A thing that I found to be a problem with people trying to make 2D fighting games in 3D in the past is that there's too much focus on finishing animation -- like, making sure that the entire punch goes all the way through and comes back, instead of just snapping back so that it's more functional than visual. Where was the balance for you?
YO: That's a really good question. Like you said, we couldn't possibly do it the way we did it in Street Fighter III. What happened with Street Fighter IV was at the beginning, the way that characters get punched or kicked or the return motion of their fist or foot... we left that at 60 frames, moving really smoothly, and left all of the animation in there.
So a fist would go forward in five frames, then return in five frames. Even though the timing was the same as the ordinary 2D Street Fighter, it looked really weird, and it kind of gave the visual impression that it was moving too slowly or too smooth.
So basically, the adjustment that we've made is that when you first throw a punch, you have that 60 frames per second polygon smoothness, but when it pulls back, we've deliberately skipping large amounts of frames, as opposed to a smooth movement. .
I think one of the first games that actually did it somewhat effectively and made it feel like a 2D game was Arc System Works' Battle Fantasia, even though it's a very recent game. Have you played that one?
YO: Yeah, I'm actually very familiar with it. I even went to the location tests of that game, back when it was very early in development.
What do you think?
YO: The cool thing about Battle Fantasia is because the characters are done in a super-deformed art style, it doesn't feel weird that the animation works the way that it does. It works really well, and looks really good with that art style.
Our fear was that with Street Fighter IV, because our characters are taller and more human-proportioned that it might look funky, with frame skipping, and a look that's more choppy.
What we learned through development was that no, it's not going to look weird. It's actually going to feel really good. Battle Fantasia was part of what made us realize that, I think.
I really like the El Fuerte character. Although he's actually a wrestling character, the way that he moves around the screen and the arc of his jumps and stuff really reminds me of Kyo's fighting style [from SNK's King Of Fighters series], which is somewhat counter to the Shotokan [i.e. Ken and Ryu in Capcom's Street Fighter series]. Was that anywhere in your design decision for him? It feels like the arc to some of his specials is just perfect to get over the attacks of the Shotos, and over fireballs or middle kicks at the peak.
YO: The fact that you even noticed that in playing it for such a short time is really impressive. I guess you're really a fighting player. I didn't expect questions like this until much later after the game came out.
But the fact that we'd done it at 16:9 this time made it so that we had to adjust the jump arcs even moreso than you would normally have to. It would be troublesome if all the jumps were too strong.
Characters that are specifically suited for jumping -- El Fuerte, and Crimson Viper is kind of a jump-centered character -- we really spent a lot of time adjusting their arcs to decide, "Should they be able to jump over Sonic Booms? Should they be able to jump over a Hadoken? What angle do you need to launch them at in order for that to happen?" So yeah, thanks for noticing that. Some characters are very specifically designed to counter those kind of projectile attacks.
That's one of the reasons why I really liked the Capcom vs. SNK series, because you actually have those Kyo- and SNK-style characters versus the Shotokan characters, and you can actually compare them. I'm glad that it's happening again within a Capcom game.
YO: You're making me really happy, because even at all the other interviews I've done at GDC and other events, no one's actually gotten that deep into the fighting game essence. I'm happy to hear you mentioning stuff like this.