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Dark Souls: Prepare to Die interview: Namco on its challenging PC port

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Dark Souls: Prepare to Die PC cover

© Namco Bandai

After a lengthy petition from devoted fans, Dark Souls will finally be released on PC, giving a new audience a taste of one of the challenging, demanding and satisfying games released in 2011.

We chat to producer Daisuke Uchi about the new 'Artorias of the Abyss' DLC that comes with the edition and the challenges behind bringing it to PC.

> Hands-on impressions of Dark Souls: Prepare to Die's new content and PC port

Why do DLC for Dark Souls?
"So in the past for Dark Souls we've always constantly said that we won't do downloadable content for 'Dark Souls'. And the reason for that was, doing downloadable content so like a sword or a shield wasn't really useful for the actual game world and game concept itself. So conceptually we never had considered doing any downloadable content.

"However, ever since the petition and our decision to create for the PC we have been able to add another new balanced sub-set, or venues and story onto what was previously existing.

Images of the new Artorias of the Abyss DLC that comes with Dark Souls: Prepare to Die.

© Namco Bandai



"Because we were able to add enough content and a whole new set of gameplay we feel that providing that downloadable content for the console players was very important as well.

"We would like to distribute the same content to people who have enjoyed the console version that was released last October."

Do you feel these areas were missing from the original game or do you see it as more bonus additional content?
"Actually in terms of the additional content, the venues and the monsters and the bosses, it was all decided and discussed after we had released the console version due to the online petition for the PC version.

"In that sense, it wasn't something that leaked from the console version, the console version was fully complete and then after that we decided to think about what else we could add. So in that sense it could probably be considered more of bonus content."

Images of the new Artorias of the Abyss DLC that comes with Dark Souls: Prepare to Die.

© Namco Bandai



With this new content, how does it compare to what is already in the base game in terms of their tone and their theme?
"So in terms of additional maps and in terms of the tone we really put a lot of thought into what we would add to these new areas, and the solution that we came up with was to bring the same areas back into the past of the game, so 200-300 years in the past.

"In this way we could obviously match the tone of the same type of venues but have a different setting and have different visuals that would match that generation of the game. In that sense we are hoping that the tone and the mood and the structure will remain consistent with the console game."

What about when it comes to challenge and exploration?
"We've made sure that we have it so players still concentrate on the exploration as well as be challenged enough. The digital content has been fully integrated into the game for players who have played the original on the console and travelled using their character, and once they're in the later half of the game, they will be able to access this additional content.

"In terms of the content and the ability hopefully it will be challenging enough. There is enough additional venue content for players to continue to explore including both the original and the additional content."

Images of the new Artorias of the Abyss DLC that comes with Dark Souls: Prepare to Die.

© Namco Bandai



Speaking about the PC version, what makes Dark Souls a good fit for that platform and that audience?
"It's a tough question for us to really answer. We decided to create this PC version mainly as a result of the online petition and the strong requests from players and PC gamers out there.

"Maybe there was something in the game or maybe it was the strong features that really struck the PC players out there.

"Our assumption is that PC gamers are very hard-core, more so than the console gamers, I don't know what it was that sparked the online petition but once we do release the PC game version we'll be able to find out and see if it is fitting for our PC gamer audience."

What's it like on a technical perspective to bring it to the PC?
"In terms of technical difficulties obviously us being a Japanese publisher and a Japanese developer, the PC market in Japan is so small that we hadn't had very much experience.

"So honestly speaking, we hadn't perceived how much trouble the PC version was going to be. We did have so many things we had to decide, so many things we had to talk about and discuss.

"It was a great experience but it was a rough ride to be honest in terms of being able to simply port the console version to the PC.

"But I believe that this experience and this occasion will be very helpful in anything else that we create on the PC."

Images of the new Artorias of the Abyss DLC that comes with Dark Souls: Prepare to Die.

© Namco Bandai



You say developing for PC has been a helpful learning experience; will any of your future games now be released on PC at the same time?
"So currently the developer team that worked on the console version of Dark Souls is really focused on the PC version as well as the downloadable content. To be frank with you anything after that we haven't talked at all, and there hasn't been any talk on what is happening after this PC version.

"But at the same time, knowing that the PC market is important and with this experience, regardless of what kind of project we work with we probably will have a PC version in mind if we do decide to do it."

There are frame rate issues in certain areas of Dark Souls. If you have a high enough PC, will those issues not be present?
"It's hard to say at this point, but we're anticipating that when players play on a high-spec PC that some of the frame rate drops that were experienced on the console, may or hopefully will be fixed to a certain extent.

"It's not the case where the game will run from 30 frames to 60 frames, that's not the case, we haven't been able to optimise to that extent.

"I know there were certain areas in the console version where the frame rate did drop, we apologise for that, but hopefully by playing it on high-spec PCs with good graphics boards and good engines, hopefully those parts will be fixed to a certain extent."


Looking back at Dark Souls as a whole development process, how do you think it turned out?
"Well to be honest again, we don't even want to remember back to last August, during crunch time! There was a lot of work and a lot of issues and a lot of challenges, and like the game, it was a very difficult process.

"But we were able to achieve that good satisfying sense of accomplishment for development as well, so that was a positive result."

> Read our Xbox 360 review of Dark Souls

Dark Souls: Prepare to Die is available on PC on August 28. The 'Artorias of the Abyss' DLC will be released on consoles by the end of the year.

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