IncGamers caught up with Namco Bandai’s Michael Murray and Katsuhiro Harada, game designer and project director on Tekken 6. So Tekken is a big title, it’s always been a big title. What’s different about this Tekken?
We have the largest roster of characters to date with 40 characters. Also, there is the full-time variable animation blur, which really adds a lot of dynamic impact to the movement in the game. Also there’s the scenario campaign mode, which is one of the largest features to date for a console version.
Talk a little more about the scenario campaign. That’s obviously something interesting to see in a fighter. That’s not something you’d necessarily see in a fighting game. Is this because fighting games are short-lived?
Well, the arcade version itself is actually a highly-polished fighting game. The depth of the strategy involved stands out by itself. So it’s not really necessary in that respect. I think it’s just kind of, Tekken is really popular, well-known for its bonus content – the various modes that we include when it makes its way to the home console – and that’s gained us a large fanbase, so they’ve come to expect stuff like a scenario campaign mode when we make a console version.
The campaign mode, the story mode – a new roster of players. 40-odd players, is that right? How do the fighting techniques differ? Obviously, throughout the world there are a whole range of fighting techniques. How do you choose which ones to add?
Well first off, the Tekken franchise is an action game so when we’re choosing a new fighting style to include in the game, it has to be over-the-top, it has to be cool, the moves have to have impact. Not only that but they have to be very powerful so that when you strike your opponent, you have an equal reaction come from them. So that’s one element that we need in choosing styles. Also, it’s gotta be a fighting style that appeals to a large fanbase – something that everyone will be interested in.
The other question I wanted to ask, obviously, is that DLC is very important, especially in games like this. Often we see stupid things like costumes and different hairstyles. Are we expecting to see DLC in Tekken 6, and if so, are we expecting to see stupid DLC?
Well, for the Tekken franchise we’ve always tried to include as much content as possible for the home version. We never really have plans to take a portion of that and kind of cut it off from the game and sell it at an extra price. We always try to include everything that we think is necessary from the start. For example, we have various costumes for the characters that have been designed in collaboration with some famous Japanese manga artists which are also included in the game at the start at no additional cost. So that’s basically the core concept behind Tekken.
So there’s no DLC in the works?
Well, regarding downloadable content, there’s nothing decided at the moment. I guess it depends on fan feedback – if there’s something they really expect or want to see in Tekken 6…
Fan feedback is quite important and obviously we want to make sure the fans are happy with what’s going on. With games like Street Fighter and other fighting games that’ve been around for as long, or even longer – how do you keep Tekken fresh? How do you keep it at the cutting edge of the fighting genre?
Well, first off, since Tekken 6 comes from the arcades in Japan and Asia where it’s networked, actually, all the machines are connected to a server as well as the cellphones of the individual players, so we’re able to gain a lot of the objective data and numbers from that, and implement that feedback into the game. Not only that, but Tekken as a franchise is really popular worldwide. You have a lot of fans from different countries with many different opinions, so we’re able to get a lot of requests from these fans, and in implementing those requests and trying to put as much in the game as we can to please them, we in turn create a stronger product, we believe.
Finally – and this is going to sound a bit rude – after having so many iterations of the game, and keeping it fresh, and making sure there are the fans there, how long is the life of Tekken, really? How many more games do you think are there? Are you working on the next one?
The next one as in Tekken?
Yeah, the next Tekken game.
As far as how long we can continue the series, I think that’s not something we decide. That’s really up to the fans. Of course, we have a few ideas of what fans might expect from a new Tekken if there were to be one, and what direction to take the series in, but we really won’t be able to see for sure until Tekken 6 is released and we see the feedback from the fans, and kind of hear their voice about what they want to see from the series. I guess that’s all we can really say – we have to wait until Tekken 6 is on sale and see how it’s received, and then we’ll be able to better judge about the life of the series, I think.
No news on the next game being worked on? Are you already working on it?
No, no news, really, of the next game. We’re always thinking of ideas that we want to implement in the game, and kind of looking at what the fans expect, but no concrete plans at the moment. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens with Tekken 6.
Thank you both very, very much for your time.