Bayonetta Producer Yusuku Hashimoto Tokyo Game Show InterviewBy Patrick Klepek - Posted Oct 06, 2009
Sega has high hopes for the next release from Platinum Games, the sexually-charged Bayonetta. Coming ahead of both Dante's Inferno and God of War III, Bayonetta drops in January and has a chance to capture the beat 'em up crowd before Kratos starts knocking everyone around. The game will be released later this month in Japan, so Platinum Games' work on Bayonetta is nearly complete. I spoke with producer Yusuku Hashimoto during Tokyo Game Show to discuss Bayonetta, the motivations behind the game's casual options and the possibilities of motion control.
G4: Who do you think the target audience is for Bayonetta? Who are you making the game for?
Yusuku Hashimoto: All action gamers.
G4: Bayonetta's hack 'n slach genre was born during a time when there were less casual gamers -- before things like the Wii. With a lot more of those gamers now, have you had to change how you design a game like this to try and appeal to that audience?
Hashimoto: First and foremost, you really have to identify who you're making the game for and that sets your tone, sets your levels ]and] sets your boundaries as to what kind of game [you're making] and what's appropriate to put into the game.
G4: Because of the popularity of things like the Wii that appeal to the more casual gamer, do you feel an increased pressure to introduce elements like that into your games?
Hashimoto: As I was saying before, once you identify your main target, you'll know then, inherently, what is appropriate and what is satisfying to that audience. But we do understand that there is a very general broadening of the game audience. There's all kind of users now; there's a much wider spectrum of gamers nowadays. It is important to try to appeal to those gamers, as well, and I wanted to build a game in such a way that it can be an introduction into hardcore gaming for that broader population of gamers, but within doing so, you have to make sure that you aren't going to break the game or negatively impact the game or lose focus from your initial design goal in order to appease that broader market, as well.
G4: I watched the video for the "easy automatic mode" on the Platinum Games website. It sounds like a more beginner mode. Can you talk about why you decided to implement "easy automatic mode" and how that changes the game when you use it?
Hashimoto: Having a mode like "easy automatic mode" ... using that as a tool to introduce people into the genre was a very big part of creating that sort of mode. We do recognize that there's a lot people out there -- again, there's a large spectrum of gamers and their various interests and goals when playing various games. Some people just want to enjoy the storyline, they don't want to get in there and earn all the minutia of the game, and having a mode like "easy automatic mode" allows them to enjoy the game on that level and get, at least, that entertainment out of the game.
G4: I saw the video, but can you explain exactly how easy automatic mode works?
Hashimoto: The simplest way of explaining is that we've simplified the controls to the bare minimum, so that you can just enjoy the game in and of itself, without having to learn all the minutia of it. So it's down to just movement and action, movement and action -- that's all it takes to get in there and enjoy the game. It's almost to the point where it's kind of like watching a movie and just being able to see all the way through the game to the end and enjoy at least that element of it. Rather than having to input specific combos and all the button presses to activate those, just simply pushing one button will automatically chain into those combos -- that's what "automatic" and "easy automatic" is.
G4: How early did you realize this made sense from the game? Was there any resistance from other members of the team to simplifying the game?
Hashimoto: The idea of putting in an "easy automatic mode" came in once the game had really solidified and taken shape and once we had built up at least as far as what we know what we were setting out to make, once we reached a certain level of completion. Then, it was like, "well, if we were to put in a mode like this that would actually broaden the appeal and make it more accessible to the broader spectrum of players." There wasn't really anybody on the team that was opposed to the idea, they all thought it fit and was appropriate for the game.
G4: As a result of the work you've done on simplifying parts of Bayonetta, would you be interested in taking that experience and applying it to a game specifically for a broader audience?
Hashimoto: Approaching a game concept from that direction is kind of like putting the cart before the horse. The most important thing is figuring out "this is what I want people to experience, this is what I want them to play." And then if it naturally lends itself to being a more simplified type of control format, maybe more casually oriented, then so be it, that's what we would make. But the core of it is, "this is the kind of game, this is my content, this if what I want to make and this is what I want people to enjoy. " That would naturally give you your range or give you your level of what the perfect difficulty is or what the appropriate level of complexity of the controls is.
G4: Does Microsoft's Project Natal or Sony's motion controller make sense for the types of games you make? Can you see yourself using either?
Hashimoto: Again, it really comes down to "What kind of game do I want to make? What is the core of that?" If it's something that naturally lends itself to Natal or to a motion controller type of format, then by all means, we'd totally take that to its fullest extent to see what it could do. But if we try to do it in the opposite direction and say, "we want to make this game -- oh, hey, we should also put in motion controls!" If it doesn't naturally fit into that or if it's not a naturally resonating type of scenario, then it kind of tends to be artificial, and then it's hard for the guys on the team to really get motivated and really get behind it and make the best use of it. Because then it's kind of "well, we're just putting it in because it's the newest thing or whatever," but if you already have an idea from the ground up of "oh, that's what we want to build towards," then it natural and it comes together.
But even having said that, though, this newest technology coming out, we do have a lot of interest. We want to try it out and see what it'll do.
G4: One last question. Are the rings that you collect in the game a reference to Sonic?
Hashimoto: It's just a coincidence. [laughs] Those are actually halos, so when you defeat angels, they drop their halos out and those are actually used as currency in the devil shop.