Honey’s got the chance to join in a star-studded press conference with many talented creators on AX 2017’s Day 0. And so we got some face time with Terra Battle 2’s character designer, Kimihiko Fujisaka, and the game’s producer -and Final Fantasy creator!- Hironobu Sakaguchi. These guys are so cool, they wanted us to call them not only by their first names, but shorter versions of them! This is what “Kimi” and “Hiro” had to share with the fans.
Q1. In 2015, when Terra Battle hit 2M downloads, you said that it may come to console. When is that happening?
Sakaguchi: Yes, I promised that. [Laughs] I will say that the story and pre production, to my knowledge, is almost complete. However, what I can add since we’re here at Anime Expo, since we just announced Terra Battle 2, we are actually going to have playables at the Mistwalker booth. I’m pretty confident that once you get to check that out and get a taste or a handle on how that plays, hopefully you’ll feel like there are a lot of things that you would expect in a console title. So what I’m hoping is that maybe that’s sort of a bridge between Terra Battle 1 and the future console release of Terra Battle. So I’m hoping that you guys get a sense that there is a path that hopefully leads to a console release that is in the works. Like I said, pre-production is complete. As you all know, though, to launch or develop a console game is a huge endeavor and so with the resources that are needed, it’s not there yet but it is something that we will be working on.
Q2. There was a Kickstarter for Terra Battle 1. Will there be a similar thing for Terra Battle 2? And if so, when will that be announced?
Sakaguchi: We did say already that there will be a similar campaign in place for Terra Battle 2. We haven’t announced who the collaborators are. The system is going to work a little bit differently, compared to the original download starter for Terra Battle 1, and we won’t say any names as of today, but the funny thing is, just an hour ago we were looking through the AX pamphlet and Fujisaka-san pointed and said ‘Oh, I love their work’! So I said, ‘Why don’t we approach this person?’ Because we may want them to participate in our download starter campaign. So it’s in the works, but we are also very much open to future collaborations.
Q3. Which is the most difficult character for you to draw?
Sakaguchi: I think the biggest challenge, and we’re not talking about a straight port, but in the spirit of having a smartphone game released already and speaking to what we can do, what are the challenges bringing that to the console side, is definitely in the graphics and visual department. Because if you’re familiar with Terra Battle and Terra Battle 2 that we just announced, it’s completely 2D, and it’s basically a tile-based system. But what you all expect, and everyone expects from a console title are gorgeous graphics and lots of powerful visuals coming alive and having that sort of an immersive experience. So the biggest challenge will be, how do we do that? how do we approach that with Terra Battle? That will be the biggest hurdle for us.
Q4. We’ve seen a lot of games opting for a retro style. Is that something you’d like to revisit in the future.
Fujisaka: I think we’re at a time right now where we’ve seen the evolution of and growth of how games are presented in a very visually-driven perspective. As technology advanced we saw higher and higher quality output from developers and makers. But that growth was on the rise for a long time. I’m not saying that it’s stopped, but we’ve hit some sort of a ceiling where we know what great work is produced and is put into games. So it’s not about the gorgeous graphics that are now in games that make or break games. We now know where we can go with visuals, what is it that really makes it fun and entertaining. So if you look at it from that perspective, what’s fun and entertaining doesn’t always have to contain new content. It can be something that’s older or more nostalgic, more familiar or more retro. So I feel like our stance on what’s fun and entertaining, and what is now successful, maybe an indie title, is all about how you interact and how entertaining it is to you. So the era that we live in right now feels ripe for content creation because it’s seen as something that is enjoyed and entertaining, rather than just pushing the boundaries of technology and just trying to put out something that is powerful in a visual way.
Q5. You spoke about reaching a ceiling. Is there a particular element you’d like to refine?
Sakaguchi: In the storyline in most of the worlds we’re creating, we still haven’t told enough. So there is more that I want to develop in all different areas. But also, there’s a certain artistry when we depict those worlds, and we haven’t done enough. Right now, we can create a 2D world that can have a thousand layers, and then we can create 3D animation. I want to create something you’ve never seen before. So there is still room to develop. That’s what I think.
Q6. Terra Battle has been collaborating with Final Fantasy and Square Enix. Is there any chance that you will return to the franchise?
Sakaguchi: Why don’t you ask Square Enix right now? [laughs] I want to keep on doing new things. So the chances are highly unlikely, but they say ‘never say never’, so I’ll just leave it at that.
Q7. How do you stay inspired?
Fujisaka: I’m a designer, I draw and illustrate, so anything that comes to into my visual attention becomes inspiration to me. For instance looking at the audience here, how you wear your clothes, it might become a new character. I’m stimulated by what I see. Also anime and manga, all these things stimulate me and inspire me in many ways, so that has become my inspiration.
I read fashion magazines, I like the way you wear that hat [to a member of the press], or even a character in the marvel universe.
Q8. Are there differences in what your Japanese fans like and what US fans like?
Fujisaka: A long time ago, there was a difference. If it was something kind of cutesy or ‘chibi’ it tended to do well in Japan and if it was a more realistic character it tended to appeal to the American audience. But nowadays, even a cute deformed character we create in Japan will do very well in the United States, so it’s hard to tell now, I don’t see the difference.
Q9. Sakaguchi-san, you mentioned recently acquiring a Nintendo Switch. How do you feel about it? and is this a console you can see Terra Battle on?
Sakaguchi: First of all, it’s a great system. And I do agree that it may be very compatible with Terra Battle. But we don’t have any plans to make a Terra Battle for Switch. I repeat, we don’t have any plans to make a Terra Battle for Switch.
Q10. Why do you think it’s important to have fun doing your job?
Sakaguchi: Well, if you think about it, work + sleep = life, because there’s not much more you can do after that. So, it would be nice if I could have fun sleeping, but that’s not possible so, I think it’s important that you enjoy your work because it consists of most of your life.
Fujisaka: I have the same opinion. But if you really think about it, you want to keep the time that you’re not having fun to zero. So that’s what I strive for. I don’t want any time in my life when I’m not having fun.
Q11. Do you have a message for the fans?
Sakaguchi: Actually, it’s my first time at Anime Expo, and I heard there are a lot of cosplayers and so I’m looking forward to it myself. I want to have fun at this event.
Fujisaka: Can I plug Terra Battle? Because Sakaguchi-san didn’t. [laughs] Terra Battle 2, we just recently announced it. There’s a first time ever hands-on public demo at Anime Expo. So everyone here will have a chance to try it. We want you guys to, hopefully, enjoy the game and we haven’t set a release date yet, but it’s coming soon. So I look forward to hearing your guys’ feedback and hopefully you’ll download it when it comes out.
There you have it! If you weren’t already pumped for Terra Battle 2, I bet you are now! It was truly an honor to speak with and learn from people who created games that have raised several generations of gamers. What did you think? Are you waiting for the next Terra Battle? Were you at AX 2017 and got to play it? Tell us all about it in the comments below!
And keep it here at Honey’s Anime for more Q&As from AX 2017!