After Granblue Fantasy Fes 2019, we were given the opportunity to sit down with Fukuhara Tetsuya (FKHR) and Kimura Yuito (KMR), the director and producer of Granblue Fantasy. We asked them about the many announcements made at that show, and they were gracious enough to answer. Here’s part 1:
Granblue Fantasy Versus: 2020 and beyond
Granblue_en: Could you please tell us the story behind the FKHR masks?
FKHR and KMR: *laughs*
KMR: The origin of the masks?
Granblue_en: Yes, why they were chosen, and so on.
KMR: Well, we talked about providing some sort of bonus for pre-ordering Versus, but we’ve had pre-orders for it open for quite a while now, so if we made the bonus something that had real value, then the people who had already preordered it would be at a disadvantage. And so, we decided to give something that would be really fun right then and there at Fes; a physical item, not an in-game item.
And with Fukuhara-san really working hard on Versus, we thought, “Okay, let’s make it a Fukuhara-san mask”. And since Kobayashi Tarou looks pretty similar to him, we decided to mix in masks of his face as well, as a rare drop.
Granblue_en: Has the reaction to the roster of downloadable characters for Granblue Fantasy Versus been as you expected?
FKHR: Yes, I think so. The players seemed to be happy with all of the characters that we announced.
Granblue_en: The character pass release schedule is very aggressive right now, with two characters per month; what is the intended pace for releases after this?
KMR: Well, we’re planning for there to be a pause between passes 1 and 2.
FKHR: And the 5th character is being released not too long after April 2020; after they’re released, there is RAGE and other tournaments, so no other new characters will be added for a while.
KMR: After season 1, there will be a number of tournaments that happen one after the after, and then after some time passes after that, we’re considering releasing the season 2 content.
Granblue_en: So after EVO?
FKHR: At the very least, it’ll be after summer.
KMR: There will be a little time after the tournaments before Season 2 releases.
Getting down and dirty with DLC
Granblue_en: Will the DLC expand RPG mode?
KMR: Yes, we have plans to update RPG mode.
FKHR: While it won’t be at the same pace as Granblue Fantasy’s mobile game, there are plans to add to the story of GBVS.
Granblue_en: Will it be added at the same time as new characters, or as a separate piece of DLC content?
FKHR: Characters like Narmaya and Soriz will have a bit of story included when they are added, but there will also be content additions for the main story.
KMR: More story.
FKHR: Yes, after the main story’s ending is completed, there will be updates that continue the storyline.
Granblue_en: Will DLC characters be usable in the game’s RPG Mode?
KMR: They should be playable.
FKHR: They should be usable, yes.
Granblue_en: At Tokyo Game Show 2019, you said that Gran almost did not make it into the game. How did this affect the decision to put Djeeta into the game?
FKHR: Hmm… When it was decided to include Gran, we made the decision to include Djeeta as well. But it would have been difficult to include her in the initial roster, so we decided to make her a DLC character. Her development was started very early in the game’s production.
Granblue_en: How will Djeeta work in the RPG mode? Will she replace Gran? How does it work having both “in-universe”?
FKHR: This ties into her being an additional character. Since this is a fighting game, both of them will end up existing at the same time, so we’ve had to work out a good way for this to happen. We hope the players will enjoy how we’ve done that.
Granblue_en: Will familiar tunes return for characters like Belial? For example, “Paradise Lost” played in the trailer.
FKHR: “Paradise Lost” is used in the game.
Granblue_en: Should we expect new compositions for DLC characters?
FKHR: All of the DLC characters will receive specific themes created for them.
Granblue_en: Are you planning on making music from GBF available as playable tracks in GBVS?
FKHR: Well, they will not be used during battles, but in RPG mode, the original GBF pieces will be used during the story parts and quest parts.
Granblue_en: Is the process for making music for GBVS different from making music for the main GBF game, since there are more composers?
FKHR: This isn’t something I had to spend that much time on. For example, Narita [Tsutomu] is Narita, so we don’t really need to advise him on anything. Nishiki [Yasunori] is working on the background music for the anime, with Narita’s help, so he’s already familiar with the feel of how the music of Granblue Fantasy is, and how to create melodies for it.
The other composers are the staff at Picnic, who we’ve been working with since the very first character song, so they have a good understanding of what we look for. Then Narita and I check the completed tracks. If there’s anything we want adjusted, then it is, but that is rarely needed.
In the end, I feel that we end up with high quality music that fits Granblue Fantasy.
Granblue_en: Is there going to be a continuity between GBF, GBVS, and Relink? If so, how is this affecting story planning?
FKHR: Relink… this was mentioned at some point a while ago, but it takes place away from the main story, in a new region of the world. But Versus will be a parallel world to Granblue Fantasy’s main story. As an example, Belial will be showing up, and allies will be fighting one another, so treating it as a parallel story might be the right way for some folks to think about it.
Granblue_en: GBVS has led to an increased amount of travel for you, FKHR; do you see this continuing into 2020?
KMR: Well, it looks like he’ll be doing more traveling, yes.
FKHR: It does look that way.
Granblue_en: Where to?
FKHR: That’s a good question. America is…
KMR: Where will you be going?
KMR: He might be going to a variety of places, that’s probably the best way to think about it.
Granblue_en: After your experiences at Anime Expo, Evo, and Arc Revo USA, what are your impressions of overseas players?
FKHR: When I went overseas, I discovered that the Granblue Fantasy players were more passionate about the main game itself than I had thought they would be. I was happy that there were so many big fans of the game, as big as the ones here in Japan, and a little surprised.
KMR: I’ve been going a fair number of places now, since last year. I already knew that there were a lot of people that love Granblue Fantasy in various locales, and I wanted to share that information with the members of the team, so I’ve been taking some of them with me during these trips.
Granblue_en: How was their reception of you?
KMR: We were pretty surprised by their reception. We’d like to ask them more about different things. We wonder if they like the same things about Granblue Fantasy as the Japanese players, and such.
The overseas players seem to like the same characters as the Japanese players, based on the surveys, which has been a bit of a surprise.
FKHR: That’s true.
KMR: We thought that would be different.
Granblue_en: Of the fist users, why was Soriz the one chosen, as opposed to Feather or other melee characters?
FKHR: Well, Soriz is a punching and kicking character, while Ladiva is a pro wrestler, which is a bit different. First, there wasn’t a character who primarily used their fists to fight yet; in fighting games, it’s common for there to be an old man in the cast; and there wasn’t a human with a large frame, either. So Soriz filled those three points.
In addition, on a Granblue note, Soriz is the historically oldest character who fights primarily by punching. So we chose him because we felt that he worked as a representative of the bare-handed martial artist characters.
Granblue_en: Will Soriz be released with “Sanbagarasuotokouta” as his theme?
FKHR: Soriz’s theme is going to be an arrangement of “Sanbagarasuotokouta”. There won’t be any vocal track on it, though.
Granblue_en: Can players look forward to being able to play as other antagonist characters in GBVS in the future?
KMR: We don’t know yet.
FKHR: That’s true. For now, we can’t really speak to that. If we add villain characters beyond Belial and Chaos Bringer, it’ll make things even more complicated for the current framework. This is something we want to be very careful when we consider it.
Granblue Fantasy: Relink
Granblue_en: It was mentioned that the engine being used in the Relink demo was being created, so does that mean it’s a new engine, or is it based off of the one made by Platinum Games?
FKHR: Well, it is a new one, but it also uses some of the engine technology from another company project, “Project Awakening”. So we’re making something new, but do have a base that we’re working off of, so it isn’t a brand-new engine that we’re creating. It’s something that you could say is customized for Granblue Fantasy: Relink.
Granblue_en: What kind of pace should we expect for future Granblue Fantasy Relink announcements?
FKHR: Well, next year, Versus is being released, and there will be a lot going on involving it, so we don’t want to overwhelm the players. In addition, there is still a fair amount of time until it will be released, so we’ll probably hold off on announcements for a bit.
KMR: So probably in the summer or winter, though we don’t know for sure right now.
Part 2 of this interview is now available!
Many thanks to granblue_en’s Tokyo branch for translation and assistance with conducting this interview