Hidetaka Miyazaki: A Game Designer in Love

Please enjoy this special guest post by Samuel Knox.

As you have no doubt heard, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a hotly-anticipated From Software game. Instead of being placed in a fantastical Arthurian nightmare, you are instead charged with fighting man and monster alike as a Shinobi ninja.

Recently, Hidetaka Miyazaki, the madman behind the Souls and Bloodborne games, was interviewed by Game Informer magazine. If you peruse the “games” subreddit on Reddit, then you’ve likely already read the intriguing interview. He goes over his entire design philosophy and how it’s changed for Sekiro.

Notably, he remarked that:

  • He was taking a step back as a writer
  • Sekiro will allow players to do more (i.e. sneak up on bosses)
  • Sekiro will utilize a tree system rather than a leveling/XP system
  • This universe will be a fresh start (i.e. it’s not necessarily related to Souls or Bloodborne)
  • Blade of the Immortal was one anime that served as inspiration
  • He is unbelievably humbled by all the praise he has received from his fans
  • World peace would be pretty legit, don’t you think? (see the quote below for more context)

In between bouts of playing Resident Evil 2, I browsed r/games. I handed the controller to my fiance, and let her beat Leon path A (she got “S” rank by the way, if I may so humbly brag on her behalf). As she glided through Resident Evil 2, I read about Hidetaka Miyazaki. He just seems like such a remarkable designer.

“When I’m asked ‘what especially has been good about that or what do I put value in there’, then there’s nothing particular to say. It’s just the fact that whether or not they succeed, it’s just the fact that I’m making these games and I enjoy that process.” 
It’s so difficult. I just want to say, ‘let’s all just love one another and make world peace.'”

Hidetaka Miyazaki, Game Informer

What is there to say about Miyazaki? I’ve played through Dark Souls III countless times, always finding new nooks, crannies, and secrets. I’m marveled at how the game has staved off wrinkles in an age of rapid advancement.

Unfortunately, as you can imagine, Miyazaki isn’t the boastful type. It’s hard to find out many details about his process. Mostly because it seems he doesn’t seem to regard himself as all that special. Why? I guess he’s just that awesome. A truly humble dude too humble to actual burden players with the command to go love each other and instead humbly suggests world peace.

Can you even imagine a world without the Souls franchise? Arguably — Souls changed the game in the games industry (I guess I needed to write the word game as many times as humanly possible). Clunky wording aside, I feel like it really is true. Games have become difficult again. Games have become mysterious again.

Miyazaki imbued games with the ineffable style and balance Nintendo graced us within the SNES days. No monotonous tutorial screens. No drag-and-drop game design. A game that leads to certain places, suggests certain things, but ultimately, passes no judgment on how the game is played, how the pieces are put together. The game gently suggests a path and cruelly rebukes weakness.

It’s genius game design. It’s genius style. It’s game-making with a heart, a brain, a clenched fist. From Software’s games are alluring as they enigmatic, as warm as they are distant and chilling.

Déraciné , From Software’s first VR game, although it received mixed reviews from fans and critics, was an interesting departure from typical VR fluff. The title, incidentally, is French for “one who feels displaced.” What a fabulously odd way to interpret the VR experience.

Even if From Software’s VR debut is not what you imagined or hoped for, you must admit that it was different. In a world of sameness, of action shooters and hack-and-slashers, being different has to amount to something.

This isn’t to say that shooters in VR aren’t good — or even great — it’s just to say that uniqueness is sometimes its own reward. But, I suppose that’s the difference between art and entertainment if there is any real difference at all. Art doesn’t necessarily make you smile or beguile you. It simply provides a window.

In that way, it seems like Hidetaka Miyazaki is more than a superb game director. He is an artist in the truest sense. He’s a designer in love with games.

What do you think of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice? Are you a fan of From Software? Do you think Miyazaki has changed game design?

Tell me what you think in the comments below.


Samuel Knox Written by: