Discussing Guilty Gear Xrd SIGN’s Tech With Daisuke Ishiwatari

By Spencer . August 18, 2014 . 3:15am


Siliconera met up with Guilty Gear creator Daisuke Ishiwatari to talk about transitioning from sprites to 3D models in Guilty Gear Xrd SIGN. The 2D fighting game also uses Unreal Engine 3 at its core and I asked Ishiwatari why they picked this engine in particular.


“Which engine we used really didn’t matter,” Ishiwatari answered. “We had to come up with a new way to express our art style in 3D. It was really hard to achieve that effect, but for the artists that put the data into the game themselves Unreal Engine 3 was really helpful.”


“We had a limited amount of time to work with the characters and a limited budget. I had to choose which characters to make first,” Ishiwatari explained while we were talking about the character roster in Guilty Gear Xrd SIGN. “In the future, we are planning to expand the roster, but it will take time because we have a small team. Using this new art style, it takes a lot of effort to make a character.”


“How does making a character compare to the previous Guilty Gear games,” I asked.


Ishiwatari replied, “It’s quite hard to compare because we’ve never worked on sprites this big being in 1080p, but the 3D artwork takes about the same amount of effort to make one character as past entries. In some places it’s easier, in some places it’s harder, so it kind of balances out.”


Ishiwatari said one of the important goals for his team was to include cross platform play, the ability for PS4 and PS3 owners to fight each other, as a feature in Guilty Gear Xrd SIGN. “It was a high priority,” he said.


Guilty Gear Xrd SIGN is being made by Team Red while the BlazBlue series is being developed by a different team led by Toshimichi Mori. Since both teams are internal in Arc System Works, we asked how the teams compare in size.


“It’s hard to define the actual number because it depends on the development period,” Ishiwatari commented when talking about Team Red. “It’s about the same, I guess, maybe a little less. Team Red is working on Guilty Gear at the moment and we have limited resources so we can’t work on anything else right now.”


“I have a lot of other ideas for a FPS, RTS, and many other genres. But those probably won’t have the other Guilty Gear characters!”


And will there ever be a BlazBlue and Guilty Gear crossover?


“I’m busy with Guilty Gear and Mori is busy with BlazBlue so it’ll only happen when we’re both not busy anymore,” Ishiwatari replied with a laugh.

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  • Felix Sepulveda IV

    What Team works on Persona 4 Arena? I know the game uses the BB engine……maybe not too sure about that either. thanks for a good read dood.

    • Go2hell66

      its the bb team obviously, pretty sure all of arc’s fighting games are made by the same bunch of people

      well the arcade games anyway(minus gg xrd)

      • TokkanRAM

        Actually, since GGXrd, there’s been two FG dev teams at Arc: Team BB (BlazBlue and P4U) and Team Red (Guilty Gear).

        • Go2hell66

          hence why i said minus ggxrd

          • mikanko

            Pretty sure the team doing the updates with AC+R weren’t working on BB, Persona etc.

          • Go2hell66

            then why was the AC+R update delayed?

            had to be the same guys

          • mikanko

            The people responsible for porting an arcade update to the US PSN(when it was already on JP PSN) are likely not key people with either team red or blue.

            They’ve referred to team red and blue in past interviews before Xrd was ever announced.

        • Felix Sepulveda IV

          Thanks for the info dood

  • colorblindnightmare

    It certainly seems difficult! We appreciate the effort Ishiwatari-Sama!

  • Mnstrzero00

    If it takes the same amount of effort then what is the advantage to going 3d?

    • Namuro

      Well, they can make some really kick-ass cut-ins for the special moves, and it’s also easier to make alternate costumes for the characters.

      So, if it takes about the same effort, I think going 3D is better for the reasons above, in my opinion. Unless you simply prefer the “looks” and “feels” of sprite graphics (speaking of which, I still prefer the looks of Street Fighter III over IV’s).

    • Go2hell66

      This, i thought the whole point of them going 3D is because its easier…

      • I thought it was to fight against the 2D bias (that 2D is outdated, that you need to keep up with the times and go 3D, and if you don’t the average player will go “ew, 2D,” regardless of whether that’s true or not).

      • Mike Pureka

        It’s not easier. It’s because going to 3D allows you to avoid certain problems and do things with the camera that you can’t do in 2D.

    • Bunzi

      The new Instant Kills and even some of the super moves are amazingly cinematic. There’s no way you could do almost any of them justice using sprites. Some even have totally different animations for each victim (Faust has two that are hilarious in this regard) that just wouldn’t work with sprites.

      And like Namuro said, characters can have alternate costumes (not simply palette swaps resembling alternate outfits ala most 2D fighters) reasonably, something that would require a lot more work with sprites, as you’d have to go in and redraw every single frame.

    • Shippoyasha

      Dynamic camera angles, easier to put lighting on a character, costume changes possible. Though it may be tough as hell to make it look great from all angles and there are animation tricks in 2D that won’t be possible in 3D.

    • Naryl

      it will take the same work NOW, for future games the animations of the characters are done, they just need to add new moves and polish the art.

    • Jadfish

      to make it look fresh and exciting, and boy oh boy does it look fresh and exciting.
      Did it need to look like that to make me interested in Guilty Gear? No, I was already in there.

      But…. what about new people? I have friends who have never touched a (real) fighting game before talking to me about this awesome looking anime game called guilty gear x -something-, so I think the new visuals are doing their part in getting Guilty Gear back into the spotlight

  • So, when can I give you money, Mr. Ishiwatari?

    • HarakiriKami


  • Hagaren

    I hope BlazBlue will use this engine as well at some point.

    • MrJechgo

      without the roster getting slashed in half I hope…

      • mckun

        I have no issue with the roster considering that GG1 was around this size or less. Also there’s DLC to consider.

        • MrJechgo

          Guilty Gear “kinda can” get away with it… but not BlazBlue. If they release BlazBlue 4without CP’s entire roster, there’s gonna be a riot, because they made such a complex story that every character is needed to tell it.

          • mckun

            Neither can tbh. The reason why some people are not in the BB roster is that Mori himself, Word of God, said that they couldn’t figure out Cat man’s hitbox. Also they would have to do some retcon for another character. Not saying which one or why but if you played CP you know who I’m talking about.

            Guilty gear has no reason with Baiken/Anji/Bridget/A.B.A/ because those people are not gears. MAYBE Testament if you go by GG2’s storyline. Dizzy makes sense too but the ones I mentioned? Nah.

            Mind you I like both games but there’s reasons for everything and that’s due to the companies themselves or fan meddling. (Japan sometimes does the crappy “Vote for this character to be in a game,” thing.)

      • Hagaren

        There should be more characters coming for the console release, but yeah, we most likely won’t see XX’s entire roster.

        • The only console exclusive character is Sin Kiske, the son of Ky and Dizzy. I’m perfectly happy with that, since Sin’s only other playable appearance was in Overture, and he’s a cool character.

          • Hagaren

            I’m glad to see him playable too but I highly doubt he’s the only one we’re getting. Unless they specifically said so and I missed it. Did they confirm this somewhere?

          • There’s been no mention of any other characters. Even then, Sin was already in the game to begin with, his model is visible in some before fight conversations in the arcade version, and he has voice acting at all, so it would have been surprising for him NOT to be in the console release. It’s like Mu-12 being a console exclusive for BlazBlue Continuum Shift, she was already in the game, but wasn’t playable. So I’m pretty sure he’ll be the only one for now unless they introduce more in a revised version, or through DLC.

    • Shippoyasha

      I rather like the traditional sprite work with Blazblue personally. I don’t think that craft should die off.

      • Hagaren

        Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE 2D sprites and 2D games in general, but I’d like to see at least one Blazblue game use this engine. It definitely shouldn’t be replaced, though. :)

        • Shippoyasha

          A crossover would be nice! Also a guest character in this game using a BB character can work.

          • Hagaren

            Now that would be awesome!

  • Arz

    Somebody clear this for me, this game uses 3d models or sprites that look like 3d model?

    • 3D models that look like sprites until special attacks / cutscenes happen.

      • Arz


        • Mike Pureka

          What what? They look like sprites, and then something happens and you go “Holy crap, it’s 3D!”

          • Wappuli

            Dunno about that, Xrd has always looked clearly 3D to me.
            But good it has looked as well for sure.

          • DriftSlave

            I’m pretty sure it’s safe to assume that until you seen the 360 pan around Sol and Ky when they clashed in the original announce trailer you thought it was 2D as well…that was the initial Wow…factor in that trailer.

          • Wappuli

            Nope, noticed right away, as did both of my friends that I watched the trailer with.
            It emulates the 2D-style really well sure, but it’s still easy to see that it’s not 2D.

    • Godmars

      its using Unreal Engine, a 3D graphics engine.

      Yes, it took them close to eight years to become this familiar with a graphics engine which was introduced at the beginning of the Xbox 360’s and PS3’s lives.

      Was broken if not incomplete is what I’m saying. Difficult to use.

    • Guest

      It uses 3D models, but they used a very particular technique to animate and light them on a pose-by-pose basis.


      4gamer did a lengthy two-part interview with the developers discussing the techniques they used, which have been translated here:


      And here:


    • Suzaku

      It uses 3D models, but they used a very particular technique to animate and light them on a pose-by-pose basis.

      4gamer did a lengthy two-part interview with the developers discussing the techniques they used, which have been translated here:


      And here:


      • z_merquise

        Yeah, it seems like it took Ishiwatari and his team many years to really reach that visual style they had now in GG Xrd.

        Unreal Engine may be infamous for some reason because many thought it only use the same “bulky, bald-space-marine” models in every games or how it won’t perform well in consoles. But this really prove how much the engine can really do and I’m really impressed on what Arc did in the game.

        And we all thought creating a 3D fighting game is easier than hand-drawn 2D. It is true but what Arc did here is really amazing though it took them a long time to make it quite a looker as the game is now.

        • kaimo

          Unreal engine is infamous because of it’s horrendous performance on consoles. Featuring framerates no higher than 30 and rarely holding, screen tearing, and generally being an ill fit for anything requiring a steady performance, like action games.

  • fairysun

    So, all of them in one crossover game. *winkwink*

    Arc’s “KoF” game!!

    I mean, they have the tournament and now we need THE game to combine all the awesomeness.

    • Mar Mar

      Need this now. NOW!

    • Hagaren

      GuiltyBlaze: Persona Edition! Cross Generation of Badass.

      • NeoStrayCat

        Why not also add…Fist of the Arcana/Fantasia/Basara In-Birth Exe-Late! (P. much titles collaborated/worked with ASW, sans Fantasia.)

        • Hagaren

          Let’s just get an all-out ArkSys hype battle royale! :)

          • NeoStrayCat

            That too! XD

    • Demeanor

      Even if he’s just a high schooler, Hyde from Under Night In-Birth would give ’em a run for their money with his Insulator… :D
      (playing the game now and it’s bloody awesome)

    • Guest

      OMG kkk Yu x Sol x Ragna; Labrys x Dizzy x ν-No.13-; Adachi x Terumi x I-No many ideas

    • Göran Isacson

      That bitter feel when noone remembers Battle Fantasia :(

      Oh well, they only ever made the one game so I guess it’s expected, but still.

  • Guest

    mmm… if FPS/RTS are impossible then Guilty Gear RPG!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Slade

      Do you mean Guilty Gear 2 Overture?

      • colorblindnightmare

        last time I checked rts and rpg are not the same. Tbh I can’t see GG being an rpg. Not any more any way

  • SpeeeeedowaGOOONnnn


    • z_merquise

      Even Speedwagon is singing along with Heavy Day!

  • mckun

    “I’m busy with Guilty Gear and Mori is busy with BlazBlue so it’ll only happen when we’re both not busy anymore,”

    He didn’t say no.

    • Death Metal

      That’s what bugs me. He didn’t say yes either. In fact, he didn’t reply any of the questions objectively. I’m a fan of Ishiwatari, but that was a very weak interview (not the interviewer’s fault though).

      • mckun


        Blazblue has one more game to come out between 2015-2016

        GG might have one more game.

        They could work on that after BB if they wanted too because Mori would be free since Mori said that the next BB is ‘suppose’ to be the last one.

    • kaimo

      I probably wouldn’t respond well to someone asking me if i’d like to have a crossover with the series that nearly buried mine, either.

      • Death Metal

        You mean to say that BB “nearly buried” GG? No, that wasn’t the case at all.

  • TheBlackRabbit

    welp…at least i-no is in here…where’s my bridget an dizzy…..i just want them in the game…

  • Blesmi

    RIP in piece bacon

    • Shane Guidaboni

      Having a really hard time wanting to play this game without my main character.

  • Demeanor

    By all means busy yourself in adding JAM AND DIZZY! XD

  • Ni ~Algidus~

    >In the future, we are planning to expand the roster, but it will take time because we have a small team. Using this new art style, it takes a lot of effort to make a character

    Just take your time and put a lot of effort to put Baiken into the game

  • Göran Isacson

    Man. The models look amazing, so it’s no wonder that it took them so long to make them… but I do hope that next game won’t take them QUITE so much time to make. Kinda curious if they’ll keep working on UE3 since that’s what they’re used to, or if they’ll find a new engine that’s less… troublesome. Also ArcSys cross-over please, it would be amazing and very desirable.

    • Juan Andrés Valencia

      The thing is that they are 3D models that actually look, feel and move like sprites. I have never seen that in gaming ever and for that alone they deserve a bloody medal. It’s quite a technical accomplishment.

      • xxx128

        Sorry but whats the point? A medal for being polygon nazis?
        This whole textured polygons stuff started out as a gimmick. Sure it makes sense for certain genres but for others it does not, other than to please the 3D conditioned masses.

        • k.b.a.

          Lol you think these 3d models are to appease 2d fighting game fans/guilty gear fans? Positive its the last thing that crowd particularly wants, but they aren’t so oblivious to the FACT that spriting cast too much money and is far too time consuming. Every game has bugs so I wont laud using 3d over 2d models, but from one perspective beyond traditional staples of animation (see darkstalkers; pulling inflation, stretch,etc) having characters attack with an arm reach as far as their arm is actually long as opposed to how long its drawn makes sense.

          I love 2d but this is one if the natural progression of fighting games these days. It comes down to systems and graphics. Guilty gear has systems down, street fighter iv has been beating the dead horse of a 7 year old game with tweaks but that counts as well. Blazblue I hate so I know nothing about. But I terms of graphics, and not aesthetics, these games need to make leaps and bounds to not only stay relevant and interesting, but also closer to fairness.

  • Tonton Ramos

    You now have lost a customer oh well I’m gonna buy the next Guilty Gear Xrd after sign… :P

    • k.b.a.

      Might ask why? they seem to be working their butts off even with a small team?

  • AriesWarlock

    Interesting, but Dizzy or bust!

  • I am SUPER excited for Xrd. I’ve always been a huge Guilty Gear fan, and I love what they’ve done with the game. I’ve actually played the game already, it’s amazing and definitely worth buying! I’m also very excited to see Sin as a playable character, he was only playable in Overture up until now, and he’s a great character.

  • Suriel Cruz

    I’m not your Fighting Gamer Expert, but I do like Fighting Games and when I saw the Story Anime-like Cutscenes this one have I was like: “DAMN!!!” I want this game, period. It will probably have ‘Stylish’ Mode, so… Yeah! xD

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