Forums - PC Discussion - Die another day: going masochist with Dark Souls on PC

Stace Harman talks to Dark Souls producer Hidetaka Miyazaki in Las Vegas on balancing the giddy highs with the hellish lows of porting the hard-as-nails RPG to PC. New screens and art.



Namco Bandai estimates that Dark Souls’ 1.3m players have collectively experienced some 260m deaths since the game’s console launch; an average of around 200 deaths per player.

Regardless of sales figures, a port of the original Demon’s Souls is unlikely as the publishing licence is held by Sony.

Dark Souls Prepare to Die edition will receive a retail and digital release on August 24 worldwide.

Dark Souls Easter Egg: Despite speculation concerning hidden uses of the pendant item in Dark Souls Miyazaki remains tight-lipped. Speaking via his translator he comments that whether or not it has any undiscovered uses should be kept secret and that he “wouldn’t answer that question for his life”

Are PC gamers masochistic? Certainly, enough of them wish to experience the exquisite pain visited on their console brethren by From Software, that an online petition to bring Dark Souls to PC has elicited over 92,000 signaturessince its inception in January. Now, three months later, the petitioners have been rewarded by Namco Bandai announcing that it will grant their sadistic wish and so the brilliantly realised RPGwill launch on PC on August 24.

It’s an announcement that, on closer inspection, is bittersweet and speaking to From Software producer, Hidetaka Miyazaki, at the recent Namco Bandai Global Gamer’s Day in Las Vegas there’s a sense of excitement tinged with apprehension; fitting perhaps, as it’s a mix of feelings that the game itself so often provokes.

On the one hand, Dark Souls Prepare to Die edition will feature additional content – more on that later – but elsewhere the game will very much be a straight port of the console version, with little work done to optimise it for the PC environment. Are From Software and Namco Bandai simply giving fans what they’ve asked for, or do they risk losing the good will and vocal support that Dark Souls and its predecessor have fought so hard to garner?

The darkest hour

First up, support for a keyboard and mouse will be included but minimal, with Miyazaki recommending use of a game pad and confirming that the menu and inventory screens will remain unaltered. Graphic options will be similarly sparse, which Miyazaki attributes to Namco Bandai requesting that the game be a “straight port”; this may even rule out optimisation in areas such as Blighttown and New Londo Ruins where the developer’s technical achievements on console were not able to quite match that of their artistic vision, resulting in frame-rate issues.

Sadly, a PC port also brings with it the inevitable rise in the threat of piracy. With seemingly little being done to deliver a PC version that takes full advantage of the host platform’s strengths, the threat of piracy will not be combated by enticing potential pirates to pay to receive added value extras and so Namco Bandai will have to instead rely on DRM measures.

In this area, it’s looking very likely that it will be Games for Windows Live that will provide a measure of security, although a Namco Bandai spokesperson insists that this is “still to be decided”. Yet another petition that has cropped up online since GFWL support was announced last week, with petitioners lobbying for the use of Valve’s Steamworks, rather than GFWL.

However, ahead of the console release last year, From Software deployed high-level hunters into the game world to deter those who had obtained official copies ahead of its Japanese launch; perhaps a similar method could be used to combat piracy?

“I hadn’t thought of using that means to fight piracy,” Miyazaki ponders, before going on to highlight a potential problem with the approach. “I have a concern that if we use creative ideas to fight piracy that may actually accelerate the volume of piracy and we need to prevent that situation.”

Light at the end of the tunnel

Moving away from the negative connotations attached to the words “straight port” and the increased level of piracy to be dealt with by the PC version of Dark Souls, there is hope to be found in the potential features that may result from Dark Souls coming to a more open platform.

“Personally, I am interested in the concept of mods,” Miyazaki told assembled journalists. “However, due to the lack of experience of creating PC games, both as a director and a company, we need more time to adapt to what PC gamers would want with regard to mods, so at this time we’re not announcing anything.

The implementation of a framework that allows mods would have to be carefully considered, so as not to push the game from compellingly difficult to outright unfair, but if Miyazaki is interested in the concept there is at least the possibility of support further down the line.


Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition – PC

Any further developments for Dark Souls Prepare to Die edition will likely be heavily influenced by sales performance, with Namco Bandai acknowledging that Dark Souls is something of a test case for them to gauge interest in the IP which, outside of the petition that supposedly facilitated this launch, remains unknown.

Fortunately, a few, more tangible, facts surface concerning the new content that will be included in this release, all of which has been designed since the game’s console launch last year. A new chapter, set some time after players have battled through Sen’s Fortress, will support new story elements set in the kingdom of Lodran.

Three or four new bosses will make an appearance, including the Dark Knight Artorias, along with some new NPCs, enemies, equipment and a new PvP matchmaking system, as detailed on thegame’s website, though there won’t be any new covenants. Miyazaki is reticent to specify the exact form that these new bosses will take and further announcements concerning the new content will be made in the coming months, with E3 likely to yield the majority of the details ahead of the August 24 release date.

At this point, console gamers will be clearing their throats in readiness to ask the inevitable question “what about us?”. Last year, Dark Souls DLC was rumoured, but whether this new content will be available for consoles either as downloadable content or perhaps as a part of a separate Prepare to Die edition standalone release is currently unconfirmed at this stage.

“It’s completely understandable that people bought the original would have questions surrounding [the additional content]”, Miyazaki acknowledges when questioned. “However, as a director I cannot answer that right now – but I want to emphasise my apologies that we don’t have any news for [console gamers] at this point.”

It seems highly unlikely that the extra content and assets would be designed specifically for the PC version and not released in some form on console but, despite some rumours that circulate during Namco Bandai’s event, this remains unconfirmed.

Overall, the announcement of Dark Souls: Prepare to Die edition is tinged with trepidation and speculative whispers that leave both PC and console gamers unable to wholly embrace what should have otherwise been triumphant news. The manner of the announcement may have proved unsatisfying, but the fact remains that PC gamers who have yearned for Dark Souls since its console release are soon to have their dreams and nightmares come true; I can only hope that they’re happy with the result and not made to rue what they wished for.

@TheVoxelman on twitter

Check out my hype threads: Cyberpunk, and The Witcher 3!

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That's neat it still might not be on game for windows live... Hopefully steam and maybe origin gets it as I think getting it as many places as possible would be a good thing like witcher 2.

I don't think making the game really difficult like the PS3 versions would work on PC, as you could just mod it out anyways. But I guess it sometimes takes time for people to figure it out (like cracks).

It seems like it wouldn't really do anything depending on how difficult it is to mod the affected files.

ishiki said:

That's neat it still might not be on game for windows live... Hopefully steam and maybe origin gets it as I think getting it as many places as possible would be a good thing like witcher 2.

I don't think making the game really difficult like the PS3 versions would work on PC, as you could just mod it out anyways. But I guess it sometimes takes time for people to figure it out (like cracks).

It seems like it wouldn't really do anything depending on how difficult it is to mod the affected files.

There are plenty of hard games on PC many of which have mods to make them harder like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. lol, I mean the PC is the home of roguelikes. Not everyone uses mods anyway, and most people like me will play the game vanilla before experimenting with mods.

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Oh god. No PC experience, no PC optimization, straight port, DRM that never works etc. What are they thinking? They are inviting pirates

If it was optimised for PC and let me whack everything up to very high settings to make it look prettier (The game has an amazing art style that would look gorgeous in full 1080p with 4/8x AA and a solid 60FPS on computers that could handle it...) I'd be buying it, but if they're not offering these options, I'll stick with my PS3 copy, regardless of extra content or not, although I do hope in the future they'll give us the extra content too, since, if it wasn't for PS3 users, the game wouldn't be as successful as it has been, infact, it might not have even been made if Demon's Souls didn't sell so well... show us some love From Software! D:

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pezus said:
Oh god. No PC experience, no PC optimization, straight port, DRM that never works etc. What are they thinking? They are inviting pirates

World of Goo had no DRM and a piracy qouta of 90%

that DRM creates pirates is a convenient myth

Lafiel said:
pezus said:
Oh god. No PC experience, no PC optimization, straight port, DRM that never works etc. What are they thinking? They are inviting pirates

World of Goo had no DRM and a piracy qouta of 90%

that DRM creates pirates is a convenient myth

Great, one exception disproves the rule? Besides, DRM is not the only thing I mentioned.

Wait.. this isn't an Amp review about the james bond movie Die Another Day


Face the future.. Gamecenter ID: nikkom_nl (oh no he didn't!!) 

Well it seems earlier reports of an 3rd party studio handling the port was false and From will be handling the port themselves.



EGM Interview: 
Dark Souls Director Hidetaka Miyazaki



EGM: Shuhei Yoshida said it was a mistake to not publish Demon’s Souls in North America. Not many people originally thought such a game would be popular with players in the West, but both that and Dark Souls have found a huge following here. Have you been surprised by the reaction those games received here in this country, and were you also surprised by how many people wanted a PC version of Dark Souls to happen?

Miyazaki: Obviously, yes. We were surprised, and I’ve been very excited seeing the support the games have gotten—especially the petition. We had no plans at all to create a PC version, so the petition surprised us, and I’m glad that we now have this chance to give Dark Souls to those players.



EGM: So, originally, did you think that a game like Dark Souls wouldn’t be fitting for the PC market, or was it simply something you just never considered?

Miyazaki: I had no experience making PC games, so it was simply a case of never even thinking about it.



EGM: One of the other questions that’s come up among PC gamers is Dark Souls being a Games For Windows Live title, as there’s quite a divide in the PC market between GFWL and those that are built on Steamworks. Did you at From Software make the decision as to what platform the PC version would be using, or was that a decision made by Namco Bandai?

Miyazaki: That was completely the decision of Namco Bandai. However, while for now we’ve only announced support for Games For Windows Live, that’s still to be determined—we might work with Steam as well. We don’t know yet.



EGM: As much as people loved Dark Souls, a few fans did take some issue with the late-game areas—particularly locations like Lost Izalith. Was there any consideration for making actual changes to what had been created now that you were making the PC version, or did you decide that you wanted to stay true—as much as possible—to what had been created for the console versions other than the new content?

Miyazaki: The plan was for this to be a complete port from the consumer version, so I never thought about making major edits such as that.



EGM: In this being a new venture for you in terms of bringing the game to the PC market, was the whole idea of porting Dark Souls to the PC frightening? Was it overwhelming? Was it exciting? What feelings did you feel in now realizing that you had to make a PC version of the game?

Miyazaki: I was excited, but as I don’t have that experience in making PC games, I was also a bit afraid. I had concerns about making the PC version in terms of things like technical issues, but it was thrilling to get that chance. Having that chance to work on a platform that’s new to you is fun; it’s a challenge.

Prepare to Sigh – The Shortfalls of the Dark Souls PC Port



From the PC perspective the biggest issue is Games for Windows Live being the backbone to the game. The announcement that Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition would be using GFWL caused a very vocal community to erupt, spewing forth another petition within minutes asking for GFWL to be removed. Carlson Choi, the Vice President of Marketing of Namco Bandai America had just gotten off the stage, delivering a keynote stating one of Namco Bandai’s new focuses would be on the community. Later, in a personal conversation, he stated he would be looking into this new petition and wouldn’t discount it.

It’s easy to fixate on GFWL, a long-time punching bag in computer gaming. But there are a few other aspects to fixate on as well. I was able to see Dark Souls running on a PC at the Namco event, and it did look great. I saw the hero dressed as one of the new characters, a foppish man brandishing a pitchfork, not of the trident variety, but something that could easily be used to shovel hay or manure, more a tool than an armament. While the weapon was new, the environment wasn’t; it was the Firelink Shrine, an old location, and not exactly a hotbed of activity. Later on, a quick trip to the Undead Burg showcased a spot of melee. It ran smoothly, though when asked how the infamous, frame-killing Blighttown would run on a killer rig, there was some nervous laughter, and finally an honest answer conveying “hopefully pretty good!” The translator for director Hidetaka Miyazaki (and his entourage) was incredibly fluent with English, though some of the more technical aspects seemed a bit muddled. From Software is handling the port themselves, bringing over their proprietary engine to Windows. The short demo was played with an Xbox 360 controller in hand. They said keyboard and mouse would be supported, but a gamepad would still be the preferred way to play. We were the last group to talk to the Dark Souls team, and they were keeping quiet about the online and rumors of PVP battlefields. Maybe the fallout from the GFWL debacle had caused them to tighten their lips?



Dark Souls: Miyazaki on the PC version, console DLC and modding

Moving on, it seems Dark Souls on PC will not support any sort of user modification or editing – unlike, say, Skyrim with its creation kit. "Personally, I am interested in the concept of Mods," said Miyazaki. "However, due to our lack of experience with the PC we need more time to adapt to what PC gamers want from mods. So this time we're not doing it."

And from GAF hopefully a poor translation 

There is also a Japanese interview with Miyazaki here:

Originally Posted by duckroll


Morning. I just read the interviews with Miyazaki from Guardian and from Famitsu. I don't think there's much room for misunderstanding here. What he says is very clear, although it does sound weird and it seems to reflect the lack of experience he has in terms of doing PR for this sort of thing, or understanding the market.

There are a few things he makes very clear:

The PC version of Dark Souls is a Bandai Namco Games initiative which was brought up after the release of the console version. Remember that From Software published the PS3 version themselves in Japan, while Bandai Namco requested the 360 version for the international market. This seems similar, and Bandai Namco is footing the entire bill and helping them with development as well.

- The PC version is 70-80% complete, the content is basically all at the end stages of development, with the focus being balancing and QC right now. In particular Bandai Namco has been helping them with QC and specifications.

Miyazaki says that the base game is intended to be a straight port with no change in resolution and he specifically says not to expect 60 fps. This is probably his most controversial statement, because it does seem to suggest that it will run at a locked resolution and framerate. Until he clarifies further, I do feel that is the intended message to manage expectations.

- With regards to how big the new areas are, he mentions in the Japanese interview that if you consider each "are" as a place where you enter into a new sort of setting or situation and the game displays an area name on screen, there will be 3 of these areas being added. One of these areas in particular is something he had in mind which is based on the past history of Darkroot Garden. The actual design of the area is brand new though, and not a rehash.

- There are two questions in the Japanese interview which Miyazaki very frankly said he was unable to comment on. One is regarding any changes to PvP, to which he said that he cannot talk about it at the moment, but he implies there will be some sort of new features which will follow in the spirit of Dark Souls' experimental online nature.

- The other question was about a Japanese release for this product, to which he says he also cannot answer the question right now. Since Bandai Namco does not publish the game in Japan, it seems From Software isn't very sure about what they're going to do with it domestically at the moment. All they are focused on right now is finishing the PC version for international release, while they try to work something out for the other fans.

What I personally read from these interviews is that the ball is really in Bandai Namco Games' court here, and not From Software. They seem to have full control over all the technical and publishing elements of the PC version, and since they're paying for the development, it's probably also up to them to decide if they want to turn that into DLC as well for the console versions. On Miyazaki's part, he seems dedicated to add value to the new release, and is putting substantial effort into making it worthwhile for people looking forward to that content. 

Aside from that, he seems very naive and inexperienced with regards to what PC gamers expect, and so he probably doesn't realize the backlash of what he is saying is causing. To him, he probably considers it a good thing if they can develop a PC version which is equal in performance to the console game without making compromises. He probably hasn't considered the natural advantages of PC hardware to make the game performance automatically better.

That's my two cents.

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Locked resolution and frame rate?? Wtf...