NowGamer has put up an interview with Katsuhiro Harada talking about the latest development updates concerning the console release of Tekken 6 for the PLAYSTATION 3 and Xbox 360. Check out the interview by following the link below:
NowGamer: Beat-’em-ups are precise games. What was the main challenge in creating an online multiplayer?
Katsuhiro Harada: Even when compared to other fighting games, Tekken has its own unique challenges. There is one particular aspect of Tekken that is distinctly different from the systems of other 2D and 3D fighting games. The control system is designed foremost to be intuitive and responsive. After a player inputs a command, the technique is executed the next frame. In one frame after the input, you see the results displayed on screen. This is something that is not widely known, but this is unique to Tekken. Other fighting games have a buffer of several frames after a command input. Even offline, there is a delay in the response time as a result of this.
Tekken executes this in one frame, making it very responsive for a fighting game. This is something maybe even a lot of hardcore players don’t know, but it is well known among other developers. I’ve talked a lot about this before with other directors of fighting franchises from other companies. So, taking such a responsive fighting game online in itself is a huge challenge. Every day, we are working hard to make the game as responsive as possible.
NG: The enhancements of juggles using the ‘Bound’ system is a move toward more tech gameplay. Is this the direction of the Tekken franchise?
KH: It might seem quite technical at first, but it is easy to pick up. It is rather an element that makes going on the offence that much more fun while adding another level to the gameplay. We never have and never will try to make this a strictly technical game. We are always reflecting on the thrilling over-the-top essence of Tekken and how to improve upon that.
NG: How have the item moves affected the gameplay? How much impact do they have? Are they just novelty?
KH: Ｗe didn’t want these items to be a factor in the outcome of the match. We wanted it to be a fun game element, another way for the player to express himself/herself. We would never implement a feature where a player with a particular item equipped is rendered much stronger than his/her opponent. These projectiles don’t do much damage but this “shooting” and “evading” adds a new element of fun to the game. Not only that but it is another method of confusing your opponent and maybe gaining an advantage.
NG: What was the thought behind the rage mode, it being quite an old-school idea? What does it add to the gameplay?
KH: It is quite an old-school idea. Everyone’s probably thinking, “Why make such a simplistic addition?” We are constantly trying to balance these concepts: ‘the technical and strategic element as a versus fighting tool’ and ‘thrilling elements of an action game combined with an element of chance’. Keeping these elements in mind, we try to decide how we want to flavour the game.
NG: Changing every frame of animation must have been quite a job, but it’s a huge change in terms of juggles and just frames for those that have been with the series for a while. How do you think the hardcore fans will take to such a change?
KH: Of course there are so many characters in Tekken 6 that it probably has the most number of unique moves in a fighting game. However, the game is designed so that you can select a few moves that are easy to execute, or that are handy in a variety of situations, and still do fairly well. Also, once you learn one or two characters, it is fairly easy to pick up other characters as well. The hardcore players will probably notice a deeper level of strategy and gameplay as well as more combo opportunities, but all of this was accomplished without making the controls complex. Actually, the current version is well received in the arcades.
NG: What kind of console extras will we see when this makes it to our PS3s?
KH: There will be a lot of extra content for the console on both the PS3 and 360. We’re also considering PlayStation Home related features. I can’t talk about the other stuff we have planned at this time. Of course, there will also be console specific modes and other ways to enjoy the game.
NG: What were the main challenges with developing across multiple platforms? The arcade cabinet uses PS3 technology, does this mean that the Xbox360 version loses out?
KH: Regarding the PS3 related code, the game is geared to make the most use of the SPU and the code is written around this. Also, full motion blur was added while maintaining 60 frames; something that other fighting games were unable to implement. This is the first time we’ve taken this specialized code to the 360, and it will be a big challenge but we want to dispel any fears that fans might have that the 360 version will be inferior. We’re making progress every day and we’re quite confident.
NG: How, over the years, have various versions of other 3D fighters affected the development of Tekken?
KH: We’ve been influenced by various games during the series. Are there any fighting games that aren’t influenced at all by or use other games as a reference? For TEKKEN, not only have we been influenced by other 3D fighting games, but sometimes 2D ones as well.
Actually there is an interesting episode related to this…In the past, we had developed an arcade cabinet with a memory card reader. We were thinking of interesting ways to implement this feature in TEKKEN when the director of Virtua Fighter, who had been thinking of something similar, approached us. We decided to collaborate on this idea and it led to an exciting new feature: the card-based character customization system used in TEKKEN and Virtua Fighter, which was also adapted to the console versions. You may think “But you’re rivals. Why?” but using a common network system allows us to provide a much better service to the fans. As a result of this rival relationship while using the same network system, the popularity of the genre as a whole increased and was a good result for both teams. This is a good example of a positive influence that benefited the arcade scene as a whole.
NG: How will Tekken 6 differ from everything else on the market when it hits the console?
KH: We reworked the graphic engine and created new shaders. In doing so, we had to make sure we could implement the graphic effects we wanted while still maintaining 60 frames. This is something that is extremely difficult to pull off, and there weren’t many examples in other games. Tailoring the programming to make the most use of the Cell’s SPU allowed us to achieve the results we were aiming for. We managed to implement a full motion blur effect that Soul Calibur and other fighting games haven’t accomplished while still maintaining 60 frames. Look at other action or fighting games after playing Tekken 6 for 10 minutes and I believe you’ll be quite surprised at the difference in the animation.
NG: How far do you see the Tekken franchise going? How many more can you do?
KH: Just as if you were to ask someone “How long do you think you’ll live?” and don’t think many people can easily answer that question. As long as the fans continue to enjoy the series, I would love to continue to do it. I have three big ideas that I would really like to see to fruition. These ideas don’t really rely on hardware specs but are something that would really enhance the versus game play element of a game. I would like to implement these ideas using Tekken as a base.
NG: Tekken 6 saw release in the arcade long before home consoles. Do you think this will always be the case?
KH: I don’t. The circumstances were much different this time. We did release Tekken 6 in arcades at the end of 2007. However, we began work on arcade update TEKKEN 6 Bloodline Rebellion after that (of course, we also helped out with Soul Calibur 4). If it weren’t for the work we had with TEKKEN 6 BR, we probably could have made a console TEKKEN 6 already. However, we really wanted to raise the quality and increase the volume of TEKKEN 6, and that was also a request from the arcade market as well.
NG: Where does the future of PS3 look to be going to you? Having worked with the architecture, how much of the potential of the console is being used?
KH: As far as potential goes, this is something we really noticed when developing Bloodline Rebellion. In the Tekken Project, when we talk about dividing the processing we say to “SPU it”. If you use the SPU’s capabilities properly and optimize the code accordingly you can pull a lot out of the hardware. For example, if you implement all the features that you planned but don’t have enough processing power, you can still make it work if you optimize the code to make full use of this. Of course, twice the memory would be nice…
Source: NOWGAMER – TEKKEN 6 Q&A