This article contains an English translation of Famitsu's interview with Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown producer Kazutoki Kono, most of which was provided on Reddit. Further modifications have been made, particularly when the full interview was published online on December 17.
Be advised that a large portion of this page was translated via Google Translate. This was not a professional work, and Acepedia users are free to comment on this translation to improve its accuracy.
Famitsu: This will be the 8th numbered game. First, please tell us about the concept.
Mr. Kazutoki Kono: The concept is to identify the important elements of a numbered Ace Combat, and make them better. We want to create a game that users who have been supporting us are wishing for.
Famitsu: There's usually a subtitle, isn't there...?
Kono: The primary objective was to convey to everyone that this is a new numbered game; the main title for the time being is "Ace Combat 7". With regards to the subtitle, it is still being considered, including whether it is necessary at all. Please stay tuned for future announcements. In addition, although it is numbered, we hope new players will enjoy the game as well.
Famitsu: I see. It's also an impressive PV!
Kono: I'd like to note that the PV was not pre-rendered. The movements of humans and planes, the flow of the clouds, etc., they're all portrayed from the in-game engine. In this game we aim to pursue three axes, and one of them is the Representation of Sky which begins from drawing solid clouds. Up until now, the usual method to represent clouds was to place them like drawing a picture of clouds on a board. In this game, we create three-dimensional clouds, where if you fly towards a certain cloud, that cloud actually exists in that location, and we constructed it as "map composition with two layers of land and sky".
Famitsu: So if you want to plunge into the clouds, you can experience that realistically.
Kono: You can swivel around the clouds, you can enjoy that realism without discomfort as if you actually went into a cloud. The air flow, the weather, even the terrain effects I believe are completely different between inside and outside of a cloud. Moreover, it's interesting to vaguely see the ground beneath the clouds. If you actually fly an aircraft, you can see the horizon, the water, the clouds as one global sky, and in this game [Ace Combat 7] we can actually depict that.
Famitsu: It will be a pleasure to enjoy this likely unknown experience. Please tell us about the other axes.
Kono: Another axis is to pursue the fun of "Playacting a Plane". These are things like special weapons and special maneuvers.
Famitsu: When speaking of maneuvers, do you mean techniques like Cobra and Kulbit (both aerial maneuvers) will become possible? Even in the PV, the Su-30 was performing a maneuver...
Kono: Yes. What I'm discussing with the game's director, Mr. Yuta Hamanaka, right now is a direction that is not like a finisher attack that anyone can easily do with pressing one button. Rather, skilled people making full use of the controls and doing the maneuver themselves. And the third axis is "improving strategic aspects against enemies". The Campaign mode will pursue those three things.
Kono: It will take place in the fictional world of the numbered titles. However, more than 10 years have passed since the PlayStation 2 era, so we want to make it enjoyable as well to newcomers who have never touched the past games before.
Famitsu: So the continents that appeared in the past will be the main stage.
Kono: Correct. Specifically where the story takes place, I cannot say yet (laughs).
Famitsu: If you want to build a space elevator, the theory goes that the equator is most desirable...
Kono: I'll leave that to your imagination (laughs).
Famitsu: (LOL) Even so, the space elevator has a major impact in this game.
Kono: It's like the symbol of this game. It doesn't exist yet, except only in science fiction. However, there's a Japanese construction company who's actually planning for it, and we've actually talked with them while making this game.
Famitsu: So you're planning to make it a symbol that wouldn't look so weird if it existed in reality. The place for bungee-jumping in the PV doesn't seem like it's the top level, but how high would it be?
Kono: The human in the PV is wearing a suit similar to a spacesuit, and at that height she wouldn't be able to endure without it. By the way - and it's not easy to say "height of the building" in this context - the height distance from the surface to the farthest part reaches 100,000 kilometers.
Famitsu: Without a doubt, that's the biggest building of the series. For the part near the surface, do you think we could pass through it, like the Tokyo Tower...?
Kono: Near the surface, since it acts as a front door to space, will be a facility such as a container terminal, as the foundation for the space elevator.
Famitsu: It seems likely that a fighter could fly through it. Or should I say, I'd like to fly through it.
Kono: Yes you can. We're designing it based on the nature of the flight shooting genre.
Famitsu: We also wonder about the large aircraft, so how does this thing exist?
Kono: It's a fictional aircraft called "FAS" by the development team.
Famitsu: It launches a large number of UAVs.
Kono: Its purpose is a drone carrier. Since the space elevator is a very vulnerable building, it acts as a guardian angel and patrols it.
Famitsu: The FAS is not a real aircraft. Is this a recurring theme?
Kono: One of this game's themes is the prevalence of UAVs in the future, so we've incorporated them into this design. By the way, I have left the art designs to be handled by Masato Kanno (who has been Art Director in many previous Ace Combat games). I enjoy his combination of design and functionality, such as with Stonehenge and the Arkbird, which he's done again with the FAS. He will be the Art Director for 7.
Famitsu: I see. It's certainly reminiscent of the Arkbird from AC5 with its curvilinear design. On the topic of real aircraft, we saw the F-22, F/A-18F, and Su-30 in the first PV. The Su-30 is debuting in the series?
Kono: This is its debut. Personally I prefer the Su-27, Su-37, and Su-35, but I asked the development team, "Why not the Su-30 this time?" When they asked why, I said we've only featured single-seat Sukhois up until now, and I'd like to include the two-seat version.
Famitsu: I see. And the F-22 and F/A-18F are popular aircraft.
Kono: The F-22 is popular because it's a fighter that you see in many movies, one that people like even if they don't pay attention to aircraft, and one that is appropriate for a protagonist aircraft. Its stealth and distinctive flat shape make it as much of a fighter as the F/A-18F.
Famitsu: We'd like to know about other aircraft. Certainly the F-15 and the A-10 will be included?
Kono: Correct. We'd like to continue the plane roster from previous numbered Ace Combat games. Needless to say, we'll be making the game on the latest hardware, so we won't diverge from the aircraft in the series.
Famitsu: About the compatibility with PlayStation VR, I'm expecting to be able to look around the cockpit with detail.
Kono: By making it compatible with PlayStation VR, we want many people to feel the want to play it intuitively, and it fits really well with the game's contents of freely flying in the sky, and it's catchy. It has a lot of advantages so we immediately decided to implement it. However, there are also many technological problems, so from hereafter we're on the steps to focus on developing [VR].
Famitsu: I'm looking forward to it. How is development for the Campaign mode?
Kono: In making the Campaign mode, it is required that we also have the story completed. We are at the stage where we're making the missions.
Famitsu: As for the production team, are they the same people who have been involved in the series before?
Kono: Sunao Katabuchi, the screenplay director for Ace Combat 04 and Ace Combat 5, is returning. Kosuke Itomi, our Scenario Writer [for Ace Combat Infinity] is also returning. We're looking forward to seeing the results by combining them with Director Yuta Hamanaka. I think the result will be something everyone will enjoy, so please look forward to it.
Famitsu: And who is in charge of the BGM?
Kono: Like the previous games, that is being done by Keiki Kobayashi.
Famitsu: This is a lineup that will make any fan of the series happy. Finally, since it's confirmed to be released domestically, please leave a message for the fans in Japan.
Kono: We (Project Aces) were pleased with 04, 5, and Zero, and we're aiming for a new Ace Combat in that style, so please rest assured! We are proud that "Ace Combat" is one of the few Japanese-made IPs that's well-known in the world and leading in its genre. Please look forward to it!
Famitsu: Finally, some messages from Sunao Katabuchi and Keiki Kobayashi.
Sunao Katabuchi: Ace Combat 04 and 5 were memorable turning points in my work. And now we're going back to the same world. It's a nostalgic experience for Kono and everyone in the development team. We have already reached a point where we can summarize the game's story, which is full of brand-new characters. Best regards.
Keiki Kobayashi: Hello everyone. This is Keiki Kobayashi. "Ace Combat 7", did you see? Flying freely around that blue sky, I wonder what drama will be waiting in the clouds. Please look forward to fine music.
- BlackKite2128 comments on Famitsu's Interview with Kono (translation in comment). Reddit. Published December 9, 2015. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
- 『エースコンバット7』開発陣インタビュー完全版！ 「3つの軸を追求します」. Famitsu. Published December 17, 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
- "PV" likely stands for "Promotional Video".
- Yuta Hamanaka was previously the Lead Game Designer and Scenario Writer for Ace Combat: Joint Assault, as well as one of the two Scenario Writers for Ace Combat Infinity.
- Here, Kono is likely referring to Obayashi Global, who hope to complete construction on a space elevator by the year 2050.
- 35,800 km is the required distance from Earth to reach geostationary orbit. Lighthouse approximately triples that.