Bayonetta 2 Nintendo Direct!

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy Anniversary!

The Wonderful 101

Filed: Games, The Wonderful 101

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just kidding, he totally made it happen! :D

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

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

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

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

@PG_Kamiya

Until next time!

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

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Cut Scene Production in Bayonetta 2

Bayonetta

Filed: Bayonetta, Bayonetta 2, Games, PlatinumGames

Hello!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s an example:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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Music in Bayonetta 2

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

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

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UI Design in Bayonetta 2

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

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

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

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

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

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

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The gauge from the first game (Xbox 360)

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

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

03_shop_bayo104_shop_bayo1

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.

07_lensflare108_lensflare2

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.

09_chapterresult_bayo1

The Chapter Result Screen from the original Bayonetta

10_chapterresult111_chapterresult2

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.

14_subscreen

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!

15_touchsubscreen

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

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

 

 

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Angel/Demon Sound Design

BAYONETTA 2

Filed: Bayonetta 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Add the demonic sweeteners.”

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

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

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

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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

kubinashi

 

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

mahou

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

tecq

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

muchi

 

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.

blogLT_0

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

blogLT_1

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.

blogLT_2
3) This is the first image blended with the second. At this point, we’re almost finished.

blogLT_3
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.

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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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