Dead Or Alive 5 Interview: On Virtua Fighter Collaboration & Danger Zones

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After a half decade break, Team Ninja is getting back into the fighting game arena with Dead or Alive 5 and this installment has a few characters from Sega’s Virtua Fighter series. Yohei Shimbori, director of Dead or Alive 5 explained to Siliconera this collaboration came about because he has a lot of respect for Sega’s fighting game series.


Can you tell us how the Virtua Fighter 5 collaboration got started?


Yohei Shimbori, Director: The Viruta Fighter series is the forefather of the 3D fighting game genre. We really have a lot of respect for it. This time, we were lucky to have their characters in our game. If Virtua Fighter wasn’t around, I don’t think the Dead or Alive series would have started. This is our way of showing respect for the series and putting characters in Dead or Alive 5 was a great honor.


Will there be more Virtua Fighter 5 characters aside from Akira and Sarah?


This is still under wraps, for the moment.




How many characters do you think will be in Dead or Alive 5? There were so many in Dimensions, will it be comparable?


We can’t tell you all of them, but there will be over 20.


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Bass and the newcomer Rig duke it out.


How about DLC characters?


Right now, we’re not thinking about that. It depends closer to the end of development. Just to be clear, we’re not going to have paid downloadable content characters. We don’t want to do that.


Will players be able to customize their characters at all with accessories?


The way we’re treating the Dead or Alive 5 characters is they have a personality like you or me, so we won’t have customizable items. That said, some characters have accessories that fall off like Zack.


Are there any Tecmo Koei characters you want to add as guests to Dead or Alive 5? How about the Gust characters since they’re part of the family now. [Laughs.]


[Laughs.] There are people actually saying that about Gust. I think Virtua Fighter characters feel natural to be in Dead or Alive 5. Characters that naturally fit in the game, like the VF characters would be a great fit.


When I was playing Dead or Alive 5, it felt like some players didn’t know where the danger zones (trap-like areas in the arena) were and they missed out on one of the big features. How are players going to be able to find out what spots they should slam their opponent into?


Being a fighting game, if you make the attraction zones very obvious it kind of spoils the fun of it because you will continuously try to aim for those and it will feel repetitive. Right now, we have some easy to understand zones, which have a bit of color or other graphical differences so players will assume something happens there. We also have hidden zones, which we don’t want to spoil. We want to leave it up to the players to find out so they won’t get bored of the stages and have incentive to play them.


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The danger zones remind me of Eternal Champions, which had zones called "overkills" where you can knock the other player into the background to kill them.


Hmm… I don’t remember it, sorry.


Do you think the danger zones are over powered? Like I played with one guy who knew where the danger zones were in the army stage and I felt kind of helpless. In Street Fighter, you remember and practice combinations, but if feels like the key to DOA5 is knowing where these secret spots are and luring the other player into them.


The correct approach to mastering all fighting games is learning the basics first. In Street Fighter, it’s about distance. How do you approach a situation with hadoken or shoryuken. Whether its combos or in this case danger zones, the people that remember them and practice them should be the winners. It’s kind of like the reward for all of the hard work practicing. The person who is the best player should win.


Going back tot he shoryuken and hadoken analogy, with Dead or Alive 5 I could hit someone in the same danger zone over and over with Zack and then do the same thing with Lei Fang. I mean once I know where the spots are, since they do so much damage, I feel like I could utilize those rather than learning combos or anything like that. How do you balance this?


The main thing would be to balance the character’s attributes. For starters, we’re balancing each character so if you don’t need danger zones how would the fight play out? We’re starting from there. Since danger zones come into play you have some characters who are good at pushing characters into a danger zone and other characters that are good when they’re about to be blasted in a danger zone. IN the Dead or Alive series, we balance with that dimension as well. By changing characters attributes and their starting position in the stage we can adjust the game’s balance.


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Are you also working on a Wii U version since Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge will launch alongside the system?


Right now, we’re doing our best to get the game ready for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. After players get their hands on Dead or Alive 5 we want to hear what they think and based on that we’ll see if we should make a Wii U version.


What do you think about the fighting game explosion? Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown is coming out as a download and Tekken Tag Tournament 2 launches a week before Dead or Alive 5 too.


I’m a fighting game fanatic, so it’s good for me. I was a tournament player before, so as a massive fan it’s amazing. For Dead or Alive 5, we wanted to show our approach on how to push the genre forward even though there are a lot of opponents out there.


As a player in the past, didn’t it feel like before companies would release a game on a cart and that would be it? These days, developing a fighting game is kind of like running a MMO with patches and updates to rebalance the title.


It takes quite a bit of time for players to find what the good and bad points of the game are. Maybe up to a year or two for people to really understand how well balanced the game is. You can always find the core balancing mistakes then. Releasing a patch a year or two later isn’t a bad thing if you can improve the experience.


But, companies aren’t releasing patches a year or two later, they’re releasing them like three months later.


For fatal mistakes that were left out in development a game should get a patch really quickly. It really depends on the game as well, but it’s our job as developers to see if we made mistakes. Unless there are fatal mistakes, I don’t think we need to have them so frequently.



The Dead or Alive series has had a couple of spinoffs with volleyball and Ayane representing the series in Warriors Orochi. What kind of spinoff would you want to make?


I have a few ideas, but I’ve been really busy with Dead or Alive 5 so I haven’t had any time to develop them. After Dead or Alive 5, we’ll see what fans are saying first.

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