13
Aug

How Dark Souls 2 Was Saved From Disaster


Dark Souls 2 was in danger. The game was broken, seemingly beyond repair. An ambitious development plan, which featured
the creation of a brand new engine from scratch, had created a buggy, inconsistent mess that
was all but unplayable. The problem, at least in part, seemed to come
from a lack of design focus. Too many voices were involved in making senior
creative choices, as two directors, Tomohiro Shibuya and Yui Tanimura, were both jointly
attempting to steer the project, with little success. Something had to change. If Dark Souls 2 was going to be an adequate
successor to the first game to bear this name, it was going to need a drastic overhaul. At this point, simply putting out a coherent
game was enough to count as a success. If something wasn’t done soon, if the project
wasn’t set right, the game would collapse entirely, and the Dark Souls series would
end with only one and a half games. This is the story of Dark Souls 2, and how
one high profile game sequel was saved from the brink of total destruction. In retrospect, warning bells should have been
sounding from the moment development began on Dark Souls 2. Hidetaka Miyazaki, the developer who had spearheaded
both Dark Souls and it’s predecessor, Demon Souls, was not going to be directing this
new game. Hidetaka’s star was on the rise, and following
the success of his previous work, he’d been promoted within From Software, the company
behind the games. It seemed that Hidetaka’s interests lay
elsewhere, as he was beginning work on a completely different game named Bloodbourne. Instead of getting involved heavily in Dark
Souls 2, Hidetaka provided guidance in a hands-off role as overseer of the project. The role of director was handed to two veterans
of From Software, Tomohiro Shibuya and Yui Tanimura. These developers had plenty of experience,
and with the full might of From Software behind them, everything should go swimmingly. Right? The team wanted to surpass the original Dark
Souls, from both a technical and a gameplay perspective. So, naturally, the first thing they did was
throw away the engine that had been used to build their previous game. The team was set to work building a whole
new engine, completely from scratch, with a focus on creating a piece of next-gen software
that would allow the Souls series to continue to grow as technology developed. Of particular interest to the team was the
lighting and graphics. They wanted to create something that looked
photorealistic, with shadows that danced around the player in a believable fashion. This, they hoped, would not only lend some
semblance of believability to the game, but would also add depth to the story’s focus
on light and fire as metaphors for both progress, and hope. The initial plans for the Dark Souls sequel
involved a frigid ice setting, up in frozen mountains. In a fit of overambition, however, the goal
here was quickly widened. The game would be set across multiple environments
and areas, in a huge, expansive world that would fill the player with awe and wonder. This proved to be difficult enough on its
own, without the added challenge of actually building a game into this setting. The first Dark Souls was known for its unforgiving
difficulty, but this was also coupled with a balanced, satisfying gameplay mechanic. Not only was the game challenging, but it
was also fun to play. The new team, then, needed to replicate this
experience. Countless hours were spent developing bosses
that would feel intimidating and tough, but which followed a carefully structured difficulty
curve so that the player never felt entirely overwhelmed. Considering the wide, open, branching structure
of the game, this was no easy feat. So, the team was working to build a brand
new game engine, completely from scratch, in order to create a sequel to an incredibly
popular game. And they needed to make the game difficult
but fun. All without clear guidance from a single director. It was inevitable that things were going to
fall apart. Mid-way through development, the game was
an unplayable mess. The new engine was impressive, but its beefy
power requirements meant that it couldn’t run effectively on current generation gaming
hardware. Meanwhile, pockets of the game were well defined
and polished – such as some characters and environments – but overall, the joint direction
style had left many elements of design horribly incomplete. It was clear that not only would this be an
inadequate Dark Souls game, but it wouldn’t be much of a game at all. Without some big change, Dark Souls 2 was
going to end up as a buggy, unbalanced, awkward mess. It could well never be completed at all. Word from the Higher Ups at From Software
came down. The senior team at work on Dark Souls 2 was
to be dramatically restructured. Now, Yui Tanimura would serve as the sole
director for the game. His job? To fix this mess. Yui wasn’t expected to make the greatest
video game in the history of the medium. His task was simply to turn the huge, expensive,
bloated mess of Dark Souls 2 into something that might actually be playable. This was a seemingly impossible task, and
there was a lot riding on the success of the project. If Dark Souls 2 tanked, From Software’s
flagship series could end up turning into a joke before it had truly had a chance to
pick up steam. Tentatively, Yui set to work. He had a lot of sleepless nights ahead of
him… There was no opportunity to completely trash
everything that made up Dark Souls 2 and start again. From Software didn’t have unlimited resources,
and this game already represented a significant investment. Not only was the newly restructured team expected
to produce a solid game, but they had very specific time constraints placed on their
work. They needed to get this game finished fast. Thus, Yui’s main approach to fixing the
game involved taking the parts that worked, and stapling them together in the most logical
fashion possible. The game’s world was completely rebuilt,
using the parts that had already been assembled. These were stacked together in the most coherent
manner possible, with the aim of keeping alteration or reworking to a minimum
Then, there were the characters. Many designs had already been at least partially
completed, and in the absence of time, Yui asked his creators to rework what already
existed so that they could fill new roles. This was not a fun task. It involved the team leaving aside their preconceived
ideas of what roles these characters were designed for, and trying to cram them into
new places. Certain characters and enemies had to be reworked
entirely. Characters that were envisioned as comedic
now became deadly serious, or saw their personalities erased altogether. As much as possible, Yui allowed his design
team the freedom to control what happened to their creations. Nevertheless, a lot of hard decisions had
to be made, and it wasn’t easy to rethink everything about the game in this manner. Many of these changes begat more changes. Moving one enemy to a new location to fill
a hole then left a new hole, and something else had to go in this spot. In spite of the complexity of the task at
hand and its often frustrating nature, the team worked well under Yui’s direction. They were encouraged to think on their feet,
and to adapt where necessary. They were told not to shy away from dramatic
changes to the game’s structure, and they rose to the challenge even when this meant
a lot more work. One problem remained. The game’s engine was still a nightmare. No matter how much the game’s content was
moved around, it was still impossible to get it to actually run in a playable fashion. So, the decision was made. Heartbreaking as it was, the graphical quality
of Dark Souls 2 had to be toned down. The result wasn’t nearly as beautiful, but
it meant the game ran at appropriate speeds, and this was more important. Dark Souls 2 debuted to the public, and received
a generally favorable reaction. This wasn’t the masterpiece that had been
originally envisioned, but it was more Dark Souls, and that was no bad thing. Certain hardcore members of the fanbase picked
up on the game’s weaknesses, but the wider community saw it as yet another solid game. Yui had achieved his goal. He’d made something playable out of pieces
of broken scrap, and it was an enjoyable enough experience to win over the majority of critics. The moral of the story is that sometimes survival
is a success worth celebrating. We all have bad days, or weeks, or months. Things might not go our way, we’ll be constantly
waylaid by unexpected pitfalls, and we’ll find it difficult to make progress with the
things that matter to us. You may find yourself trapped, with your dreams
moving further and further out of your reach. At times like this, remember the lesson of
Dark Souls 2. It’s okay to have a rough patch. This doesn’t mean you’ll never get where
you’re going. Take a moment to pause and analyze your situation. Sometimes, it’s enough to be able to say
that you’re still trying, and that you won’t give up. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Even if today is not your day, as long as
you keep moving forward, you’re still on the road to triumph.

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100 Comments

  • Leo Silva says:

    Please say: bearer of the curse, seek souls, larger more powerful souls. Seek the king; it is the only way. Lest this land swallow you whole, as many others

  • rareroe305 says:

    I like the concept of the channel. Just for myself, I'd speed up delivery of the lines a bit. You don't need Hank Green or Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw speed, but a I'd appreciate a little faster.

    Or I'll just set it to 1.25 speed.

  • Artey says:

    Actually, Dark Souls 2 is a disaster.

  • nIMrOD888 says:

    And it turned out to be the best of the series.

  • IOnceAteAPinecone says:

    0:03 it still is too
    5:20 it still did

  • Fat Fuck says:

    Say what you want about DS2 but powerstancing with the bone fist is the most fun I've ever had in any of the souls game

  • Owl Eyes says:

    feel i should mention if you do plan to get dark souls 2 GET THE SCHOLAR OF THE FIRST SIN version from what i heard its basically a different (and better) game than the original ds2

  • Return to Life says:

    It may have been better if DS2 never came out anyway. A stain on an otherwise perfect series.

  • Gabe Sweetman says:

    At the very least the PVP of DSII is still the best in the series, imho, as a result of the sheer wealth of build options compared to every other SoulsBorne game. This was likely the result of the misallocated resources being dumped into asset creation very early on in development. It makes more sense now why the locations of equipment had much less specific lore implications compared to the other entries aside from just being little side stories about how the dude or dudette lived or died before you came along and looted their corpse.

  • RT Soldat says:

    so, this game was the dark souls of game developing?

  • Leonardo Suárez Sánchez says:

    If I may say it what a beautifull voice you have mazing stuning se ma bella, the narrative is already interesting and well played but that voice is the cherry of the cake my congratulations

  • R BP says:

    Dark Souls II is the one game in the souls collection I never looked back on, it was passable at best but prior to this video I had never even considered that had it not come out we may never have seen any sequels.Credit to them for salvaging it and credits to you for the informative video.

  • Vatan Kömürcü says:

    it seems the development was just as depressing as the game is.

  • Peter Lane says:

    don't give up, skeleton!

  • Jon Binley says:

    2 was the best one. 3 would be but it’s just dark souls 1.5 really

  • Axel Andersson says:

    At least Tanimura knew how to design good PvP, unlike Miyazaki :^)

  • expOsiris says:

    Do DS3 please!

  • I am Fatcat says:

    Dark Souls II would be a Sonic 06.

  • Zero Noctis says:

    Why can't Destiny be like Dark Souls in this Way?

  • D C says:

    Wow what is this great channel I've only just discovered ?

  • Captain Blyat says:

    They should remake the game but have A Team do it this time.

  • Dawson Wallenda says:

    im sorry but as a souls player, i cannot look at ds2 the same again. my first souls game was 2 and personally i loved it and idolized it even though some said it was super easy i thought it was decently difficult. after going to dark souls 1 and playing through multiple times, i came to see that ds2 was very flawed, but it still had that soft spot in my heart. scholar of the first sin however ruined any touch of beauty in ds2 and replaced it with a crap tone of random enemies. ds1 ds3 are the only ones worth playing now ds2 has been killed by gluttony of enemies and random bs.

  • rossato says:

    Ended up being the best Dark Souls. Highest reviews of the series. Best replay value and best PVP from all souls games. Dark souls 3 was a shitty cash grab with tons of fanservice everywhere.

  • Joshua Perrin says:

    Any chance on covering Dark Souls 3? That was the 1st one I played!

  • EpKnight says:

    I love Dark Souls 2! This does explain, however, why they used the Dark Souls 1 engine for Dark Souls 3.

  • Nik Naython says:

    I really only dont like Dark Souls 2 because of its tendency to throw a million enemies at you and the fact that the controls are the clunkiest in the series. Everything else is great honestly.

  • bachhoangson says:

    Dark SOuls 2 is a decent video game, but a bad Souls game.

  • Sam Barham says:

    Lucatiel was meant to be comedic?

  • K C says:

    Props to yui tanimura and tomohiro shibuya for trying to follow hidetaka's footsteps. Those are big shoes to fill and they both deserve credit.

  • Chris Pollard says:

    You can see when you play the game that the ambition was huge and hearing this story about the difficult development explains why some of the game is as it is. It's hard not to compare it to DS1 because it's a sequel, but in a way you shouldn't. I don't think DS2 is perfect but neither is DS1. There are so many new and interesting ideas which I would have love to have seen continued in DS3, but i think the fan backlash lead them to make it a very safe (yet still amazing) game with loads of fan service.
    I have grown to really like DS2 for what it is. It feels very unique and despite the flaws something about it feels special. That could be that I've played it way less than the other 2 so it still feels new, but the more I play it the more I want to continue playing it. Enjoying it for the game it is without comparing it to the first one. Sure enemy placement isn't great, the lock on system is flakey and you will constantly be ganked by an absolute gang bang of enemies, but in the words of every Dark Souls dick head out there………….Git Gud.

    Also level up you ADP. You'll be untouchable.

  • Frostare says:

    YES! New story time! And with Breton's unique narration voice! =)

  • Onyx Mouse says:

    This is like listening to a baby book except it's about things I care about

  • Let's just relax and take a breath, okay? says:

    For me, ds2 was the most… severe?

    What I mean is it had some really good moments that made me excited for more, and then it had moments that made me wanna rip out my own fingernails.

    Everything else: ds1, ds3, and BB were generally solid experiences throughout.

  • shoegazee says:

    i like this video more than Dark Souls 2. And i loved Dark Souls 2!

  • Ashen One says:

    When you got no talent it’s hard to make a game. Dark Souls 2 was an embarrassment.

  • Nathan Kelm says:

    To me Souls is a trilogy. Demons Souls, Dark Souls and Dark Souls III. I choose to act as if 2 just didn't happen.

  • James Medina says:

    The game was broken, seemingly beyond repair.

    and then they released it

  • Jiminy Cricket says:

    Dark souls 2 had the best online play experience

  • Don't Subscribe says:

    '' if i had princess''

  • Sawyer says:

    The game IS BROKEN you can farm bosses… Shitty game

  • fizzie says:

    H I T B O X E S

  • Tonberry Knight says:

    You just got a subscriber ma'am! Great content!

  • Endzeit Elegy says:

    Great video but I still don't like LGBTQ people

  • Alex Galays says:

    It wasn't saved though, lol.

  • pablo Elia says:

    Dark souls is a good game, but a bad souls game

  • Leonardo H says:

    I think the biggest problem with dark souls 2 it doesn't seem like a proper sequeel, more like a spin off. 3 correct this. i loved both games and the one i didn't played entirely was the first, maybe because i player the other ones first

  • Slice And Dice Julio says:

    IDC HOW FLAWED ALL THE SOULS BOURNE GAMES ARE I LOVE THEM

  • Know 1 says:

    Bloodborne was an absolute MASTERPIECE!!!!

  • heman says:

    if they just made parrying satisfying like in ds1 i'd be more than happy to buy this game another time

  • Darron Dixon says:

    I still give this game 7/10 it's not perfect and not the best in the series but it has it's own charm.

  • Soi_Boi says:

    It wasnt

  • Ahrun says:

    Now I understand why the BIG IRON CASTLE surrounded BY LAVA seemed to be located ABOVE the WINDMILL in Harvest Valley 😛

  • SigmaElement says:

    Was it?

  • mike tom says:

    And it still sucks

  • Tyler Arneson says:

    Could you do a video of Bloodborne? I’m hooked on these.

  • ZenExperience says:

    Ds2 WAS a disaster

  • Jure Macola says:

    It wasnt saved

  • Renzo says:

    The game is still a disaster hahahah

  • a dazed monkey says:

    It shouldn't have been made. 1 was all that was needed for dark souls not 2 or 3

  • Gsmooth84 says:

    I already knew the story of what happened with Dark Souls 2 and its decline in quality. But after looking at this video, It is better detailed, and goes step by step over how Dark Souls 2 became what it is.

    I feel if Yui Tanimura had been the only one in charge of the project, the core game would look entirely different environment wise. Considering the incredible work he did with the three dlc's

  • Limited Infinity says:

    I never felt lost in dark souls 2. mechanically, i think it is better than ds1.

  • jakeyboy851 says:

    DS2 is definitely the black sheep of the series you just cant replicate Miyazaki's style without him

  • Spencer Mandryk says:

    Maybe its all the wine Ive had tonight but the overall message of these videos is hitting hard

  • NightcoreHeaven says:

    Wait the game isn't a disaster now ?

  • Steel says:

    This explains alot about why Dark Soul 2 felt so off.
    I will say however that all of the DLC that were released for the game was really good!
    My favorite one of them being the Ivory King DLC.

  • Salah Laibi says:

    BETTER AUDIO PLEASE

  • homerrrrrrrrrrrrrrr says:

    Dark Souls II IS a disaster lol

  • Weskers Report says:

    Try rolling…

  • TzuCraft says:

    So this is why DS2 didn't "feel" right. Good info

  • Tony TheTGR says:

    This makes a LOT of sense. I knew that DS2 didn't have the same muster of the original.

  • Sanguinius Szuiriel says:

    I just have to say, thank you for these videos, you are helping people keep going today 😁

  • Shadow Zero says:

    Im still a bit diserpointed in DS2 but since DS3 was what DS2 shoud have been. Ill be forgiving and since bloodborn and Sekiro are back to Legendary status again. I see it as a slip up.

  • Braidz MC says:

    Lmao. It wasn't a disaster?

    Felt like Souls clone ie: Nioh, Surge, LOTF lol

  • you are going to JAIL says:

    What do you mean it wasnt a disaster?

  • Anxious Neck Games says:

    Dark Souls 2 is trash.

  • SaintKines says:

    I love DS2 SOTFS warts and all.

  • 1gga says:

    I don't understand exactly where are facts and just vague speculations. DS2 was broken and unplayable, exactly how? The engine was too powerful for consoles and then they downgraded it, ok i get it, but what do you mean they had to create the whole world from scratch? That doesn't make much sense. If miyazaki was a supervisor, what was he doing? Surely he had to check how things are going and play it from time to time. I would love to get at least few proper examples to understand exactly how buggy and broken the game was, you go from point a to point b and the game just crashes/lags or what?

  • onewontdo says:

    I wouldn't call the game "saved" but could have been much worse, I guess.

  • Dmitri Eriksson says:

    it did outshine the PVP in all the dark souls games!

  • Austen Symes says:

    was it tho?

  • Em Construção says:

    "it's okay to pause"
    Nice try, you can't pause in Dark Souls.
    Oh… We're taking real life here?

    … I've heard of it.

  • Zanemob says:

    How was a disaster saved from being a disaster?!

  • PHΨSΩCΩTIC PIXΣL PRΣSΣΠTS says:

    This made respect ds2 and yui considering its my least favourite souls game

  • Rulercamelot says:

    Supposed to be fully snowy environments? Makes sense why the Ivory king was the best part of the game then, at that point they did what they wanted to from the start

  • Andres Ulloa says:

    Now it makes sense why the early screenshots looked more graphically impressive, but I'll take more frames per second and gameplay over graphics any day.

  • Taylor G says:

    I enjoyed DS II immensely

  • vitriolicAmaranth says:

    It didn't just win over the majority of critics or survive, Dark Souls 2 was the best-received entry in the series by critics.

  • pbkaae says:

    I love how this actually explains why the world design makes no sense. The levels don't overlap because the devs didn't care to make them fit together, it's because they weren't /made/ to fit together. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kshiTrSDles

  • Bain Young says:

    Dark souls 2 nailed NG+, better than any souls.

  • Drew says:

    Having just gotten into seriously playing Dark Souls 1 for the first time (tried years ago and even got about halfway though Demon Souls), it's exciting to know that there are 2 more games in the series to play after, to say nothing of Bloodborne and Sekiro. It's also a bit disheartening to know that both of them are relatively lackluster in comparison to the first.

  • Kaya Eliçin says:

    Who said DS2 was saved from disaster. It was a complete disaster expect PVP.

  • doctor hunter says:

    After seeing thia video, i felt very bad for the director and while the game maybe flawed but there are things that are great like majula's beautiful view, bosses like mirror knight, velstadt and perhaps few bosses that are quite intressting for their lore and disign.

    I played the ps3 version and it was very buggy but fixes made the game sligthly ok until i played the scholar of the first sin version, it ran smoothly but the flaws are still there like hitbox issue. I still think the game is okay but not great or perfect.

  • zhyacoub says:

    The co op was fun as hell though

  • Esio Sanson says:

    Dark Souls 2 is a disaster.

  • SaltyWaffles says:

    Dark Souls 2 is actually my favorite in the series, though Dark Souls 1 is a close second. Dark Souls 3 is definitely the weakest of the series, in my opinion.

  • SomedayGamin says:

    Kinda nice to have some explanation as to why the game seems somewhat like a technical regression. They did fairly well considering everything

  • POB108 says:

    So thats why my animations like stagger and walking etc. were very sluggish tht almost enemies ganked me. Damn

  • Nicolás Luna says:

    Dark souls 2 uses a new engine, wow now i know why is my least favorite dark souls , all the gameplay mechanics are cool , the characters, the world, but holy god the character move and walking is unholy , i hate to play using my controller and my character just moves as if i were using the keyboard smh

  • one of says:

    But DS3 is still the shittiest game in series.

  • Kevin Terlecky says:

    I completed the entire dark souls series, and I studied the lore extensively, and I can tell that you're lying in this video, and that you're simply plagiarizing the opinions of another journalist, because there is absolutely no mention of fire being a metaphor for anything in the entire series, and certainly, of all things, not a metaphor for hope, or progress. in fact, the fire is almost exclusively referred to as a curse.

    If i were you, I would just delete this video and pretend like this embarrassment never happened.

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