The Path to Petting the Dog! Building the Canynes of Monster Hunter Rise

May 04, 2023 // Shibata

Hello everyone! Koichi Shibata here, reporting from the Monster Hunter Rise dev floor!

For our next round of Monster Hunter Rise interviews, I will be talking to Moeri Abe, the designer of the Canynes, the new Buddy added in Monster Hunter Rise!

Q1: First off, could you give us a quick explanation of your role on Rise/Sunbreak?

For Rise:
At first, I designed the Canynes and the Wirebugs.

I also made the concepts for Bishaten, Rakna-Kadaki, and Crimson Glow Valstrax.

I designed Palamute armor, came up with Canyne variations for the character editor, created and supervised the modeling of the Canynes, designed weapons and props, and loads of other things!

▼These are some of the equipment designs I have the strongest memories of. Of course the default equipment is the one that was used for a lot of materials, so that’s the one I have the strongest memories of. I had a very hard time creating the Alloy armor…

I like how the Barrioth and Great Baggi design match that of the player’s armor.

▼Here are some of my favorite pieces of equipment that I modeled myself. There’s a Palico in there as well, and I remember having some ardent conversations with a veteran designer about how to make the silhouette look cute and cool at the same time, haha.

For Sunbreak:
I was mainly in charge of designing Gaismagorm, and helping out with the supervision of other monster designs. As for the Palamute armor design…I didn’t create them myself, but I had a lot of help from new recruits and other designers.

Q2: What kind of requests and orders did you get from the Director regarding the themes of the Palamute designs?

A2: The most important thing was to create a clear contrast with the Palicoes. Canynes had to look cool, and dog-like, but not resemble a wolf or a monster. An important theme was to make them look like “trusty partners.”

Initially, I was told that they would be Buddies that provide attack support in combat, so I gave them sharp eyes and even scales, so they had quite a few monster-like elements. However, after talking to the designers and the Director, Mr. Ichinose, we gradually started adding more dog-like elements.

▼The idea of Palamutes being your partner/buddy also resulted in some images reminiscent of a falconer and his raptors. Parts of the silhouette that came from those ideas are still present in the current design.

▼At some point we used a thunderbolt pattern as well, to emphasize speed. It seems a bit ostentatious if you look at it now, haha.

▼This is one of the ideas we had once we had decided on a final direction. The picture at the top left looks more like a monster than a friendly partner, right? I recall that, once we had decided on the colors, progress became a lot faster. Theme colors are very important!

One of the keywords for Monster Hunter Rise was “Ninjas,” so we started wondering if we could add some ninja-like elements, and if we should give them a color that creates a nice contrast with the light-brown Palicoes, and that’s how we ended up with the current bluish purple. The main color we ended up actually using is actually a bit brighter than the color we used in the concept art, because we needed to make sure that the equipment didn’t blend in too much with the color of the fur.

We also reduced the chest fur to prevent it from clipping through pieces of equipment.

Q3: Was there anything you were very particular about during production?

A3: I asked one of the our veteran modelers to do the actual modeling for the Canynes, and they paid attention to every little detail I asked for. For instance, I asked them to base the musculature not on a wolf, but on a Saluki, which is a type of hunting dog. On the other hand, since the player is going to spend a lot of time riding it anyway, it shouldn’t be too detailed either, and they found the perfect balance. If you look at it from a distance, the silhouette looks supple, like ‘cheek hair,’ and if you look at it from behind you can see the soles of its paws. We actually made a variety of different designs for the underside of the paws, based on what kind of equipment it’s wearing, so you should try having a look for yourself!

And of course, both the fans and the devs alike were very excited about being able to interact with the Palamute!

Everyone, including Mr. Ichinose the Director, had lots of ideas from the start of development, so when we were finally able to implement it, everyone was super motivated!

I remember talking to a lot of people from a variety of sections, and they didn’t just want to be able to pet it, they wanted to be able to rub its belly as well!

An early design idea of Mr. Ichinose.
An In-game screenshot. The day this was implemented I couldn’t help but stare at the screen the whole day long.

In terms of the combinations of patterns, we wanted to preserve the unique qualities of the Palamute, but we also wanted to be able to recreate various different dog breeds, so I had to work hard with the modelers to figure everything out. Especially the tricolor design was very hard to balance and during the period we were working on it, I had bad dreams about it every night, haha.

And it wasn’t just the Canynes’ appearance we were particular about, there were also lots of talks about how they would move in the game. What would be the exact location where the player character would be sitting when riding them? Can we have them wag their tails differently depending on the equipment? Can we have their ears wiggle!? etc.

This process continued until the final stages of development. I think that, thanks to everyone who worked so passionately on every little aspect of the Canynes, we were able to create a cute character that’s very popular with the fans!

Q4: Palicoes are the predecessors of Palamutes, and as so-called ‘Lynians,’ they are able to communicate verbally with people, but no such setting seems to exist for Canynes. Why is that?

A4: This involves the world settings, so I’m going to pass this one along to Mr. Ichinose.

Ichinose: “Part of it was that we wanted to separate Canynes from Felynes. By making them ‘fanged beasts’ instead, we were able to give them their own unique characteristics, like being able to ride them, etc.”

▼This is one of the first of Mr. Ichinose’s precious design ideas!

Q5: We do not get to see any wild Canynes in the game. Where do they live? (This question was also answered by Mr. Ichinose)

A5: Ichinose: “We do not show this in the game, but wild Canynes live in the mountains around Kamura Village, and they’ve lived in close contact with humans for a long time. This is the reason that you can find some Canyne statues in the Shrine Ruins.”

Q6: So, when you go hunting, do you take a Palico with you, or a Palamute?

A6: A Palamute of course, because I love to drift all over the place!

However, when taking on very difficult quests or Rampage Quests, I tend to use Palicoes as my lifeline, haha.

I’m also very happy that we got to add some Palamute Gear in Sunbreak that we weren’t able to implement in Rise!

Who doesn’t want their Palamute to be equipped with ballistics?

– Closing Comment from Shibata:

Thank you, Abe-san!

It’s interesting to see how Canynes went from an initial monster-like design to something with gradually more dog-like elements. When I was little, I always dreamed of riding a big dog, so I was super happy when Rise made that dream come true! And since this is a new type of Buddy, it was great to see the designs for all of the new equipment, not just for the new monsters, but for legacy monsters as well!

Next time, we’re going to change things up a bit, and we will be looking at the production of promotional items. I’ll be talking to Yosuke Noro, who’s in charge of overseeing the design and coloring of the CFG (Capcom Figure Builder) monster figures that Capcom makes!