The Tekken series evolved over the years adding a second character for Tekken Tag Tournament, then walls for Tekken 4, and Tekken Revolution change’s the game’s business model. Siliconera talked to producer Katsuhiro Harada about Tekken Revolution’s stat up system and we asked him what he wants to do to evolve the fighting game genre for next generation consoles.
The concept of Tekken Revolution kind of reminded me of an arcade game, but can you tell us how the idea for Tekken Revolution and a free-to-play Tekken game come about?
Katsuhiro Harada, Producer: Something I’ve always wanted to do is create a virtual arcade so users can have the same experience, but online. I’ve wanted to do that with several titles. That was one thing we were able to try out for Tekken Revolution.
Also, when you’re looking at games in retail, the prices aren’t cheap. If you’re on the fence about purchasing it or not often you’ll put the game down, because of the price tag. But, if it’s free you eliminate that barrier and it’s much easier to get people to check out the game. We wanted to do that first for a fighting game.
That’s interesting because Team Ninja thought of the same idea in parallel with Dead or Alive 5 Core Fighters.
I guess it seems like it’s around the same time. They announced their game earlier, but we were out first. That’s because we planned for quite some time now to try out this business model. They aren’t able to keep up, I guess.
One thing I felt when I was playing Tekken Revolution is that you can become a more competitive fighter through sheer perseverance. Unlike Tekken Tag Tournament 2 where you have to learn bounds, just be sticking with Revolution your character gains stat points and becomes more powerful, which gives players that put more time in the game an edge even if they haven’t mastered things like just frames.
To start off, it’s not all Tekkens are going to be like this. This was just a challenge we wanted to try to take on for [Tekken Revolution]. It’s what we expected when we were designing it. Tekken Revolution is geared towards people who have never tried Tekken before or people who are returning after a long time playing.
We wanted to show players, kind of like a RPG, that the time you put into the character is reflected into that character so you become attached to them. For fighting games, the only thing that builds up is your skill as a player. However, when someone better than you fights against you that means nothing during that bout. We wanted to adapt the game so the time they put into the game is reflected as their character becomes stronger.
How has Tekken Revolution performed compared to your sales expectations?
It’s kind of hard to tell at this point. We were trying to focus on getting as many people to check it out as possible. Customization and other features that we’re implementing now and in the future weren’t available at launch. We should know pretty soon.
What do you want to do with Tekken as a series and the fighting game genre when moving to the next generation? What barriers or limitations will be easier to overcome and what challenges do you want to tackle?
Hmm… this is unique to fighting games, perhaps, but when it comes to limitations since you have an opponent you’re playing against. Say you’re in Japan and they’ are in Brazil. That’s something nobody, not just Tekken but other fighting games, is able to do well at the moment because of lag. That’s not something that will necessarily improve because of next generation hardware because there are a lot of outside factors that implement that.
The main goal we have for fighting games is outside the hardware leap. It’s how we tailor the game systems so you don’t feel the effects of that as much. It’s the main thing we’re focusing on at the moment and have to solve that problem.
I think Tekken tried to do that earlier with the Ghost Battle system. Do you think you can make larger ghost player data so the opponents feel lifelike?
You brought up a good point that not many people have noticed. The Ghost system is a way to get around that and it is something people are quite interested in. There are several projects within our company that deal with that gameplay mechanic, such as our racing games. Fighting games require a much more advanced type of that because it’s not a line around the track. Emulating a human is quite difficult, so we take all kinds of data into consideration. For example, what kind of action they take when the round starts. Their air combos, including how often they mess up. There are other things we are doing now, but we would like to implement even more to make it feel more human-like. There is room for improvement and we want to try to do that.