eSports Magazine interview: Fukuhara Tetsuya

Esports Magazine had a one-page interview with FKHR, where he talks about the design of the game, future tournament support, and more! As always, we’ve translated it and put it here for future reference.

(Translated from Esports Magazine Volume 3. All errors are Vibratingsheep’s)

eSports Magazine (ESM): Please tell us about what led to the development of Granblue Fantasy Versus (GBVS).

Fukuhara Tetsuya (FKHR): We at Cygames want to lift up the rest of the game industry. As one of our means to that end, we think that eSports are a key form of entertainment. Cygames already has Shadowverse running incredible tournaments, but the heart of eSports to us is the fighting game. And we can’t make those ourselves. While we were thinking about that, we realized that our own IP Granblue Fantasy had a lot of elements that made it easy to convert into a fighting game, so we decided on that.

ESM: Why did you decide on designing to be relatively simple compared to other fighting games?

The Skills explanation from the GBVS page

FKHR: As a game becomes more complex, then it naturally leads to more complicated combos. I call those kinds of games “Combo games”. And those kinds of games are very fun games. However, a lot of people feel like the barrier to entry for those games is very high. Because of the IP that GBVS is based on, we’ll get a lot of players who have never played a fighting game before, but also plenty who have never owned a game console before or have not played one in decades. We built our design with that in mind, making GBVS the kind of game that new players could enjoy. Arc System Works was very interested in exploring that kind of design as well, so we were in sync for the whole design process.

ESM: So you were making it with the new players in mind?

FKHR: When you go back to Street Fighter II five or ten years after you last played it, you can play whatever character you want and it will still feel natural to you. I wanted this game to preserve that feeling.

ESM: Please tell us about the process that went into picking the cast.

FKHR: We had two major factors that went into the process. First, they had to be a popular character in GBF. The other was their ability to represent archetypes in fighting game theory: the character who shoots projectiles, the character with many varied moves, the character with strong throws, etc. The characters who fit both of those criteria were the ones we chose.

ESM: What was the response to the closed beta like?

FKHR: The response was positive. We were worried that since there was no matchmaking in the beta, we would have newcomers matched up against veterans who would start hating the game after getting beaten up repeatedly. But we didn’t get much of that feedback at all – it was more like “I didn’t win, but it was fun to do the moves; I liked it.” They were very optimistic overall, and that eased my mind. The whole development team got a big shot of confidence from the feedback. We did get feedback that the ability icons were hard to see, so we’ll be working on that in the release version.

ESM: So you’re listening to the players, that’s great. Cygames has become known for its esports support – what are you planning for GBVS tournaments?

FKHR: We can’t give out any specifics yet, but we’re going into planning with the intent of holding official tournaments. We want to hold tournaments at Granblue Fantasy Fest, at RAGE (Japanese Shadowverse league) events, and I would really like to see one at Evo.

ESM: Have you been keeping that in mind while producing and adjusting the game?

FKHR: I think so. We built this game with player accessibility in mind, but I believe it’s very important to make the game fun for spectators as well. We believed it was important to make a game where the combos and animations were not so flashy that no one could see what was going on, and make the kind of game system where people could understand what was great and what was not. That’s why we made GBVS the way it is – the speed of the game is on the slower end for the genre, the damage on single hits is high to pace the rounds well, and we made it so that when the Skybound Arts connect, it’s easy to tell if they’re going to end the round or not. There are plenty of little things that we did with this in mind.

Percival and Lancelot in RPG mode.

ESM: What do you want people to see in GBVS?

FKHR: I want people to pay attention to the recently announced RPG mode. Fighting games are made with versus in mind, where you constantly contend against other people and end every game with one winner and one loser. For our GBF fans and for people who aren’t very good at fighting games, we made this mode so that you can play either solo and co-op and defeat a boss. It’s a different experience, where you can play GBVS as a fun action game. This isn’t the only thing I want people to focus on, of course; our first priority was to make GBVS a great fighting game, and we want a lot of people to enjoy it as a shining example of the genre.

ESM: Do you have a final message for our readers?

FKHR: GBVS is a completely new fighting game. Everyone gets to start fresh with this game, and I hope our players don’t get too worried about the little things and have fun with it. As for those who are expecting big things from Cygames esports and tournaments, we’re definitely keeping you in mind. We want to make this a series that gets love and care for a long time, with future updates and maybe a GBVS 2 some day, but first things first – I hope that you pick it up, play it, and enjoy it.