E3 2012: Dark Souls PC Developer Interview
The fans spoke - and for once game companies seemed to listen and act with startling swiftness. Dark Souls is headed to the PC along with new keyboard-and-mouse controls and a massive new quest storyline that will also make its way to console users in the form of DLC.
We sat down with Daisuke Uchiyama, producer on the game, and grilled him on that new input method, how the PC port came about and the politics of ensuring console users didn’t get left out.
RPG Site: So this all started with a tiny little message board post encouraging people to make their voices heard - that blew up into a petition and everything after that. How much did that influence your decision to work on a PC version of this title?
Daisuke Uchiyama: Yeah, definitely. Times have changed - in the past it would’ve been tough to get so many names on a petition so fast.
At first, even us, we were - we saw a couple of names up there and we thought ‘Wow, that’s great, we’re happy’ - but when it started reaching about the 100,000 names - that immediately shocked us. That was the main factor for us to come back and to say ‘ok, let’s try and do this.
RPG Site: The stand-out thing about Dark Souls is how challenging it is. The PC is a lot easier to manipulate and hack, so did you ever look and think you should put in harsher anti-cheat measures to try to retain the difficulty in this version?
Uchiyama: Ultimately when we decided to port to the PC we were very familiar with the possible hacks to the game - mods and stuff like that. I think it comes with the package.
At the same time, because we are going to be providing this finely-tuned, balanced game and we feel that a lot of PC gamers are hardcore gamers - as much as we try to put protection on it we’re hoping that the more hardcore you get the more players will try to go for the ‘true’ experience instead of trying to modify it.
That may sound a little too clean, but that’s our hope. The mods - breaking the balance will break the game itself, so we’re thinking that a game like Dark Souls is probably not fitted for trying to hack or trying to mod unless you’re a casual gamer that is desperate to beat the game or whatever.
RPG Site: You took a little longer to announce you were bringing the extra content to the consoles as well. Was that ever in doubt of happening?
Uchiyama: In terms of the additional content being available for download, originally as our base concept we wanted to provide everybody with an equal amount of gameplay, an equal amount of volume. So when we discussed adding additional content on PC distributing it as downloadable contents also came up.
To an extent it was decided, but there were several reasons why we couldn’t announce it - we had to space the announcements. We are really glad and thankful that we were finally able to announce and confirm it here at E3. We’re glad to tell players that it will be available for consoles as well.
One thing we wanted to clarify is - as a base concept we never really intended on doing additional content for the game. Our original intent was to deliver a complete package for the console. With the petition and with the PC version as well... everything came after the console version.
We don’t want gamers out there to feel jipped out of part of the game - we decided to tease them a little bit, but we figured after the fact that if we’re going to port we may as well add additional content - and bring it to console users as well.
RPG Site: How hard was it to pull such a precise game with very analogue controls onto a keyboard and mouse, and do you still recommend the use of a controller?
Uchiyama: So, again, we understand that PC gamers would obviously want to play on a keyboard and mouse. However, this is a game that has been balanced and tuned to fit the gamepad. That’s how we created it and that’s how we designed it.
As much as we have supported keyboard and mouse it was a fight - and it doesn’t quite fit perfectly. We highly recommend PC gamers play with a gamepad if possible - simply because that’s how we designed the game and that’s how the designers intend the game to be played.
If we’d had the PC version in mind right from the beginning things perhaps may have been a little bit different, but because PC came later, I think as a result we’d recommend the gamepad.
RPG Site: It’s an obvious question, but after the huge success of this and the massive demand for the PC version, is this a world and franchise you want to continue expanding on in the future?
Uchiyama: To be honest because the PC idea came up so fast and the fans spoke to us so quickly, we were right away using the same team that made Dark Souls to create the PC version.
Honestly speaking, we haven’t really talked about anything past that. We’re so focused on the PC version and the downloadable content that it’s tough to bring anything else up to the hard-working team right now. We’re in crunch, we’re focused - so we’re not thinking about that right now.