Special interview with Hidetaka Miyazaki

The long-awaited dark fantasy action RPG Elden Ring is finally less than a month before its release on February 25. Before the release of ELDEN RING, "The Overture of ELDEN RING", which is a collection of information from ELDEN RING, will be released on February 3.

This e-book summarizes the information based on the contents of the network test conducted last November. In addition, you can also enjoy a special feature that contains a lot of artwork for Elden Ring as well as the previous games such as Demon’s Souls.

Here is an excerpt from an interview with Hidetaka Miyazaki, the director of ELDEN RING, one of the highlights of this mook. Please check it out if you are looking forward to ELDEN RING.
(Date of interview: December 20, 2021)

Hidetaka Miyazaki

Hidetaka Miyazaki is currently the representative director and president of FromSoftware. Throughout his career, he’s worked on a wide variety of internationally acclaimed games. Miyazaki was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Joystick Awards in 2018.

Evolving Toward a New Sense of Scale

――First of all, how is development on ELDEN RING going these days?

It’s almost finished. At this stage, all that’s left are the finishing touches.

――What about ELDEN RING’s development have you found most challenging?

This isn’t something that’s unique to ELDEN RING—actually, it applies to every game I’ve ever worked on—but this period we’re coming up on, between the last stages of development and the release date, is always trepidatious. No matter what you do. Truth be told, it’s not exactly my favorite part of the dev cycle! But all throughout our work on ELDEN RING, I’ve told myself, “If we’ve captured a simple sense of adventure, we’re on the right track.” I think we’ve achieved that, at least to some extent. We’ve built a whole wide, unfamiliar world and loaded it with threats and mysteries, new encounters, drama, and mythology, and it’s all there for players to discover and explore, bit by bit.

――The network test version of the game already delivered on quite a bit of that—it had its share of excitement!

If you say so, that takes a bit of the edge off my uncertainty. That’s definitely something we hope players will feel from this game.

――Compared to your previous games, what about ELDEN RING stood out as new and different to you as a director?

There are two major things in particular. For one, this time around, we were collaborating with George R. R. Martin. We asked him to come up with the mythologies that form the underlying basis of ELDEN RING—events that took place in its world well before players step into the story. Building a game up from an existing backdrop like that was a new experience for me, and it was a thrill to break that ground. The second thing was the sheer size of the game. ELDEN RING is much larger than any game I’ve directed before, which means there was more that I had to delegate to other members of the team. That was something I’d anticipated from the very beginning. Actually, you could say that the fact that we’d built up team members to the point where I could leave things in their hands was a major factor in deciding to make a game of this scale in the first place. And of course, they met my expectations!

――Did the size of your team also grow out of your needs for this title?

The size of my team and the length of the development process both hit new highs for FromSoftware with ELDEN RING. But the important thing isn’t that we had more people to toss at the project; it’s that we’d built up a team that we could trust to get it done.

――You say you delegated parts of the game to other members of the team. Were there any ideas they brought to you that had an impact on the project? Anything that struck you as particularly off-the-wall or refreshing?

Tons and tons of things, of course! The visual design of the Erdtree itself is one, for example. That’s the real appeal of working together to make something as a team; it’s one of my biggest joys as a game creator.

――How did your job as director change as you delegated more of the game?

Fundamentally, it wasn’t actually that different from how I’d directed games before. It all begins upstream, with broad concepts and designs; establishing all the separate parts that define the game’s overall direction, like artwork, level design, animations, and text. I tried to stay involved in those elements as directly as I could. But let’s take level design, for example. Once a certain area’s design is established to some extent, it’s time to hand more of it over to another team member. There was a lot to be done this time around, since ELDEN RING’s map is so huge.

――What about ELDEN RING’s development process differed from your previous work, technologically speaking?

We’d been continuously testing some automation since before work ever began on ELDEN RING, but this time around, we automated everything we could—to make sure that our team had plenty of time to make the game more fun to play too. Some asset construction and placement, AI base creation, and even a bit of debugging was all automated. Naturally, a lot of this is stuff you’d want to adjust by hand in the end, so we still did that as well. To look at it from another side of development, we also honed our abilities to collect playtest data and put it to work in our adjustments and improvements. It was important to us that our fixes weren’t just based on hunches, but on actual data. Especially as the team grew larger and I had to delegate more and more things, that became a must.

――So you’d say ELDEN RING’s considerable volume and depth were possible through a combination of automatic generation and good old-fashioned manual labor?

Yes, I suppose so… To tell you the truth, though, I thought we’d be able to automate more than we actually could. There was a lot that we had to get through on pure strength of will! But I think that also led to some nice, distinctive bits with a real FromSoftware flair, so I’d say all the hard work paid off.
『エルデンリング』の情報を総まとめしたムック“The Overture of ELDEN RING”より宮崎英高氏のインタビューを一部公開!

The Hows and Whys of a Wide World

――Did your decision to have a wide, open setting in Elden Ring originate with the Souls series and its heavy emphasis on exploration?

In this case, I’d say that the “sense of adventure” that I mentioned earlier is closer to what we’re after than exploration per se. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still exploration—but not so much in the sense of searching through every nook and cranny of the dungeons in the game. It’s something on a much wider scale than that.

――Does that tie into the high level of freedom that we experienced in the network test?

Yes, that’s it. “Freedom” is something of a key phrase for ELDEN RING. You’ll have a great degree of freedom in how you tackle each area, in how the story progresses, in the combat skills you use, and in how you build your character.
『エルデンリング』の情報を総まとめしたムック“The Overture of ELDEN RING”より宮崎英高氏のインタビューを一部公開!

 For the rest of the interview, please refer to "The Overture of ELDEN RING", which will be released on February 3.

『エルデンリング』の情報を総まとめしたムック“The Overture of ELDEN RING”より宮崎英高氏のインタビューを一部公開!

The Overture of ELDEN RING
Format: Digital Download
Page: 128 page
Price: $9.99 US
On Sale Date: February 3, 2022
Publisher: Yen Press, LLC

This article is an English translation of an article from Famitsu.com which is distributed on a trial basis. The article prepared in Japanese based on information in Japan has been automatically translated using the "DeepL" translation tool. For inquiries regarding the translated English article, please use the "Inquiry Form". Please keep in mind that inquiries will only be accepted in the Japanese language.