I've fiddled around a bit with the PC port of Dark Souls II, and I must say, I'm decently pleased. It's far from a bastion of portly perfection, but it's a stomping step up from the first Dark Souls' wibbly wobbly mess. Ever the malcontent, however, I decided to dig into what's not there - namely, things like full-blown mod support (the first Dark Souls was basically saved by mods on PC) and a concrete plan for dealing with cheaters. I asked global producer Tak Miyazoe about both those omissions and more.
RPS: The Dark Souls team obviously learned some lessons after turning around an extremely quick and dirty PC port of the first game. What happened there? Why'd you let it into the wild in that state?
Miyazoe: The main focus of the Dark Souls PC version was to deliver the game to the fans as soon as possible. Based on the strong petition created by the fans, we put our main priority around porting the exact same game experience over to the PC platform for PC gamers to experience the true Dark Souls experience. We felt compelled to offer PC players the game as soon as we could even though we had less experience developing on the PC platform at the time.
RPS: So modders kind of stepped in and saved it. Have you considered embracing that and releasing a full-on set of mod tools for Dark Souls II? Or, if not for DSII, then is that something you'd consider for future games?
Miyazoe: We currently do not have any plans for supporting of Mods for Dark Souls II. We understand that there were some positive reactions to some of the fan made mods that were released, but our intent is for players to first enjoy a game experience within the designs that we are able to provide, an experience that is genuine to the Dark Souls franchise.
RPS: How much did you look at mods when you were trying to figure out exactly what shape DSII's PC version would take? Were things like the mouse control mod a big inspiration for you? I mean, I would say they're pretty indicative of what players want.
Miyazoe: We were aware of some of the fan made mods that were released but did not reference them very much in regards to designing the PC version of Dark Souls II. Elements such as higher graphics and keyboard/mouse mapping were things that were already considered when we decided to create a PC version, and we hope our implementation will provide a satisfying experience for the PC gamers that purchase the game.
RPS: How much did you focus on optimization for DSII? Will it run well on a broad spectrum of machines?
Miyazoe: We have put a lot of emphasis and focus on optimization for Dark Souls II so that players can have a smooth, in-depth experience on a wide range of platforms including the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. We did our best to allow players with a wide range of PC specs to enjoy the game without cutting away the importance of the high sense of achievement or the connections felt on the online space.
RPS: For which specific reasons did you delay the PC version? What specific aspects of the port required more development time? PC ports tend to get delayed frequently, but no one ever really talks about why. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons. Other times it's... questionable.
Miyazoe: We wanted to make sure we provide the most important PC centric features such as improved texture graphics, higher frame rates and also keyboard/mouse mapping controls. We tried to incorporate as much feedback from the PC fans, and spent the extra time in development to deliver the genuine Dark Souls II experience on the PC platform.
RPS: There's a fair amount of multiplayer cheating in Dark Souls' 1's PC version. People enabling invulnerability during invasions, etc. While not totally rampant, I'd still say it's been a deal-breaker for many. What, if anything, will you be doing to keep DSII from falling to a similar fate over time? There have at least been bans on the console side, right?
Miyazoe: We have found that it is difficult to eliminate all types of cheating on the PC platform, and ultimately we hope that players pick up the game and play with honor while enjoying the level balancing and designs that we have implemented. We have put in efforts to secure the game as much as possible, but in the end, we depend on the fan loyalty to enjoy the true experience we have designed.
RPS: Hm. Here's hoping it works out better than last time. Is Dark Souls II indicative of how From hopes to handle future PC versions of its games? Would you like to take things even further on PC next time around? Embrace things like Steam Workshop, or maybe Early Access?
Miyazoe: I believe the development process on the PC platform, or any platform, is a constant learning process. We are gaining experience in regards to developing on the PC platform and are always looking for great fan feedback. We can’t share any specific details about future PC development plans at this stage, but we will continue to try and develop games on all platforms as soon as possible; with the goal to satisfy fans who enjoy the Dark Souls franchises’ signature gameplay style.
RPS: The console version of Dark Souls II has been out for a little while, and you said you'd be basing plans for DLC around fan feedback. So what's the feedback looking like at this point? Do you think you're going to create DLC? If so, what kind? You were pretty adamant about making sure people who bought the main game got the "full experience," so how do you create additional content outside of that?
Miyazoe: No comment.
RPS: Thank you for your time.