Character Design Pt. 3: New Characters, Extras

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hi, it’s Mari Shimazaki again – lead character designer.

We’ve got just one week until Bayonetta 2 hits the shelves. Are you ready?

Loki

2loki_01

2loki_02

For my last little update before the game goes on sale, I’d like to talk about some new characters at the center of Bayonetta 2’s story, and some “extras.

In the original Bayonetta, our main character traveled with a little girl named Cereza. This time, it’s a mysterious kid that sports some attitude.

Designing him had its twists and turns. First he was actually planned to be a girl, but Kamiya saw that and said “…I did that the first game.” So we changed it to a boy.

If I talk about him too much I’m scared I might ruin some of the game’s story, but I think I can at least talk about the colors, accessories, and patterns I chose for him. I wanted him to have a modern look that still was also reminiscent of the otherworldliness of his character.

2lokicard_01

 

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Also, I’ll say a thing or two about the cards he uses.

In the actual game you only see him use a few specific ones, but I actually drew an entire set, kind of just because I wanted to.

One set totals to 22 cards.

There are also Verse Cards in the game that preserve the same basic design, but they were a collaboration work between the entire team. They made 53 cards altogether.

If you’re into cards those numbers might ring a bell. That’s right: they’re the same number of cards that you’ll find in a set of tarot cards (Major Arcana) and playing cards.

There are a lot of explanations for how tarot cards and playing cards originated, but for Bayonetta 2, I liked to design them thinking “what if the real origin of tarot/playing cards lies with Loki?” That helped me design them to make sense in Bayonetta’s world.

As for his 22 card set… can you guess the tarot counterpart for each card?

Might be interesting to put them side by side and try to see if you can tell.

 

Masked Lumen

2mask

Masked Lumen… another key figure to Bayonetta 2’s story.

Just like Loki, I won’t tell you too much about who he is to avoid spoilers, but I’ll at least say the two concepts that I kept in mind while designing him were “straight lines” and “grace.”

Super Mirror/Couture Bullets

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bayonetta_bonus_02

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After acquiring the Super Mirror 2, Bayonetta can become an Umbran Gekka, Policewoman, Schoolgirl… They’re what’d you’d call “unlockable costumes.”

The basic design process I went through for these costumes was to brainstorm with Hashimoto and think about what costumes the fans would like. Then, out of those, Kamiya, Hashimoto, and I each chose a costume of our liking.

For the first Bayonetta, Kamiya was the director, so he chose the P.E. Uniform.

For Bayonetta 2, Hashimoto was the director, and he chose the Umbran Gekka.

Kamiya admitted that he probably indulged himself a bit too much when he made his choices for the first Bayonetta, so he chose something with a bit more mass appeal for this game: the policewoman. Hashimoto chose the Umbran Gekka, and I chose the schoolgirl outfit.

The process taught us about each other’s individual preferences, which was fun.

During game development, we always get to making these extras at a time when the staff really have their hands full. Sometimes it’s hard to put in everything we want, but we all still really want our fans to enjoy the game as much as possible, so we do what we can.

Some of the ideas that the staff had were pretty out there. I ended up drawing some interesting sketches so if I ever have the chance I think it’d be fun to show you.

After you finish your first playthrough of the game, be sure to try out the main game, Muspelheim, and Tag Climax in your own favorite costume.

Be just a little more patient—good times are right around the corner!

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Bayonetta 2 Misc. Tips and Tricks

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hello everyone. Once again, this is the arcade-frequenting, karaoke-loving game designer Ryoya Sakebe. Chances are good you’ll find me at one of these places on my days off.

This time I’d like to share a couple behind-the-scenes tidbits from the development of Bayonetta 2.

(Spoiler warning!!)

The dedicated among you may already know some of these, but bear with me.

1) Where’s Loki?!

In the first part of the game’s story you travel with your companion Loki. He is able to transform into a flying squirrel, and while on the move he hangs out within Bayonetta’s substantial bosom. Lucky jerk. But when Bayonetta unleashes the Beast Within and transforms into a Panther, where do you think he goes? Don’t worry, she doesn’t leave him behind!

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↑Here’s Flying Squirrel Loki holding on for dear life. Move the camera around to get a closer look; he’s super cute!

2) Don’t fall for the PKP combo trap

If you fully execute a combo, your final hit will summon a Wicked Weave, dealing much more damage than a regular attack. Out of all the possible combos, the quickest way to get out a Wicked Weave is the Punch-Kick-Punch combo (known as PKP for short.) What an easy way to rack up a ton of damage, right? Wrong. You still have a long way to go…BD (sunglasses smiley)

While the PKP is fast and can stun enemies, we purposefully made it less powerful than other combo finishers. Moreover, if you send an enemy flying with PKP, you’ll have to go chase them down before you can start your next combo. If there are any true Platinum rank chasers among you, please remember: you will never achieve true strength while relying on PKP.

3) The secret effect of Tetsuzanko

Here’s another little known fact.

Pressing Punch after moving the analog stick from back to front executes the devastating “Tetsuzanko”. Purchasable from Rodin’s store, it takes a different form depending on the weapon you have equipped.

With Rakshasa equipped…

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↑The start of the Tetsuzanko animation with Rakshasa equipped. Leap back away from the enemy and…

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↑Close the gap in an instant with a slash!

This movement makes it a bit of a tricky attack to use effectively. In fact, the part of the animation where you jump back is not just for show; it allows you to dodge enemy attacks. Which also means you can activate Witch Time! While you’re slashing away at an enemy, if it looks like it is about to attack, quickly input the command for Tetsuzanko. In a single fluid motion you will jump back, dodge the attack, activate Which Time, and launch an attack of your own. Just think of the combo points! It can be tough getting the right timing in the middle of a difficult battle, so give it a try against Accolade, or some other easy enemy. Trust me, you will feel like a total boss.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you today. There are still plenty of fun little facts and stories left to tell, but they will have to wait for another day. See you!

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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.

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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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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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Enemy Design in Bayonetta 2 (Pt. 1)

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hey everyone. My name’s Yusuke Hashimoto, the director of this game. Recently, I keep hoping someone will make a Bayonetta Amiibo for me.

I’d like to talk about enemy design, which is something I handled since the original Bayonetta.

Deciding on enemy designs in Bayonetta 2 was… not an easy process.

Why? Well—

-I have to design and be the director at the same time.
-I used too many good ideas in the first game.
-Now I have to come up with angel AND demon enemies.

I’ve got enough work as it is, so I’m baffled as to why I volunteered to be a designer. You get some crazy courage the first game you direct.

Anyway, let’s introduce a few of the enemies in this game. We’ll start with a few ideas I had for the original but didn’t have room to fit in.

Valiance

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We call this guy Headless for short. I wanted him to have a powerful, solemn, sacred look to him, but also kinda be an idiot. The sword with the face on it is his actual body; the rest is just controlled by the sword. When I designed him I thought maybe the body holding the sword could be destroyed and replaced indefinitely, as long as the sword remained intact.

Next, we have the Magic Angel, who uses his staff to cast spells.

Enrapture

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I designed this character thinking it might be interesting to have someone who could change things up in battle by raising his allies’ attack power and healing other angels. With those two done, I’d hit the bottom of the idea bank I had from the first game.

To be honest, I feel like I put every creative idea I had in the first game. So, if the original’s enemies were good, why not just bring them back in the sequel and change them up some? Later I realized just how boneheaded of an idea that was. The more we developed the game, the more it became clear that a newly designed Bayonetta fighting not newly designed enemies was boring. As the director of the game, I wanted Bayonetta to fight something different. I had some trouble coming up with ideas until I realized—I should step away from using just the human frame as a base. That’s when I finally hit on something—our Centaur Angel.

Acceptance

uma

 

As you can tell from the picture, his concept is part human, part horse. He’s one of the more common enemies in the game.

In Bayonetta 2, dodging the enemy’s attack to activate Witch Time and then attacking relentlessly is central to gameplay. In order to accomplish this, it’s important to give enemies an outline and attacks that will be easy for the player to see (I assume this should go for more than just action games like Bayonetta, as well). So, for this game, we left the easiest “tells” that come with a human based design, but took some liberties with the new horse form, like putting his face on his stomach. We guessed Bayonetta’s attacks would likely land there, and it’d be fun to see what kind of reactions he’d make. I also tried to design his armor and accessories to give him a bit more of a “leveled up” appearance than the most common enemy in the original, Affinity (this is Bayonetta 2, after all).

I usually don’t keep my rough sketches, so I can’t really show you the process of how I went from human to horse, but I can say he’s probably the character I spent the most time designing. A lot of the other team members think he looks pretty big to be a common weak enemy, but I’m pretty happy with how he came out.

After finishing this enemy, the door was opened to completely revamp some angel enemy design. The next angel I worked on was this heavy armor guy.

Urbane

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I wanted this enemy to convey two things to the player through his design: he’s a power type, and has some kind of elemental attribute. So, I bulked the frame up on the top and gave him iron balls for both of his hands. In the game, he has a fire version and an ice version.

Next, let’s introduce Belief. This enemy’s been around since the premiere trailer.

Belief

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His concept was to make him asymmetrical so it would be easier to understand how he attacks. After I started designing Belief, I realized the first Bayonetta doesn’t really have any asymmetrical enemies, so it was relatively easy to draw him and think up attacks.

Here’s a new angel that kind of takes the place of the manta angel, the underwater enemy from the first game.

Fidelity

sakana

 

Bayonetta 2’s initial location is Noatun, a coastal city full of rivers and lakes, so I wanted to create an enemy that could behave and move differently in and out of water.

Last, we have one of the bosses of the game, the Dragon Angel!

Glamor

ryu

 

Since we have a dragon angel in the first game (Fortitudo), my biggest concern for this character was to have him look and behave differently.

Well, I thought I might get into some demon designs here too, but I’ve talked long enough already, so let’s save that for next time. See you again!

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Lighting in Bayonetta 2

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hi! I’m the lead background artist for Bayonetta 2, Shohei Kameoka. This is my first time writing for a dev blog, so I’m a little nervous. Bear with me. Okay, let’s get started.

One of my duties for Bayonetta 2 was to take care of all the lighting, water, air, and other indefinite objects in the world environments. Out of all those I spent the most time on lighting, so I thought I’d share a little on what kind of work I did.

In Bayonetta 2, many of the environments have a water theme, so I really wanted to make water in the game look beautiful. I tried to come up with some key concepts for water and worked off of the following: transparent, shining, clean, cool, something you would want to feel, something you would want to dive into. Then I thought about how I could use those words to choose the right lighting for water.

Transparent, clean, and shining all convey something clear, with a strong light shining on it. Cool, something you would want to feel, something you would want to dive into… to me, these all seem related to temperature. So, combining those two ideas, you’d probably picture a bright, sunny environment. I used that image as my guide.

Well, words can only say so much, so let’s explain with some pictures.

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1) This is a stage with no lighting. There are no shadows and everything feels 2-dimensional.

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2) Here’s just the lighting of the stage. You imagine the shape and depth of the shadows, and the structure of the buildings, and give it light. You can, of course, walk around and check the map out, so you get to see if you missed a spot.

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3) This is the first image blended with the second. At this point, we’re almost finished.

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4) Finally, we add the finishing touches. We adjust some colors, and give it some glare to strengthen the light’s presence.

I think I was able to give a sunny feel to this place, wouldn’t you say? The light reflects off the water and gives it a nice shimmer. As the sun is shining strong, the water also appears very transparent. It’s summer in Japan now… and all of a sudden I want to go for a swim.

Okay, well that’s my talk on lighting! Bayonetta 2 contains a lot of environments that contrast with this one, so see and try to think about how we used lighting in other places as you play! Thanks, see you again!

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Giving Effects an Edge

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hi, my name is Koji Tanaka, I am the Visual Effects Lead for Bayonetta 2. Recently I’ve taken up walking to get some exercise.

Let’s start by discussing what the effects section actually does. The short version is, we make the fire, the smoke, the heavy rain, and the snowfall. We make the visual effects for each move and magic attack. Our job is important for setting the tone for the game, giving it the right atmosphere, and the right feel.

For this entry, I’d like to talk about the battle VFX we made for Bayonetta 2.
Bayonetta is a series where you fight, fight, and fight some more. To get the most out of the game, it’s best to fight groups of enemies building one combo on the other. Every time you execute a combo, there are effects that go with it. There’s actually a little more thought put into balancing these effects than you might think. What I mean is, there’s an ironclad rule that effects should never hide a player’s motion. That may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s actually not so easy. We want battles to be exciting and have lots of stunning effects, right? So we tend to get carried away. If we add too much, though, you’re unable to see your character and the game becomes unplayable. As the player, your eyes should be on the enemy and your own character, not the effects. That being said, if we start being too safe making effects, battles are boring.

In the end, we decided to make over-the-top effects that would fade out nice and quick, with just a hint of the effect lingering behind. In other words, we tried to give them an edge. Rather than giving the effects too much screen time, we chose to give them a brief, brilliant appearance, leave an impression in the player’s mind, and then have an echo remain, to still give the effect some presence in the battlefield.

Look, maybe a movie will speak louder than words.

Here’s an effect before giving it an edge.


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

Now, with an edge:


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

Did that make it easier to understand? Originally we were making VFX similar to the first video, but it interfered with gameplay too much. So we visualized taking effects in a new direction, and came to where we are now. It might sound like a subtle difference, but that subtlety is important. You’ll realize that when you’re stringing combos together. The more manic the battle, the more this method works.

That’s something you’ll just have to play and see for yourself, though. When you feel the sweat in your hand as you grip the controller, I think you’ll get it. I look forward to the moment when you do! Bayonetta 2 is an action game where every department devoted time and thought on how to put together the most satisfying kind of action game possible. I hope you can see that for yourself when it comes out. Each day we’re getting closer to its release! Until then, keep visiting here and checking our blog out!

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Cities and Waterways

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hello, my name is Hiroki Onishi. I was the lead environmental artist for Bayonetta 2.

A large section of Bayonetta 2 takes place in Noatun, a city filled with waterways and rivers. In order to design Noatun, we traveled to Italy and Belgium to see cities that fit this aesthetic up close. The trip ended up being more rewarding than we could’ve imagined.

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Our journey began with a 12-hour flight from Kansai to Brussels. We planned on visiting Bruges and the Cathedral of Our Lady first, but when we arrived, we heard the Royal Palace was currently open to the public, so we rearranged our schedule to make that our first stop.

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The Belgium Palace

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In Game

The Royal Palace was perfect for helping us figure out the some of the game’s grander architecture. A lot of the places we visited prohibited photography, so we were thrilled that the palace allowed cameras as long as the flash was off. It was a great start to the trip. The building we created for Bayonetta 2 ended up being a little more stylized than we originally planned, but I’m happy with how it turned out. I think its impact on the player is stronger than before. Look forward to seeing it in the game.

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Church of Our Lady

Can you see the color reflected on the floor from the stained glass in the picture above? These kinds of antique glass have a high transparency that clearly reflects color onto walls and floors when hit with sunlight. This photo was taken in the Church of Our Lady in Bruges. If the sunlight is too strong, only white will be reflected, but if it’s too weak, the colors will blur and be indiscernible. If you don’t have the correct amount of light, the phenomenon won’t occur. We saw several cathedrals on our trip, but this was the only time we were able to catch light reflecting on the floor. I saw this and thought… I really want to recreate how beautiful this is in a game. It ended up being everyone at Platinum’s favorite location inside the cathedral in Bayonetta 2. It’s nice to be able to just turn on a game and see it any time I like.

chapel2

In Game

After we were done in Belgium, we moved on to Italy. Our time in Italy provided two breakthroughs to Bayonetta 2’s environments.

The first were these stone walkways. The picture below was taken in Florence–notice how thick the stones are and how the road curves upwards in the middle so rain will naturally flow down to the waterways on the side. On narrow roads with no waterways, the path slopes inward, so the water will collect in the middle.

We designed several paths like this for Bayonetta 2. In an action game, it’s more beneficial to the player in battle to have the camera looking downward, so the ground will usually take up a significant portion of the screen. Therefore, we put a lot of emphasis on making these textures look realistic. I think if Bayonetta really did fight here, she’d probably get her heel stuck between two rocks in the road.

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Florence

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In Game

Our other major takeaway was the tiled roofs. Most of the roofs in Italy are made with orange bricks that turn white or black when aged. Only bricks that have been newly thatched are orange. Houses that didn’t regularly repair their roofs would have nothing but white bricks. However, if you look from the distance, the city’s buildings look like they are covered in a uniform layer of orange. Our hotel in Venice had bricks low enough that you could stick your hand out of the window and reach up and touch them. They must have been considerably aged, but they felt sturdy and held in place surprisingly well. In Japan, there are places that try to imitate European style by selling pre-aged, multi-colored bricks, but after going to Italy, it terrifies me that Japanese people probably don’t understand how different the real thing is.

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Florence

The cities in Italy were full of flowers—the terraces on buildings would usually be decorated with colorful flower arrangements. I assumed this was done for tourism, but when I asked someone, they told me everyone grows them because it’s easy. They’re mostly geraniums that need to be watered or looked after very little. It’s true, we were in the city taking photos from early in the morning until late at night, but I never saw anyone watering anything. When I came back to Japan I bought some geraniums myself to see if they really were that easy to take care of. They were all right when it was still warm out, but every last one died in winter. Maybe Japan isn’t the most welcoming climate for them.

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Santa Margherita Ligure

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Venice

I saw something interesting when I was in Venice. Can you see the picture below, and how the knobs are close to the middle of the door? When I asked why, I was told it was because older locks were made separately from handles, and it was hard to fit both in the same place. The picture below wasn’t the exception; a lot of doors in Venice looked like this. They seemed like they’d be tricky to open.

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Venice

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Venice

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In Game

I think the most challenging thing we faced after our trip was conveying how important water was to the everyday lives of the city’s inhabitants. In Venice, there were no roads for cars to run on, because there were no cars—everything was handled by boats. There were no gates in the rivers to make sure travel was simple. Even refrigerators and laundry machines were carried to houses on small boats before being loaded up on push carts. We had to carry all our equipment on a boat to our hotel, and then drag everything along bumpy stone paths. It was a new experience for all of us, and it gave us some slight culture shock. Yet I think it was things like these that gave Venice a unique artistic quality that was interesting to express in the game. If anyone from Venice were to play the game and actually relate with our depiction of the citizen’s daily lives, I’d be honored.

Going abroad provides new experiences, information, and teaches you to view things in a broader, different way than before. Even outside of work, I still make an effort to travel abroad every year. If anything, just because I learn so much from it. I actually still haven’t traveled anywhere in Asia outside of Japan, but I hope I’ll eventually have the chance to. Thanks for reading all the way to the end!

 

 

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At E3

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Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hi everyone. My name is Akiko Kuroda, and I’m the producer for Bayonetta 2 and the Wii U port of Bayonetta. This is actually my first job as a full-fledged producer, so being given two titles was quite a sudden crescendo to climax action. I’m doing my best to make sure both games are as amazing as they can be.

As far as technical talk goes, I’ll leave that to the other staff. For my entry, I’d like to discuss my trip to the industry’s biggest gaming expo, E3. Similar to last year, we brought a playable demo of Bayonetta 2. This year we were able to announce the Wii U port of Bayonetta, and that it will be sold packaged with Bayonetta 2, which met with a very positive reaction (Thank you to everyone who showed their enthusiasm. Wait just a little longer guys!).

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Here’s a pic of one of our stations in Nintendo’s area. The wicked witch was very popular!

Hashimoto and I had a very important reason for attending this year’s E3. We were there to promote. Media journalists from around the world gather at E3, and it’s our job to make sure they leave with a story that makes gamers happy. Luckily for us, a lot of the media wanted to hear us talk about Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2. I’m sure a lot of their articles have already gone up by now. Have you had the chance to read any of them?

We were asked all sorts of questions. A favorite question of mine was, “Most games fall back on a hero rescuing some helpless female character. What were your reasons to have Bayonetta feature a strong female protagonist?” This was more a question directed toward the Bayonetta series rather than just Bayonetta 2. There were people who doubted the choice of a female protagonist ever since we first revealed the original game’s development. Our internal team, on the other hand, didn’t mind. We just thought it would be interesting to have the main character be a witch. From there, we expanded on the concept: instead of thinking about how a female protagonist would limit us, we thought about what we could do because Bayonetta was female. Of course, a likeable character is an important thing, but to us, getting the controls right is always top priority. I’m sure there might be fans out there that have some reluctance towards playing as a female, but we’re confident that we’ve made Bayonetta look and feel as great as any PlatinumGames character should.

We also had some questions about the Touch Controls we implemented for the Wii U GamePad. We were able to show the controls in action at E3 and how easy it can be to perform huge combos with some simple Touch Controls. The Touch Controls really give the game a unique new feel and it only takes a simple tap to switch over. We’re sure there are some hardcore action fans who think they don’t need them, but we recommend you try it out at least once. You might be surprised.

Of course we got questions about the possibility of Bayonetta 3. You guys are so impatient. Bayonetta 2 isn’t even out yet! But yeah, we’d love to make 3 if we could…

In addition to the regular media runaround, this time Nintendo also held a special streaming event called Nintendo Treehouse Live*, and we got to take part.

*One by one, developers introduce their titles on a live broadcast across the web.

Nintendo’s goal for the event was to present titles with a more real, at-home approach instead of just deliver something scripted. There was some prep before we went on, but most of the talk was Hashimoto doing ad-lib.

To refresh your memory, Hashimoto, director of Bayonetta 2, was the producer of the first game. Back during its development, he traveled around the world doing countless press interviews, so he’s a pretty seasoned media veteran. He can improvise and go along with each situation without ever missing a beat. That means I was left to mostly sit quietly and play the game. Still, I had to be able to show off anything he would mention at the drop of a hat, so it required some level of skill… okay? (I actually hurt my right hand before the event from practicing too much… lol)

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Believe it or not, you don’t really get the chance to convey what you want about the game, or show it to your fans in such a direct way so often, so it felt great to be able to take part in Treehouse Live, and I hope to be able to do more events like it in the future. Also, as a game fan myself, it was pretty cool to see Miyamoto-san and Tezuka-san (Yoshi’s Woolly World) up so close! I heard 60,000 people tuned in to hear about Bayonetta 2. Normal numbers for attendees at a conference stop around the 100s, so it’s hard for me to even imagine that large of a crowd.

If you haven’t seen our Treehouse Live presentation yet, you can check out a digest of it here:

You’ll get to see what we included in our E3 Bayonetta 2 demo, as well as other info we only made public there!

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I was able to score a shot of Miyamoto-san playing some Wii U. I’m just now realizing we were in the same seat with the same controller!!

Most of my work at E3 was media interviews and Nintendo’s event, but if I get the chance later, hopefully I can share even more. We’ve only got three more months until Bayonetta 2’s release as well, so keep checking here as we reveal more new information.

I spent a lot of time at the Nintendo booth during E3, but that meant being able to meet Miyamoto-san, Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.’s developers, MonolithSoft’s Xenoblade Chronicles X team, and talk about a lot more I can’t elaborate on! I also got to meet Aonuma-san, the current producer of the Zelda series, and thank him for letting us borrow Link’s costume. His reply was, “Anytime you have any other interesting ideas, let me know!” I’m holding you to those words, Aonuma-san…

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Here’s a pic of me and Tezuka-san. Yoshi’s Woolly World definitely takes the cake for cutest game at E3 2014.

P.S. I’ve been making some character-themed bentos on my twitter (@pg_kuroda). Have you been checking them out? I made a special bento for this blog: the Masked Lumen from Bayonetta 2.

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Who is this guy? Well, you’ll just have to wait and find out.

I’d say follow me for more Bayonetta 2 info, but my twitter’s mostly in Japanese, of course. Follow me anyway!

Thanks for reading my blog! See you again!

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