sequel.

With “Don-san” programming the enemy angels / demons, Shimazaki designing the characters, Yamaguchi handling the animation, Ueda and Mr. Rei Kondo on music, sound effects by Daisuke and Sound Deluxe, and Tsuda and cinematic director Shimomura in charge of cut scenes, all the key staff that together created the world of Bayonetta came back for a return performance. I had nothing to worry about.

Long story short, I was not directly involved in the day-to-day production of Bayonetta 2. The scenario, however, is a different story. I talked with Hashimoto and we decided that, since Bayonetta’s dialog is one of the key things that makes her character, it would be best for me to continue my role as scenario writer.

However, with my hands full directing The Wonderful 101, I didn’t have the luxury of devoting myself to working on the scenario. Help came in the form of Bingo Morihashi, a skilled scenario writer who happens to be an old colleague of mine from my Capcom days.

I chose Bingo for this job because he has a lot of experience writing for games that have a similar style to Bayonetta.

A game scenario is about more than just having the characters deliver the story. With the pace and progression of the game in mind, you have to consider the timing of the cut scenes and battles; it is the key to composing the game’s overall balance. Constantly interrupting the action will kill the player’s momentum, but a complete lack of context to get the player pumped up will make the climatic moments fall flat. The job of a game scenario writer is to dole out story appropriately, while making sure the game still feels brisk and fun. Bingo, with his wealth of scenario writing experience, was just what the doctor ordered to complete the scenario.

Planning for the Bayonetta 2 scenario began during a discussion with Hashimoto. It was almost like a casual chat, where we went back and forth saying “what if this happened?” and “what about this character?”, deciding the overarching story and overall structure of the stages. Once the rough outline was in place, we brought Bingo into the discussion and had him fill in the details. Next, we had Bingo turn this outline into a game scenario. This became the first draft of the scenario: a detailed plan for each stage explaining when each cut scene would play, how each character would make their appearance, and the way each story beat would unfold. From here, I worked on the flow of the characters’ dialog and added scenes to bring out that unique Bayonetta flavor. At this point it was basically the text equivalent of a storyboard; everything was in place. Since the first draft was well structured, I was able to concentrate on bringing out the personality of the characters and fleshing out the world without having to worry about the story / action balance. At the end of this process, we completed the final draft of the scenario.

Next, building off this scenario, cinematic director Shimomura added his own interpretation and touch to the scenes. Ultimately, we ended up with a story so wildly over-the-top that it might even outdo its predecessor. I can’t go into any story specifics here, so please play the game and experience it for yourself!

We are nearing the end of this post, but I hope you enjoyed hearing about the scenario writing process. We have inherited the same Bayonetta flavor from the first game… no that’s not quite right. The truth is, the two stories are inextricably linked; they are two sides of the same coin. For those of you who will be entering the world of Bayonetta for the first time, I highly recommend you play through Bayonetta before jumping into Bayonetta 2. To those handsome individuals among you who have already played through the first game, it wouldn’t hurt to play it again as a refresher.

Actually, on second thought, it might be interesting to go back and play the first game after you have beaten the sequel… I’ll leave it up to you.

As always, please let me know what you think about the game!

Until next time!

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Character Design Pt. 2: Luka, Rodin, and Enzo

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2, Games

Hello. This is the character designer for Bayonetta 2, Mari Shimazaki.

We’re one day away from the game’s Japanese release! Today I thought I’d talk about some of the male character designs I did for the game.

Luka

01_2luka_01

02_2luka_02

03_2luka_03

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a character anyone who played the first game isn’t likely to forget: Luka. Kamiya, the game’s supervisor, asked for Luka’s new design to show that he’s overcome his troubled past from the original Bayonetta, and grown into more of a man.

This ended up being a tougher request than I imagined. I think I was just so used to Luka being a showoff bozo that at first I was taking things in completely the wrong direction.

In the previous game, he was supposed to be a fledgling journalist, but the designs I made this time had him looking like a war correspondent, or the main character from Robert Rodriguez’s El Mariachi… I couldn’t peg what “grown into more of a man” meant. I knew I had to make Luka somewhat flaunty, but if I took it too far, he wouldn’t fit with the overall design motif of the sequel. I decided to show the player just a hint of the old Luka flair with the hat he wears during his entrance.

In the design I settled on, I think I was able to give Luka some semblance to the young days of his father, Antonio Redgrave. But regardless of how I changed his design, it looks like Bayonetta still treats him more or less the same. I think you can anticipate more of the same classic slapstick in Bayonetta 2.

 

Rodin

04_2rodin_01

05_2rodin_02

Rodin was one of the easier characters to figure out.

They didn’t give me any specific direction, so I started trying him out in both traditional Japanese outfits and regular clothes. I learned that Japanese clothes look really good on Rodin and, judging by how fast the designs got approved, I know the team thought the same.

If you’re going to be an arms dealer, I think this is the right look.

Most likely he stopped by Japan to procure some merchandise, and picked out a few outfits on the way, right? (Which probably means he’s gotten his hands on something again, like he did with the PE uniform in the first game.)

I gave his glasses some traditional Japanese craftwork to go along with his outfit. I feel like the Bayonetta team not only puts up with this level of detail, but expects it. This is one reason why I’m grateful to work with them (of course, it’s not like they let me get carried away with everything.)

 

Enzo

06_2enzo

Just like in the first Bayonetta, we settled on Enzo’s design faster than any other character. Maybe it’s just because his character is so easily understandable, or maybe it’s because his shape makes it so easy to tell what works with him and what doesn’t. The concept for his character is “wannabe Italian gangster”. I like to imagine that he finally saved up enough to buy one nice suit, just to get a bit closer to his dream.

A major change Enzo made from the last game is his color scheme. His key color last time was green, whereas this time it’s dark red. I like to come up with a key color when I design a character (Bayonetta is black, Jeanne is red, Luka is blue, etc.), and once I decide a color I typically don’t drift too far from it. Only, in Enzo’s case, that would mean changing barely anything about him, save the style of his clothes. I didn’t want that, so I took the leap and made him dark red. Well, Enzo’s humpty dumpty figure and sunglasses probably leave a stronger impression than his clothes do anyway. I left his necktie green to display my slight unwillingness to let go of the past.

 

An Unnamed Witch

Right before Bayonetta hits stores in Japan, let’s share this one last picture.

07_unknown

This looks oddly familiar… this clothing… could it be…?

I think I’ll wait and let you discover her true identity for yourself when you play the game.

It’s only a bit longer until the game comes to NA and Europe as well!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my art!

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The Wonderful 101 Original Soundtrack Digital Release!

The Wonderful 101

Filed: Games, The Wonderful 101

Hello everyone, my name is Hiroshi Yamaguchi. I was a composer on The Wonderful 101.

Starting today, people around the world will be able to download the official soundtrack for The Wonderful 101! But that’s not all. This is the first soundtrack released under our very own PlatinumGames record label: Polaris Tone. As the game celebrates its 1st anniversary, I could not be happier to bring you the soundtrack.

I worked on The Wonderful 101 for around two years of its development. When I first joined the team I was the only one in the BGM section. While experimenting with various directions to take the music, rough design documents and in-progress screenshots were my only reference.

Even at this early stage, the concept of 100 heroes coming together in the Unite Morph was already in place. More than just your run-of-the-mill hero series, it was a tale of courage and comradery; a story of 100 brave heroes working together to stop evil on a massive scale! With this world in mind, I set out to make catchy music that would appeal to an audience just as wide as the universal themes of heroism that the game is all about.

The first song I completed was for the opening stage: “ST01 Roll Out, The Wonderful 100! Battle in the Blossom City Burbs.” I really liked the hook at the end of this song, so I decided early on to use it as a recurring motif throughout the whole game. Around this time I had also finished a rough version of the music for the second stage: “ST02 Head for Blossom Tower”, using ideas I had left over from stage one. Just as I was patting myself on the back, thinking how smoothly everything was going, Director Kamiya requested a common jingle that would appear in the music for each stage. It proved much more difficult than I initially anticipated. It is embarrassing to admit, but it took me over 40 attempts to get it right. You can hear the fruit of my hard work in “Roll Out Jingle 1.” I break into a cold sweat now just hearing the word “jingle.”

Three months after I started on the project, Takizawa, a composer with three years experience in the company, joined me on the team. About half a year after that, a new composer (in her first year at the company) named Kurokawa also joined the project. While originally conceived as a mid-sized project, by the time Kurokawa joined us the game had already grown considerably in scope, and the overall shape was starting to come together. I thought to myself, “this one is gonna be huge” and, as expected, we were super busy right up until the end of the project.

The highlight of the project for me was composing “The Won-Stoppable 100.” You may have read about this in Director Kamiya’s blog, but we decided to redo it right before the game went gold. It was a do-or-die situation for me. There were points where I was on the verge of giving up. I would go up to Director Kamiya and Assistant Producer Kurooka and beg them to accept my latest version of the song. Then one day, Takizawa comes out and says, “Listen, I’ll take care of the implementation of all the sound data. Mr. Yamaguchi, you just focus on making this song the best it can be.” What choice did I have? What kind of composer…what kind of person would I be if I didn’t make something spectacular!?

I delegated as much of my work as possible to Takizawa and Kurokawa and devoted my full attention to composing. That is the story of how, in one month, we got the theme song composed, recorded, and downmixed. As we approached our physical and mental limits, my co-composers gave it their all to get the game finished. I’m sure seeing the game come together before our eyes gave us the motivational boost to make it through. As I scrambled to get the song composed, many other people were working to get the English and Japanese vocals decided, the lyrics translated, and the recording schedules in order. It is fitting that many people had to work together (unite up?) to get the theme song finished.

The making of this music may have been stormy at times, but the clouds have cleared, and I am very thankful that we can bring you the soundtrack. We all came together to make this soundtrack something that resonates with people. I hope you enjoy it!

That’s all from me. Everyone, please listen to the soundtrack and feel your heroic soul ignite!

Akira Takizawa

Hello, Takizawa here. (I’m the one with the sharp-looking eyes that would make even Wonder-White envious.)

It’s finally out: the wonderful soundtrack we’ve all been waiting for. If I ever don a mask, call me Wonder-Happy! This project was the longest I’ve ever worked on a single title. I could wax nostalgic for hours about the various bittersweet memories and heartwarming moments I had with my teammates over the course of production.

 

Burnt by the searing sun of summer,

Touched by the lonely winds of autumn,

We cross the perilous thin ice of winter,

Will spring never come!?

 

Wow, I’m not sure what came over me. I was about to go into a Wonder-White-esk soliloquy. For sensitive listeners like myself, I recommend the track “A Sign” from Vol. 1. It may seem like just a short atmospheric BGM, but because it is so versatile, we ended up using it as a connecting piece throughout the game! Even the staff have forgotten how many times we used it, but if you have time on a rainy afternoon, feel free to give it a count! Until next time!

Hitomi Kurokawa

Hello everyone, my name is Kurokawa. The soundtrack for The Wonderful 101, the first game I worked on, will be available starting today! I’m speechless! When you spend over a year working on something, you really get emotionally attached. I got really excited when I heard it was going to get a digital release!

The other day I went back and listened to all 127 tracks…wow, that sure is a lot of music. Intense too, especially the second half.

The theme phrase is used in over half the songs, so it is a lot of fun to see how it has been arranged in its various iterations. Before long you’ll be spotting that theme phrase like a champ. To both fans of the game and those of you who have not yet had a chance to play it, I hope you enjoy the music we made and, as you listen, find yourself immersed in the heroic world of The Wonderful 101!

Composers

From left: Akira Takizawa, Hitomi Kurokawa, Hiroshi Yamaguchi

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Enemy Design in Bayonetta 2 (Pt.2)

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2, Games

Hello everyone. Bayonetta 2 director Yusuke Hashimoto here again.

I’ve taken some time out from watching and re-watching the Japanese Bayonetta 2 TV spot to bring you some more info on the game.

While the first post on enemy design focused on angels, this time I would like to discuss a brand new enemy type making their debut in Bayonetta 2: demons.

Unlike the strict hierarchical structure of the angels, demons subsist in a brutal dog-eat-dog world. For their appearance, I tried to avoid the cliché sinister look and go for something more inorganic, almost robotic.

 

Hideous
Hideous

Its appearance evokes a feeling of “hatred given form”. I designed it as a beast that prowls around Inferno, looking for prey. Unlike its angelic counterpart Acceptance (centaur), I feel like the design for this one came together (relatively) quickly.

 

Fury
Fury

It can slow your movement by shooting you with magic energy shot from its eye. The key concept for its design was “paralyzing gaze”. I gave its attack easy to understand ON / OFF states by having it open up to reveal the eye.

 

Pain
Pain

This character is about the same level of the angel Beloved in terms of strength. My goal for the design was to add something fresh to the battles by going as far from a regular humanoid shape as possible. I also just thought it would be cool to have an enemy that transformed from a tombstone. I love the unique way the animation staff got him to move. He is quite a formidable foe.

Let’s take a look at slightly different kind of enemy:

 

Golem
Golem

I’m sure this name will sound familiar to fans of the first game. Neither angel nor demon, this enemy can change its shape to adapt to battle.

Now I would like to introduce some of the demons that have forged contracts with Bayonetta.

Let’s start with one of the most iconic Infernal Demons from the first game:

 

Gomorrah
Gomorrah

Expanding on the design from the first game, this time we show its whole body.

Thanks to the incredible work of the modeling artists, Gomorrah was able to make the change from ally to terrifying giant boss character.

Next we have a demonic dog who has stolen Gomorrah’s place!

 

Labolas
Labolas

It’s born with faces on both hands and feet. As I designed it, I imagined how they would fight over food…

Next is a horse demon with a giant blade attached to its head!

 

Diomedes
Diomedes

In addition to this guy, there are a variety of other demons that make their first appearance in Bayonetta 2. Of course, you can’t discuss demons without also mentioning the new “Umbran Climax” system. When using Umbran Climax, the demon that is summoned with each attack depends on the weapon you have equipped. Equip your favorite weapon and give it a try. Exactly how will each demon appear? You’ll just have to play and find out!

By the way, one of the demons was actually designed by a very special guest collaborator named Eiichi Shimizu. Some of you may know him from his artwork in the manga series Kurogane no Linebarrels and ULTRAMAN. The enemy he designed is visible in the E3 2014 trailer (see 0:50)

 

Also, Check out his blog to see his awesome rendition of Bayonetta!

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Bayonetta 2 Nintendo Direct!

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

We’ve finally reached one month before the game’s release. Hope you’re ready for some fast paced climax action!

Did you happen to see the special Bayonetta 2 Nintendo Direct last week? For those who missed out, catch up here:

If you don’t know, Nintendo Direct is a semi-regular news info reel showcasing some of Nintendo’s up and coming titles. Sometimes it tackles multiple titles at once; sometimes it only focuses on one. Last week, there was a 30 minute Direct all about our very own Bayonetta 2.

This Nintendo Direct was hosted by the game’s director, Yusuke Hashimoto, and… none other than myself, the producer, Akiko Kuroda! Hashimoto, being a seasoned media vet, seemed pretty chill in front of the camera, whereas I’m sure I looked like a nervous wreck. Anyway… that’s neither here nor there. This Direct covered all the bases, starting at Bayonetta 2’s basic gameplay and ending with a few new reveals. Whether you preordered the game months ago, or you’re still undecided about making a purchase, I think this Bayonetta 2 special will have some pretty cool info for anyone who tunes in.

This Bayonetta 2 Direct actually had something never before seen in any previous Nintendo Direct: a small slice of live gameplay commentary. We had some script to help us out, but just some. Honestly, it was almost all ad-lib.

We also got to show off some of the game’s co-op mode, Tag Climax. Believe it or not, this was actually the first day Hashimoto and I ever played 2-player together. Of course, we’ve worked together on the game so long that we should be a natural pair by now. At least, you’d think… well, maybe you should just watch the video and see for yourself.

It should go without saying, but there’s so much more you can convey through video about a game than with just words. It was a fun experience that I’m excited to try out again. As always, keep checking out the blog here for more insight on the making of Bayonetta 2.

If you’ve got any other questions about the presentation, just contact me on Twitter:

Don’t be shy about messaging me in English, I’ll just bug  for a translation! See you again!

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Happy Anniversary!

The Wonderful 101

Filed: Games, The Wonderful 101

Hi everyone, The Wonderful 101 director Kamiya here. A full year has passed since the game was released, but I imagine many of you in Europe and Japan were able to give it a try thanks to the recent Mario Kart 8 promotion.

August 24th was the 1-year anniversary of the release of The Wonderful 101 in Japan but, to be honest, since I still receive messages of encouragement from fans around the world on a daily basis, it really doesn’t feel like that much time has passed. I am truly thankful that so many of you hold the game so dearly.

Now that we have the corny introduction out of the way, let’s get down to business. I have some exciting news to bring you today. We’ve been working behind the scenes, trying to find a way to release something many fans have been asking for, and today I can finally announce it: The Wonderful 101 Official Soundtrack is going to get a digital release! It clocks in at a whopping 127 tracks! This would fill 5 CDs, but we are splitting it up into two tidy volumes, each of which you can download for just $10 a piece. With this you can enjoy every track from the game wherever you are.

The sound quality is a step up from the music in the game itself, so even those of you who spent hours in the Sound Test are in for a treat. The theme song for the game, “The Won-Stoppable Wonderful 100”, has also been remastered. The game version of the track was edited to loop endlessly, so we got Hiroshi (lead BGM composer) to go back and give the song a fitting conclusion. The soundtrack is the only place you’ll find this version.

SoundtrackJacket2 Vol. 1 album jacketAlbum jacket images Vol.2 album jacket

To give you some background on the music direction from my perspective as director, I began by explaining to Hiroshi that I wanted to use an orchestral style to capture the feeling of an epic battle. I imagine the initial impression many people have of the game is a bunch of cute characters frolicking around a colorful world. However, my plan from the start was to create a unique feel by having this light-hearted world juxtaposed with the daunting threat of a massive alien invasion. To do this heroic ballad justice, we needed an equally grand orchestra. A cute exterior with an epic and dark heart; you could almost call the game “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”. Of course, having this ferocity extend to the game’s difficulty may have deviated a bit from the plan…

Another episode that deserves mention is the kerfuffle was had making the theme song. Of course, it was mostly my decision to throw out the near-complete version of the song and start from scratch right before the game went gold that put us in that situation in the first place.

I had decided from the start that the song needed to have vocals, but I just couldn’t seem to settle on an overall style. Near the end of the game’s production, we had PG staff lay vocals over some modern anime style tracks, and the song was coming along nicely when, all of a sudden, it hit me: The song had to be in the style of 60s anime / special effect-filled hero TV shows! The music from “Captain Ultra”, “Captain Scarlet” (the original American version), and “Stingray”, the so-called “supermarionation” series, as well as Japanese TV shows like “Pirate Prince”, “Super Jetter”, and “Ultraman”, while classical, somehow manages to seem fresh when you listen to it nowadays. These songs effortless convey the coolness of the hero, and the more you listen to them, the more you feel your own heroic heart begin to stir. This style perfectly captures what The Wonderful 101 is all about! There was no doubt in my mind when I came to this realization…right before the end of production. I went over to Hiroshi, he looked at me, said I was crazy to ask for such a radical change so late in production, and told me it was impossible.

Just kidding, he totally made it happen! :D

It goes without saying, the subsequent process of finding professional vocalists (in both English and Japanese), getting a handle on the 60s anime / supermarionation style, and arranging the song in the time remaining put quite a load on the already-busy Hiroshi. It was crucial to capture that 1960s flair. As I am sure you can imagine, for Hiroshi, born in 1979, grasping the subtle distinction of 60s shows as opposed to those from the 70s (or even recent ones for that matter), was quite the challenge (and time was short, remember.) But this is Hiroshi we are talking about. Having survived many of my selfish requests in the past, I gave him my absolute faith, hardened my heart, and turned down his submissions one after another. The fruit of our labor: an epic song that, I’m sure all who have heard it will agree, truly burns with the passionate soul of a hero.

Despite all this work on a single track, the soundtrack for The Wonderful 101 managed to reach 5 CDs worth of music. I feel this with each project, but there are really not enough words to express my gratitude to my sound staff. Hiroshi has been with me over many years, and I’m sure many of you would recognize his music, but I cannot forget Takizawa, who backed up Hiroshi in his many hours of need, and quickly adapted to a development schedule filled with curveballs to make all kinds of wonderful tunes. I also want to give a shout out to Ms. Kurokawa, the lone women in our mostly-male sound team, whose deep understanding of hero TV shows and powerful compositions betray her outward kitten-like appearance. Some friends also came from outside the company to lend us their strength over the long development period: Mr. Kondo (whose work many of you may recognize from Ōkami ), Mr. Norihiko Hibino (who I’ve worked with since Bayonetta), and Masato Kouda (an old friend who joined Capcom the same year as me and worked with me on Devil May Cry.) Thank you for putting up with my outlandish requests; I couldn’t have done it without you.

The massive number of tracks in this collection, the music that allows the game to reach its full potential, is a testament to the sound team’s hard work and their desire to give players an unforgettable experience. Everyone, please enjoy listening to these songs as you picture each level in your mind’s eye, and when nobody’s looking, I hope you whisper: “Unite Up!”

The soundtrack will be available for download starting September 15th. If you have any messages, please send them to my twitter:

@PG_Kamiya

Until next time!

Download on iTunes / Sumthing.com. The price per volume is $9.99, with individual tracks available for $0.99.

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Cut Scene Production in Bayonetta 2

Bayonetta

Filed: Bayonetta, Bayonetta 2, Games, PlatinumGames

Hello!

My name is Kunihiko Tsuda, and I was in charge of cut scene production for Bayonetta 2.

Today, I’d like to talk about how we produced the cut scenes for this game.

Two of the many distinguishing characteristics of the original Bayonetta were its unparalleled over-the-top action, and its cast of unique characters.

Today, I would like to talk about how we incorporate these unique characteristics and action sequences into our cut scenes.

First of all, like Bayonetta 1, the scenario for this game was written by Hideki Kamiya. For fear of spoilers, I won’t go too deep into the story here, but I can promise you that the script is every bit as crazy as the first game (if not considerably more so), so you’ll just have to play the game and see for yourself!

Based on this script, we first created video storyboards to decide on the direction and the characteristics of each scene.

At this stage of development, it’s also common to use regular non-video storyboards, but since Bayonetta 2 has a lot of new characters, and since Bayonetta herself hasn’t remained unchanged since the first game either (not that she has a different personality or anything), we decided that it would be best to create video storyboards in order to make it easier for Yusuke Hashimoto (The game director), and Yuji Shimomura (The cut scene director. Thanks for all the hard work on Bayonetta 1 as well!) to reach a mutual understanding on how to convey that Bayonetta has changed and grown as a person since the first game.

Here’s an example:

For comparison, this is what Bayonetta was like in the first game:

As you can see, her clothes have changed quite a bit as well.
Actually recording the scenes allowed us to get a clearer impression of how each scene played out, so that we could settle on the details for the characters and stage direction at an earlier stage in the production process.

Of course, we make stage directions on which the production is based for the video storyboards for action scenes as well.

Next, we record the motion capturing based on these video storyboards.
At this point we make detailed adjustments and revisions to the stage direction as well, based on the backgrounds and cut scene trigger points, which we will have mostly worked out at this stage of development.

The motion capture data is then used to create the scenes with the help of 3DCG tools.
The data is applied to the backgrounds and character models and further tweaked.
This part of the process is very important, especially when it comes to action scenes.
This is where we give the cut scenes their typical Bayonetta-like qualities, by accelerating motions to a speed that is not possible for actual human beings, and by creating lots of physically difficult poses for Bayonetta herself.

Since Bayonetta 2 has many different kinds of gigantic monsters and enemies, this part of the process is even more important.


*This video was recorded while the game was still in development, so it looks different from the final product.

After this step, the camera direction and character motions are almost completely fixed. The only thing that remains is output to the console and postproduction work (lighting, VFX, screen filters etc.).

That’s the general flow of the process, in a very tiny nutshell.

It might be hard to believe, but I truly think that the cut scenes in Bayonetta 2 are even more crazy and over-the-top than the first game, so I hope you play the game to check them out for yourself!

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Music in Bayonetta 2

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hello, my name is Masami Ueda, lead composer for Bayonetta 2. I was a composer on the first game as well, which was what, five years ago now?

For this entry I’ll talk about the music in Bayonetta 2.

First, let’s discuss battle themes. The last Bayonetta had a bit of a low-key tone in its battle themes at times. This time we’ve gone for a much livelier feel. We’ve upped the style, and tried a few new things, such as sticking to a standup bass rather than an electric, which gives the music a different, new tone.

This leads into the game’s boss themes. In Bayonetta 2, I tried to have the boss themes divided into movements that went with each stage of the fight. This made it a lot harder to find where to smoothly loop the song, but the added impact was worth the effort. See if you can notice when you play.

I don’t want to give away anything that hasn’t been revealed yet, so I’ll use the Gomorrah fight from the E3 demo for my example. This song is broken up into four phases: the battle’s beginning, the middle of the building, the top of the building, then the end of the battle.

*This video was taken from a build of the game that may differ with the retail version.

Hopefully that gives you an idea of how the songs evolve over the course of battle. There’s a lot to take into consideration: what’s happening in the fight, what’s happening to the character, what emotions you want the player to feel… I wanted to have the song develop in a way that complemented all of these.

Okay, next let’s talk about the stage themes. Most of these songs are made from loops, but some are a single song that lasts from the start of the stage to its finish (in reality, these are made up of around ten songs strung together into one; they transition based on the player’s progress). Sometimes I think it’s okay to stretch a song’s length and have it loop, but I liked the overall effect of combining a number of songs into one, and got really into that method this time around.

Last, I’ll say just one thing about the theme song. Like “Fly Me to the Moon” from the first Bayonetta, the theme song of Bayonetta 2 has a connection with the moon. What it is, though, is still a secret, so look forward to its reveal.

Most of the composers for the original Bayonetta returned to help out on Bayonetta 2. Compared to the original’s 150 songs, Bayonetta 2 boasts 183 songs in total. This isn’t just a numbers game though, people. Five years is some significant time, so expect improvements in Bayonetta 2’s sound quality as well.

Thanks for reading!

(Special Announcement)
The Bayonetta 2 Original Soundtrack has been confirmed for release! Thanks to the warm reception of the first game’s soundtrack, we’re able to present you with another full soundtrack that features every song in the game. We’ll get into further details on this blog a little bit later, so stay tuned!

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UI Design in Bayonetta 2

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hello, my name is Hisayoshi Kijima. I was in charge of UI in Bayonetta 2.

The UI (User Interface) division is tasked with making the overhead peripheral elements of the game that make gameplay easier for the user to understand. In layman’s terms, we design the vitality gauge, the lock-on cursor, the in-game menus, and so on.

Our general UI workflow for Bayonetta 2 was to have the lead UI artist, Mai Ohkura, determine artistic direction, and for me to execute on that vision and think about how to implement it into the game.

Ohkura was in charge of UI design in the first Bayonetta, and worked as a concept artist in Bayonetta 2, UI concepts included. My job was to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the first game’s UI elements and work with Ohkura and the programmers to improve UI format and structure. Ultimately our goal was to keep the Bayonetta aesthetic that was established in the first game and give it a “brush up.” To the director, this meant adding more realism to the design. Mostly, this means updating the textures of your material assets, but I found it was also important to give a reason to the UI design choices you make that feels natural.

For example, in the first Bayonetta, if you take damage, your vitality gauge turns red. It’s simply systematic cause and effect. This time, in Bayonetta 2, we created a flash of red light that hits the gauge and makes it reflect red when damage is taken.

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The gauge from the first game (Xbox 360)

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The gauge from Bayonetta 2 (now that we have a scientific reason for why the gauge is turning red, the colors have a more natural feel)

By justifying the UI this way, we felt we were able to add more realism to an inherently magical world like Bayonetta’s. Though the red light itself may come from an unnatural source such as magic, the act of the light hitting the gauge is a natural phenomenon. We used this method of thought to guide other UI design decisions in the game as well.

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The shop screen from the previous game

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Shop screen from Bayonetta 2 (layout/animation redesigned to place more emphasis on item images, making the items look like real objects vs. thumbnails)

In the previous Bayonetta, UI would use a lens flare animation effect in certain situations, and each of these situations was designed separately. In Bayonetta 2, we made every instance of lens flare to be horizontal anamorphic, so it would look like it was all taken with the same lens. We did this everywhere except in special cases we intentionally wanted to be different, such as healing animations, etc.

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Horizontal anamorphic lens flare. This appears on the vitality gauge, the combo meter, confirming something within a menu, and so on.

Another goal of the UI team was to incorporate a look into the design unique to Bayonetta 2’s aesthetic. In the previous Bayonetta, the UI design included a lot of curvature, which was influenced by the heavy presence of Paradiso in the game. In Bayonetta 2, we made the lines more rigid and gave the overall palette a colder feel (the Result Screen below is an easy to understand example).

If the previous game’s UI design was based off of Paradiso, what influenced the UI design in this game? You’ll just have to play Bayonetta 2 and try to figure it out yourself :)

I also felt it was my duty to clean up some of the harder to understand UI from the original. One example of this is the Result Screen. I changed the size and layout of the result screen for Bayonetta 2 and split the info up across two screens, which I think made things a little easier to comprehend. I also decided to put an image of a halo next to all halo-related numbers (currency in Bayonetta 2) so points and money were easier to differentiate.

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The Chapter Result Screen from the original Bayonetta

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The newly revised Chapter Result Screen in Bayonetta 2 (the first page is for award related items, the second page is for non-related items)

To improve on the feel of controls, I employed the easing technique common in recent web design: a quick start with a gradual finish. Applying this technique to UI animation gave the game’s controls a better feel. I think it helped give more realism to the game as well. To get academic for a second, easing is based on the law of uniform motion, which is like how a car starts and stops. A car takes time to build up to a certain speed, then gradually slows down to a stop. Having UI animation work off this concept gave controls a more natural and thereby ultimately better feel.

One of the more difficult UI issues was figuring out how the cursor within the game’s submenus should behave. There were two camps as to what we should do, and finding the right balance took a lot of trial and error. My priorities were developing something intuitive that has a good feel, and is easy to get right off the bat. Other members of the team thought it was more important to create motion similar to what players are accustomed to. Eventually, we were able to take the greatest common factors of both sides and create a feel that I think everyone on the team was happy with.

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A submenu (the cursor moves along the magic circle, swinging from item to item)

Finally, as this game is a Wii U title, it includes touch controls. When designing menus for button and touch controls, it takes a lot of work to find a good balance between functionality and attractive visuals. If you get too carried away, you can tweak endlessly without ever finishing. In the end, we decided to make sure that button controls had the right feel, and then moved on to touch controls, making sure nothing felt off. A lot of small adjustments were necessary for making the design and input of touch controls as uniform throughout the game as possible, but by the time we were finished, I think we were able to create controls that players will enjoy trying out. It’s not all about aligning cursors and then inputting commands like it is with regular buttons, you just give a quick tap and you’re done, so sometimes it ends up being pretty convenient. Even for the more orthodox gamers, I suggest you give it a try!

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The submenu using touch controls (one tap will replace the bottom right button explanations with the “back” button at the bottom left)

That’s all for my blog. I hope I was able to get across how things have leveled up since the original. Please enjoy Bayonetta 2, UI design included!

 

 

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Angel/Demon Sound Design

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hello, my name is Daisuke Sakata. I was the sound designer for the original Bayonetta and now Bayonetta 2.

Some of you may not know exactly what a sound designer does, so I’ll start off with a brief explanation. Basically, I handle all the sounds in the game outside of music: I make all the sounds related to character actions, and the sounds that go with the environment, like rain and fire. I also organize voice data and edit the multi-audio for every cut scene.

So, ultimately my job covers a pretty broad spectrum, but today I thought I’d talk to you about some of the enemy SFX in Bayonetta 2.

Bayonetta 2 has many more types of enemies than the original, and it features demons: a whole new category of enemy. My job making enemy SFX could be broken up into two parts. The first part involves creating base sounds, such as gunshots, sword swings, and so on. Then, I create sounds that characterized angels and demons, and blend them with the base.

Creating a base sound consists of just replicating a sound that players are familiar with from what they hear in other games, movies, etc. Most people have their conceptions of what a gun being fired or a hammer being slamming down should sound like, so these are easily communicated.

Creating a sound that is angelic, or demonic, on the other hand, is a little trickier, as perception really changes from person to person. If we were to say that our base thwacks and bangs were like toast, these sounds would be like the spread. Ultimately the fact that you’re having a piece of toast doesn’t change, but the taste changes completely depending on if you’re using butter or jam.

As far as angelic sounds were concerned, we had figured out our overall concept for angelic sound design in the first game, so that was a process of simply importing those sounds over. The real challenge for us was figuring out what a demonic sound was, since those enemies didn’t exist in the first game.

If angelic sounds could be described with words like sacred and divine, we figured demonic sounds would probably best be characterized by the opposite, words like profane and unholy. I started creating sounds by using these keywords as a guide.

The game’s director, Hashimoto, would come over and review what I’d come up with, then turn down ideas one by one until we could start to get a feel of the direction we wanted to take sound design in. By the later stages of sound design, Hashimoto was able to say just—

“Add the demonic sweeteners.”

And I’d say, “No problem!”, and know just what he wanted me to do.

As a side note, our term for angelic elements was “magical sweeteners.”

I focused on enemy sound design for this blog, but of course the sound team puts a lot of effort into making any sound you hear in the game. Ultimately, you’re the one who gets to decide if anything sounds good or not, but we try to give the game sounds that will enhance how fun the game is, so we hope you’ll agree when you play. Try to keep the different nuances of sound in mind as you play! See you again!

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