Fire Emblem Warriors devs on characters and handling of reveals, designs, story, systems, modes
Posted on October 21, 2017 by Brian(@NE_Brian) in New Nintendo 3DS, News, Switch
Chrom sparkles even more!
ND: Since Matsunaga-san is also participating in this interview, we’d like to hear again about the character creation process. First of all, in what kind of flow did you get to join the team?
Matsunaga: At first there was a competition in the company. I worked on an anime IP for another title before I became involved with this game. But when I heard they were going to make Fire Emblem characters, I stated my candidacy. And Hayashi would end up selecting me to join the team.
Hayashi: It was still in a phase where I only spoke [about the project] with a few people even within the company, and I was in a condition in which I couldn’t say that we were working on the new hardware Nintendo Switch, nor that we were collaborating with Fire Emblem. In the midst of that, I reached out to people I could leave things to handle, and connected with them.
ND: So what’s the reason you picked Matsunaga-san?
Hayashi: This time everyone is going to control characters they have fond memories of in 3D, so I think character quality ought to be important. In that case, I did want to do it together with staff who excel at that part and directors who have the experience. Matsunaga has been involved with anime IPs until now, and he had been handling directions for 2D presentations, so I reached out to him, asking “How are things going?”
ND: How did you feel when you got the OK from Hayashi-san?
Matsunaga: Anyway first of all I was glad. But soon after that I started to feel the pressure of “I must produce some results!” so it was a bit complex.
Hayashi: After I reached out to him, I motivated him with rough words like “This is a game with a very high importance on the looks, so the success or failure of this game will depend on Matsunaga’s performance!”
Matsunaga: I didn’t know how to respond to that (laughs). As a result, I kept being told about that until I was able to finish Chrom as the first character.
Hayashi: That’s why when Chrom’s 2D art was done, I thought that it was “Very good!” I think after all Fire Emblem has been supported by everyone because there are the very appealing characters on top of the properly created [gameplay] systems. That’s why I strongly said it won’t be good if we can’t show the character appeal from the beginning.
ND: So how was the first [design of] Chrom made?
Matsunaga: First of all I had to make a benchmark; or rather a pointer. Awakening and Fates have 3D models for the cut-scenes in the original games, so I started off with that. I had to start with properly finishing up Chrom, the protagonist of Awakening, [for other designers] to familiarize with this game. But if I were to make him exactly the same [as the CG movie model], he wouldn’t be able to do proper actions in Warriors, so I had some trial and error.
ND: Was it hectic in the end?
Matsunaga: Yeah. Somehow the first one didn’t look cool. I tried arranging with things that I thought ‘should go well’ multiple times, but it just couldn’t fit well. I think it was especially difficult to keep the delicate balance on Chrom’s eyes, nose, and mouth. And when I looked from the game camera angle, I sometimes felt “this doesn’t look quite like Chrom.”
Usuda: I think the Chrom that has been in everyone’s minds is the one illustrated by Kozaki Yusuke-san, but if we were to make one faithfully to that, his face may look different in other directions.
ND: So there were cases of “It doesn’t look like Chrom when you look at him this way!”
Matsunaga: That is correct. When we rotated him in 3D, it really took quite a lot of time until we made [Chrom’s model] to look like Chrom from all directions.
ND: What did you feel the moment you grasped Chrom[‘s model]?
Matsunaga: I felt like the fog really cleared up at that moment, like “The heroes in Fire Emblem Warriors have a sense of existence like this!” At around this time the 3D model artists also grew accustomed, but Hayashi and others speaking in tangible words and pointing that “This [part] is wrong” may have reacted in a big way to us. We fixed those issues one by one to complete them.
ND: What kind of instructions did Hayashi-san give?
Hayashi: “I think the eyes should be more sparkling” (laughs). After all we have also been imagining Kozaki-san’s pictures in our minds, so when Matsunaga showed the 3D models, I was also comparing them with the pictures in my mind. And then it was said that they’re “not sparkling”. However, if I said it that way, the next time Matsunaga made the models to be the same with Kozaki-san’s pictures, I was told “They’re totally the same with the design pictures.”
Hayashi: Although they’re indeed the same, my inner mind said even more irrational things like “Chrom’s eye pupils don’t look so dull like this!” (laughs). The heroes in Fire Emblem do have a bit of an element that makes them look like a prince on a white horse, don’t they? That’s why although at first we planned to make [the models] true to the pictures, I then thought wouldn’t it be better if we don’t stay too true to the pictures to portray them in 3D? And I felt like we’ve been repeating this interaction.
Turning the charming looks to physical beauty
ND: Are there any other difficult parts in the CG production?
Matsunaga: Regarding the characters, it went smooth after we did Chrom. Even so, despite the many interactions, Intelligent Systems’ supervising instructions had been very accurate. They’re very easy to understand and I am thankful for that.
ND: What kind of instructions did you receive?
Matsunaga: For example, they pointed out things like the length of Hinoka’s sideburns. Although it’s a small thing, just by doing the fix [the model] greatly looks more similar to her.
Usuda: Indeed, Intelligent Systems’ supervisions were great. For example, we did have a conversation when they felt “something is off” with Takumi too.
Matsunaga: Although at first glance it looked like Takumi, [the model] felt like Takumi’s imposter (laughs).
Usuda: They said “The head and face will look more similar if the length of this part is shortened just a bit more,” and when we did that it really became Takumi.
ND: I see.
Hayashi: Also for producing 3D here, if they were too sexual then it would raise the age rating. Elise, Sakura, and Camilla in particular looked more charming than we imagined.
ND: Indeed, we heard of talks that the original Fates had its age rating raised by CERO thanks to Camilla’s cut-scenes.
Hayashi: Yeah. It’s still alright if you see her in 2D pictures, but when you turn her into a 3D model she somehow becomes sexier. However, I think such things are also part of the character appeal, so presenting 2D pictures to 3D in a non-objectionable way was the hard part.
Usuda: We didn’t want to make them objectionable, so we made the designs to look fine in overall. That’s why I ordered them “Not to hide them in a lousy way.” If you hide it only for it to get shown later, it would become objectionable – just like flickering skirts – so we’d rather design it to look visible. It’s the same case for Elise, if we were to hide it in a lousy way she would look like wearing children underwear, so we designed her costume to be like this.
Matsunaga: To make them look fine, for example we added more breadth to Camilla’s underwear, working to make them look sportier, and we also lengthened Elise’s pumpkin pants by a bit. We ended up changing the balance a little while maintaining the overall balance. The way of seeing the skin also has no change in impression, but by reducing exposure and intentionally holding back on some skin redness that originally had to be inserted, we made them to not look too charming. We tried to aim for physical beauty naturally seen from all sides – for example when watching a girls tennis match.