Last week, Kosuke Yabuki (Producer of both Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and ARMS) was at Paris for the Japan Expo 2017. There, he was interviewed by several outlets, including Jeux-Vidéos.com, which was the occasion for him to tell us more about the game, its development, upcoming content, and more.
ARMS – Development
Ever wondered where the main concept of ARMS came to be (the extendable arms)? Well, it’s pretty simple: the team wanted to make a fighting game that wouldn’t be in 2D, but with the camera placed behind your character.
Yabuki explains that in 2D fighting games, it’s easy to gauge the distance between yourself and your opponents, but it’s not really the case when the camera is placed behind your character.
That’s when they came up with the idea of extendable arms, which is a way to get rid of this particular issue. He explains that those arms are the very things he’s the most proud of in ARMS: without them, there simply wouldn’t be any game, as everything is based on them (gameplay, etc.).
As is often the case with games that come out early in the lifecycle of a new console, the team wasn’t really thinking on the platform ARMS was to be released on when they began working on the first prototype. In fact, their prototype for a fighting game with extendable arms and the camera placed behind your character existed even before the Nintendo Switch was officially revealed (to the developers).
And yet, that’s when they first saw the prototypes for the Joy-Con that they thought this new console would be a good fit for the prototype.
Quite interestingly, Kosuke Yabuki doesn’t really remember any ideas that were cut from the final game. Of course, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any: quite the opposite! There were plenty of ideas that weren’t added to the game, even though they did try to implement them at various stages during development.
He explains that when game prototype are made at Nintendo, the team always keep in mind that you first need to add something to remove it, and vice-versa. It’s for this reason he doesn’t remember everything that was added then removed from the game throughout development.
Lag is definitely one of the key issues to solve when developing a game meant to be played online, which is even more crucial for a fighting game. The thing is, the concept of extendable arms and lag don’t really mix well, and so it was a particular thorny issue during development.
The developers came up with a system that “absorbs” lag when the arms are extending (during a punch). As a result, it’s (near) impossible to notice any lag when playing online.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Kosuke Yabuki is allowed to talk about how long he’s been working on the game (he may simply be over-cautious), but he confirmed that development wasn’t as long as for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
ARMS – Most popular characters/modes, eSports
In this interview, Kosuke Yabuki reveals the most popular characters and modes:
- Most popular characters: Min Min and Kid Kobra
- Most popular mode: Grand Prix, then online (players are seemingly playing Grand Prix to raise their level first… not surprising, since you can’t play ranked matches online before you’ve reached a certain rank)
- Most popular mini-game: Basketball seems a bit more popular than others, but nothing really noticeable
Regarding eSports, Kosuke Yabuki explains that they don’t really use that term over at Nintendo, since they like to do things their own way. But bringing people together, so that they can play and battle together, is something they believe strongly in, and they’re ready to spend money to support that.
For example, he mentions the tournament held at E3 2017, or the special livestream that was held a few days ago in Japan. Nintendo is definitely looking to hold similiar events again in the future.
Regarding DLC, Kosuke Yabuki re-confirms that all the additional content planned for the game so far will be free. Upcoming updates will add new characters and stages, but also some new game modes. Unfortunately, he clearly isn’t ready to talk about them just yet.
As for the first major update, adding Max Brass, it will also include various balance changes/fixes. Max Brass will also introduce new battle rules. Kosuke Yabuki also mentions a little “something” found in that update, related to the boss and the arena from the finale of the Grand Prix mode.
The team is also working on “story content” (think of the background of the various characters), and more specifically ways to bring it to players. There’s several ways for them to do so: in-game, but also via other media (outside ARMS). For example, on the official Twitter in Japan, Nintendo is sharing pictures and text, giving clues and details about the story, the characters and their lives, and more.
Speaking of that content, Kosuke Yabuki would definitely like it to be available in other languages (not just Japanese).
Nintendo could use some short movies or even animation to introduce, similiar to what Blizzard is doing with Overwatch and Square-Enix did with Final Fantasy XV, but Kosuke Yabuki wasn’t able to say if they were going to do the same or not.
ARMS – Possible sequel
When asked about a possible key feature for an hypothetical ARMS 2, Kosuke Yabuki had a pretty interesting answer. He explained that if the game was so successful that players would be asking for a sequel, he would be the happiest man on earth, no less.
But right now, he’s focused on bringing additional content to the game, so that players can keep playing it for a long time. Naturally, if a sequel was to be greenlit, he would have the whole team work on it, in order to find a great idea that would please everyone.