At Anime Expo 2019, GamePress had the chance to sit down for an exclusive interview with Cygames Executive Director Yuito Kimura and Creative Director for Granblue Fantasy Tetsuya Fukuhara. We asked them the top community questions regarding Granblue Fantasy, the upcoming Granblue Versus, Shadowverse, and even Princess Connect! Re:Dive!
For Granblue Fantasy, what are your plans or views for game balance in the future, especially addressing power creep? Some players worry the pace is getting quicker and more pronounced.
In general for a game that is 5 years old, we do not think much enormous power creep occurred in the past, and we do not plan to have those in the future as well. Certain summons and weapons will be updated, and that includes the Optimus summons, such as Zeus or Agni. However, we don’t believe that those updates will cause a massive power creep. In addition to such updates that are focused on mid- and high-level players, we are also continuously rebalancing the game to have it more beginner friendly as well.
Quality of Life Changes: Cygames seems to be rolling out a lot of Quality of Life changes recently, such as enabling skill queue commands during the turn procession. Are there any other Quality of Life Changes planned in the near future? Frequently requested are UI improvements and streamlining, or features that would let people use skills/summons more easily.
Of course. We do care much about optimizing the game features for smoother game play. We will continue to implement such QoL updates. However, as Granblue Fantasy is a game that has player vs player interactions, when making those updates, we do need to be sure that the change is beneficial for all players, regardless of their devices or environment.
Are there plans to introduce more sources of uncapping materials, such as sunlight stones or damascus ingots?
We are considering it, but we don't want to have user expectations be too high…
What are your approaches and priorities when balancing the game? For example, if any of the elements are considered weak, are there plans to improve them?
Previously balancing between the elements was one of our concerns, but after the elemental resistance system has been implemented to many raid battles, racing between multi-elements is not something that is frequently occurring. Therefore, balancing the elements is not our top priority at this point. However, there are raids that you face non-elemental foes, and for those cases, we want to make sure that all the elements have their role in contributing. We also want to give more color to each element, this element has its strong point, but the other elements have their own strong points to give more variation and characteristics to the game.
Crew skills are super important, but the current system kinda limits the active skills to being a standard select few(Rallying Gong, Potion Distiller, Weather Vane, Dumbbell Set/[Elemental] Ray Reactor). Are you possibly thinking of ways to overhaul that system or maybe have the lesser important" skills be worked into being permanent unlocks of some sort?"
We had an update in the past where we were able to allow four of the crew skills to be activated at once, which was kind of a jump for us, so at this point we're not planning to expand the availability of crew skills. We also do acknowledge that in some cases, like the boosting EXP skill, that might be more useful compared to other skills for a certain period, but that needs to be approved by the crew, and the communication for that might be too dull for some players. We are considering about solving that issue by improving the crew communication features.
What is the creative process behind writing the story and creating characters? Are some characters tested out" in the story and made playable if they are well received? How long does it usually take for a character to go from concept to playable?
It may look like it, but we usually don't bring up non-playable characters as a test-out period for their appearance. When we have a playable character implemented in the game, it is safe to assume that we were intending for that player to be playable in the first place. In the case for Veight, we were planning to have him be playable in the original run of Fall of Dragon, but that didn't happen so he was implemented into the game when the redux event was ongoing. In those cases there is a gap between [appearance and playability], but we don't assume that is like a test period.
When we're kicking off a completely new character's implementation, we're always thinking about which kind or type of characters the players want, and what kind of characters would expand the universe of Granblue Fantasy. Having new characters with a unique background would give us more options to create stories for events, so that is one thing we consider.
Giving another playable version for an existing character is always accompanied by a fate episode or sometimes an event, so in those cases it gives an expansion to the background of the character. If we do sense the user wants to know more about this character, then we consider releasing a different version to that character.
There is a large and dedicated English speaking fanbase. What are your thoughts on the reception from them? Are there more plans to expand the English Localization? I.e. Mobile Phone Game App for English speaking countries, English Speaking Support team, Server optimization/faster connections for foreign players.
We do enjoy the response from the English community. One thing we didn't assume is that the English community has a very similar reaction to the Japanese community. There's no specific difference between popular characters, or popular stories. What is popular in Japan tends to be popular in the English community as well. It is well said that the taste between Western and Japanese audience are different, so it is required to modify the game contents when releasing it in the western market, but this isn't really true for Granblue Fantasy, and it's quite a surprise and quite encouraging because we can bring up what we think is best for the users, and it will become a hit with both the English community and the Japanese community.
Talking about the expansion of the English services, later this year we will officially publish the second season of the animation, and also Versus. Those two would be the official kickoff of the Granblue Fantasy IP in English, so after looking at the reception and building up the brand in the Western society, then we'll consider launching the English version of Granblue Fantasy into the foreign App stores. That is our plan at this point.
Considering the optimization and connections for the servers, we'll speak with our engineers to see what we can do in this current state.
Seconding on the English-speaking fanbase, do you or Cygames staff follow the communities? Especially the memes. Some players noticed that a few English fan-terms made it into the localization.
Yes. Clearly, our team members are always aware of what is spoken in the fanbase and communities. Having that as part of our jobs, it is kind of hard to say we have zero influence on what is spoken in the community. However, we are also careful not to directly implement the memes or jargon of those fanbases, as it might cause confusion to the players out of that community. But yes, we definitely have influence from what the fans are speaking about.
Collaboration Events - will some ever make a return so newer players can obtain their rewards? Are there any collaborations you would like to see? Can players expect a Dragalia Lost Collab?
We can't really promise that everything will be in there, but we are working to put as many tie-in events into the side story section, so it can be accessible for all the players who miss it during that period.
For new tie-in events we do have plans at this point. For other things, like say, Dragalia Lost or any other title, if we have a substantial amount of request from fanbases, then of course we'll consider it.
You had the closed beta about a month ago now, what was your reaction to the community reception of the game?
For Versus we did implement a lot of unique systems compared to recent fighting game trends. We weren't 100% sure about the reception for it before the actual beta tests. What we did know was the people loved the pre-beta test video which had a fight between Umehara and Fuudo. That was well received, but we weren't sure how the other players will think about the game. We did get many positive responses, and that comes from people who first started fighting games, and also pro gamers. From both ends we got positive responses, so we are getting some confidence that we are getting the game to the point we wanted to achieve.
Will there be more open beta opportunities before the launch of the game?
We probably won't have another online beta test. But we do have plans to have real-life events were people can play the game.
Is it true that XSEED is doing the NA Localization for Granblue Fantasy: Versus? If so, will the NA release have an english Dub?
XSEED won't actually be doing the localization. Cygames will be doing all of the localization for this title, and yes, we will have the dubs.
EVO is coming up in about a month, can we expect some exciting news for Granblue Fantasy Versus?
Yes. At EVO we are going to have the Beta version playable, and we are planning to release a new promotional video for the game. You'll find new information in that video.
What Character would you personally like to see added to the game?
Our personal preferences are not the factor that determines the character roster. All that matters is what is good for the game and our players.
Aside from the anime, Versus, and Relink, what other ways are you looking to expand the Granblue franchise?
There are many, many future plans for the Granblue IP, but for now we want to focus on making the best out of our second anime season, and also Versus.
The voted leaders are very popular, but a lot of players felt despair over being unable to obtain the ones they wanted due to their extreme rarity and limited availability from packs. Are there any plans/ideas to get Leaders people want without upsetting the other people who whaled for them? The special Anniversary pack was very well received.
Thank you very much for playing Shadowverse as well. For the voted leaders, we do have plans and ideas to give players more opportunities to access the leaders. We'll see if the idea will actually come out into the game. Due to the existence of temporary cards with the third anniversary, a lot of players can enjoy the game without having a bunch of legendary cards. So if you have the opportunity, please check it out!
An overwhelming number of people asked about this. Are there any plans for an English release/localization for Princess Connect! Re:Dive?
Although there aren’t any concrete plans at this point, yes, there is always a chance for it. We might need some assistance from foreign companies like publishers or localization, so if any company watching this article has interest, please let us know about that.