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.

bayonetta_story

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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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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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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Figuring Out Damage Motion

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hello everybody! I’m the lead motion designer for Bayonetta 2, my name is Takaaki Yamaguchi. I’ve been making motion in action games for over ten years now. That fact is starting to make me feel old.

Anyway, let’s talk about what a motion designer does. We discussed this back in our old Bayonetta blogs as well, but basically, we give movement to anything in the game that requires motion. We end up playing an important role in several areas of the game—making sure all the characters don’t look like they’re stumbling around, getting the main character’s controls to feel right, making enemy movement easy to understand, and so on.

Working on a sequel, it was our job to carry over the feel of the motion from the original Bayonetta, and make it even better. For this blog, I’d like to talk specifically about damage motion for enemies. You know, that motion you see when you land a huge deathblow on an enemy and they get knocked back and explode or whatever. You might have never thought that deeply about it, but for an action game, getting the right reaction out of the enemy after you’ve pulled off a killer combo is absolutely critical. Do a slack job and the thrill of battle will turn into a total letdown. Enemy damage motion is something I’ve always regarded as highly important in the games I’ve worked on. I always am asking myself if there’s not something new I can try to create more satisfying combat than before.

My challenge to myself for Bayonetta 2 was to create the right enemy motion for each attack. We had plenty of enemy reactions that would change depending on what attack Bayonetta performed, but I wanted to take this further for Bayonetta 2. It’ll probably be easier to understand if you just see it, so take a look at the videos below.

This is Bayonetta:

This is Bayonetta 2:

What’d you think? It’s easy to focus on Bayonetta, but if you watch the enemy in both videos, you’ll notice it plays the same motion for each attack in the first video, while in the second, the enemy’s reaction changes based on the kind of attack being performed.

This is just one example from the game, but each little detail like this I think really added up to make a great feeling game overall. Doing a little research, I realized that the enemies in Bayonetta 2 have an average of 3.5x the number of reactions as those in the original.

Well, I could keep writing and posting videos about how this game feels, but obviously there won’t be any way for you to know until you’ve actually put the controller in your hands and are playing the game yourself. If I’ve driven anyone’s curiosity, please try playing the game after its release.

Until next time!

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Wii U Bayonetta!

Bayonetta

Filed: Bayonetta, Bayonetta 2

Hi, this is Isao Negishi, director of the Bayonetta Wii U port that comes specially packaged with Bayonetta 2!

Those who saw our Wii U Bayonetta announcement at E3 can agree we didn’t just make a simple port of the first game. This special Wii U edition gives you all the thrills of the original, plus a ton of exciting, new features.

We’ve prepared a video of how Bayonetta plays on the Wii U, so take a peek:

What did you think? Bayonetta’s world looks as stunning as ever.

Let’s discuss some of the added content that was causing a stir at this year’s E3: Bayonetta’s new costumes!

collabo_costume

One of the things that made the original Bayonetta so fun was the ability to choose from a ton of costumes—queen, schoolgirl, you name it—and this time, there’ll be even more. These new costumes are inspired by classic Nintendo heroes and heroines, all carefully checked by the game’s original director, Hideki Kamiya. Let’s just say Kamiya was very particular about how each costume should look before passing approval.

Of course, these costumes are more than just a fun change in appearance. We’ve prepared special abilities to go with each one!

BayoWU_SS_140603_005140617_1ピーチ新規追加並びは最後

Put on your Peach costume and you’ll be able to summon the flagship villain of the Mario series, Bowser!

Maybe she didn’t draw a big enough magic circle, because it looks like we can only see his arms and legs, LOL. Yet watching Bowser pummel enemies with punches and kicks is a sight to behold. That first thrill you get when Bowser slams the enemy with his fist is quite an unforgettable experience.

Personally, I love the stomp attack he has… and don’t forget to call him out during some of the climax scenes as well.

All right, next is Link.

140617_5140617_4鍵穴と差し替え

By equipping the Shuraba with Link’s costume on, Bayonetta will be able to use the iconic weapon of the Zelda series, the Master Sword! Wicked Weaves will create a giant Master Sword that slices enemies clean in two.

This costume also changes some of the sound effects in the game. Remember that classic Zelda jingle that plays every time you open a treasure chest? With this costume on, you’ll get to hear it! We’ve included a few other sound effects well, all taken from A Link to the Past with Nintendo’s permission. Those classic sounds really do still hold up.

Last is our Samus costume!

2014e3b2_60fps.mp4.Still0142014e3b2_60fps.mp4.Still013140617_2

Samus has gone through more than a few powered suits in the Metroid series, but we ended up using the first game as our motif, per Kamiya’s request. Fans of the series should be able to tell looking at the shoulders.

One special feature that comes with the Samus suit is the ability to put the visor up or down during cut scenes. I think you’ll be surprised how fun this is. See how good it feels to slam your visor down right after telling an enemy off, or discover the amusement in endlessly going up-down-up-down during the game’s more serious moments. This can put the game’s cut scenes in whole new light!

That wraps up our blog this time. I think you can see why I’m not hesitant to call this Wii U port a “Special Editon.” This actually isn’t everything new the game has to offer as well—you might see me here again to tell you more in the future!

 

Until then!

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Bayonetta takes the stage at E3 2014!

Bayonetta

Filed: Bayonetta, Games

Bayonetta is back in a big way at this year’s E3!

Our favorite witch’s adventures take a whole new turn in the Wii U-exclusive Bayonetta 2. Pass through the Gates of Hell and take part in even bigger battles with crazier weapons as we push Bayonetta to the next level. But that wasn’t our only surprise this year.

BayoWU_SS_140603_004_logo

 

Your feedback was loud and clear, so along with announcing more info on the release of Bayonetta 2, we made it happen: the original Bayonetta is coming to the Wii U with all new Nintendo-inspired costumes and added features!!

Both Bayonetta 2 and the original Bayonetta will go on sale in the US in October 2014, and will be packaged and sold together! It’s the perfect way to experience the story of the Umbra Witches in a single go!

Bayonetta, and Bayonetta 2, are both rated M for Mature.

Keep your eyes on this blog for more Bayonetta news in the coming days and weeks!

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PlatinumGames and Microsoft Announce Scalebound!

Platinum Games

Filed: Games, Scalebound

PlatinumGames has an announcement to share with the world.

Our newest title was just announced at E3, the biggest game show in the industry, currently underway in Los Angeles.

It is Scalebound for Xbox One.

This is a title of firsts for us at PlatinumGames: our first title on the Xbox One and our first title as a developer in partnership with Microsoft.

Our motto at PlatinumGames is to continue making games in Japan for gamers around the world. We are incredibly grateful for this excellent opportunity to work on a project with a publisher from the US, Microsoft, and we are very pleased to have made this announcement together.

I want gamers to know that PlatinumGames is taking on the challenge presented by the current generation and will use the full power of the Xbox One as a cutting-edge console. I promise that Scalebound will be a game that gives users around the world the ultimate in surprises and smiles.

We can’t show you very much yet, so please look forward to more information and the eventual release of the game!

Thank you very much for your continued support for PlatinumGames.

Tatsuya Minami (@pg_minami)
President & CEO, PlatinumGames

sb_03

This is Hideki Kamiya, creative director at PlatinumGames.

The day has finally come that I can announce my new project to everyone.

I’ve created many original titles over the course of my career. Now I have a great opportunity to launch a new project with a new partner, and I’m excited to bring you a brand new game experience once again.

The focus of my new game is the gigantic beast that reigns over the fantasy genre: the dragon. Dragons have a unique power to capture the imagination, and I’ve loved dragons since I was a child. I’ve always wished that I could create a game featuring this magnificent creature; now the time has come for me to realize my dream.

I can’t share many details about the game yet, but rest assured that the development team and I are working around the clock so that we can show you more as soon as possible. For now, I ask that you let your imagination run wild while you wait.

I promise dragon fans around the world: this game will not disappoint. See you soon,

Hideki Kamiya (@pg_kamiya)
Director, Scalebound

sb_02

Dragons have lived in our fantasies for centuries. They are a common thread that weave between cultures and eras, linking us together under wings and flame; fear and awe.

Scalebound is project that strives to live up to these ideals. A Japanese and American team working together to create the dragon game we’ve always dreamed of, but never gotten to play. Together, we can create something that pushes our team, and the action genre, to new heights.

Our team considers it an honor to take up this challenge. Knowing how many of us have wanted this game forever, I can’t imagine how many of you have wanted the same thing. It’s going to be a wild ride and we can’t wait to take it with you.

Jean Pierre Kellams (@pg_jp)
Creative Producer, Scalebound

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Interview with Saurian Dash (Part 1)

Platinum Games

Filed: Community, Games, PlatinumGames

Saurian Dash (or “Saur” as he is often known) has been a visible presence in the action game community for years. His work on Bayonetta: The Official Guide (Future Press) set the platinum standard for both quality and skilled play.

Saur’s tutorial videos for The Wonderful 101 helped introduce many fans to the depth of the game’s system, and take their skills to the next level.

Today, we chat with the man himself, to learn what began his love of action games, and the systems that form their core.

1. How did you get into action games?

I got into action games late; but when I did it completely changed how I viewed gaming forever. The game which brought me round was Viewtiful Joe. Here was a game with a deep and open-ended combat system which seemed to be built as a means for the player to express creativity. This system is then pitted against opponents and obstacles which were designed from the ground up to interact meaningfully with the core system. The course was fixed, but the method for dealing with that course was completely down to the ingenuity, skill and inspiration of the player. You play like you have a huge audience watching and the game constantly entices you to improve; the focus is not simply on getting the player from A to B, the focus is on getting the player to play “Viewtifully”.

2. How did you first learn about PlatinumGames?

I was very saddened by the closure of Clover Studio, so you can imagine my delight when I saw the Bayonetta reveal trailer. The spirit of Clover Studio did indeed live on! I couldn’t wait to play this new game and it was like a dream come true when I was asked to write the Combat System, Enemy and Boss strategy chapters for Bayonetta: The Official Guide (Future Press). The work I did on the Bayonetta guide massively expanded my knowledge of this type of game and led to all kinds of other work both inside and outside game development studios. It was the first time I ever had a complete game system inside my head; I finally understood the sheer amount of work that goes into a game system like this and how brilliant the designers at the helm must be.

3. What is your approach to a new action game? Do you aim for high scores from the beginning, or start to build strategies after a leisurely first playthrough?

I tend to take my time and make sure that I have an understanding of the game system before I move through the game’s stages. The first thing I get used to is the player system; which actions can I perform? Which actions can I interrupt? Which actions leave me locked in a recovery animation? Once I get used to moving the character I will often play the opening stage over and over, gradually learning more about the game system as I go. During this initial phase I believe it is very important to look closely at each enemy type the game introduces; I take note of their attack signposts and explore my options for dealing with those attacks. These are the enemies the designers are introducing to the player first, so they must represent the foundation of the relationship between the player and enemy systems. Once I have an idea of how the core game system works and how this applies to the structure of battle, I then begin to progress through the game’s stages in a casual fashion, always with the intent to return to tricky sections to learn them properly later.

I treat my first playthrough on Normal as an introduction. This session is simply a means to get acquainted with the game system and to note how the designers want to test the player. Once I have a good idea of how the game system works and have seen all the enemy types the game contains, I then move on to a “Score Attack” style of play. This is where I try to achieve at least Platinum rankings on Normal mode before moving on to Hard. I tend to throw all narrative progression out the window at this point. I play stages in no particular order; if I discover an interesting enemy encounter I end up playing that encounter over and over for hours.

Recently I spent over a week fighting Khamsin (the final boss of the Blade Wolf DLC) in the “Revengeance” difficult level of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Initially I was drawn to this fight simply because of the hype atmosphere of the encounter, but repeatedly fighting this boss completely changed the way I played the game. I noticed that my Heavy attacks were unsafe; I could not freely cancel Blade Wolf’s (LQ-84i’s) animation into an Evade at the precise moment I needed to. I was over-committing to the animation of certain attacks which quickly led to my demise. I then switched over to using Light attacks primarily; it turned out I could instantly cancel a Light attack animation into an Evade. This made learning to Evade Khamsin’s attacks much easier. I could concentrate purely on correctly reading the boss’s attack signposts and Evading at the correct moment while using Blade Mode to cancel and repeat my combo string.

I then realised that Blade Wolf differs from Raiden in that you can Blade Mode cancel all of his Evade animations as well as his attack animation! This fact led to a technique where I would cancel my current action with Blade Mode, execute an Evade to dodge an attack, but cancel that Evade with Blade Mode once the hit frames of the attack pass by. This enabled me to press my attack sequences far further than I ever could before; I was landing far more hits against the boss because I was trimming out the delay frames of my Evades. This exercise completely changed the way the game felt and how I played it. I have also just recently been having a huge amount of fun repeating a particular Secret Mission in The Wonderful 101; last night I had another mechanical breakthrough after spending a few hours exploring this fight.

This is what I love the most about these games: the more you put in to them, the more you get out. Most of the questions you need to ask the game system will not come to you until after you have reached a certain understanding of the system. You come to a particular situation where you hit a wall; you then ask a question and the game answers you. Platinum’s games are tuned to accommodate a very high skill ceiling and continue to surprise and delight the player after many months, or even many years of play.

4. How would you describe the various skills action games demand?

I believe the type of game design I enjoy the most started with Viewtiful Joe. Here is a game which looks like a traditional side-scrolling fighting game, but instead it turns the entire concept into something wildly different. The “lesson” of Viewtiful Joe I feel was “planning”: you don’t simply react to hazards and you don’t simply run up to enemies and start hitting them. Instead, you visually confirm the enemy set, formulate a plan based on your knowledge of those enemies and then execute that plan in the most stylish (yet efficient) way possible. The “plan” I speak of is the blueprint which dictates the correct way to do battle in the game, derived from the scoring system. The scoring system is the backbone of the game; it leads you into playing in a specific fashion to not only score more points but also deal damage more quickly.

The game system in Viewtiful Joe was like an invisible hand which guided the player towards creating a structure out of what initially seemed like chaos; it wasn’t simply about playing, it was about playing well. The Wonderful 101 takes the concept of planning and structure introduced in Viewtiful Joe and spins it into something far more free and dynamic. It blurs the boundaries between the different aspects of the scoring system which results in a game about “management” and “multi-tasking” as opposed to just “planning”.

In The Wonderful 101 you still have the same three aspects of the scoring system to consider: the combo timer, combo score and the combo multiplier. However, this time around all three aspects blur into each other, causing various aspects of the combat mechanics to merge together as a result. Look at the first aspect of Viewtiful Joe’s system as an example: to dodge an enemy attack to inflict a Stun you had to make a “binary” decision regarding which direction to dodge (up or down). In The Wonderful 101, however, the basic act of inflicting a Stun is done via the Team Attack button and full combo potential is only enabled once an enemy enters this state. Repeatedly hitting an enemy with Team Attack will cause more and more of your Wonderful Ones to cling onto the enemy and begin attacking it. Once a certain threshold is met the enemy will become stunned. This is not a binary decision with an instant result; it is a gradual “analogue” process which is independent of the main character’s animation. You are free to perform other actions during this process to manage other aspects of the scoring system as you prepare your target. In fact you are free to manage any part of the scoring system or any part of the enemy set as the situation dictates!

An excellent example to illustrate the way the three aspects of scoring merge together is the Unite Gun. You will notice that the Unite Gun fires not bullets but Wonderful Ones; as soon as a Wonderful One clings onto a target it signifies that you are now locked-on to that target. Pressing the [A] button at this point will trigger the Leader character to instantly zip over to that target’s location. But what happens when you fire loads of Unite Gun shots, causing many heroes to cling onto a target? You stun the enemy! Each Unite Gunshot increases the combo multiplier by x0.10 (higher than the base weapon multiplier value of x0.04), and if you manage to increase the combo multiplier beyond x2.50 your primary weapons (Unite Hand and Sword) gain a huge power boost. So the “simple” act of shooting an enemy is both your Lock-On and your means of inflicting Stun to enable a high scoring combo. It allows you to quickly increase the combo multiplier beyond x2.50, and encourages you with a boost to attack power so that you can kill the enemy even faster! All of these actions can be (and usually are) performed while you manage threats from other enemies. A great Wonderful 101 player is a person who is skilled at managing many things at once, and the game gives the player all the required tools with which to do so!

Unite Gun is used to lock-on to enemies, inflict stun, and build your combo multiplier.

Unite Gun is used to lock-on to enemies, inflict stun, and build your combo multiplier.

Increase your combo multiplier beyond x2.50 and your weapons get a power boost!

Increase your combo multiplier beyond x2.50 and your weapons get a power boost!

All of this is coupled with a brilliant new way of presenting the “entity” of the player character. Up to this point the player character has usually meant a fixed point of reference, but The Wonderful 101 plays around with this concept. The “character” the player controls is more like a “potential” instead of a fixed point, and as such you need to think about the way you interact with the game world and enemies in a new and different way. I love the way the player entity transitions seamlessly from being a spread out potential and then a single point, all depending on the current action.

Bayonetta is another game which I feel demonstrates the same level of brilliance with regard to finding new ways to present established concepts. If you look at other action games there are distinct boundaries between different types of action. We never once questioned the notion that melee attacks, gun attacks and evasive actions were separate and unique items which could be triggered at will but never mixed. Bayonetta presented a character which blurred the lines between these separate actions and established the genius mechanic of Dodge-Offset, which allowed the player to mix any and all evasive actions into just about any attack animation.

Bayonetta's Wicked Weave changes the way players think about their position relative to the enemy.

Bayonetta’s Wicked Weave changes the way players think about their position relative to the enemy.

These new ideas regarding movement and attacking were more than enough to establish Bayonetta as something unique, but I do not believe this is all there was to it. Bayonetta also asks you to consider a completely new way of thinking about 3D space: the brilliant Wicked Weave system. With Wicked Weaves (the action of projecting physical attacks through dimensional portals) you can inflict melee attack hit reactions at just about any distance. This causes the player to come up with completely different ways to deal with enemy sets compared to other action games; the fact that Bayonetta does not need to be near an enemy in order to physically attack it adds an utterly new dimension to a long established concept.

5. How does the Unite Morph System from The Wonderful 101 differ from traditional weapon switching systems?

Up until this point we have accepted that switching weapons in an action game is a mechanically simple process; you either select the weapon from within a menu or cycle through various weapons via a button press. However, The Wonderful 101 presents a completely new way of thinking about the “entity” of the player character; through the Wonder Liner mechanic, the mass of Wonderful Ones you control actually become the special attack command, they become the weapon! It cleverly establishes a new style of special attack command, specifically designed for an analogue joystick as opposed to a traditional digital input device, and requires that the player use both analogue sticks at once. The Unite Morph command glyphs are like analogue omni-directional representations of traditional digital special attack commands; the Unite Hand is a 360 motion/circle, the Unite Claw is an exaggerated “Dragon Punch” motion and the Unite Bomb is a half-circle then forward.

Using shape and color, weapon selection is communicated through visuals alone.

Using shape and color, weapon selection is communicated through visuals alone.

As players of fighting games know, special attack commands require practice. They are tricky to perform at first, but with time and patience you develop your own unique style of command execution. The Wonderful 101’s Unite Morph system operates in the same principle. The Wonder Liner mechanic is a brilliant way of visually representing special attack commands, and enables the player to not only select many different weapons quickly, but also freely manipulate the power level and scale of the weapon via the exact same command input.

The Wonder Liner mechanic is an analogue system, so by drawing a larger shape and sacrificing the speed in which the Unite Morph command is entered, you increase the attack power of the Unite Morph you want to select, visually communicated by the game as an enlarged version of the Unite Morph. Not only that; the Wonder Liner mechanic allows for the “storing” of a Unite Morph command! Once you visually confirm that you have entered a valid Unite Morph command glyph (signified by a color specific to each weapon), you are free to move the character as you like before you press [A] to activate the weapon.

Make it bigger: a tried-and-true method of showing increased power.

Make it bigger: a tried-and-true method of showing increased power.

On top of all this you then have to consider that you have two attack buttons, Normal attack and Team attack. Unite Morph commands can be activated via either attack button, triggering either the Leader character to equip the weapon or the team-mates to automatically attack with that weapon. As certain Unite Morphs have additional defensive abilities, it enables the player to eliminate a threat with one aspect of the team while dealing damage with the other. An example would be when faced with armoured enemies equipped with lasers: you can equip the leader with the Unite Sword to automatically deflect the laser beam, then command your team-mates to attack the target’s armour with the Unite Hammer. As incoming damage is only counted if it is inflicted upon the Leader of the team, I really enjoy working out ways in which I can keep the Leader out of trouble while using the team-mates to do the dirty work!

What I find most mind-blowing about the best action games is that they present a logical progression through their mechanics. In other words, once you gain a degree of mastery over one mechanic, it enables you to ask a question which leads you to the mastery of another deeper mechanic. In the case of The Wonderful 101, the first time I came across this logical path was after I got used to performing Unite Morph commands consistently. I began exploring simple combos; a few basic standing hits into a Wonderful Rising (launcher) leading to a basic aerial combo. I began wondering how I could string the attacks of different Unite Morphs together.

It was at this point that I realised the implications of the Wonder Liner being independent of the player character’s attack animation. It turns out that you are free to enter Unite Morph commands during any attack animation; if you enter a command during an attack animation and press [A] you will instantly cancel that animation and ready the newly selected weapon.

Naturally, the next logical step was to try this technique with special attacks, which are input via the left analogue stick. I discovered that if you do a special attack – such as the Wonderful Cyclone – you can enter the directional command for another Unite Morph with the right analogue stick and then perform an additional special attack command with the left analogue stick before pressing [A] to activate the new Unite Morph. The result was a means to instantly switch from the special attack of one Unite Morph into the special attack of another Unite Morph (dubbed “Unite Mix” in my tutorial video.) This technique massively expanded my options for building damaging combos; I could now string many special attacks together in order to keep an enemy locked in a high-scoring aerial juggle.

Once I gained a level of mastery over the “Unite Mix” technique, I was then led to ask another question. Certain special attacks (specifically the Wonderful Stinger) can only be performed once in mid air. How then can I use more than one Stinger during jump? Turns out you can do that too! To begin, you enter the command for the Unite Morph you want to use (right stick), input the command for the Stinger (left stick), and launch the attack with [A]. During the animation for the first aerial Stinger, you can input the commands for another, and perform a series of Stingers going back and forth between different morphs! This is what I love most about these games, the more thought you put in, the more cool stuff you get out!

Come back this Friday for Part 2 of our interview with Saur, where we discuss the past and future of action games! While you’re waiting, take a look at Saur’s Youtube channel.

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Hanami!

Platinum Games

Filed: PlatinumGames

BayoPose
Last week PlatinumGames held its annual company-wide hanami party. Although the name literally means “flower-viewing,” in reality hanami events are really an excuse to spend time together in the warm spring air, eat delicious food, and enjoy adult beverages. We accomplished all these things last Friday!

Overview

Timing the date for hanami is notoriously difficult. A single week can decide whether you get a view of beautiful pink petals, or bare branches. Although we missed full bloom by a couple days, thankfully the trees in Osaka Castle Park were still a sight to behold.

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The high-rises of downtown Osaka are juxtaposed with the castle. Going to work every day in the futuristic Umeda Sky Building, it is easy to forget we are so close to this historical landmark.

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Hanami gives everyone a chance to mingle with people from around the company, free from the constraints of their office seating plan. Here are Hideki Kamiya, Kenji Saito, and Yusuke Hashimoto; the three directors share a lively chat with their colleagues.

Directors

It is considered poor manners in Japan to make others pour their own drinks. Everyone makes sure their colleagues’ cups stay full and, if they’re lucky, will get the same treatment in return.

Pouring

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As expected, President Minami sits surrounded by the rest of the company. Employees take turns kissing his ring and pledging their allegiance for another year. (Just kidding, but everyone is expected to say hi and share a drink or two.)

DrinkWithThePrez

It is the job of first and second year employees to set up the party before the senior employees arrive.

Before

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After

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After the hanami, employees drop all flower viewing pretenses, and head to bars to keep the party going. Recharged, we are back in the office on Monday to keep doing what we love: making games!

BayoPose

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Bayonetta 2 coming to Wii U in 2014!

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2, Community, Games, PGTV, PlatinumGames

Hi, this is the director for Bayonetta 2, Yusuke Hashimoto. Hope everyone has been well.

Did you enjoy seeing Bayonetta in the latest Nintendo Direct? You can check out the newest trailer here:

As we’re using this post to touch base with our fans, why don’t we take a little time discussing what the “2” in our new Bayonetta means. It’s a sequel: we’ve taken the characters, story, and gameplay of the original and built upon them.

In addition to the original’s gameplay system—dodging at the last minute to perform Witch Time, saving up your Magic Gauge to use Torture Attacks—Bayonetta 2 includes a new feature called Umbran Climax. Now saving your Magic Gauge also gives you the option to unleash a combo made of successive Wicked Weave and Infernal Demon summons. This wide-ranged attack can effectively give you free rein over the battlefield.

We’ve escalated the Climax Action in other ways as well, take a look these, starting with the E3 2013 trailer:

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In our playable demo at E3 last year, you got to experience fighting on a jet and taking care of a rampaging Gomorrah. Now we have our new footage of Bayonetta caught in an epic battle of summons with a masked sage. This time the action is going to take you to all different places, be it land or sky. There will be exciting new situations of all types.

Eventually I’d like to talk about the new looks we’ve given the characters, and about the story as well. Stay put until then.

We’re starting to reach the climax stage of development here at Platinum as well. I’m excited to see what you’ll think. See you again!

2/14/2014

Yusuke Hashimoto (Director)

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