Complete List of Changes to Dark Souls
Dark Souls is considered one of the greatest games ever created. Since its release, it has influenced the game industry to the point of having its own genre, the Souls-like games.
But do you know that Dark Souls went through a large number of changes during its development? It is hard to see these adjustments now by just playing the game, but with the hints from this guide, you might just be able to find them the next time you explore Lordran.
Discover the journey that the Dark Souls game underwent during its development and the changes it had towards becoming one of the best games ever.
Priscilla - The Heroine of Dark Souls
Priscilla is one of the bosses in the game and yet does not attack you once you enter her combat zone. She will kindly request you to leave the area and go in peace. Of course, this game being Dark Souls, the player will not leave and will typically begin the battle.
But do you know that Priscilla is the original heroine of the game? What does being heroine even means in a Miyazaki game? Was she supposed to play a role similar to that of the Doll in Bloodborne, or like the Fire Keeper in Dark Souls III? Note that Dark Souls is the only game in the Souls series that does not have a female guide, typically located in the hub of the game.
Satake: Initially, Priscilla was the heroine of the story, and she was going to be there, for example.
Miyazaki: She was the heroine of the story at one point.
Knowll Insight: Priscilla was originally planned to be located in the Firelink Shrine. As this location serves the role of the hub, this somehow confirms our theory that she was meant to be the female guide of the hero, like the Doll and the Fire Keeper. Miyazaki decided to move her into the Painted World, though.
Otsuka: The former heroine, Priscilla, you decided to place her here?
Miyazaki: Indeed. I believe she fits the place well, being snow-colored and all. However, I also think that the Painted World is a place where people being chased might go to escape. Priscilla fits that description.
Firelink Shrine - A Water Temple
Firelink Shrine is the hub of Dark Souls, where you can visit different places, depending on the path you choose. It is also where various NPC stay after meeting them while exploring outside.
It was initially meant to be a water temple. In the final game, it still had water near the place where Frampt will appear, but the small pond that was designed in the art below has dried.
Miyazaki: In the beginning, I had the image of people gathered together around a bonfire. And so, Firelink Shrine is one of the first places that we designed. Though it is a small area, it connects to various places and has a lot of hidden spots. It was a truly enjoyable location to design and create.
Satake: Yes. Based on what I remember, we originally designed it as a water temple, but as our work on the game evolved and the concepts of Kindling and fire became more prominent, the place more or less dried up.
Miyazaki: Indeed. Yes. Firelink Shrine is the main hub of the game, so I originally wanted it to be a healing place, with water, greenery, soft lights, and subtle music. As Mr. Satake said, while most of these didn't change, the introduction of Kindling and the arrival of Frampt later in the game meant that the water gradually disappeared from this area.
Another thing is the bonfire placement, which used to be in another location. Its current place used to be a pond. We didn't use the original site because it was not flat and affected the player's sitting animation. So, we searched for level ground, and that's where we placed the bonfire. This new location happened to be in the middle of a pond, and that water had to go too.
Painted World of Ariamis - The Prototype of Dark Souls
The Painted World of Ariamis is an excluded area in the game, only accessible through teleportation via the painting.
Do you know that this is the original prototype of Dark Souls? The prototype boss, Nito, was also located here initially.
Miyazaki: We prepared a lot of concept art for the Painted World. It was actually based on the map we used for the Dark Souls prototype. We worked and spent a lot of effort on this prototype, as it is our means to truly convey our vision for the game, so much that I didn't want it to be wasted and planned to use it in the actual game. However, I could not find a way to fit it in, so in the end, I cheated and placed it in the Painted World.
Waragai: It is the only location in the game with snow, so it was hard to put anywhere else.
Miyazaki: Indeed. Though it sounds like a poor solution, I actually had an image of the Painted World from the beginning. I'm glad that I was able to combine that vision and the prototype map.
The Hand of Gwynevere
If you watched the Vampire Hunter D series, you would be familiar with the face that is present in the hero's hand, called Left Hand. This face has a mouth that not only talks but also has other uses as well, like absorbing poison in the hero's body or removing curses and enchantments that make the hero ill.
Do you know that Gwynevere was originally designed to have something similar in her hand? It would surely be for healing purposes, of course.
Miyazaki: The truth is that I just wanted to add in the game a truly big woman. I believe it was in the manga Fujiko F. Fujio where there was a company president who joins an exclusive club to get away from his stressful work life. There was this giant woman who takes care of all these members, almost like a mother. Isn't that a perfect situation? A giant, considerate, and caring woman, the kind we all lost while growing up. That's what I wanted to add in the game. Also, I initially wanted to put a mouth in the palm of her hand. We even made all the animations. However, it didn't make it into the final game.
Andre of Astora - A Descendant of Gwyn
Andre is a friendly blacksmith you will meet while adventuring in Lordran. But do you know that he used to have a much larger role in the story of the game?
Andre was initially planned as a descendant of Gwyn. Near the end of the hero's adventure, Andre would help him go through a secret door in the Firelink Shrine, and progress in his journey.
Theory: This original role was taken away from Andre and given to Frampt. Do you remember the scene where Frampt swallows the hero and brings him to the Kiln of the First Flame? That should have been the task of Andre, by looking at the art below.
Otsuka: We were talking initially about Pricilla, are there any characters like her whose role changed drastically as the development progressed?
Miyazaki: Oh, yes, indeed. There are many, like Andre of Astora. We originally planned for him a more critical role in the story.
Satake: Now he is no longer related to Gwyn, isn't it?
Miyazaki: Yes, we changed that part. He was initially supposed to be a descendant of Gwyn with the main task of protecting a door within the Firelink Shrine. And then near the end, he would push aside the goddess status so the player's journey can progress. However, as the game evolved, Andre became just a simple blacksmith.
Nito On Fire
Miyazaki's team experienced a lot of difficulty in creating and animating the design of Nito. We have shared earlier how Miyazaki even enacted the movement of Nito for the cutscene.
Miyazaki shares below the changes in his design.
Miyazaki: Nito was originally designed and created as the boss of the prototype map, so we gave him a vast range of attacks and effects. We were constantly discussing what color he should be and how he should look.
Waragai: Nito was initially on fire, wasn't he?
Miyazaki: Indeed. He was in the pre-rendered intro. He has a really intricate design, so it was very difficult to convey what I wanted to the animators. Nito had to cloaked in shadow, shrouded by a deathly aura, but that is not very easy to get across, and so the results of their first attempt were not what I wanted at all.
Centipede Demon on the Church Roof
The Centipede Demon is one of the tough bosses in the game, especially the first time you fight him. His combat zone was located in a place with lava, and you would undoubtedly panic and get damaged while balancing your attention between the monster and your location in the area.
Do you know that he was originally planned to be located on top of the church near the first bell? In the final game, he was replaced by the gargoyles.
Miyazaki: The Gargoyles were enemies that would appear before you ring the bell in the Bell Tower. Originally the Centipede Demon, which is now in Izalith, was there. However, based on the route you follow through the game's opening stages, to Sen's Fortress and Andor Londo, this monster didn't really fit. Also, it's the first boss enemy you will face, so I wanted something a little more typical. Since it's a church and we have wide, open space for combat, we decided on Gargoyles.
The Four Knights
Smough is one of the best bosses in the game, together with his partner Ornstein. But do you know that Smough was originally meant to be a member of the Four Knights? In the final game, he was not in the group, as shown in the art below.
During the design stage, the members of the Four Knights were yet to be determined. The first member to be designed was Smough, and the second was the Channeler. But later on, both got removed from the group.
Miyazaki: We worked on Smough much earlier, from the initial concept stages, while Ornstein was introduced later. I remember that the Channeler's design was at the same time as that of Smough, and we referred to them as the Four Knights, with these two as Knights C and D. I expected that by doing this, it would force us to create Knights A and B.
In the end, this didn't happen, and the Four Knights disappeared. The effort and design work for Knights A and B were transferred to other characters like Artorias and Ornstein. The Channeler got an entirely different role, and so Smough was left alone. I extremely like the design of Smough, so I wanted to do something special and transformed him from one of the Four Knights into something almost heretical.
The King of Izalith
If you survey all Dark Souls players, which is the boss they do not like the most, the answer will mostly be The Bed of Chaos. Many fans find this boss annoying.
Do you know that this boss was designed to have the King of Izalith? He was meant to sit at the center of the Bed, and have various attacks. His unused model was later discovered and is shown below.
Trivia: The Bed of Chaos is Miyazaki's biggest regret for Dark Souls. He shares that they could have done it better.
Miyazaki: There were situations where I knew something was wrong during development, but I could not express what I wanted and could not provide a solution. That was difficult for both the artist I was working with and me. The best example of this is the Bed of Chaos.
Otsuka: You initially designed the King of Izalith. What was that like?
Miyazaki: Indeed. Yes, proof of the twists and turns we had to go through in development.
Waragai: He was originally going to be the boss of the area. While the Bed of Chaos sprawls on the floor and waves its hands, the king sits on his throne.
Miyazaki: Yes, that's right. That gave us a lot of trouble. I have already shared about the various aspects of the game that I'm not entirely happy with, but personally, my greatest regret is the Bed of Chaos. Our artists and designers gave their best and came up with some truly amazing ideas, but it revealed a real problem in our production method. We did not have a way of finding a common goal and working towards it when things go awry. It is something I would like to improve in the future.
The Roaming Black Knights
The Black Knights are a good example of Miyazaki's principle of "discovering hidden beauty." They are scattered in various locations in the game, and you may or may not find them, depending on the paths you take. It also depends on whether you do much exploration in your journey.
Do you know that they were meant to be roaming in the game? Similar to a few Black Knights in Dark Souls III, they were not meant to be stationary and easily missable.
Theory: Their roaming behavior was removed because they are inherently difficult to fight, especially in the early parts of the game. Imagine getting seen by one, and chased all over the map, just to get killed at the end. And then you have to start all over again in the last bonfire you rested.
Hatsuyama: Regarding the Black Knights, I remember they were originally going to wander the world. Why did you decide to change that?
Miyazaki: We've been planning to introduce wandering enemies since Demon's Souls. Back then, it was through Skeletons and Grim Reapers, but we are yet to do it for whatever reason. The Black Knights' behavior was changed, but their role stayed the same. Since they were burned together with Gwyn when he linked the flame, they wander the land.
Domhnall and His Triple Crossbow
Domhnall is the NPC to contact if you want to buy the exotic armor, weapons, and items of monsters or NPCs you have slain in the game.
He was originally designed to be the owner of the Avelyn. But Miyazaki decided to change that later on.
Nakamura: Regarding Domhnall, didn't we create a weapon for him, the triple crossbow? It is one of my favorites and is very unique, especially compared to other weapons in the game.
Miyazaki: By triple crossbow, you mean the Avelyn? Unfortunately, I had to relocate it to the Duke's Archives.
Rescuing Dusk in Oolacile
In the original plan for Dark Souls, there was an event where the player would get summoned to Oolacile to rescue Dusk. Miyazaki didn't proceed with the idea, though. He will revisit this later on through the DLC Artorias of the Abyss.
Miyazaki: During early development, we originally planned to have an event where the hero would get summoned to Dusk's world. Her background story was that she came from Oolacile, and there was supposed to be a quest to rescue her in that kingdom. However, we scrapped that quickly. It was not just possible at that time. I wanted to restore the Old Forest to its initial state, its ruins, and buildings. So the hero would do some quests in Oolacile, after getting summoned by Dusk. Sadly, we were not able to do this. As she is one of the characters I like the most, I was thinking about events and quests related to her.