When describing his childhood in an interview with UK newspaper The Guardian, Miyazaki explained that his family was very poor, and that “unlike most kids in Japan, I didn’t have a dream. I wasn’t ambitious.”
Although he was an avid reader as a child, Miyazaki admitted that he was often out of his depth; since his parents could not afford books or manga for him, he had to make do with whatever he could find at the library. As a result, he was left with passages that he couldn’t understand. He had to fill in the gaps with his imagination, supply his own information to build his own world within the framework of something that had been established but wasn’t complete.
This experience was the foundation that drew him to work on PS3-exclusive Demon’s Souls, which was – at the time – a failing project. “Demon’s Souls wasn’t doing well,” he told The Guardian. “The project had problems and the team had been unable to create a compelling prototype. But when I heard it was a fantasy-action role-playing game, I was excited. I figured if I could find a way to take control of the game, I could turn it into anything I wanted. Best of all, if my ideas failed, nobody would care – it was already a failure.”
After being assigned to the project, Miyazaki changed almost everything about Demon’s Souls. Despite his efforts, the game was a flop at the Tokyo Game Show, and Sony only managed to move 20,000 copies of the game during its initial release. But after a slow start, Demon’s Souls garnered a reputation for being unrelentingly difficult, and drew the attention of gamers who had grown tired of endless tutorials and simple puzzles.
After Demon’s Souls, Miyazaki moved on to Dark Souls – a spiritual successor on multiple platforms. Dark Souls outsold its predecessor in the first week. In comparison, Bloodborne sold over 150,000 copies. Miyazaki says that working on his latest project offered him some new opportunities: “I’ve been to places I wouldn’t have visited before. I get to see different things, which is important. It gives me new experiences to draw from.”
Miyazaki and his team spent some time in Romania and the Czech Republic, studying the architecture to draw inspiration for their game design. And not only is he seeing new places, but he’s meeting new people: “Now I’m president, I get to meet a lot of other company presidents. They’re such weird people. I’m fascinated by them.” He adds: “I use some of them as enemy characters in our games.”
Bloodborne is the latest action RPG, developed by From Software and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. The city of Yharnam is rumoured to hold a magical remedy, highly sought after by travellers. You take the role of one of these travellers, defending yourself against the bestial denizens of the town while seeking the remedy.
Released last week on PS4, Bloodborne has received critical acclaim, topping the Japanese sale charts and taking a firm grasp on 2nd place in the UK software retail chart – keep an eye out for our review later today.