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PAX West 2017: Koji Igarashi Talks ‘Bloodstained’

Saturday 2nd September 2017 by Shane O'Hare

Day 1 of PAX West 2017 is over and done with and we’ve got a lot to share with you!

We got the opportunity to sit with with Castlevania developer Koji Igarashi to talk about his upcoming Kickstarter sensation Bloodstained: Ritual of The Night.

First off welcome! Thank you for sitting down with us to talk about Bloodstained. How are you enjoying your trip to Seattle?

It’s very cold here! Tokyo is a lot warmer this time of year so I’m not used to it.

What was the biggest push for you to go to crowdfunding for Bloodstained?

In Japan, the video game industry is starting to move towards mobile games. Social gaming, instead of actually working on console games. The Japanese video game industry is slowly shifting. I wanted to create a new game in this genre, that I knew fans wanted to play. I knew developers wouldn’t want to make this kind of game because of how the market is shifting. The initial goal was to make a game for consoles, for gamers that is in the style of games that I have been making.

That’s very enlightening to hear the market is making such a shift right now. There was a lot of rumors and speculation that your decision to go to crowdfunding was due to working with certain developers. 

Looking at the market in Japan where video games aren’t selling as much as the mobile social games, when you compare how much is being sold on the mobile side. It’s easy to understand why so many video game companies are making the change, the amount of resources that goes into a console game VS mobile games its obvious that the market is going in that direction. That’s just not something I want to work on. 

The graphics for Bloodstained have improved drastically over the last few months. What is your process working with the game engine to bring your vision for the world you’re creating, to your fans. How do you think the die hard Castlevania fans are going to react?

In regards to the visual aesthetics of Bloodstained, we decided to go with Unreal Engine 4. When we started the project we didn’t know that much about the engine itself. It was very new to us, and there was a lot of trial and error. We really wanted to try out the new features that Unreal 4 could do. Which was the procedural generation. We wouldn’t have to constantly reuse assets or materials. That makes it easier, for say something like a cracked wall. You can make so many different variations of one thing. We didn’t want to reuse the same texture or reusing the same kind of effect on it. There was a lot of trial and error, but we’ve been improving a lot. We’re finding we can do much more with the engine, how to manipulate things like the lighting and make the game more appealing. 

Another thing is that, how we want players to feel when they play it. The visual aesthetic might be lower than what you expect from a AAA title, but that wasn’t our main focus. Gameplay, and how it makes gamer’s feel is what we wanted to focus on. 

Are you taking any specific steps in preserving the legacy you’ve built with Castlevania? Is there anything you really want to pay homage to?

We’re really focusing on the controls for the game. It needs to feel like other games I’ve worked on. How it feels, how responsive they are, is what we’re preserving. Being able to control the character on screen, exactly how you want to is very important. It doesn’t matter how good the level design is, or how the game looks. If the controls aren’t how we want them to be, then the game won’t be as acclaimed. 

What was the inspiration for the main character, Miriam? 

There were so many thoughts going on when I was creating Miriam. Previously, I created half vampire half human. A vampire that KNOWS what it’s like to be human. We found that it’s easier for players to relate to a human character, so we wanted to go back to that. She’s cursed, so she has this weight on her that is obvious to players. 

Miriam’s ability to absorb runes is very similar to what players were able to do in Castlevania: Order of Eclesia. Are there any other mechanics or abilities that you’re drawing inspiration from?

There’s a lot of features we’re drawing inspiration from. This time the theme of the game is alchemy, so we want players to be able to transmute items, weapons or abilities. Anything that was incorporated in past titles, that players really enjoyed and liked we wanted to bring back. This is also a Kickstarter project, so our backers are able to give us feedback and their opinions. We are able to listen to what they feel is enjoyable to play. We want to make sure the players are very comfortable playing the game. 

What can you tell us about the soundtrack? How are things coming along?

Our game director is VERY picky about the music, so we’ve been giving a lot of feedback to the studio we are working with, Noisy Croak. They’re creating a lot of the soundtrack. We’re working with Michiru Yamane again, who we’ve worked with a lot in past titles. She isn’t creating all the soundtracks, but her music and her creation is the main theme. She is working with Noisy Croak, and they are pulling inspiration from her style and are creating songs that sound like something she would make.

It was a great honor getting to sit down with Igarashi and talk about Bloodstained. I am extremely excited to see what him and his team have crafted. You can check out Bloodstained: Ritual of The Night when it releases March of 2018.