How Spike Chunsoft made worlds collide with JUMP FORCE
Speaking to how the studio was able to accomplish this world-colliding task, we caught up with Producer Koji Nakajima for a quick chat about the project. While JUMP FORCE was released earlier this year, the producer elaborates on how the studio is still releasing new content for the game and is taking an active approach to listening to the community to continually improve JUMP FORCE over time. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions and congratulations on the release of the game! JUMP FORCE has been praised for its combat, which is fun, accessible, and features a surprising amount of depth with its rock-paper-scissor mechanics. How did you approach designing the game's fighting system?
Producer Koji Nakajima: We focused on making JUMP FORCE accessible for as many people as possible and enjoyable for players of all skill levels. The uniqueness of each character is reflected in their attacks and Awakening skills. The team also wanted to make sure that the movement speed, simple combos, and skills felt natural and easy for beginners.
Did you ever consider making JUMP FORCE more of a traditional 2D fighting game or did you always know you wanted it to be a 3D arena-based fighter?
Nakajima: We planned on making JUMP FORCE an arena-based battle game from the beginning. However, this didn’t mean we didn’t think of creating a 2D fighting game. In the end, we concluded it was best to make the game in 3D to express the JUMP heroes’ dynamic battles and to illustrate the crossover story of our reality and the JUMP world.
Was it challenging to bring fan-favorite characters into JUMP FORCE while staying true to their unique abilities from their respective mangas?
Nakajima: It was a hard task. Every character has strong unique skills that include flashy transformations or summoning huge characters to join the fight. However, by overcoming this challenge, we were able to create appropriate performances to express the uniqueness of each character.
How did you approach balancing the large roster of characters?
Nakajima: Character balance was adjusted based on our closed-beta and open-beta tests. Characters are designed through various steps; for example, there are characters that are easy to use, even for beginners, and there are characters that become very strong with practice. Therefore, we hope players will enjoy the game by playing numerous characters, and we look forward to receiving more input.
JUMP FORCE features a very inventive narrative premise that brings so many fan-favorite manga characters together. How did you come up with it?
Nakajima: When we were thinking about the plot for the crossover, we aimed to create a convincing and interesting setting. In the beginning, we had difficulty imagining how JUMP heroes would fight in the real world. Then, we gradually constructed a plot by coming up with reasons for the cross-over to happen and created a setting that put the [real] world in crisis.
Considering players only have one life meter shared across three swappable characters at a time, what made three the right number of characters per team?
Nakajima: Having three swappable characters per battle was the best choice in order to maintain balance. If there were more than three, it would take [too much] time for players to select characters and the game system would be more complex. In order for players to enjoy the game while providing playable character options, three was the best fit.
The special moves in JUMP FORCE, like Goku’s Spirit Bomb attack and Naruto's Tailed Beast move, are incredibly epic. How did you go about designing and executing those animations?
Nakajima: Similar to creating the game’s graphics, special moves in JUMP FORCE were created through trial and error by thinking about how they would look and act like in our reality. For example, we had to imagine how terrain, buildings, and plants might be damaged if Goku’s Spirit Bomb attack happened in the real world.
What made UE4 a good fit for JUMP FORCE?
Nakajima: We chose to use UE4 to deliver photo-realistic graphics.
Does the team have any favorite UE4 tools of features?
Nakajima: Since UE4 includes many realistic expressions of the natural world, we were able to focus on carefully choosing appropriate expressions for each character.
Did SPIKE CHUNSOFT use Blueprints in any way?
Nakajima: We used Blueprints to check simple movements and to conduct tests. We also thought it was convenient for making tweaks on PC.
Considering JUMP FORCE is available on PC, PS4, Xbox One and is enhanced for the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, did you find UE4 helpful with the porting process?
Nakajima: Yes, UE4 was very effective here. Porting to other platforms was relatively smooth. We were also able to fine-tune the game for each platform.
Thank you once again for your time. Where can people learn more about JUMP FORCE?
Nakajima: You can learn more about JUMP FORCE at https://www.bandainamcoent.com.