Hidetaka Miyazaki (宮崎 英高, Miyazaki Hidetaka, born in Shizuoka, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan) is a Japanese video game director, designer, and writer. He is also the president of the game development company FromSoftware, promoted to that role in 2014.
Miyazaki originally joined the company as a game planner in 2004, and after directing Armored Core 4 and Armored Core: For Answer in the 2000s, he became internationally known for creating and directing the Souls series, starting with Demon's Souls in 2009. Although Miyazaki had directed the first two games in the Souls series, he took a supervising role for Dark Souls II, due to the parallel development of Bloodborne, which made him unable to direct both titles simultaneously. After the release of Bloodborne, Miyazaki returned to the Souls series as the lead director on Dark Souls III. Following that, he directed Déraciné and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
Miyazaki's influences range from the works of various novelists, mangakas, and other game designers such as Fumito Ueda and Yuji Horii, as well as Asian and European architecture. Miyazaki's games, particularly the Souls series, often invoke the use of high difficulty, strong visual and environmental storytelling, and providing a large amount of the game's setting and character background information through mostly vague flavor text and fluff.
Miyazaki stated that he grew up "tremendously poor" while living in the city of Shizuoka, Japan, stating that he had no life ambitions unlike many peers of his age. Despite that, he was a heavy reader, but as his parents could not afford to buy him books or manga, he had to borrow from his local library. The books he read at the time, many in English, were sometimes beyond his reading capabilities, with parts of text he could not understand fully. Using his imagination to fill in the blanks by using the accompanying illustrations, Miyazaki used this as inspiration for some of his later ideas on game design. Alongside this, he was restricted from playing video games by his parents until he was old enough to attend university, instead playing and enjoying gamebooks and tabletop games such as Steve Jackson's Sorcery! and Dungeons & Dragons.
After graduating from Keio University with a degree in social science, Miyazaki went to work doing account managing for the U.S. based Oracle Corporation. Upon a friend's recommendation, Miyazaki began playing the 2001 video game Ico, causing him to consider a career change to a game designer. At age 29 however, Miyazaki found that few game companies would employ him, with one of the few being FromSoftware, where Miyazaki began working as a game planner on Armored Core: Last Raven in 2004, joining the game's development halfway through. Miyazaki later directed the development of Armored Core 4 and its direct sequel, Armored Core: For Answer.
Upon learning about what later became Demon's Souls, Miyazaki became excited at the prospect of a fantasy action role-playing game and offered to help. The project, up until Miyazaki was assigned to it, was considered a failure by the company, with Miyazaki stating "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." Although the game was received negatively at the 2009 Tokyo Game Show and sold far under expectations upon release, it began to pick up after a few months and soon found publishers willing to release the title outside of Japan. After the release and success of the game's spiritual successor Dark Souls in 2011, Miyazaki was promoted to the position of company president in May 2014.
After the release of the Prepare to Die edition of Dark Souls in August 2012, Sony Computer Entertainment approached FromSoftware concerning cooperative development on a new title. Miyazaki asked about the possibility of developing a game for eighth-generation consoles, and the concept of Bloodborne developed from there. There were no story or setting connections to FromSoftware's previous titles, even though Miyazaki conceded that it "carries the DNA of Demon's Souls and its very specific level design". Development ran parallel to that of Dark Souls II, which Miyazaki simply supervised as he was unable to direct both titles simultaneously.
After the release of Bloodborne in March 2015, Miyazaki returned to the Souls series as the director on Dark Souls III, with assistance from Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor and Dark Souls II lead directors Isamu Okano and Yui Tanimura, respectively. The title was released in Japan in March 2016, and worldwide the next month. In April 2016, Miyazaki revealed that he and FromSoftware were working on a new intellectual property, unrelated to the Souls series, which he wanted to personally move away from. The game was later revealed to be Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, which will be released in March 2019. Miyazaki also directed the 2018 PlayStation VR game, Déraciné, with his intended goal for it being to recreate the classic first-person adventure game genre in virtual reality. At the 2018 Golden Joystick Awards ceremony, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the video game industry. The award was presented to him by Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson, two of his design influences.
Influences and design philosophy
Miyazaki's influences include video games such as Ico, the early Dragon Quest games, The Legend of Zelda and King's Field video game series, manga series such as Berserk, Saint Seiya, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, and Devilman, the literary works of H. P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker, and George R. R. Martin, gamebooks such as Steve Jackson's Sorcery! and RuneQuest, and visual novel like Fate/stay night. Miyazaki is also inspired by architecture, more specifically of Europe, and often uses it as a way of environmental storytelling. He stated that psychology, sociology, and the history of humanity have also influenced his design philosophy.
Miyazaki stated that the notable difficulty of the Souls series had no intention of being "more difficult than other titles on purpose". Rather, the difficulty was a part of the process that gives players "a sense of accomplishment by overcoming tremendous odds", while also having a certain level of difficulty incentivizing players to "experiment more with character builds and weapon load-outs". He has stated that death is supposed to be a tool meant to be used to learn in a trial and error process, and that the idea of using death in-game as an educational tool would have been received poorly by both his superiors and the players, at least before the commercial and critical success of Demon's Souls. When asked about his style of storytelling, Miyazaki stated that despite what others may believe, he does not dislike direct storytelling, but instead prefers players to interpret the world for themselves; stating that the player gets more value from it when "they themselves find out hints of plot from items or side-characters they encounter in the world".
|2005||Armored Core: Last Raven||Planner|
|2006||Armored Core 4||Director|
|2008||Armored Core: For Answer|
|2011||Dark Souls||Director, producer|
|2014||Dark Souls II||Supervisor|
|2016||Dark Souls III|
|2019||Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice|