Yoshinori Ono is Capcom's big rising star. He's the face of Street Fighter's reinvention with Street Fighter IV, brought back Marvel vs. Capcom for a third installment, and is now crossing over with Tekken.
His games have been multi-million sellers, and for all the gripes from the hardcore community, they sure do play these games a lot.
Gamasutra took a brief moment to discuss fighting games with Ono in a general sense, and to find out where he's taking them.
With SF IV Arcade Edition, you've added Yun and Yang, two of the most notorious characters from SF III. From what I've heard, they still manage to dominate the way they did before. Did you do anything to try to combat this?
Yoshinori Ono: Yes. We pay constant attention to the balance of our characters and overall roster. But the emergence of abilities or strengths that exceed the intentions of our developers and test players is simply an inevitable reality.
We on the team did everything within our power to have those characters turn out differently than they did in SFIII, but evidently they still had unknown strength hiding beneath the surface.
UI is extremely important in fighters. There can't be too many bars on screen, but there's often a lot of information to communicate, with different special and super meters and health bars and the like. How do you tune all this so that you can get the maximum information in minimum screenspace? How much iteration did you do to reach where you are now?
To me, the ideal is still the original Street Fighter I or II. The truth is, the number of gauges present on screen in IV do divert focus from the core fighting game within, but they are necessary as a way to further evolve the series and to cater to higher-tier players.
Because of this, we have to carry out a repetitive trial-and-error process wherein we create a number of test cases, aiming all the while for a screen design that allows players to clearly see the necessary information without hindering their view of the actual game. There are also times where we release a number of different versions and ask for the opinions of the players who try out each of them.
Games like those by Arc System Works have a whole lot of flashy graphics and words on top of their playing field, especially at the beginning of the round. Street Fighter IV is a bit more spare, and feels more utilitarian. What is the choice there, between flash and function?
Hmm, that's a good question, actually [laughs]. I didn't really research the works of other companies in making this, so it's hard to really say anything. If there was any particular plan at work here, I suppose you could say we were trying to cultivate a look that bore the "Capcom DNA."
Ultimately I think the fundamental concepts established in SFII were wonderful. What we see in the visual design of SFIV is the result of our trying to logically dissect what those fundamental concepts were and how they were significant.
I would like to continue taking in feedback from players and incorporate them into an Arcade Edition version upgrade in the future.
In the case of Street Fighter x Tekken, you're taking two totally separate playing styles and trying to merge them. How do you make this make sense for the player, in terms of gameplay?
This is a truly challenging task, to be sure. But it is said that the original Tekken team was influenced by SFII when they made Tekken, so there are many aspects of Tekken that do translate well to Street Fighter.
The Street Fighter team was able to use these translatable aspects as a way to connect the two series and come up with a rule set that would make sense to fans of both series. The team is currently hard at work perfecting these rules as we speak [laughs].
I think the gate of entry into a new game is particularly important. We've made this game so that Tekken players will be able to use a button input style that they're used to. It's our way of preventing people from stumbling their way through that gate of entry.
The visual styles of both games have traditionally been different as well. Can you talk about the thinking behind how to integrate them? Going for a slicker shinier look, et cetera.
Tekken really excels in its serious imagery. Street Fighter, meanwhile, is a series that uses more illustrative or cartoony imagery. For Street Fighter x Tekken, we've used Street Fighter's cartoony style as a foundation, and then asked ourselves how we can make that style look cooler, more sophisticated.
We feel that this thought process has resulted in a visual style that allows Tekken to enter the world of Street Fighter without coming off as unnatural, and this is the key point we kept in mind when proceeding with the creation of our graphics.
What is the push and pull between the Capcom side and the Namco side, in terms of who controls which characters, how moves are balanced, and all that? I'm sure there are a lot of logistics there!
I am extremely grateful for the fact that the Street Fighter team and Tekken team have great respect for one another. We have mutual respect for each others' prior works, methods, and accomplishments, not just from a visual standpoint, but also in terms of their foundational elements. As a result, there has been no censorship or restrictive input on Namco's part.
We do periodically send the latest ROMs off to Namco's R&D staff, but merely ask that they provide whatever constructive opinions they might have. There hasn't been any "butting of horns" [laughs].
Now that Capcom has done so much work to bring fighting games back to the fore, what are the chances of a Capcom vs SNK 3?
The team is currently working exhaustively to finish Street Fighter x Tekken, so we aren't really looking at other collaborations right now. . . .
My personal dream is to create "Marvel vs. D.C." before I die. That would make me very happy!