Creating an Automated Bug Checker

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2, Games, PlatinumGames

Hi, I’m Morita, a programmer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

auto01

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

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

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

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

auto02

- Standby for certain conditions

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Designing the Collaboration Costumes

Bayonetta

Filed: Bayonetta

Hello, I was the Nintendo costume collaboration designer for the Bayonetta Wii U port, my name is Yong-Hee Cho. For this blog, I’d like to talk about the design process for creating these costumes.

It all started one day when Kamiya walked up to my desk and said, “Hey Cho. Draw Bayonetta in a Princess Peach outfit for me. Thanks.”

He walked off to leave me thinking to myself, “P-p-p-princess Peach and Bayonetta? How am I supposed to find the common ground between these two characters!? They’re like night and day…”

At the same time, I was intrigued, and wanted to try to design something for two characters that different.

So, she was the first character I started out with. I decided to first just draw Bayonetta, so I’d have a base design to work off I could “dress up” in other costumes.

cho_001

(Really, it’s not necessary to go this far, but… I wanted to.)

Next, I put together some various costume ideas for Kamiya to look at. Right now, we’re still at very rough concept art.

cho_002

Personally, I thought it’d be fun to rearrange the Peach look a little bit, but Kamiya wanted it to be as close to the original as possible, so we ultimately went with (F).

He also requested two revisions:

  • Don’t let her hair down like that.
  • Attach a Mario charm somewhere.

 

This is how the Mario charm turned out.

cho_003

Here’s what Bayonetta looked like after I incorporated his feedback.

cho_004

I used this Peach to make the Daisy costume (Daisy has Luigi instead of Mario, of course).

cho_005

The next costume I did was for Samus Aran of Metroid fame. I’m really into mechanics, so I had the most fun designing this costume.

Here’s the first piece I drew.

cho_006

When Kamiya took a look at it, he said he wanted it to be the Powered Suit from the first Metroid game for NES. The original Metroid is around 30 years old now so unfortunately there’s not a whole lot of artwork to base my design on. I ended up just studying the game sprite and package art. This is how it turned out.

cho_007

It’s supposed to have more of a retro look. What do you think?

 

As I designed these costumes, I would think, when we have the player transforming into Peach, wouldn’t it be cool if we could change game play up somehow as well? Then, one day I thought, what about having Bowser’s punches and kicks be used for Bayonetta’s Wicked Weaves? I pitched the idea to Kamiya and he said “sounds good, do it.” The next idea I thought of was having Samus Bayonetta change to her Morph Ball. This, unfortunately, didn’t make it into Bayonetta Wii U, but… it did make it into Bayonetta 2! Thinking of these little extras is really one of the rewarding parts of working in games.

cho_008

Here’s what the Morph Ball looks like. Those red parts are kinda based on the 8-bit graphics of the first Morph Ball from Metroid.

 

Last is Link. I don’t think this costume was a grand departure from his design, so Kamiya approved of it quickly. All of these costumes, however, needed to be run by Nintendo as well.

cho_009

When I gave the designs to Nintendo to check, I was worried about how “kid-friendly” Bayonetta looked. Like, I didn’t think it’d be a good idea to show too much cleavage, you know… but when Nintendo looked at my Link design, they actually suggested to me to open up her top a little more… Wow.

cho_010

Here’s what the final approved design looked like.

cho_011

Overall, I think I was able to keep Bayonetta’s personality in these new arrangements, so I was pretty pleased. Each costume comes with different sounds and visual effects as well, so be sure to check them out in both games. Thanks for reading! See you again.

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Bayonetta 2 Out In Stores!

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hi everyone, this is Bayonetta 2’s director, Yusuke Hashimoto.

It’s been five long years… finally Bayonetta 2 is finally out in North America and Europe! I guess some of you might be playing it right now!

Bayo2_SS_140603_008

I’ve been overjoyed to receive so many messages from all of you on my twitter (PG_y_hashimoto). Thanks so much. During production, those messages helped me out a lot, and now, I’m just thinking… I can’t believe it’s finally on sale. This will be the first title I’ve worked on that will hit the stores in five years.

I remember writing “See you next stage!” in the staff comments for The Eyes of Bayonetta, the art book for the original game. Back then I just meant for it to pertain to whatever next game I worked on. I never dreamed it would come to mean me directing the sequel to Bayonetta.

A lot has happened in five years. Going from producer to director, moving to a new console… there was a lot of trial and error involved in moving forward, but I think we were able to give so much to the final product because we always believed, we want as many people as possible to enjoy Bayonetta 2.

This time around, we’re really blown away with all the opportunities we’ve had. We were able to add Japanese audio, so many collaboration costumes with Nintendo, and even a port of Kamiya’s original classic to the package… honestly, a deal like this feels too good to be true.

I hope you all enjoy Bayonetta 2.

See you on my next PlatinumGames’ project!

Yusuke Hashimoto

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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

 

2lokicard_02

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

bayonetta_bonus_01

bayonetta_bonus_02

bayonetta_bonus_03

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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A Little Help From Your Friends

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hello everyone, my name is Ryoya Sakabe. I’m a game designer here at PlatinumGames. It’s nice to get a chance to write to everyone.

I was a member of the team that made Bayonetta 2. In fact, it was the first game I ever worked on. When I saw my name roll by in the credits I got a little choked up. I had to move all the way from Hokkaido (1,500km away) to work at PlatinumGames, but it was totally worth it!

Alright, enough about me, let’s talk about Bayonetta 2! Today, I would like to focus on team battles!

It goes without saying that there are co-op battles in the new Tag Climax co-op mode. However, there are also scenes in the story mode where you fight alongside A.I. controlled characters. These make for some really exciting battles, and are one of the cool new features Bayonetta 2 brings to the table. You can do crazy torture attacks together, and see some cool teamwork. Definitely keep an eye out for these scenes when you play the game.

Of course, actually getting this feature into the game was a serious challenge. A great example is Loki, a key character in the story of Bayonetta 2. You fight together with him in many battles throughout the game.

sakabe_2_1

(Loki and Bayonetta mid-battle. At first I was so fixated on showing how cool Loki was, I designed him so all his attacks sent enemies flying! I ended up having to tone things down after various members of the team pointed out how ridiculous it was.)

Yet, there was a time when, outside of cut scenes, he only fought in a single scene (the one right after you meet him.)

Fast forward to the last leg of the project. With the deadline looming, I was trying desperately to improve the sections I was in charge of in any way possible. One day, I received a request from Director Hashimoto:

“I want Loki to do more in this part.”

(Note: just what “part” he was referring to, you’ll have to wait and see!)

Where did that come from!? Sure, having two characters fight together had been part of the plan since early in production…but there were schedule constraints to consider, not to mention the effect these battles would have on the game’s tempo.

As the game designer in charge of Loki’s moves, I started to panic. I was concerned that we wouldn’t be able to implement the feature in time. But, putting those fears aside, I decided to take on the challenge.

Why, you ask? Because I knew it would make the game more interesting, that’s why!

And so, Operation Make Loki Less of a Wimp was underway.

Since Loki deftly avoids enemies’ in cut scenes, I decided to have his in-game moves reflect this by allowing him to spin and jump out of the way of attacks, and throw cards while dodging. When planning these moves, I was careful to make sure they didn’t steal the show too much. After all, the star of Bayonetta should always be Bayonetta herself. If Loki is going all out every five seconds, players would not be able to focus on the battle at hand. Loki is a support role, so I made sure that when the player does notice him, it is only to the extent that they can confirm that, yes, he is pulling his weight in battle. Also, if he was too powerful, he would end up finishing off the enemies and stealing the player’s glory. I made sure to balance his strength to make sure the player still feels like they earned their victories.

When one of his attacks connects, it will momentarily stun weak enemies, giving Bayonetta a chance to go in for an attack. He really has your back!

Next, I thought about how to make him act outside of combat. This involved adjusting the speed he moves when leading the player, and the timing of the hints he calls out. My top priority was striking a balance so that players notice the things I want them to see, without making the game stressful to play.

If Loki runs off ahead, you lose the sense of exploring together. On the other hand, if the player is always forced to wait for Loki to catch up, they will quickly get frustrated. It took a lot of trial and error to get this feeling right. Keeping Loki’s character in mind, I tried to add some personality to the way he moves to keep things fresh.

That’s a brief look at how we designed Loki’s character in-game. I would talk with the staff from the various art and programming sections first thing in the morning, and we’d try implementing new ideas and balance them out. Everyone gave it their all to make the game as fun as possible.

After the game was finished, I went back and played the sections where you fight together with Loki. I had this big satisfied grin on my face that I couldn’t seem to get rid of. It was worth the extra effort, without a doubt.

We focused on Loki this time, but the other characters you fight alongside each have their own unique aspects (they had their own set of difficulties to overcome during development.) I hope you find all the team battles exciting as you play Bayonetta 2!

 

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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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Cut Scene Production in Bayonetta 2

Bayonetta

Filed: Bayonetta, Bayonetta 2, Games, PlatinumGames

Hello!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s an example:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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Music in Bayonetta 2

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

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

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UI Design in Bayonetta 2

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

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

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

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

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

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

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The gauge from the first game (Xbox 360)

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

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

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The shop screen from the previous game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Chapter Result Screen from the original Bayonetta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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