In a recent interview with Gamasutra, Tekken director Katsuhiro Harada talked about the delicate balancing act of introducing additional complexity without turning off players that might be new to the series.
While features like practice modes and educational trials can encourage players to learn the deeper parts of a fighting game's strategy, Harada said there's no guarantee players will actually make use of them if and when they're available.
"What we've found is that a lot of players never even touch practice modes," he said, instead deciding to learn the game through the traditional route of playing against the computer or friends.
"It's worth noting that when the fighter genre first hit arcades, there weren't any real tutorials," he said. "Instead, the designers tweaked the difficulty level such that after a couple of credits, you had already gone from beginner to intermediate player -- something you could then improve upon by learning more moves and practicing."
Rather than a simple, single-player practice mode, Harada suggested "an online mode where players can just beat on each other without any life gauges, chatting each other while learning the moves," might be the best way to encourage in-game learning.
Though some players complain that the Tekken series is too difficult to just pick up and play, Harada also notes that "a lot of other people say that it's too easy for beginners to enter the game and beat people by mashing buttons! Personally, I don't see that as such a bad thing if it gets more people into the series, gets them curious about it."
The full interview, which discusses the series' anime influences, the origins of its limb-based control system, and its efforts to improve on the visuals of the Virtua Fighter series, will be posted on Gamasutra tomorrow morning.