I am a member of the Konami team that creates baseball content, including the Powerful Pro Yakyuu series and the PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL SPIRITS series. These series have remained highly popular for many years, and our team is bound by powerful teamwork stemming from the knowledge we have developed through the production process.
— As the latest title in the series, what points did you want to particularly focus on, and what points did you want to improve?
eBaseball Powerful Pro Yakyuu 2020 is the latest title in the series, available for PlayStation®4 and Nintendo Switch™. The new modes—“Tournament,” “Power Arena,” and “Tokyo 2020 Olympics”—make this the title with the greatest number of modes in PowerPro series history.
In the popular “Success” PowerPro series mode, we made several significant improvements by using Live2D and by voicing key characters in the game with high-grade voice actors for the first time.
— Having the most modes in PowerPro series history already creates a big impact. What reasons did you have for using Live2D for the popular “Success” mode?
There are a large number of characters that appear in the PowerPro series, mainly in the “Success” mode.
“Success” mode is an important element for portraying the characters while painting a picture of the world they inhabit. We considered introducing animated expressions and character voices to further highlight the appeal of these characters.
The characters in “Success” mode are drawn in 2D, so Live2D allows us to create extremely natural animations for movements and expressions without diminishing the appeal of the characters. Because of that, we decided Live2D was a good fit for “Success” and the best tool for us.
During testing, while we were considering introducing Live2D, the production team was immediately impressed with how vivid and alive the movements made the characters feel. We decided to use Live2D right away.
— I am happy to hear that you were impressed by one of Live2D’s greatest features! Did you encounter any problems with adopting Live2D?
Having a large number of characters is an attractive feature, but the amount of work needed to create the models and animations grows proportionally larger. This made us worried that differences in quality would arise. We created our own production rules to ensure a constant level of final quality in our many Live2D models.
We divided the work into tasks that used standardized templates prepared by the team for each model and animation, and tasks for expressing the individual personality of the characters. This allowed us to create the animations more efficiently without sacrificing the wide range of expressions.
— Your dedication to really drawing out the character personalities while still maintaining quality is easy to recognize. Were there any expressions that you took particular care with?
When creating expressions with Live2D, we were particularly focused on ensuring consistency in the impressions of the key characters that PowerPro fans have known for many years. We wanted to make sure they did not feel unfamiliar in any way.
The PowerPro illustrations have a “pop” feel, so they are ideal for exaggerated movements and funny expressions. Using Live2D allowed us to create expressions that are both dynamic and reminiscent of 2D anime. We not only wanted them to move smoothly, but we also wanted to vary the frame step and create joke expressions, or use 2D animation techniques to express sweat and tears. In this way, we were able to maximize the possibilities that Live2D offers.
— It really is captivating! What kind of reactions did you get after actually using Live2D?
We received a lot of positive feedback from users, including how surprised they were at how smooth the illustrations moved. Such comments are always nice to hear.
There is also a lot of banter between the characters in our scenarios, and Live2D allowed us to add movements to the characters’ expressions and feelings. We felt this makes the characters even more likable.
— In closing, do you have any messages for the readers?
Be on the lookout for a free update for player data in the 2021 season!
I hope everyone will continue to enjoy the game for years to come thanks to the latest pro baseball data.
— Thank you for your time today!