Monster Hunter Frontier Shutdown Interview With Teruki Miyashita And Genki Sunano

Monster Hunter Frontier Interview Genki Sunano Teruki Miyashita

This post contains as many images of oversized mascot ducks as the mainline Monster Hunter entries have provided so far. Which is to say none.

This is an interview conducted after the 2019 December shutdown of the Monster Hunter Frontier online game, starring Teruki Miyashita and Genki Sunano, both of them producers for the game. I figured I might as well translate this for preservation purposes and since the Internet keeps spreading bullshit about a game it’s never played but then again, that’s the Internet for you; taking in actual information rather than making things up based on gut instinct and personal agenda slows down its decision making and judging. But I digress.

On another note, if you want to know more about the game in general, check out my Monster Hunter Frontier post.

But without further ado, let’s get the interview started.

After A History Spanning Across 12 Years, The Curtain Falls.

Interviewer: Monster Hunter Frontier has been in service for roughly 12 years. Now that the curtain has fallen, please give us your honest feelings.
Teruki Miyashita: To be honest, it’s a lonely feeling. I kept thinking for the longest time if there wasn’t something I could have done. With that said, I also feel gratitude towards the userbase that has stuck with us for 12 years. On the contrary, in the last month before closure, a lot of users decided to play the game one last time and the amount of daily active users had doubled. That makes me glad.
Genki Sunano: Having been supported by this many users had once again had become a very real feeling. Seeing these numbers of active users logging in at the end of the game, that alone made me feel loved.

Interviewer: How did the termination of the service come to be?
Teruki Miyashita: To begin with, Monster Hunter Frontier was based on Monster Hunter Dos and as such, was quite old. The matter if we could still work with it became a daily topic of discussion.
Genki Sunano: As time flew by, towards the later half of the 2010’s, we were talking about if we could make it to the Tokyo Olympics.
Teruki Miyashita: After the ‘ZZ’ update, we wondered how we would proceed the following year with developing the game and had discussions within the company and we judged it to be too harsh to proceed with the current system so we settled for closure.

Monster Hunter Frontier Memorial Book

Interviewer: So what you’re trying to say is that the system side had quite the big influence there.
Teruki Miyashita: That’s right. After all, it’s a construct from 12 years ago so the way to handle save data had become quite old as well. Adding new things to it meant that bugs and the likes would occur so we ruled it to be too risky to continue as things were. It was some years ago or so that we tried to make big changes to how the save data was handled but with that came major efforts in terms of inspecting and verifying and that in itself turned into a project at a level that we would have to measure it in years.

Interviewer: It’s… really quite impressive that you’ve made it this far then.
Teruki Miyashita: The development team really gave it their all.
Genki Sunano: What’s more, the game was in development for several platforms, so there were many hardware-specific hurdles to take into account during development and that became one more reason for cancellation.

Monster Hunter Frontier Soundtrack CDs

Interviewer: Implementing the ‘ZZ’ update’s Magnet Spike is quite the timing then under those circumstances.
Teruki Miyashita: That was cutting it really close. The year before, too, we were really pushing it with the FX of the newly released Elzelion. Employing various means, we pushed what was achievable to the utmost limits.
Genki Sunano: As we were heading for the later half of Monster Hunter Frontier’s run, the game turned really flashy. With Elzelion being timed for the 10th anniversary, that’s really the way we wanted to do it. With the Magnet Spike, we provided more than twice the moves of other weapons but even with that, we made quite some cuts.
Teruki Miyashita: We’ve got a lot of untold stories there. (laughs) The game’s memory and that the overall construction of the game had become so old turned into big issues.
Genki Sunano: With that said, I really didn’t want for the game’s quality to decrease. As we passed 10 years, I knew in a corner of my heart that the day would come when things would come to an end and I would have to be prepared to accompany Monster Hunter Frontier on its last journey.
Teruki Miyashita: Well said!
Interviewer: (laughs)
Genki Sunano: Still, I really do feel lonely after all.

Interviewer: What was the reaction from the userbase like after the initial announcement that the service would be terminated?
Teruki Miyashita: We made it into twitter’s global trends and made it into the top 15 of Japanese trends about 5 times, that’s how we came to realize how much of an impact Monster Hunter Frontier had. The tweet wherein we announced the termination also received more than 800 replies, there were just so many voices overflowing with affection.

Monster Hunter Frontier Cattleya Guild Master

Filled With The Frontier Spirit, That It What Monster Hunter Frontier Was All About

Interviewer: Through offline events and distributions, are there any impressions lasting on you in terms of communicating with the playerbase?
Teruki Miyashita: I attended the most events. What left an impression on me was the “Monster Hunter Frontier Thanksgiving 2012” event. When we announced Monster Hunter Frontier G, the uprush in the assembly hall gave me goosebumps. In fact, when I remember it, even now, I still get goosebumps so it’s a truly unforgettable memory for me. Throughout the entire country, we did lots of events, at times people got angry at me, at times I was praised and I got to hear people’s direct opinions, I was very grateful for that and for me, it was just the greatest time of my life.
Genki Sunano: For me, it was with the Capcom events, when users brought notes to write down their impressions as memos and were packed and wrote their wishes down, that’s what left an impression on me.
Teruki Miyashita: Genki-kun here was quite the beloved character, almost like ‘he’s more capable than Miyashita’. (laughs)
Genki Sunano: At first, that was just because my golden hair kept getting touched though. (laughs)

Monster Hunter Frontier Kaiji Collaboration

Interviewer: Touring around all the country’s net cafes, wasn’t that quite hard on you?
Teruki Miyashita: Getting my schedule right proved to be quite an ordeal. On weekends before an update, I would do four a piece, however, with consecutive holidays, it’d be like 5 or 6 times so travelling had no longer become a high difficulty tier quest by that point. It was just Tokyo and Osaka but then people from the province wouldn’t be able to partake so things started to take a turn for ‘Alright! We’re gonna do the whole country!’ At each assembly hall, everyone was brimming with passion so I think it’s a good thing we did that.

Interviewer: Cooperating with cafes to grant exclusive privileges, Frontier really was at the forefront of doing that, wasn’t it?
Teruki Miyashita: We gave players quite early the opportunity to do so. Playing on your own at home while keeping quiet is all fine and good too of course, but I wanted for players to meet up and play. That’s how we started to offer places where users would have better ways of communicating. We’ve had many manufacturers make different goods for the cafes.

Monster Hunter Frontier NieR Automata 2B And 9S

Interviewer: So Monster Hunter Frontier also gave off quite the vibe of not only being at the forefront of being an offline game but also that it provided a lot of services.
Teruki Miyashita: Among the package sales we had, the Poogie Anniversary Package was quite a thing.
Genki Sunano: As for anniversary goods, we also had figurines, plush dolls and bags amongst others.
Teruki Miyashita: There was also quite a deal of collaborations. With the first Pizza Hut Collaboration, I had still been a user. With Gliko’s Ice Cream Fruits Hammers, I wonder how many flavors I ate to collect all of them? (laughs) That makes for quite some nostalgic memories.
Genki Sunano: As we’re still in high spirits, that reminds me of the Higanjima collab we had.
Teruki Miyashita: When we were all done with that I couldn’t help but wonder ‘Eeeeeeh, didn’t we kinda overdo it?” (laughs)
Genki Sunano: ‘The development team’s sure in high spirits!’, that was it. (laughs)

Interviewer:
As a producer, showing your face and providing video material, that really wasn’t a thing that was done a lot back in the days.
Teruki Miyashita: That’s what it was like from the very beginning. I always thought it was important to communicate based on which reasons and ideas we would implement something.

Monster Hunter Frontier Higanjima Collaboration

The Originality of Monster Hunter Frontier

Interviewer: Monster Hunter Frontier had quite a lot of original elements implemented.
Genki Sunano: As for Frontier-exclusive weapons, we had the Tonfas, the Switch Axe F and the Magnet Spike. When we announced the Magnet Spike, it got a lot of traction online.
Teruki Miyashita: There’s that and that we gave each weapons three different “Styles” as we called them, the Extreme Style in particular faired quite well.
Genki Sunano: Each monster, in its own way, has pecularities that make it fun to fight but with the movesets and weapon classes, no matter which quest gets picked, you’d have a lot of fun either way so that’s why the reception to those was so positive.

Interviewer: Speaking of monsters, with the Raviente, countless of hunters would challenge it to a fight so in a way or two, it’s distinctive for Monster Hunter Frontier.
Teruki Miyashita: While hunters would challenge it with a maximum people count of 32, as per the world view inhabited in Monster Hunter, parties would consist of four players each, that’s how we decided we would have several sorties of those.

Monster Hunter Frontier Raviente

Interviewer: If you wanted to do it, you could have integrated parties consisting of five or more people?
Teruki Miyashita: We could have. With Monster Hunter Frontier, we wanted to give it our best as a Monster Hunter title tackling new kinds of challenges.

Interviewer: Creating just a single monster, about how much time did that take you?
Genki Sunano: About a year. With a new monster, I feel like we’d usually start working on it three updates before the implementation. When the update for January 2019 rolled in, we had all of them finished, everything was done.
Teruki Miyashita: Everything that was in the process of being implemented had been implemented by that point. In terms of the concept phase or rather new monster ideas and design plans, there were still many more however.

Monster Hunter Frontier Inagami

The Technique Behind The Demonification Of Monster Hunter Frontier

Interviewer: Including designs and gimmicks, which is your favorite monster?
Teruki Miyashita: I joined the company in 2009 so this was right before the update of Season 6.0 and seeing the yet unreleased Kamu & Nono Orugaron left a deep impression on me. What’s next would be Raviente. We were working on Raviente and Orugaron at the same time, it left quite an impact on me.
Genki Sunano: For me, it’s UNKNOWN. The players loved it a lot as well! Ruling as a wyvern based on the Rathian class, making adjustments to and hunting it was quite a lot of fun. Monster Hunter Frontier, I think, was packed with a lot of enjoyment. As for the monsters I was directly involved, I like the design of Guanzorumu. It’s just that cool!
Teruki Miyashita: There were cute ones as well. I think that Pariapuria was super cute.
Genki Sunano: Also, one monster that was highly popular among the development staff was Baruragaru.

Interviewer: Quite a lot of monsters from the numbered series among the Monster Hunter games made an appearance as well.
Teruki Miyashita: We gave them a lot of Monster Hunter Frontier-exclusive movesets and effects so I think they had a different appeal compared to the originals.
Genki Sunano: Extreme Howling Zinogre and so on were the first on the list. The users often called it “demonification”. (laughs)
Teruki Miyashita: From a developing standpoint, calling it “demonification” sure does raise the tension a bit.
Genki Sunano: Gore Magala’s True Berserk Dragonification carried the feeling of “Just what in the world happened?!”
Teruki Miyashita: Since we worked with the Dos base, it’s not like we could just bring these monsters in like that so we had to create them almost from scratch. That was never an easy task but I’m glad the users were overjoyed by it.

Monster Hunter Frontier Unknown

Interviewer: Among everything that had been implemented, what was it that provoked the biggest reaction from the fans?
Teruki Miyashita: As one would expect, new monsters and movesets would encite quite the echo and I think they were pleased by what we did. And while it was a small thing, at first, we only had one item box but when we increased those in numbers, people were really glad about that.
Genki Sunano: No matter how much effort you put in, smaller refinements don’t elicit large reactions from the playerbase, however, refinements that would improve upon the gaming experience bit by bit were something I put a lot of emphasis on.

Interviewer: Were there things for what the users did that exceeded your expectations?
Teruki Miyashita: To begin with, the players are generally a lot more skilled than we give them credit for. With Hiden armor and other such equipment, the time we usually envisioned it would take them to craft was always outdone within a fraction of the time.
Genki Sunano: I think it’s amazing that there were people playing on a keyboard. There were people ranking really highly as well. And people who would upload their clips online, watching those was really tremendeous.
Teruki Miyashita: There even was a user who made it above floor 2000 of the Hunting Road, now that really shocked me. (laughs)

Monster Hunter Frontier Armors

Season 6.0 To 10.0

Teruki Miyashita: I only joined right before Season 6.0 was implemented, regardless, I had quite a bit of control over the characters appearing in the PVs for Raviente, Orugaron and so on.
Genki Sunano: The crew in charge of the filming for the PVs also filmed while operating with skilled hands.
Teruki Miyashita: You would have four units, utilizing three of them for controlling the hunters and one of them would make use of the camera, all of that manually.
Teruki Miyashita: Then Season 7.0 came and there were many voices stating that they could not subjugate Raviente, even though there were also those that succeeded from the first day onwards. Since there were too many people who found him too hard to beat, we made some slight adjustments. Also, skill cuffs were the first thing I conceptualized since joining the company.
Genki Sunano: Season 8.0 brought us Dyuragaua, the monster that got hunted down the most. It’s like it went totally extinct, isn’t it? (laughs) Also, starting with Season 8.5, we brought in Xbox support. In terms of platforms, many specific hurdles came with that. Nowadays, a subscription is the basic practice but back then, there was no such thing as a “Continuation Course”, so that too might have been a forerunner aspect about Frontier.
Teruki Miyashita: In Season 9.0, we wanted to implement armor much like heirloom, so we added the Hiden armor. Equipment that you would build within a year, a goal to work towards of sorts. The armor would be unique in terms of visuals, there’d be upsides and downsides.
Genki Sunano: Like the Emerald armor for instance. (laughs)
Teruki Miyashita: When I saw the Emerald armor the first time I couldn’t help but wonder if that was going to be okay. I’m glad it got accepted after all.
Teruki Miyashita: With Season 10.0, we had even implemented an update with no new monster and I was wondering how that would do. Instead, we had implemented a new Style (moveset) and it was popular enough that Season 10.0 on its own was very playable I think.
Genki Sunano: I think that by putting in a new moveset for Monster Hunter Frontier, we really met the desires of the userbase.
Teruki Miyashita: Once we got to implementing new movesets for every single weapon class, it certainly turned out to be a more encompassing update than just adding a new monster.

Monster Hunter Frontier Dyuragua

Forward. 1 To 5

Teruki Miyashita: Right before Forward. 1, the earthquake hit and I still vividly remember how all staff that was readily available was tasked with removing any words that could be associated to earthquakes and tsunamis.
Genki Sunano: With Forward. 1 also came the inclusion of Gooks.
Teruki Miyashita: From Forward. onwards, we also had discussions on changing the mood of the PVs to a more story-centric one. Gogomoa was the monster to come along with the update.
Genki Sunano: We also had a lot of gimmicks and such with Forward. and the amount of monsters that were very Monster Hunter Frontier-esque increased in numbers.
Teruki Miyashita: What’s more, there was also the incident of my face being slapped on Gogomoa. (laughs) Forward. 1 to 3 were very stable and had quite a lot of distinctive monsters. The Supremecy Species update between Forward. 4 and 5 proved to be quite the ordeal. Originally, there wasn’t supposed to be any such update but we had talks about the leap of time between Forward. 4 and 5 turning out to be quite long so within a mere three weeks, we integrated the Supremacy Species update. We thought of the name “Supremacy” a day before making it available to the public.

Monster Hunter Frontier Gogomoa

G1 To G10

Teruki Miyashita: We received a lot of flak for G1. So with G2, we tried to fix these issues as soon as possible.
Genki Sunano: With G3, we also added the Extreme Species and Baruragaru, that was also around where we introduced the Songstress.
Teruki Miyashita: With 3.1, we implemented partners. Monster Hunter Frontier was an online game so I had strong impressions that I wanted for players to play and interact with friends and parties yet when I looked at the tendency of users, I saw that a lot of them played solo too so we integrated partners.
Genki Sunano: I think that it’s important for all games nowadays to integrate features for people who play in groups and those who play alone.
Teruki Miyashita: With GG, we’ve implemented the new weapon class, Tonfas, however, there were still the weapon classes we had from the start and so we strengthened them a lot.
Genki Sunano: I regret that the Tonfas had become the absolute powerhouse. However, if we made them weak, they would no longer be used and that put us in quite a bind. We made the best of the reflection we had upon that and with the Magnet Spike, we let the other weapons still be usable, so I think we had achieved a great deal of balance.
Genki Sunano: G5’s Inagami has quite the interesting mechanics.
Teruki Miyashita: Rather than grass, it was “bamboo has grown!” – that was kind of it.
Genki Sunano: That was about when I had joined the company and upon seeing it, I couldn’t help but think ‘What in the world is this monster?’
Teruki Miyashita: Inagami is thought to be a Zinogre-type but it’s skeletal structure is actually based on Kirin. The difference in size is quite enormous.
Genki Sunano: G6 is when I had joined the team and we integrated Tenrou. Tenrou was a new element altogether so we had to create it from the ground up and debugging took quite some time too, some bugs just didn’t want to get eradicated and we just barely made it in time for the deadline.
Teruki Miyashita: It was also around that time that, thankfully, the Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica collaboration hit big. That’s also when we saw success in cartoon-character/stuffed animal customes and were inspired by them.
Teruki Miyashita: With G7 came the implementation of the Transcendental Secret Ceremony and I still quite vividly remember the takigyou I did. (laughs) When I was asked whether to go with a homa or to do skydiving, I responded with ‘That’s both impossible!’. There were also plans of making me lose weight through a very own transcendental secret ceremony (namely RIZAP) but at the end of the day, we settled for the takigyou.
Genki Sunano: With G8, we also introduced Gasurabasura, which was also a very Frontier-typical monster but also kind of weird. (laughs) Zinogre, which would be the first Exotic monster to be introduced, elicited a big response from the players and was integrated as an 8 stars quest which then provoked a huge failure rate. That sure was an update packed with Exotic monsters, huh.
Genki Sunano: Moving on to G9 and here we had Berserk Raviente and Toridcless amongst others. That was also when we ran into huge trouble with the rollback. As a result of replacing our database, the game spiraled into a state where it couldn’t be played for about a week, and I think that in the history of Monster Hunter Frontier, that was when I was the most apologeptic. Together with the administration director at the time, the two of us pulled some all-nighters.
Teruki Miyashita: This is not limited to the above story but whenever something unfortunate happened, we would make an announcement as quick as possible while simultaneously always discussing how to best handle the users.
Genki Sunano: With G10, we introduced the Switch Axe F, Guanzorm and Nargacuga, but what stuck with me the most was Project R, which happened right before. Back then, we decided to progress with drastic improvements and were trying to make the game more approachable by abolishing the Rigid Tickets.
Teruki Miyashita: In addition to that, we improved upon the graphics before Z hit, which had become quite muddy and made the game a lot prettier. By that point of time, the game had already been running for eight years, and with a young development staff at its core, we intended to also bring the game back to a state of young freshness.

Monster Hunter Frontier Switch Axe F

Z To ZZ

Genki Sunano: With Monster Hunter Frontier Z, a new title change was overdue, and we thought hard what we would use as a replacement for “G” for the new update. However, we settled for “Z”, just based on coolness factor alone. (laughs) And while it was postscript, we added a “Zenith” as a kind of climax element. The teaser PV for the game’s revival was seen more than 1,000,000 times and was even viewed quite a lot overseas so I couldn’t help but feel that we had received a lot of attention and once more, had a lot of expectations resting on our shoulders.
Teruki Miyashita: Z received more acceptance that G did at the time.
Genki Sunano: Also, the PS4 finally received our support and the platform was used more than we had anticipated. Due to the influx of people playing Monster Hunter Frontier on their PS4, we had a lot more players to handle as a result and so the problem arose of our servers being unable to handle the traffic. Had we prepared better for that, more players would have been able to experience the game from the get-go, so I’m still filled with regret from a business side of things with that one.
Teruki Miyashita: From that point onwards, the update naming was bound to dates instead. With Z, we no longer used numbered entries for updates and that worried me in its own right. The number count had become quite high so the entry barrier would look really bothersome for new users and for that reason, we did away with numbers.
Genki Sunano: Looking back, not handing out numbers anymore made it rather hard to actually name the updates. “G1” and “Foward. 1” and such were straightforward.
Teruki Miyashita: At the end of the day, there certainly was an argument to be made that some sort of naming or numbering convention would have been better. (laughs)
Genki Sunano: In 2017, we also introduced Keoaruboru and the Diva Defense among others. The baseline of concept was that we wanted to have the hunters protect Mezeporta from a giant monster and we found the concept of Keoaruboru making an appearance like right out of a kaiju movie to be fascinating.
Teruki Miyashita: And so we passed 10 years and with that, the implementation of Elzelion.
Genki Sunao: We wanted to make Elzelion a monster unlike anything before it, and, as a baseline, to use two elemental powers at once, while also aspiring to use the fanged dragon type of skeleton as a base for its elder dragon status, so we thought a lot and came up with a monster that could use both the powers of fire and ice.
Teruki Miyashita: That was also when we integrated the Hunting Road.
Genki Sunano: With the Hunting Road, I feel that we integrated a piece of content encouraging long-time play.
Genki Sunano: For the 10th annivesary, we also put a lot of effort into the anniversary goods and a lot of players picked them up and were very pleased with them.
Teruki Miyashita: Once we made it past the tenth year, there were also Amatsu and Zenith Inagami. And as we reached 2018, the time for ZZ had come.
Genki Sunano: From the onset, we had settled for the Magnet Spike to be implemented around Fall, so whether we would implement new elements or succeed with the progress established through Project R, these were the two choices we had and we settled for improving the user experience once again until the introduction of the new weapon and thus made some adjustments for the Gun Lance, Dual Swords and Tonfas.

Monster Hunter Frontier Elzelion

For 12 Years Of Service, Thank You Very Much!

Interviewer: You have experienced a lot during the service of Monster Hunter Frontier, how will you incorporate that experience you’ve gained for your future?
Teruki Miyashita: Henceforth, I think I’ll stick with management and development of user-centric online games. I think that games that require management, where there’s a community, are games that live and they will increase in popularity and therein lies the fun, if we could work together on these kinds of games, I’d be overjoyed.
Genki Sunano: I wish for the knowhow that I’ve accumulated through Monster Hunter Frontier, an online game we have cultivated together, to be made the best of.

Interviewer: On a final note, if you would please be so kind to leave some comments for the users that have played Monster Hunter Frontier over all this time.
Teruki Miyashita: I feel deep gratitude alongside the desire that I would have preferred for things to continue just a bit longer. I believe that, even though Monster Hunter Frontier might have ended, it will continue to live on inside everyone and if, just occasionally, it became a topic of conversation again, I would be overjoyed. I still wish to make good use of the skills that I have accumulated through working on Monster Hunter Frontier on other titles so I look foward to meeting all of you once again in the future.
Genki Sunano: There aren’t many titles that have lived on this long and been blessed with so much love and that is thanks to you, the hunters. After the termination of services, through the official website and a video, we will soon upload something that I think you will like, so please look forward to it. If possible, I would love to create an oppurtinity for the monsters that appeared in Monster Hunter Frontier to make a reappearance. Towards all the players who have played for all this long, towards all the hunters, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

As of the time of this writing, the Capcom Online Games department has been abolished, no Frontier-exclusive monsters have since then made it to another Monster Hunter installment and Teruki Miyashita has resigned from Capcom.

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