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Saving Street Fighter: Yoshi Ono on Building Street Fighter IV
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Saving Street Fighter: Yoshi Ono on Building Street Fighter IV

September 26, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next
 

You were talking about the era when you could actually draw from SNK and Sega, and all these companies were still actually making fighting games. Now that there are very few companies making fighting games, has it been more difficult to compare yourselves,? Do you feel like there's not quite the competitive development community there that used to be there?

YO: It's definitely a different landscape now than it was in the '90s and '80s. It's kind of a bit lonely making a fighting game now, because not a lot of people are doing it.

But I think the responsibility for that rests with us and all the people who were making fighting games back then, because what happened was that gradually, the games became more and more focused on the hardcore audience, and we really shut the casual players out. 

If you think about chess for instance, a kid and a grandfather can play the same game, with the same ruleset, and understand what's going on.  I think through our competitive spirit back then we were always out to out-complicate each other, and make our systems deeper and deeper. It was ok then because there was a wide player base who understood how to play these games, but that's not true anymore.

What we're trying to do with Street Fighter IV is bring them back in. There's not a whole lot of other fighting games out there to compare it to, but hopefully, if we play our cards right and get people back in to the genre, we can blossom the genre itself again and spread things out and get it back to the way it was.

I think that chess is a really good analogy for the fighting game genre, because all sorts of moves balance other moves, and it can be very methodical. How much tuning do you do with the new characters, and balancing the new moves against the old moves and that sort of thing?

YO: We spent a lot of time on this. The balancing process for the new characters really was something that went over the course of an entire year, adding special moves, taking special moves away, adjusting strengths and weaknesses.

The chess analogy is very good, because if you look at Resident Evil and the other games we put out, they have a lot more in common with movies. They're big entertainment spectacles, whereas a fighting game is more like a chess game, or a tool.

We're giving users the tool they need to have fun together, but it's less of the entertainment spectacle thing. Balance is absolutely very important, so we took a whole year to get the characters where they are now.

Speaking of tuning, the graphics were altered slightly from location test to location test. What did you base the changes on -- fan reactions?

YO: Absolutely. The visual changes you see throughout the location test versions to the final version, a lot of that is basically based on user opinions and feedback from them. Not just in the gameplay balance itself, but also visually.

Once again, we're not giving them the entertainment spectacle of an ordinary game, but more of a toolset. If you give someone a board game or something and one of the pieces is ugly, they're not going to want to move that piece.

So it's really important to listen to the users' opinions, because it's going to be a tool that they're going to use freely to play the way that they want. We have to make sure that the visuals we give them are in line with their expectations, so we did listen to what they had to say about the visuals.

Rufus in Capcom's Street Fighter IV

[New fighter] Rufus is a very odd character, because he plays completely counter to his visual. He's very fast, but he's got a big rippling stomach and stuff. What was the sensibility behind the visual design of that character?

YO: That disconnect you feel between those visuals and the way he moves was a very deliberate part of his design. It was the basis of his design. There's been a lot of fat characters in fighting games, but until now, they always move slowly, have individual punches and kicks that are very powerful, and they don't move quickly.

So basically, the idea behind Rufus was to take a character that looks visually familiar, but plays in a very different way than you would expect. It has a bit of a Street Fighter essence in it, too.

If you look at all of the characters until now, they all do crazy, unexpected things. They stretch their limbs or they use electricity, and that sort of thing. So we think that Rufus really fits in to the Street Fighter aesthetic pretty well, in that sense.

He reminds me of the days when fighting games would base characters on popular martial artists or things like that. So the inspiration might be Sammo Hung or someone like that.


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Comments


Maurício Gomes
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Good article!



It remembers me that when appeared Street Fighter II and MK I tought it to be great, and I played those games, I knew how to do the most simple (but exploitable moves), but when expert players started to show up, I got: Oh man, I have no idea how to play this thing, I will not play anymore.



And in fact I stopped playing those games, with the notable exception of Virtua Fighter series (simple and lovely gameplay!) and Soul Calibur 3 (that people that live with me has, and I play sometimes, it is a good game, simple and not overly complex, altough I avoid playing it when expert players are around...)



Even the MK series got harder and harder to play, in fact I could not ever beat the second character on easy mode on MK2 unless using spammer characters...



The Shaolin Monks MK game, altough it does not look like MK, it was one of the few games from the series that got my attention again.



I hope that it works with Street Fighter IV! A game where I can play, and not get easily beaten by the pros :P (not that I do not get beaten, but do not happen like when I tried to play Guilty Gear with a friend of mine, and he launched me on air and I only landed after being dead...)

Anonymous
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He seems like a smart guy and I expect Street Fighter 4 to be the way he wants it to be gameplay-wise. But I strongly disagree with his comment on the animations of Street Fighter 3 feeling weird and the animations of 4 being better.



I think Street Fighter 4 has a big problem when it comes to animations and it's not only the way the transitions are done. Animations don't match with flying arcs especially when hit. And even pre-packaged ones like Abel's big throw look extremely stiff and wrong.



I will still buy the game and it could end up being the best 2D fighter yet but the animations already bug me.

Jordan Carr
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Hélder Gomes Filho, You can't make it past the second fight in MKII without cheap-move spamming?



Then it sounds like you should play an RPG or something that does not require reflexes, timing, or skill.



I mean seriously, my sister beat MKII back during out boring childhood summers. For fun.

Rosso Mak
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Don't mind Jordan.He is just telling U that he is not that into fighting games but loves to give comment on something.



I would like say something on the 'SF3 is ahead of its time' comment Ono said in the interview.



I think if 'SF3 is ahead of its time' , then the right time would never come. The problem SF3 had was the plan they use on balancing the game was not that right. The fault was not the parrying system;it is the push this parrying too hard in the first installment. I think it should make it nearly useless at first and push EX special move instead of parrying in the first SF3.EX special move give a easy solution to every character to deal with some problem beginners often face but not easy to solve. Just let parrying be there and leave it alone at first, and put more importance on this after people feel familiar with its existence and basic usage like deflecting projectiles. The lukewarm result SF3 series got also was also caused by many balancing fault in the first installment of SF3.



On SF4, I don't agree that the approach currently used in the game can bring forth a chance for the beginners. Look at the gauges! Life bar, super and Ultra. Hardcore love the maths behind these but beginners killed by these without knowing what happened. This turn-off a lot of amateur.

Finn Haverkamp
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Great interview. And answers. Fighting games require extremely intricate design and fine-tuning. I imagine designing them is quite the challenge.

Dedan Anderson
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El Fuerte reminds me of El Blaze - anyhoo great interview!

Anonymous
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Good stuff! Waiting for a KOF12 interview now! Hop to it!

i play winner
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Rosso,



There is more going on screen with Halo, Final Fantasy and these other "casual" games than Street Fighter IV. The life gauges, Ultras and whatever is not what is going to prove to be a hurdle for casuals; once again it is the gameplay system that will be the real barrier. People keep saying that this is a "rewind to Street Fighter II" but its really only SF2 on the surface.



Ive had 2 months to play this game heavily in the arcade, and I was able to attend some location tests (if thats what you want to call them, GDC and Evolution) here in the states over the past year. So, I have had some time with SFIV and I'll say the gameplay system is much more complicated in IV than it is in SF3: 3s. This is the biggest misconception about SFIV, that it is some sort of dumbed down street fighter for the masses. You all are in for a big surprise.



Look, with parries it was just a tap forward or down. With Street Fighter 4 so much goes into the Focus Attack system most people wont even really know where to begin. To do the most damaging combos you have to utilize then Focus Attack Dash Cancel and I'll say its much more difficult to do something like that compared to a parry into super or something.



With that being said this is a real good interview, I really enjoyed it!


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