New Tales Of Arise Staff Interview Discusses Unforeseen Challenges Of Console Generation, Graphics Development And Combat Balance

The Bandai Namco Japan website recently added a long interview with several members of Tales of Arise development team. It was split into two halves, with the second being released at an unspecified later date.

Our team Ryūji provided a translated summary of key points from the first half regarding the console release schedule, the birth of the atmospheric shader, and the combat system.

Questioned person:

  • Yoshimasa Tanaka – Development Producer
  • Shouji Ikegami – Next-Gen development project manager and producer
  • Hirokazu Kagawa – Director
  • Minoru Iwamoto – Art director and character designer
  • Hiroyuki Kobayashi – Graphical programmer
  • Moeka Oshiyama – Project Manager

Postponement of plans due to next-gen hardware

The original plan was to release Tales of Arise in 2020, and indeed development had pretty much finished in time for that original lineup, but then the game came out in September 2021, so what’s going on go with it?

Well, in 2020, developers had discussed the need to support upcoming next-gen consoles. That is, the Xbox Series X | S and the PlayStation 5. They felt that these consoles were a key point for Tales of Arise. It was a large-scale title, so there was a lot of back and forth within Bandai Namco about when they should release the game.

And that’s when Shouji Ikegami joined the project. Since it would have been impossible to develop the next-gen version simultaneously with the current-gen one, he created a specific team to do just that.

All in all, it was a tough call to make, especially with such an order of improving the graphics while ensuring that the current-gen version wasn’t vastly inferior to the next-gen version. . Yet, although tired, the development team persisted and they are truly happy to have pursued this decision.

Development of the “atmospheric shader”

Now back to 2015, where Hiroyuki Kobayashi and Minoru Iwamoto discussed various graphic styles. The artistic direction of Arise was decided in 2016. Their goal was to aim for a “succession and evolution” style, where the naturalistic parts were drawn with a realistic tone while looking like illustrations. They wanted to inherit the exemplary qualities of the “Tales of” series while leapfrogging as a new “Tales of” game.

Then, an idea was born: “What if the warmth and 2D graphics of the Tales of series were represented with today’s technology?”

And so, their search for style began. And, after repeated consideration of various kinds of expressions, the watercolor-like representation was decided, and the Atmospheric Shader was born.

Once again, while developing the next-gen version, complications arose. One of the issues was with the Unreal Engine, which was the game engine used for Arise. Although he was fantastic, endowed with several positive traits, there were many unforeseen obstacles.

For one thing, the engine versions used in the current-gen and next-gen versions are very different. Therefore, the developers had to make sure that the game would work on both versions, without too many compromises. Second, releasing the title on multiple platforms at the same time was problematic, as while it would go well with the PC version, the console iterations were harder to solidify the quality. (While every PC system is “unique” in its own way, a console is not.)

Tales of Arise 1

From the conceptualization of the battle to the actualization

At the start of development, Get up combat system had nothing to do with what it is in its final state. Since the combat system was intended to create a new generation of “Tales of” as a series, evolution was crucial.

“I wanted the system to be easy to understand, simple to use and exhilarating to play.” Kagawa said. The reason for this was that the developers felt that the systems in the “Tales of” series had become increasingly complex, so they wanted to make it intuitive and simple to understand.

For example, making enemy weak spots easier to see was one such choice for the aforementioned design philosophy. They also wanted to simplify targeting those weak spots in the middle of the action. The team focused on how to perform each technique effectively. By identifying enemy actions, it becomes elementary for allies to take them down.

Another goal was to make enemies more threatening than ever. Thus, already in the planning stages, it was already decided to make large sizes of patterns. This was done to make the player feel intimidated and perceive these enemies as legitimate threats, as if suddenly thrust into some sort of final battle.

“However, to be honest, the fact that it took several months to complete a single boss was not something we anticipated. That said, we were able to create some difficult bosses, and I hope players could sense their threatening nature,” Kagawa said.

At one point, the developers wanted to add more “destructive elements”, such as ground dug by attacks, like in a shonen manga, but unfortunately the idea was not feasible due to time and technical constraints. .

Regarding each member of the party, the team wanted to ensure that each had a well-defined role. The most obvious example of this is Kisara, who is literally the shield of the party, as she is holding a huge shield. The traits of the other characters were designed in similar proportions.

Finally, the most important part: the balance of the game, which was decided through discussions between all the staff members while playing. The battles of this title have a nervous balance, and they have become an attractive aspect born from the combined opinions of all the staff members.

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Tales of Arise was launched worldwide on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One and PC.