One of the first things that stood out for Dragon Ball FighterZ when it was first revealed was its references to the original work. Key devs talked about how they put everything together in an interview with Eurogamer.
Here are some parts from the interview with producer Tomoko Hiroki from Bandai Namco and director Junya Motomura from Arc System Works:
Eurogamer: One of the great things about the game is it stays true to the anime. I think it looks better than the anime! But how did you achieve the look? What process did the developers go through to make it happen?
Junya Motomura, Director: The foundation was already built with the Guilty Gear franchise, so we had an idea of how to achieve the anime style look prior to the project. Customising that to match the visual style Dragon Ball has was a challenge for us. Getting the character models right and then animating them in the right way was also a big challenge. But most of all, it was done through very talented animators and modellers that put quite a lot of time into making each character.
The game has so much fan service. Everything about it suggests you understood what fans love about Dragon Ball. I assume you have a lot of Dragon Ball fans on the team, but did you have to draft in any experts or do extensive research?
Junya Motomura: Everyone knows Dragon Ball, and a lot of us are fans of Dragon Ball, so we had a lot of people who were well informed about Dragon Ball, who knew the basic aspects of it. The story mode wasn’t a re-telling of the original story. We had the concept that we would reference the original story within the fighting game itself – not as a story but through cutscenes and small references within the fighting game.
Are you talking about some of the dramatic finishes?
Junya Motomura: Yes, but also small things like Frieza’s turning discs that can hit him. Those are also things we took from the original content.
FighterZ manages to appeal to newcomers to fighting games as well as fighting game fans, which a lot of fighting games struggle with. How did you approach maintaining that balance?
Tomoko Hiroki, Producer: The whole concept was to reach out to the Dragon Ball fans as well, although it is a fighting game. So, we believed that in order to reach this casual fanbase, we needed to make the controls not too difficult. The fact we were able to implement a 3v3 system was one thing that helped bring in the casual users, especially because we understand Dragon Ball fans wanted to use different types of characters.
We thought that, rather than make the controls more and more difficult, we wanted to focus more on mind games, making each of the characters quite different. Another thing I realised only after the game was released is that when this game is being played for esports, the fact we were able to use easier to understand words for the specific mechanics we have for the game – so, for example, the Z Change, the Super Dash – this wasn’t our main objective, but the fact we were able to use rather easy to understand words was something that worked to lower the hurdles for the casual fans.
Junya Motomura: We started out with a clear goal that we had to satisfy both the casual players and the competitive players. We had that idea from the start. Since this was a new franchise, we were able to build from the ground up without pulling anything from a series fighting game. So we were able to build from the ground up to balance the system without having to think about how we were going to satisfy the old players. That was a good positive we were working to.
Arc System Works has recently been very conscious about this problem, of the divided userbase. We were constantly trying to find a way to satisfy both of the user types. It was a result of a very long term consideration of how to achieve this playstyle.
In terms of the mechanics, what’s most important in helping the game achieve this balance?
Junya Motomura: One of the biggest aspects was having more freedom in the camera angles. Unlike conservative fighting games, we utilise the camera angle shift a lot in the game. That is to make a more visually appealing game. It also complements the clarity of the game to show the player what is happening from moment to moment. So, with the easy controls and the strong visual appeal, those two were the key elements in attracting the interest of more casual players.
Because it’s just the controls and the visuals, that doesn’t get in the way of high level playing. It doesn’t ruin the competitive playing, while it complements the casual players with the easy controls and more flashy visuals.
You can read the rest of the interview here.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The Switch version arrives on September 28, 2018 and there’s an open beta test arriving in August. Upcoming DLC characters Base Goku and Base Vegeta are arriving in early August. Check out their introduction trailers in our previous report.