As Granblue Fantasy‘s development team adjusted to the new rules of the Coronavirus pandemic, we reached out to Kimura Yuito, (“KMR”, producer of GBF) and Fukuhara Tetsuya (“FKHR”, director of GBF). Armed with questions from Twitter, we asked them about challenges the game is facing in the age of COVID, along with a few other burning questions.
The challenges of current development
Granblue_en: With the global Coronavirus pandemic affecting global travel and leading to many events shutting down worldwide, will you shift your focus to the online experience for GBVS?
KMR: It will depend on the event organizers, but for RAGE, it was decided to hold the preliminaries online.
Granblue_en: It’s been close to a month since Work from Home was put in place for much of Japan. How are you two and the GBF team doing? What challenges have arisen from the new setup, professionally or personally?
KMR: The majority of the GBF team has shifted to working at home, but there are a lot of things we have to adjust to, and that’s had an effect on the development process. The most important thing is, spirits are high and everyone’s healthy.
FKHR: I’ve worked as a freelancer in the past, so I’m personally used to it, but some people have difficulty focusing at home, or face other challenges relating to their home office environments. It’s not easy, but I know everyone is doing their best.
Granblue_en: Are there any considerations being made to record voices for GBF remotely, or will voices only return to GBF once you have a green light to bring actors to the studio again?
KMR: Unfortunately, we have to wait and see how the situation evolves. There are a lot of technical challenges involved in recording remotely.
FKHR: Getting remote recording equipment set up is a major hurdle. We’re working with our partner companies to look for safe solutions that will deliver the quality our users expect from us.
Continuing to develop GBF, GBVS, and more
Granblue_en: Looking ahead, do you foresee development delays affecting the content that was originally planned for summer and beyond? (Replicard Sandbox, the Tower of Babyl, and perhaps the non-competitive valor badge event specifically)
KMR: Our development team is doing everything they can, but some delays may be unavoidable.
FKHR: The team is doing their best. However, there are other updates being held back in addition to the ones you mentioned, so the schedule may end up being adjusted to avoid releases overlapping.
Granblue_en: With Arc System Works’ upcoming Guilty Gear Strive promising to adopt rollback netcode, could this be a consideration for future GBVS updates?
FKHR: It’s not something we have planned for the moment. In the case of GBVS, it would be a late addition, and it could be pretty daunting to implement. Right now, we can’t say whether or not it’s feasible.
Granblue_en: Granblue Fantasy Versus had two balance patches in the month of April, and fans and players both have very strong opinions on how much they affected the game. What are your biggest concerns when it comes to game balance? Do you watch the Master ranks closely? Do you work off of tournament results? Or do you leave everything to the Arc System Works team?
FKHR: I feel that the patch was successful, based on player trends and how excited the base was over online tournaments. (We’ve seen professional players praising the balance, and generally rating the patch highly.)
The late-April patch ended up including a lot of nerfs, but it was evident that buffing everyone to be in line with the top-tier characters would ruin the game’s balance. Right after we announced the patch, we received a lot of criticism, but it feels like the player base has warmed up to the changes after spending some time with them.
Anime and global media
Granblue_en: You mentioned in your Famitsu interview that you wanted to do more slapstick style pacing, and you just announced an anime for Grand Blues! What led you to greenlight the anime, and why this timing?
KMR: Anime takes a lot of time to produce, so when the preparations to create one are in place, you have to go for it and make all the progress you can. Once the completion timeline is firmed up, other plans are finalized accordingly.
As for the announcements, we try to time them so that we don’t leave the audience waiting too long.
Granblue_en: Uma Musume and Cinderella Girls have similar gag comics that have anime adaptations – do you find that these anime are good at bringing in new interest in these properties, or are they meant to be fan service for the existing audience?
KMR: If I had to pick one, I’d say it’s more the latter—fan service for the existing audience.
Granblue_en: How do you feel about the Princess Connect! Re:Dive anime? Can we expect this same kind of energy from the Grand Blues! anime that we see in Princess Connect?
KMR: They’re being handled by different production teams, so I can’t say for sure. But the Princess Connect anime is making waves within the company, so it’s possible that it’ll have an influence on Grand Blues.
Granblue_en: While you earlier expressed interest in a global simultaneous release for GBVS, the global release was staggered over two months. What did you learn from this experience, and how does this affect Relink and other projects in the future?
KMR: I can’t really get specific right now, but I feel like we learned a lot from that experience.
FKHR: A lot of different circumstances resulted in delays in the game’s international releases. This was a first for Cygames as a company, and thanks to what we learned with GBVS, I feel like we’ll be able to smooth out some of those bumps next time.
Granblue_en: One of Granblue Fantasy‘s greatest strengths is its music. With Granblue Fantasy Versus‘ soundtrack now available globally, what are your plans for making Granblue’s music available in more regions?
FKHR: We’re working on it, and we hope you’ll enjoy it when it comes out.
Granblue_en: Grand Order Impossible’s new theme, “Armageddon”, created a lot of buzz when the players heard Emi Evans’ vocals. What events led to her hiring? Can we expect her back for another song?
FKHR: I casually mentioned to Dog Ear Records the type of female vocals I was envisioning for the song. They put us in touch with Ms. Evans. I think she was Narita’s recommendation.
Granblue_en: Is there a dream musician you would love to work with for GBF music?
FKHR: I can’t really think of anyone in particular. And since the music style in the game is distinct to Narita and Uematsu, I can’t really see us doing any collaborations for the in-game music.
Outside of the game, I would love to hear remixes in original and surprising genres, like jazz or club music.
Future GBF development
Granblue_en: You recently announced there would be another type of event to earn valor badges. Were the changes to April Unite and Fight box rewards related to future designs for that event?
KMR: No, they weren’t directly related.
Granblue_en: Almost every quality of life update over the past year has been welcomed and praised by the players, but there are still many aspects of the game that have been untouched for years. Do you expect to update the rupie draw, the coop system, or the casino in the near future?
FKHR: We have a lot of plans like that. At one point, we looked into letting players draw all 100 rupie draws at the same time, but our simulations showed that it would cause a server outage at 5 AM every day. This was a long time ago, though, so we might take another look at that.
We don’t have any plans to update co-op or the casino at the moment… But can I take this question to mean you’d like to spend more time playing those modes?
Granblue_en: With Grand characters receiving 5 star uncaps, and seasonal weapons releasing with 4 star uncaps, are seasonal characters being considered for 5* uncaps soon?
KMR: Not at the moment.
Granblue_en: The release of the Evokers seemed to signal a shift in the maturity and themes of GBF’s writing – is this a trend we should expect to continue?
FKHR: The Arcarum stories are very serious, but the events will continue to be a mix of comedy and other genres.
Granblue_en: What are your favorite groups of characters to see in the story? (Dragon Knights, Society, Gunsmith Sisters, etc)
KMR: I don’t really have favorite groups of characters, but in general, my tastes run more toward comedy. Recently, I thought the event where sharks were popping out everywhere was hilarious.
FKHR: If I answered this, it would seem like favoritism, so I’ll beg off, but the truth is that they’re all special to me.
Granblue_en: April Fool’s Day is one of the busiest days of the Granblue Fantasy year. From one-day-only collabs to a dedicated rhythm game app, how long in advance do you plan these April gags? How much development time goes into them?
FKHR: It depends on what the April Fool’s joke is. The Taiko Drum Master app took the longest—about 8 months.
The first April Fool’s event, with “Kimi to Boku no Mirai” and the other things, took about a month and a half, I think. That was really hard for its own reasons…
Granblue_en: What is the craziest idea that the staff has ever pitched to you successfully?
KMR: There are so many that I can’t think of just one.
FKHR: Belial’s personality.
Granblue_en: After Young Cat, many of our followers want to know if Cavalier or Lumberjack will ever be able to name their animal companions.
FKHR: Those aren’t really characters—they’re more like skill animations, so probably not…
Granblue_en: Does the staff have any pet nicknames for the animals?
FKHR: We mostly call them things like “bird” or “deer”—we do love them, though. We call Jasmine’s bear “Purple Bear” because of its coloring.
Granblue_en: Do you have a goal for your personal GBF account this year?
KMR: I plan to finish my Dark Opus weapons in all elements (one per element—not both).
FKHR: I plan on unlocking the Guider to the Eternal Edge skin, and filling out my weapon collection.
Granblue_en: Do you have any messages for the overseas players, new and old, who’re playing this game in year 7?
KMR: This year, we were able to release Granblue Fantasy Versus as an official introduction to the world of Granblue Fantasy for a global audience.
In the coming year, we’ll be doing a lot on both the console and mobile development fronts, so stay tuned—you won’t be disappointed.
FKHR: It looks like we’re not going to be able to travel to any international events this year, and that’s a shame. But you can play our games from home, and our whole staff is doing its best to keep our fans entertained and happy.
Granblue_en: PS, can you ask Sierokarte to be less generous with berries the next time you have the scratchers?
KMR: I’ll send her a memo (lol).