INVEN had an interview with the project manager, animator, programmer, and modeler for Arisha not long after her files were leaked on holden’s blog.
Q: The recent leak of Arisha’s files has been a big issue.
A: It was devastating for us. We wanted it to be a surprise and the leak was a discouraging experience but we still put our best efforts in to finishing her development.
One incident I remember is when someone linked a fan art of a character with a gun and blade claiming it to be Arisha. I really wanted to reply that it’s not but, thankfully, someone else pointed it out that it was a fan art.
Q: Could you give us a brief introduction of her?
A: Arisha is a calm and chic character with a more ‘western’ voluptuous body type. She uses her Longblade to cut enemies and fire Mana Stones with her Castlet.
We first went with the idea of making a chic character then went on to address the need for another INT character. Since there’s only one INT character, existing INT gear is not being properly utilized and thus is causing imbalance in the market. So we decided to make her an INT character.
To give an example in terms of existing characters; both Fiona and Vella gives an impression of being powerful and Lynn has her cute looks. Arisha will show off a calm and cool atmosphere with her chic looks.
Q: Can you tell us anything about her back story?
A: We can’t reveal much at this point but Arisha’s past has some relation with the silent brotherhood. Nothing concrete is given on her past, as is usual with other characters, but it is given that she is a full grown adult.
We aren’t going to reveal her back story with text and illustrations like before and instead we’re going to try something different. It’s going to be released before she’s released on premiere server.
Q: You mentioned that she has two weapons; her Longblade and Castlet. How does her combat style look like.
A : First of all, a Longblade is a lot longer than Fiona’s Longsword and will be used for close-quarter combat. The Castlet will be used for Arisha’s spells, shooting an orb called Mana Stone at range, and can be seen floating above her glove.
Arisha’s control is a lot different from existing characters. Save for Kai and Evie, all existing character follow a general format of an L combination followed by R. Arisha, on the other hand, will swing her Longblade when L is pressed and fire her Mana Stone when R is pressed.
As for smash and normal hit categories, the first to third hit with the Longblade will be a normal hit. The fourth and fifth hit is a smash. Her Caslet will fire her Mana Stone which is categorized as a smash but doesn’t deal as much damage as is expected for a smash.
Her gameplay will not be centered around a single weapon so both weapons must be utilized at the right time to play her efficiently.
The basic pattern for her combat will be shooting the Mana Stone, swinging her Longblade, then retrieving the Mana Stone while dealing extra damage.
Q: If she has two weapons will she also have two weapon slots?
A: Yes, like Fiona, she will have a secondary slot to equip her Castlet. Her Longblade will be her primary weapon but her Castlet won’t be as visible as shields and can only be spotted as a fan-like object on the back of her hand.
Q: Does having two weapons mean that she will need more mats for crafting gear?
A: While Fiona’s shields play a big part of her stats with their high defense, Arisha’s Castlet does not provide a big damage boost in comparison. It’s more about whether or not she’s equipping a Castlet than the quality of the Castlet in question so it won’t be as if Arisha needs to gear up two weapons at once. Oh, and Castlets cannot be enhanced or enchanted.
The required mats to craft Castlets will be the same amount as what is required for shields.
Q: What is the concept for her unique level 56 and 60 sets?
A: Arisha’s unique sets are designed to look modern and in addition will display a cute, sexy, or sharp appearance for each set.
Q: Could you introduce some of her skills?
A: Arisha’s main skill is Mana Blade. She will imbue her Longblade with magic and will deal a lot more damage. We say that she ‘activated’ Mana Blade and she requires MP for activation. MP is Arisha’s unique resource which she can gather by using Drain Mana to absorb the MP that comes out of enemies when she attacks them.
Another key skill is Warp Hole. Arisha will switch places with the Mana Stone she fired and will deal damage to any enemy she passes along the way.
Her four slot SP skill is Lord of Mana which will gradually slow down monsters until they freeze in place, allowing Arisha a safe chance to attack.
Q: Is MP a new resource apart from stamina and SP?
A: Yes, MP is a unique resource for Arisha. We noticed a user reporting another gauge bar that was speculated to be related with a third transformation but that was actually Arisha’s MP bar. Arisha will also use SP as well.
Q: Although Arisha is an INT based character she still uses a melee weapon. Does this mean that she will need STR for her melee attacks?
A: No, all of her attacks will be based on INT like Battle Scythe. But she will lift objects like other characters and will need STR to lift heavier objects. This does not mean players will also have to consider STR as well since her base stats from leveling up will be sufficient to lift the heaviest objects. In addition to lifting objects like other characters, Arisha will also be able to use ES moves and use a grappling hook.
Q: Could you tell us what her survival skills are like?
A: Arisha has two types of survival skills. Diffusion Shift which is like Vella’s Wind Step, Drain Mana which works like Fiona’s guard.
But Drain Mana cannot be maintained like Guard so it must be used with proper timing. Successfully guarding an attack with Drain Mana will allow Arisha to gain more MP.
Diffusion Hole, which was mentioned earlier, also provides invulnerability during movement.
Q: How difficult is Arisha’s gameplay?
A: Say, if Spear Lann is difficult in all aspects, Arisha is a character faced with difficult choices. She does not have a difficult time surviving but accessing the situation to perform the most efficient move will be a challenge for Arisha. Overall you can say she is a difficult character to play.
Her unique style might also cause difficulties for experienced players since they will have to get out of their comfort zone to master her gameplay.
Q: How did you make her Longblade motions?
A: We wanted to set her apart from existing sword users so we gave her a reverse-grip for her blade. She doesn’t have any stabbing motions and will instead cut her enemies. We also emphasized flashy visuals with magic for her motions rather than expert swordsmanship since she is a spell based character.
Her casting motions with her Castlet was done with motion-capture but the rest was made with tools. In addition, since I’m a guy, a dancer was hired to motion-capture Arisha’s dance emote.
Q: Was there any reference group you used for designing Arisha?
A: There was no reference in particular but we aimed to create a calm and expressionless female warrior who can be customized to look pure and innocent or sexy.
She’s a little shorter than Fiona yet her figure is more curvy since we aimed to make her look different from existing characters with a more western body type.
The difference may not be noticeable at first since we also didn’t want her to look out of place but it should become apparent when she stands next to another character.
Q: How is her characteristics expressed in-game?
A: Emotes can be used as an example. Fiona waves her hand with a bright expression and Vella uses formal and provocative gestures. Arisha’s emotes have been made to show restraint. Her dance emote doesn’t show her body as much but has a sexual undertone while her hand wave was made so to be simple yet not look absent-minded.
Q: How are new characters like Arisha developled?
A: We first go through a brain storming session where we pull out ideas with no limitations. Here we will come up with concepts like paper-mage, elementalist, martial artist and so on. These ideas will be sent to the Art team where they will draw basic character designs for them. Arisha came out from the idea of making a chic, INT based character and we went on to make a prototype character after her weapon and art direction was set.
Since Arisha is a INT based female character using a Longblade, we used Evie’s model for her character and a lengthened version of Fiona’s Longsword to make a prototype.
We use these prototypes to experiments with what kind of actions she will perform and move on to actual development phase. Once we got the action, animation, and new model in place we work with emotes and expressions to flesh out the fine details of her facial structure.
We go with this prototyping method to steadily form a character rather than concentrating on one aspect at a time then combining the results together.
Q: Was there any new mechanisms made for Arisha’s skills?
A: A prime example for that is Lord of Mana. It is a skill that stops time for characters. This required us to make a process of gradually slowing time until it halts and this was done for AI’s and players without any complications. The problem was implementing this process for the environment. It became a technical issue for us since someone could be throwing a box, debris could be flying around and all of this proved to be difficult to synchronize between host and party members. Furthermore, the problems with how device objects will be used while time is stopped and performance issues lead us to exclude objects from being frozen. We still made sure to provide an awesome scene despite the environment not being frozen.
The challenge of getting used to her controls was also mentioned and this is a new attempt for us as well as we were looking for a way to utilize different skills and decided to use a Street Fighter-esque command input. We couldn’t add a lot of commands due the viewpoint of a 3D environment but we still made the attempt for something different.
Other than that, the gear in Mabinogi Heroes [aka Vindictus] have size restrictions depending on body type. If these limits are exceeded, certain body parts will protrude out of the gear. Yet we had to breach this restriction because of our goal to make Arisha’s figure more curvy and we have managed to obtain stable results after several fixes.
Q: Was there any memorable incidents while developing Arisha?
A: While I was working on Arisha I was also working on Succubus Queen’s nightmare phase. Since my time then was occupied with finding a way to make Arisha’s figure more curvy I was discussing Arisha’s figure often and it was then I noticed that Succubus Queens breasts weren’t moving during the scene where she climbs on the bed. I insisted that this had to be changed arguing that jiggle physics was also the reason why players don’t skip Iset’s cut scenes.
After that people started to see me as some kind of expert in that area and came to me for advice on female character figures, inner-armor and other related stuff.
Q: Is there anything else included for the Arisha update?
A: We implemented a page system for quickslots so players will have access to more quickslots now. The long awaited option for reducing player effects will also be added in this update.
Existing characters will be receiving a texture update. The model still remains the same but the texture for these characters now take up to four times to memory it used to so it should look smooth even from up close.
There is no dungeon or story added for this update regrettably.
Q: Anything you want to add before we end this interview?
A: Mabinogi Heroes finally has a new INT based character. We hope the players enjoy her. Although she was revealed earlier than intended we still put out best efforts in to finishing her.
Arisha is a character that can differ greatly depending on how she is customized so we hope to see various customizations and a lot of love for her.