Namco on the challenges of porting Dark Souls: "we don't really have that strong PC experience"
There were some worrying noises from the Dark Souls camp during E3 last week. Dark Souls producer Daisuke Uchiyama told Eurogamer that From Software "haven't been able to step up into doing any specific optimisation for PC," admitting that the framerate problems present in the console versions will likely persist. “It’s more strictly a port from the console version," he said.
Later in the show, Graham asked Nobu Taguchi of Namco Bandai America about the challenges of bringing Dark Souls to PC. Taguchi painted a picture of a studio surprised by the sudden demand for a PC version, struggling to meet the expectations of a new audience. He admits that "from an experience background From Software and Namco Bandai ourselves, we don’t really have that strong PC experience."
The project started when a petition showing support for a PC version of Dark Souls gained tens of thousands of signatures within a month. That spurred Namco Bandai into action. "At that point that’s when we brought it over to From Software to discuss the concept of 'are you able to create this PC version of the game that everybody is asking for?'” Saguchi explained. "From Software being very community orientated said that “We’ll try out best” but one of the concepts they were fearing was that just bringing out a straight port wouldn’t suffice at all."
From Software decided to expand the game to "alleviate" the optimisation drawbacks, in Taguchi's words, "to create a brand new location and a strong extension which really expands what the game was originally about." That extension takes includes the extra bosses and a new PvP mode being slotted into the Prepare to Die edition.
Will it be worth putting up with poor performance to access the new areas? Saguchi suggests that the severity of the port problems will vary depending on the power of the player's machine. "While the game hasn't been tweaked itself, because it’s very difficult to tweak, but for people who play on the PC, which is arguably a lot more stronger format to work off of, it does improve the framerate issues," he said.
"I think it’s really inherent on the person’s setup in terms of what kind of power the game can use. So it’s a little bit more difficult to determine, it really kind of shifts along with the processor that you’re selling."
"It’s definitely going to be better than the console version," he added later. "It’s just that in terms of what PC gamers are maybe looking at in terms of what they usually play, it may not match up."