Dengeki Online has put up an interview with Monster Hunter: World executive director/art director Fujioka Kaname, director Tokuda Yuuya, and package artist/shader artist Takagi Yasuyuki.
— 電撃オンライン (@dengekionline) April 3, 2018
This article is continued from part 1.
At the start of development the team worked mostly on Anjanath and Rathalos, and completing just the basic animations and visuals took a year. They did not begin work on animations that involve player characters until later when the player characters’ weapons’ animations were actually completed, which is why the trailer shown at E3 barely had any scenes with weapons being used.
The interviewer points out how monster attacks and movement is different from how it used to be, and asks how this was designed. Fujioka answers, saying that the planner comes up with orders regarding actions that affect the player experience like the area of effect and range of attacks and at which points the monster would be left open to attacks from the players, and that animators work based on these instructions.
In attempting to make more realistic monsters, however, they added things like having the monsters turning their heads to look at their targets before attacking, which made the process completely different due to the need to connect animations to each other seamlessly.
Tokuda chips in saying that they used Anjanath and Rathaloth to evaluate how much effort and time it would take to complete a single monster, and it was only once that evaluation was done that they were able to plan for how many monsters they would be able to include in the game before release. There are also cases where they find that they are unable to include the planned number of monsters in the game, in which case they have to decide which monsters to prioritise and adjust by considering things like if creating a specific skeleton first could mean they could include multiple variations.
The designers are also consulted on ways to make things easier, and the Great Jagras is brought up as an example: The Great Jagras has two different skeletons for whether or not it has swallowed another monster, which means creating it required double the effort. However, if they used one of these skeletons for a new monster, this would reduce the effort required to create that new monster.
Fujioka mentions how staff morale was high, and how the number of endemic life animals would sometimes go up without his knowledge, at which point Tokuda confesses that he would sometimes drop by the unit and make a new animal when he faced a roadblock in his role as director.
The interviewer asks when work on the final boss began, and Fujioka says that they usually leave those to near to the end. Tokuda elaborates on this saying that there is a need to leave an impact on a player who has fought all the other monsters up to that point, meaning that the other monsters need to be completed to some extent before they can plan it.
The interview goes on to cover Zorah Magdaros. Fujioka mentions how there were previously monsters like Jhen Mohran which the player could walk on, but the monsters and areas still existed as separate objects. Having a monster that is also an area in itself was a first for the series, but also something that they had wanted to accomplish someday.
Zorah took more time to work on than any other monster, with its creation starting early in development and ending later than all the other monsters. The biggest problem with Zorah was it being both a monster and area, meaning that they had problems figuring out who would work on what. This was made even more complex when they decided that there would be other monsters on Zorah.
Ultimately they put together a “Magdaros Unit” consisting of staff from both the monster and area teams, dedicated entirely to handling problems relating to Zorah Magdaros. This was not a first, as similar efforts with special units were used in the development of MH4 as well.
Finally, the interviewer asks about how monsters are named. Tokuda says that the names are derived from languages around the world, based on monster actions or physical features. For example, Paolumu’s name comes from the Chinese word “pao” meaning “wrap” but also a name for fluffy white steamed buns, while Anjanath’s is derived from Arabic for “hidden wings”.
They also had staff dedicated specifically to naming monsters, and Tokuda was also in charge of the final decisions for localised names. For example, the monster originally named Tobikagachi in Japanese has its name derived from “tobi” meaning “fly” and “kagachi” which is an archaic word for “snake”, and Tokuda wanted to leave its name as it was, but the localisation team informed him that “kaga” is an offensive word in Italian, and he allowed them to change its name to “Tobi-Kadachi” based on this information.