That made me think: when you can give different weapons to a character via customization, thus changing their fighting style -- how do you deal with that situation?
HT: We tend to create motions for male characters and motions for females separately. For example, Xianhua's moves are very lady-like; she relies on speed and quick motions in her combat, but she can also switch to "male" motions if that's the weapon she's given. So that's how we handle that.
Do you ever do any subtle variation? I think it's funny that the character takes on the motion of the weapon, but it also seems like it'd be interesting to keep the character's motion in the animation.
HT: We have done that a bit, in the past. Starting with IV, I think, characters can change weapons but not fighting styles.
So it depends on which game in the series. I'm curious about the ring-out system. How do fans react to that? Not a lot of games do it, and it's an interesting sumo-style system.
HT: Well, I think most fans think it sucks if they lose that way and it's awesome if they win that way. (laughs)
Do you have a set limit for how wide or narrow the stages should be, in terms of the time required to score a ring-out?
HT: There is a general standard for that -- I don't remember the exact measurements so I may have it wrong, but generally you have to knock your opponent back around 16 meters for it to happen.
Now that Tim Langdell has been defeated in court, will we see a return of SoulEdge?
HT: There's always that possibility, because plainly that's a title that we have a liking for. If you compare the logos for SoulEdge and Soulcalibur V, it's pretty plain how much they resemble each other, after all. (laughs)
It's interesting that you are working with an outside studio to work on the story mode. Can you talk about how and why you made that decision?
HT: Basically, we have made four different Soulcaliburs up until now, and we basically wanted to make a huge leap forward this time. We want to create something different. That's why we worked with outside companies.
I [Christian] felt like the Star Wars guest characters in the last game were on the gimmicky side.
Does that concern you -- that guest characters are getting to the point where they're sort of eclipsing the series a little bit?
HT: Yeah, that's so. With the inclusion of Star Wars characters, we were honored to work with LucasArts, and we were able to get a lot of Star Wars fans playing Soulcalibur. That was one thing.
With regard to Soulcalibur V, we really want to be careful with the world setting, so the guest characters won't ruin the Soulcalibur setting. So please be assured that, this time around, we have a really good guest character. We can't tell you anything yet at the moment, so please wait for the event this month.
Can you talk about how you selected CyberConnect2? Obviously, particularly Bandai has a really long history working with that developer.
HT: As you know, CyberConnect 2 has made the Naruto series, and the animations in the game and movies -- the quality is really high. We thought we wanted some of that element in Soulcalibur as well.
CyberConnect2 does hand animation, and you've used motion capture. Are you worried about inconsistency?
HT: We were kind of worried, but we really want to make something new and different. So far, it's been pretty good.
It's very common in the West for multiple different developers to work on the same title and to work on different modes. Could you talk about how you came to the decision that this was something you could do?
HT: As you know, we're specialists at making fighting games, but in terms of story mode, and the world setting, and the drama which gets involved in the game, we were kind of weak on. That's why we needed outside help to really push that area. We thought this wasn't something we could do by ourselves.
From a process standpoint, in terms of working with an outside developer and collaborating at the same time, has it been a challenge making everything fit -- the pieces fit, the schedule fit; that kind of thing?
HT: We have different philosophies with outside companies, and the way we work is totally different. So it was kind of hard to come to terms with different companies and adjust things.
Also, CyberConnect2 is in Fukuoka, so is it challenging from that perspective of having them distant from the main development team?
HT: Actually, CyberConnect made a studio here in Tokyo that very close, so that distance issue was not much of a problem. Also, Bandai has always worked closely with them, so the communication side was also very good. The Tokyo studio is more like a communication point, and the actual creation of the game is done in Fukuoka. It's not really the first time they're doing anything.
You took the step of changing the time-line of the game. Tekken did that in the past, so it's not entirely new, but I was wondering if that says something about the issue of... not rebooting, but making a new start for the series?
HT: We really wanted to emphasize a change. The setting jump for us was like a keyword; we really wanted to emphasize a different Soulcalibur.
You had said that you want to take the game to the next level, and that's part of the reason why you have the new story mode. To you, what represents the next level; what does that mean?
HT: It's basically changing everything: changing the story, changing the gameplay, changing the characters... The key word we have is "change."
SoulEdge image taken from http://caesar.logiqx.com/