4gamer has published an interview with Type Moon writer Nasu Kinoko regarding Fate/Grand Order, conducted by 4gamer writer and FGO official radio show MC Mafia Kajita.
Kajita asks Nasu what influenced him most in the creation of FGO, and Nasu says that is without a doubt Chrono Trigger. Initially, the game had a system that allowed the player to choose which age to go to, like Chrono Trigger; The player would be able to choose to go to the seven chapters in any order. Implementing all seven chapters at release would have been difficult, however, and they planned to have five chapters at release. In the end, scheduling issues resulting in the game being release as it was, and servants that could not be introduced due to changes to the story ended up being saved for parts 1.5 and 2.
The battle system also changed several times, with it starting off with a more orthodox system and SD characters. Delight Works CEO Shouji Akihito however said that they should have “cooler, more anime-like action” and felt that he would like to play a game that would have stylish fighting game-like action with the press of a single button. As the majority of Fate fans were novel game players, they thought that many would have a similar desire, and this resulted in the battle system becoming what it is.
Kajita next asks Nasu about how the project started. Nasu says that Aniplex first approached Type-Moon in 2013 regarding making a Fate smartphone game, and that at that point he did not think it would end up something this big; Not everyone had smartphones yet at that point, and he did not think that they would catch on, with regular phones and laptop computers being enough. He did feel potential in them as a platform, however, and felt that even if it failed it would be a good test case. After that he got a smartphone from the company and tried out several RPGs, and found that the system of smartphones themselves to be interesting. They took some time finding a development company until Delight Works’ Shouji was introduced to them. The company had just gone independent and had an unclear future, but Nasu saw this as also having the strength of being free from restraints. Nasu says that he himself is the sort of person who prioritises quality over deadlines, and wanted to work with a company that could work with that. Kajita says that choosing to work with a development company with no past achievements could not have been an easy decision, but Nasu says that Type-Moon’s nature of prioritising their own satisfaction over deadlines means that working with larger companies would probably drive the other side crazy.
Nasu says that it being hard to work with large companies is something he knows from experience; If they had worked with a large company they would have had no decision-making power, and not even be involved in the development. Schedules and goals would be absolute, with concrete sales targets and budgets, and fixed numbers of servants based on the budget. In such a case, even if they got good ideas, they would not be able to implement them. In the case of FGO, they were afraid that the partner company would take charge, which would be no different from before. They instead wanted a partner that would share the pain while prioritising making something interesting. Kajita says that this turned out well, and that the game is now incomparably better than it was when it was first released. To this, Nasu says that Delight Works and Aniplex are open to player service, using the reduction of gacha cost from 4 to 3 at the first anniversary as an example. The reduction was Takeuchi’s idea, and both Delight Works and Aniplex immediately approved it.
Nasu is next asked about if FGO has achieved his vision. He says that at launch, both the system and visuals were not fully matured, and the core of the story had not yet been shown, and that he thinks that this confused players, making them wonder what they were supposed to like about it. At the beginning he was very uneasy about whether they would be able to finish it, and upset about the quality. Immediately after launch they gathered the top staff and listed out the issues and order they should be handled in, and gave the ultimatum that they would do their best for three months, and that if nothing changed by then the project would be shut down. Thankfully, the bare minimum of functionality was introduced by that December. On launch day, Type-Moon’s staff was enraged just one hour after the game was launched: They had stopped projects that they had started working on earlier to work on FGO, and this was the result. Nasu is thankful that players stuck with the game through that period, and thinks they were saved by the Fate title.
Kajita says that, as he wrote in a column in Type-Moon Ace, while FGO was without a doubt a “kusoge” (bad game) at launch, it had a mysterious aura to it that made him feel sure that it would become something beautiful after some time. Nasu says that this might have been due to the materials and ingredients, which they put all of their effort into; He says that these simply were not functioning at launch.
Kajita next launches into the core of the interview, saying that while FGO has improved, it feels like something from 2-3 generations ago that is being retrofitted to keep with the times, and that the game system is starting to reach its breaking point, and asks Nasu on his opinion on this. Nasu agrees, saying that after countless revisions, the old system has become something twisted not unlike Kowloon Walled City. The only way to actually fix this would be to break the entire city and rebuild it up from scratch, but an effort of this scale would be impossible to pull off. He says that all they can do now is have players remain interested despite of the game’s flaws, and says that even if the system grows old, they can still keep providing players with basic “gaming joy”.
Kajita next mentions how FGO currently has tedious grinding in material collection and events, which is for better or for worse very “smartphone game-like”, and points out how this contradicts what Nasu aims for. Nasu says that because the game’s system was created first, the basic structure of requiring players to collect materials cannot be changed, and adlibbing it would also be difficult. He personally would have liked a game where players could just have fun controlling the characters.
How bosses are gaining a more game-like essence is pointed out, and Nasu attributes this to Type-Moon’s Azanashi, who has worked on tuning servants stats from launch up till now.
Kajita points out how FGO has no skip function, and how the speed only goes to double, and asks Nasu if there is a tangible reason for having players manually have to do quests they have already cleared. Nasu says that he agrees that there should be a skip function for the daily grind, but is against having a function to skip noble phantasm animations, saying that there are things that should never be skipped; He says that if you remove the game’s most attractive part based on efficiency, in the end nothing would be left. His aim is to put all their effort into making servants so that players do not want to skip noble phantasm animations. Kajita agrees, but asks again about the skip functions outside of noble phantasms, and Nasu says that while he would like a battle skip function, they will probably end up finding an FGO-like answer for that in the end. Kajita says that smartphone game grinding is an endless task that is dangerous when it builds up, and that he has personally seen players snap and lose interest in a game after too much. Nasu says that he too constantly asks about the material drop rates at meetings, and would like to have more painless gameplay, and that he would like to have Delight Works work on such upgrades.