Yesterday, Tekken series producer Katsuhiro Harada talked about Tekken X Street Fighter and how the team developed mini-games like Tekken Bowl. Today, Harada-san is going to explain how he creates characters and picks martial art styles for the fighting game franchise.
There are so many different styles of martial arts represented in Tekken that go beyond kung fu and karate, like capoeira. Are there any fighting styles that you want to incorporate into an upcoming Tekken game?
Katsuhiro Harada, Producer: There are several styles that I would like to put into a game. In the past we tried some, for example, we tried more variations of Chinese martial art styles. Also, we would like to incorporate more traditional martial arts styles from more countries. I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, but the problem is styles, even the ones militaries use around the world, is that some people appreciate seeing a real martial art, but Tekken as a game has to look interesting. The techniques and character animations have to be fitting for a game and for those styles they aren’t.
In games you have high kicks all the time, but in very effective styles they don’t kick above the waist. The average person without much training doesn’t have as much reach or enough balance for an effective high kick. Real martial arts, don’t have those kinds of movements we would want for a video game. Also, for throwing, you wouldn’t have these spectacular throws. Most of the throws wouldn’t stand out, but they might be really painful! They wouldn’t look cool so we would need to embellish a lot to make it suitable for a game. That’s our main problem when it comes to different styles.
That’s interesting. How will you add more countries to the Tekken series if there aren’t eye catching fighting styles? Korea, for instance, seems to have a big fan base because their country is represented in the game.
While we were creating the first Tekken, we weren’t thinking about having characters from different countries on purpose. It was just something we wanted do. Around Tekken 5 we noticed Tekken was taking off in different countries in the world and we started to focus on that when introducing new characters. Everyone is happy when there is a character from their country that speaks their language or there is a stage that represents the country. There are quite a few more countries I would like to add.
The characters are a key part of Tekken, Ono-san even said that unique characters drew him to the series. We were just talking about how we need an interesting martial arts style. With devils, bears, and a few characters that are a homage to martial artists in the game, how do you decide what makes an interesting character for a game?
There isn’t one way, there are several different ways we do this. The easiest for us is when you have a martial arts style, as we were just talking about, that we want to implement. Once that’s decided then we would look at the clothing that suits the traditional style and we would have a base for the character.
In other cases, like Alisa, I wanted to have a robot with chainsaws whose head came off. There was no picture of what the character looked like so we had artists design various concepts. Then we had discussions about which one would be suit the character. Coming up with the martial arts style first is probably the easiest!
You mentioned how you’re closer to the community now. This might be out there, but have you thought about letting fans submit character designs?
It sounds like a great at first, but it would be troublesome to develop a game based on that because of all the contracts we would have to do with that person to secure the rights. A lot of times people come up to me with artwork and say you can use this for free. If we did maybe they would see how much it sells and ask for money. There is a lot of trouble that can occur as a result of that. Tekken is a franchise so we want to use designs freely. It’s not worth the risk, if we had to contact someone every time we wanted to do something.
Since Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Prologue is part of Tekken Hybrid fans are not going to have to wait too long for the full version, right?
People often misunderstand the situation. [Laughs.] They think because the arcade board is on PS3 hardware you can bring it to consoles right away. Even though the architecture is based on the hardware, the processing power and resolution are different. The arcade version is just the basic game. You don’t have all of the options, customization, and menus built for the game. All of that takes quite more time than people may imagine.
While in some countries arcades aren’t active, there are some areas in the world where arcades are very popular. If we release a console version right afterwards that would downplay that area. It’s not that we’re waiting on purpose, we do need extra time to build features into the console version.