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GDC’s second AMA dives into Demon’s Souls

GDC
Courtesy of GDC

March 16’s GDC AMA gave us insight into the development process of the Demon’s Souls Playstation 5 remake. Bluepoint Creative Director Gavin Moore called into the ask-me-anything session sipping coffee from his home in Tokyo Japan.

Gamasutra Editor-in-Chief  Kris Graft moderated the Tuesday AMA session and guided Moore through stream chat questions ranging from development, working in a global video games industry, and his experience remaking a classic the likes of Demon’s Souls.

GDC is the premiere game developer’s conference covering innovations in video games, developer chats, and just generally what’s going on in games today. With GDC attendees and speakers video calling in from home, this year’s conference featured a series of daily AMAs with developers, programers, and directors from the likes of Suckerpunch, Yacht Club Games, and  Bluepoint.

Demon's souls
Courtesy of Sony Entertainment

One thing that Moore touched on throughout the entirety of the AMA was the daunting task of not only directing Demon’s Souls, but living up to the legacy the game laid down by kicking off the souls-borne series/genre. 

“I spent many sleepless nights,” Moore said during the AMA. “Eventually you just have to hitch up your trousers and get to work.” 

In Moore’s years of experience of both working on and directing games he’s found that even through those sleepless nights and hitched up trousers, the passion eventually takes him. Demon’s Souls wasn’t the first classic that Moore and Bluepoint Games were tasked with remaking. Bluepoint also worked on the Shadow of the Colossus remake on Playstation 4, which was released in 2018.

shadow of the colossus
Courtesy of Sony Entertainment

One of the challenges Moore brought up across both projects was figuring out how to update the game where it needed it while staying true to the flagship titles. 

“Our major hurdles were staying true to the original,” Moore said. “We can give you an amazing audio visual experience, but we need to stay true to what makes the original great.” 

Part of this task was being able to identify what the core experience of the game was and building upon it. “We try to identify the core of the game and that’s what we keep,” Moore said.

From there it’s a question of what to keep and what to change. With a game like Demon’s Souls, part of that process is weighing what aspects of the original game’s difficulty running on PS3 should be carried over to the PS5 remake. Moore describes that a lot of the frustration in the original Demon’s Souls came out of the hardware it was running on at the time, which impacted the overall smoothness of the game. 

“There’s a lot of bugs that actually become meta,” Moore said. “We have to think about how expectations of a triple-a title change over ten to twelve years.”

Demon's souls
Courtesy of Sony Entertainment

A few of the other core aspects of Demon’s Souls that needed refinement were movement in combat and integrating the haptic PS5 controller.

Along with mocapping player and enemy movements and adding in new assets, a large part of the game’s challenge was staying true to the original tone of the game. 

“It was much harder to maintain the feel of the game, the despair that came across,” Moore said.  

Though adding in the PS5 controller’s haptic feedback functions into the game was a challenge compared to the simple vibrations of dual-shock controllers past, Moore said the process was worth it to build on how gritty the game’s original combat was. 

One particular challenge that the team at Bluepoint- and the world at large- faced was transitioning to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moore noted that it had been about a year since the team at Bluepoint had to pack their bags and start working from home, and described managing Demon’s Souls development as relying on his team to be “professionals.” 

Moore also noted that connecting with his team from a computer screen isn’t a new experience.

“Games are a global experience now,” Moore said. If you want to read more of our coverage of GDC talks and AMAs check out the rest of Stropse.com.

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