Daishi’s Twitter – Round 18

Week 21 – 14/05/11 – 20/05/11

We’re at a very crucial time in production. The real battle starts here! RT @yakohsei

うおー、死にそうなくらい忙しい I’m being killed by my pile of work!

Now that things are out in the open Daishi has more than just me watching him. The game is announced and Namco will probably expect him to give regular news to media outlets in order to keep the hype train on track.

How about the opposite? Making other characters stronger. RT @th3_r3al_0wnag3: I think astaroth needs a nerf in sc5. His grab combo’s are devastating.

Setting aside that we don’t even know if Astaroth will be in Soulcalibur 5, we also don’t know that much about the game’s mechanics — certainly not enough to be calling the shots on nerfs. But Daishi is in the right here: outside of extreme examples, it makes more sense to empower weaker characters than to nerf strong ones. Playing a strong character is more fun than playing a weak one, and these games are still about fun, in the end.

原田さん次第だね。Up to Harada-san. RT @JinxxxHDblog: Do you want to make a Tekken vs. Soul Calibur? it is almost impossible but it would be nice: D

If we didn’t have to balance it, would make thing easy. @Alkadry1: @Harada_TEKKEN would u ever want to make SC x TEKKEN on day? PLEASE DO IT

Only if the Tekken can find time in its busy schedules. There are currently at least 4 or 5 Tekken projects either in development or in the cue, and a movie on top of that. But maybe Namco will want to get some additional work out of the Soulcalibur 5 engine, like they’ve managed with Tekken 6’s engine, so anything is possible.

Hell, anyone who watched that amazingly bad live action Tekken movie should remember that part way through the randomly started fighting with weapons. But maybe Namco wants us to forget about that movie. Except they’re now advertising its dvd and bluray release, so who knows.

I want to do it. But the company only does what’s profitable. RT @KazamaAsuka: are you saying there will be no more Soul Calibur on arcade?

This reeks of Namco being Namco. Perhaps it wouldn’t be profitable, but what are they measuring that against? Soulcalibur 2, or Soulcalibur 3: Arcade Edition? One of those was a successful game, the other was a too little, too late effort to appeal to competitive fans. If it’s simply their general attitude about arcades (and keep in mind that Namco is one of Japan’s major arcade companies), then it’ll be interesting to see what they do with Tekken x Street Fighter.

I don’t play FPS but I’m glad an FPS player like yourself shares the same vision (regarding defense > offense) RT @uNleashed_jp:

Interesting to me on a number of levels. I used to be heavy into fps, and I’d still be if the current market had any that were at all worth playing. Japan as a whole has never been known for pc gaming (and pc fps), but when it comes to console fps my knowledge tapers off right quick. Maybe they’ve embraced console fps like the rest of the world has. I know they run a few Quake Live tourneys, but everyone plays Quake Live. Because it’s a great game.

There are a lot of lessons fighting games can learn from fps, especially the good ones (read: the ones I like), Quake in particular. Without going an a long rant — which I’d be happy to do, since I adore the series — I’ll give a bit of info on what Quake has always done best: duelling. This is a gametype that is dead in modern fps, but it has always been the preferred form of competition in many pc fps. It’s a 1v1 mode that involves immense amounts of knowledge and brainpower before you even get down to reactions and raw aim.

By way of demonstration I’ve selected a random game between Cooller (one of the all time greats) and DeHanG, another very good player. Notice how Cooller isn’t going all-in every time he gets a chance — neither player is. The duel is a game of resource and risk management, and neither player will enter a conflict without reason. That’s where the power-ups come in. Every map has an amount of armours (of various strengths) and health packs (of various strengths), with the most important being the red armour (+100 armour) and the mega health (+100 health, and can go over the normal maximum of 100). These spawn in specific parts of the map and run on strict timers, which each player must keep track of in their head as they play. You’ll see that the majority of fights happen around and because of the mega health, at the bottom of the map, and the red armour, at the top of the map.

Just like in a fighting game, neither player is going to attack from disadvantage if they don’t have to, and that includes chasing. Even when Cooller is down by 3 frags at the start of the game he doesn’t force the issue, he instead takes control of the map by taking as many resources away from DeHanG as he can, until eventually when they’re forced into a fight Cooller is in a position to win without getting lucky. Depending on your aim in an fps is like depending on guessing right every time in a fighting game. You might manage it for a while, but if you continue to force the issue while in a bad position you will lose. This makes the game very defensive, but punctuated by explosive bursts of action. Players can still get 4 rails in a row and win a fight they shouldn’t have on paper, but you can’t depend on that and make it very far.

This takes the skills needed to win out of the hands of players with raw aim, and puts the emphasis instead on being able to outsmart and outplay. This is what good fighting games should be striving for as well. The emphasis shouldn’t be on who can do the longest combos (though there’s a place for that), or who can react first (though there’s a place for that as well), but on who can use their tools, their position, their resources to out think the other player.

Might be hard to do but sounds interesting! RT @sullichin: have you ever thought about allowing players to upload custom voices/sounds for custom chars?

This sort of thing has already been mentioned for the new Tekken game on WiiU. Project Soul keeps talking about how they’re adding new stuff to the Create a Soul mode, so maybe it’s time for them to allow custom art, even if we all know where that will end.

Even with enough budget, it’s hard to maintain the team. There are other project too. A patch is definitely required tho. RT @broccoman: On balance- I think the best idea would be to hold budget back for a balance patch 8-12mos post-release.

Again Daishi says that he’s committed to a post-release patch. Of course, Soulcalibur 4 got a post-release patch, but that was when Project Soul had a firm no patching stance, and the patches Soulcalibur 4 got weren’t enough; they were too early to make a real difference.

Time and again we’ve seen that every competitive game, in any genre, will be broken eventually, but that patching must be done at the right times, and for the right reasons. In another one of my off topic examples I’m going to reference dota, a game that has been getting consistent patches for years — as far back as I can remember, which is 2007. It’s probably the most consistently patched (if not for punctuality, than for regularity) competitive game going, and definitely the first game I think of when it comes to patches.

The patching process dota has is unique, partly because of the type of game it is, but also because IceFrog likes to do things the way he likes to do them. They come in a few flavours, from broad balance fixes to map overhauls. What makes even the simple balance patches interesting is that IceFrog works from a clear and distinct mission statement, whether it’s explicitly stated or not, and that since he is the arbiter of all things in the game almost every patch is designed to move the metagame in a direction of his choosing. There are almost never balance changes for the sake of a general balance ideal — when he pulls out the nerf bat or the buff stick there’s a deeper reason for it, and because of that the entire dota metagame warps and shifts between each iteration of the map, and it’s almost always toward more aggressive, action oriented gameplay. This is what he wants, so he presses every decision he makes into this mould before putting them into the oven of a beta test, and the end result is that dota is a far more aggressive game, in general, than it was a year or two ago.

In addition to that he also uses a process that would be impossible for a developer that wasn’t so in touch with his community. Whenever something new, and therefore uncertain, is added to the game it isn’t thrown in at the deep end. Competitive dota is usually played on a map that is a version behind (dubbed the “stable” map) the newest, and new, or newly remade, heroes are not put directly into competitive play, either. Most competitive games are played with Captain’s Mode, a process of picks and bans that lets teams flex their metagame muscle while they try to secure as good a position for themselves as they can before the match even starts. New heroes are simply left out of Captain’s Mode pools until they’ve been balanced to IceFrog’s satisfaction. Of course, when they’re finally introduced to competitive play the players run them through another screening process by banning them every game until they’re comfortable enough to allow them — and this has it’s own side effect, because using a ban on a new hero means a team isn’t using a ban on an old hero.

Now, I doubt any Japanese (or significantly large) developer will ever have the temerity to attempt such a drastic and community-focused balancing and patching routine — it would be the equivalent of not including Arcade Edition in EVO, or at least taking the 4 new characters out of the available poor, on the assumption that Arcade Edition itself would eventually be balanced and patched — but it’s always nice to know what everyone else has been doing about the problems these guys are all facing.

But to a lesser extent Daishi has been selling Soulcalibur 5 as his game, and how much of his vision makes it into the final project, and the patches that come after, may be a huge factor in how well the game turns out.

スゲー。 Wow! 😮 RT @AriesWarlock: Amy cosplay http://fav.me/d3fxush

Bonus points if all she says while in that costume is “Amy”.

どの辺がお気に入りなの? What did you like about it? RT @AkiraJotaro: Soul Calibur 3 was my favorite.

There are actually many things to like about Soulcalibur 3, mostly having to do with the audacity of Project Soul to make so many core gameplay changes after the huge success of Soulcalibur 2. Give it marks for at least attempting something new, even if it didn’t work very well.

Only if you don’t do anything dirty with it. RT @AriesWarlock: Daishi san, how about a photo mode to take pictures? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qeUi6kUHPo

They may as well bring back the weapon demonstration mode.

その場合はどんな武器がいいの? If so, what weapon should he use? RT @Kuro_rider: please, think about making Bangoo a playable character

I have to be the only person who doesn’t want Rock replaced with his snot nosed kid, who will inevitably be 1/10th as manly as his dad, and who would already be in his 30s or something in Soulcalibur 5 anyway. Rock as a badass old man would be much better than his sad sack son out to prove himself at an age where he should be settling down.

中鶴さんはいるよ。 Nakatsurusan is working on the current game @ThePretender317: Are Junichi Nakatsuru and Keiki Kobayashi returning to do the music?

I agree, I’ll try think of something. RT @firstaidspray: The music is always top-notch in all Soul games. Please include unlockable music from older Soul titles.

Yeah, people really like Soulcalibur’s music. I couldn’t recognize more than a couple of tunes even though I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into the games. I play with the sound off. But I’m sure it’s good news for people who enjoy their work.

あるよ。 Yes. RT @KOZMIKKAT: will SC5 make an apperance at E3 or TGS?! 😀

We already saw that Project Soul’s producer, Tago, was at E3 and they showed off the new critical gauge. Hopefully by TGS they’ll have a new character or two to show off.

Kawano Sensei. Remember the name! 😉 RT @itsateben: What is the name of the Illustrator for Soul Calibur? I really enjoy the art work!

I’ve already mentioned that Takuji Kawano, the guy who did Soulcalibur 2’s art, is the head illustrator for Project Soul now. Hope to see more of his work soon, but you can see what he’s already put out right here.

Sophie: matches the SC world. Setsuka: hard to master. Ivy: looks cool. Dan Pierre: cool personality. X: my main for SC1. Algol: cool boss. RT @TrApStArZz: favorite SC character?

Although he’s already answered this question multiple times, I think it’s interesting that he keeps mentioning the likes of Algol and Dampierre. He’s obviously proud of those creations, and for the most part he should be — they’re unique and interesting characters that are set apart from both Soulcalibur’s main cast and 3d fighting games as a whole. Will they make it into Soulcalibur 5?

Hard to say, but it would be too bad for Dampierre to only make it into Broken Destiny (the lowest selling Soulcalibur game ever), but he was already on the old side in that game, and in a way the Broken Destiny release works against him: while not many people had a chance play him, that means that not many people have a chance to miss him.

Got removed cos it slowed the fight down. RT @MaesterBacman: the mechanic from SE where both players hold their weapons against each other?

Which is probably one of the reasons why weapon breaks were removed as well, and this is another mention of speed from Daishi. The gameplay that has been released so far drives this point home: Daishi has a need for speed. It’s one of the main things he responds to in his twitter posts, and something he keeps mentioning in interviews as well.

Armor breaks > character becomes naked, was a bit too much I think. Players should have the option for it to not happen RT @retake272:

And also in line with improving customization, so it makes sense to either remove armour breaks entirely (they probably serve no purpose with the current game systems anymore anyway, and they weren’t so hot in Soulcalibur 4 to begin with), or heavily modify how they’re used.

Nothings perfect, there’s always room for improvement. If things don’t evolve, they get older by the second. RT @daniellecoogan: I don’t know how you’re going to top SC IV, it’s perfect!

For a developer at a large-ish company like Namco, Daishi has a surprisingly candid view about the games he’s worked on, and those earlier in the series. He’s right, though, things can always be improved, but more important is the vision I think he has. Soulcalibur 5 will live or die on how successful it is in achieving the vision Daishi has for it. Not that I trust his ideals completely, but I’m willing to put the time into something different if it’s the different he actually wants. If he can back his ideas up then there is great hope for the future.

go to 8WR sometimes. Please make it easy to browse. RT @Jeffjeanw: if someone wanted to post ideas of what we want to see, which forum would you most likely visit to hear what us fans want?

As I mentioned way back when, Filthierich started a topic on 8WR specifically for the purpose of letting fans express their desires and comments, and it’s been relatively well maintained.

Why did Amy become one of the mains? Not because I love her lol. It’s because there were lots of requests for her. RT @nogunogu94:

Amy fits an obvious niche — I hesitate to completely label it a fetish — that was kind of lacking in Soulcalibur. Her design appeals to a lot of people, for whatever reason, but it’s a shame she’s come to overshadow Raphael in the same way Kilik, Maxi, and Astaroth have supplanted their originals. It would be nice to see a few of those original character returned to their formal glory, but it’s more likely that they’ll be dropped in favour of newer or more popular characters. At least until it’s dlc time.

Yes, Patroklos get’s killed in Greek mythology and also in the movie Troy 😛 @shiro___:

Patroklos is one of the most important characters in the Iliad, being the best friend of Achilles and the impetus for some truly dumb and douchy moves on both sides of the war. He gets himself killed by being a glory hound.

But that probably has nothing to do with Soulcalibur.

ありがとう。Thanks! RT @MonsieurDeMatt: I’ve seen logo, very SC1 style! Excellent job 🙂

Thanks. I had a lot of say in the logo. I wanted to have the “Soul Edge” feel. Back to basics. RT @ShadowMosesB2: http://twitpic.com/4w7lj1 – best SC logo ever

The Soulcalibur 5 logo has a Soul Edge vibe to it, and sticks the number on the side, which is unusual for a game in the series. But Daishi wears his love for the first couple of games on his sleeve, so it’s no big surprise.

What happens to the females characters after 17 years? Well you know, people age… RT @tomsonian:

Which means what? They get married, have kids, dye their hair? Soulcalibur’s universe has enough magic in it to allow half the female cast to get by without really aging, and the rest wouldn’t be too old to fight. Maybe too old for the Japanese to have fighting, but if we get a Mina Jr. then it could be hard to complain.

Even though I can’t answer everyone’s request, I need to know what the fans want. RT @Ouren: Wow, you really do take fan feedback to heart. Now I feel like I need to contribute! xD

Thanks. What people ask for and what people really want isn’t always the same. RT @Xander_VJ: This is already more than most developers do. Though try to not overdo it. Fans often don’t really know what they want.

Which is the reason why fanservice so often fails. It is much better to have a clear idea of what you want, in this case what Daishi wants, and to go for that, especially with the safety net of online patching and potential dlc available. I would rather play the game that Daishi wants to make than the game that Daishi thinks everyone else wants him to make, and I’d rather the game be balanced around unique and interesting characters than a bunch of stand-ins who all have the same tools.

Will Pyrrha be in the game? If you keep wishing, maybe 😉 I shouldn’t say anything irresponsible tho 😛 @Wasabijoyu:

This is anticlimactic because I’m doing this post way too late and we all know Pyrrha was confirmed long ago.

Making big changes is risky and takes courage. RT @SwimsuitHakufu:   sounds like scV will be kinda like garou mark of the wolves, not many fighting game series do this anymore!

This goes back to what I’ve been saying throughout this post: I’d rather see Daishi’s game, risks and all, than one designed and balanced by committee.

At the very least we’ll know exactly who to blame if things go totally off the rails.

They don’t like the word “Edge” for many reasons. I think Edge sounds cooler tho. RT @ChelseaNein: やっぱり、正義が名前のが良いんですかねぇ

The reason why we can’t use Soul Edge is not a legal issue. It’s more like an internal issue that’s hard to explain. @nomusher:

That those reasons no longer have anything to do with the Edge trademark is probably a moot point. Soulcalibur has been Soulcalibur much longer than it’s been Soul Blade, so it still makes more sense to market it like that.

He wields the shield just like his mother. RT @BYS777: おちゃんと盾装備してる関心関心

Short sword & Shield. The shield is also a sheath for the sword. @xAkira95: http://twitpic.com/4w7m7s – えっと。。 武器は何か?

Glad to hear that. I heard only Japanese players like this kind of design. @Trace_afj: I like Patroklos!! he´s so hot!! ♥ He´s so handsome! is normal when you have Sophitia like your mother though 🙂

You have to wonder if saying that he uses his shield like his mother precludes him using it like his aunt.

Either way, Patroklos seems like much less an amalgam of the sisters of old than Pyrrha does. What little has been shown gives him a more unique flair, and also helps leave the door open for both Sophitia and Cassandra to return in some fashion.

He doesn’t even look like either of them, from his fighting stance down to his weird sword and shield/sheath combo.

We have to listen to both light and core users. The team doesn’t like/hate a particular character, there are other reasons tho. @Zephyrus21: I’ve waited too long and have been disappointed every single time. It’s like the team hates the character.

I believe this post is about Hwang, and he’s since been ruled out as a character. I assume it’s like I’ve said before: you can’t sell Hwang to the majority of players based on 3aa and a few sweet throws. He has to offer something else, and he’s not exactly the most dynamic or interesting character in the cast when it comes to design or personality.

But in his position it could be possible for him to train up a new recruit to replace him and keep the moveset alive.

Definitely interested. The question is, will the company say yes. RT @oj_sarraj: now that TEKKEN is getting a CG Movie how about Soul Calibur gets one as well?

I’ll leave it up to your imagination. RT @Fight4Music: Also which endings are canon?! Gauntlet finale from SC Broken Destiny or SC4 Sophitia’s and Siegfried endings?!

Of all the times in the history of the series, right now seems like the most ideal place to stick a movie. Everyone’s going to be wondering about what happened in those 17 years, especially what happened right after Soulcalibur 4. Bridging the gaps between video game sequels with other media is a really popular thing in the West right now, even though most of that stuff has been beyond awful. Hell, the new Tekken movie is packaged with Tekken Tag Tournament 1 HD, so why not release a Soulcalibur movie a couple of months before Soulcalibur 5 and stick a demo in there.

ありがとー! Thanks! RT @Furzy1290: The new swords design is incredible! o_O Very nice work!

Of course the big question now is who will be using the new swords? It ain’t Siegfried, and it doesn’t have to be Nightmare — he’s been without Soul Edge ever since his remake.

While the idea of Sophitia (or maybe Tira) being the new Nightmare may have a weird sort of fan appeal, and give them a way to stick her in the game without really worrying about her age, keep in mind that it’s as I said: Nightmare has been running around without the full Soul Edge for 2 games now. He doesn’t need it to be in the game, and if you give it to someone else then he’s got a reason to go after them. You can have your Devil Sophie all you want without having to throw out 2 perfectly good (and iconic) movesets in the process.

Don’t worry. I created Setsuka remember? 😉 RT @BlueNarciss: I heard that SCV will make things easier, I hope this is not completely true!

Don’t forget that we’re dealing with both the vague nature of what Daishi is willing and able to reveal about the game, but it’s also being filtered through 2 languages and then dashed out in under 140 characters on Twitter. When Daishi says he wants the game to be easier to play there are any number of interpretations to make of that, and they don’t all have to be that he’s going to make it easy mode. It’s possible he’s more interested in it being accessible, and easier to learn and understand.

It’s a Japanese game… but that’s not good enough as an excuse. We’ll work on it @Yoshilover122: get the lip synching better for english?

This early in the first trailers were still being done in the Soulcalibur 4 engine. You can bet that more work will be done on it.

The right time will come. RT @ElephantExplode: When can we expect to hear about which characters are going to come back in SCV?

Most likely Namco will do what other companies have been doing and slowly trickle out character information 1 or 2 at a time. Straight-up denying characters a spot on the roster seems risky right now, especially with DLC possible and the roster not yet fixed.

カプコンさんがよければ。If people at Capcom is OK with it. RT @BurningKikoken: http://bit.ly/lc3FjM

Totally agree. If Square Enix is OK with it 😉 RT @Graphf: Lightning (ff13) is so HOT! Cloud ff7, or Edge and Rydia from FF4 could work!

So, another request for Dante to be in the game. Weird that Daishi is still fielding these questions, but we know that soon after this he and Tago both say that the guest characters have already been decided. Maybe he’s open to more guest characters?

That’s Salia Olschmidt behind Siegfried. She’s a member of the Schwarzwind (black wind), the band of thieves.

He’s talking about this picture, which seemed to be getting everyone in a frenzy trying to figure out who the character in the middle was supposed to be. Now we know it’s neither Hilde nor Cassandra, and definitely not a grown up Amy. We already knew the rest of the people there were from Siegfried’s old gang. Much like Dampierre’s posse they’ll probably only appear in his art, but not be fully playable characters. Though they could get custom character models.

SC has it’s good points that other games don’t have. Give it a try! RT @omgitsnewton: I do not play SC, but I’ve seen a few SC2 matches. I like how the game has short juggles that still do good damage. because of that, the flow of the game isn’t broken. I’d like that to stay in future SC games.

For real, this is something I’d prefer they stick with. The shorter the combo the better, regardless of damage. This isn’t Tekken, but sometimes when I get hit by a 10 second long igdr punish I want to snap the controller in half. Either add more air control to the game so the defending player has something to do, or rework stuns.

ヒルダは正確な情報ではないからだよ。The reason why Hilde has a cross in the chart? The info provided wasn’t precise! @hitorinin @skytoast

And this should be the last time I ever have to mention that chart.

Creating realistic AI is hard. AI in the SS ver didn’t feel real. Making AI weak or strong is easy but making it real isn’t.@Kansai_tarou:

Which is true. And I remember the Soulcalibur 3 AI very well. It would cheat constantly and was hilarious for that. But even if you manage to create “realistic” AI most of the people playing against them won’t be doing so in order to play the game, in the strictest sense, they’ll be doing it in order to accomplish something else, whether it’s unlocking something or progressing through a story mode.

However, add some player ghosts into the game and everyone can have a party. Those can be a lot of fun both to train up and to play against.

ちょっと数が多いので今日は単純な呟きのみで。 I have something to tell everyone so I won’t be doing any replying today.

My work for the day is 1. Twitter 2. Meetings 3. Character tuning 4. Checking motions 5. Overall checking & approving.

Even in my current position, I’m still involved in fine tuning the characters and adjusting their values. To be honest I’m busy as hell 😛

I told everyone my favorite characters but that doesn’t mean they will appear in SCV.

Regarding requests for licensed characters… well, let’s just say that’s a complicated issue. You can’t please everyone.

Who do I want to for a guest character? Personally, FF characters. I’m Japanese so the first thing I think of are Japanese games.

Just to tell you, the guest character has already been decided. I can’t say anything else because we have deals with the other company.

Instead I’ll tell you a little secret; I’m currently working on Pyrrah’s balance. Patroklos seems stronger at the moment.

I haven’t confirmed with the higher ups about today’s tweet. Hopefully I won’t get in to too much trouble ; P

So here we get both the Pyrrha and the guest character confirmation. They both seemed inevitable, but now that they’re out of the way we can look forward to some real news.

今日、俺宛に届いたでかいダンボール…送り主「Mad Catz」 I got 2 huge boxes sent to me today. It’s from “Mad Catz”…

Markman sent me both the PS3 and XBOX 360 sticks! I look like I’m in a bad mood in the photo but I’m not 😉 http://twitpic.com/4zyksd

It looks like this close up (SFIV Chun Li ver.) The box has Chun Li’s art work too! http://twitpic.com/4zylga

Now let’s try this baby out! It has a nice weight to it. Nice and steady. http://twitpic.com/4zylph

I’m so happy! I’ll take good care of these sticks. Thanks a lot Mad Catz and Markman!

I really hope he likes these sticks and can work out a deal with Mad Catz. I can hold off getting a new stick for a while longer.

Advertisements

Soulcalibur 5 is Real

At Namco’s Level Up conference in Dubai last night Namco finally 100% confirmed that the new Soulcalibur is Soulcalibur 5, real, a fighting game, and coming out in 2012.

(Spiffy, clean logo thanks to OOFMATIC and andriasang.)

There are few details right now. We’ll have to wait for the countdown to end tomorrow to get something else, but I doubt it will be much more than we already know, besides the 10 second teaser they showed at the conference.

Supposedly Soulcalibur 5 involves a 17 year time skip from the end of Soulcalibur 4. The main character will be Patroclus, a more modern adaptation of his past name, Patroklos. That is, it will be Sophitia’s son. Not too surprising that they fixed his name up; Cassandra was originally called Kassandra in Sophitia’s profile. When they made her a playable character in Soulcalibur 2 they also modernized the spelling of her name.

I’ll admit that I was taken by surprise here. Daishi has been running a screen back in Japan, answering tweets all night. I figured if they were going to announce his game without him it would be his boss, Harada, who did it, but Harada only talked about the new Tekken movie. So I was shocked when Hisaharu Tago  showed up to talk about Soulcalibur. To my knowledge he’s never worked on a Soulcalibur game before, and suddenly he’s the lead producer for the new Project Soul. Learn something new every day.

Back to the info, if this time skip is real, what will it mean for the old characters? That’s hard to say. Most of Soulcalibur’s cast was either young enough to still work 20 years later, or could be magically de-aged. After 17 years Amy will still be a loli, but Talim won’t. For much of the cast I wouldn’t worry about the aging, but for the ones who were already on the edge it might be their doom. A character like Mina was holding on for dear life to begin with, would she still be around 17 years later?

Hopefully more to talk about, and the trailer, tomorrow afternoon.

Also, the teaser was recorded. The new Soul Edge design is interesting, but I’m not sure I like it.

Daishi’s Twitter – Round 9

Week 10 – 26/02/11 – 04/03/11

Thanks. There’s always room for improvements tho, even if the change can be risky RT @JackOfMyLife: I personally believe that SC is perfect.

Risky changes? That’s too easy. Daishi’s got something up his sleeve.

Daishi continued to discuss some of the gameplay and balance topics from last week:

Forcing players to study is bad but being able to make players learn as they have fun is good. RT @TreSanBan: What’s wrong with studying?

To elaborate a bit, there are break-points in most fighting games, at an input level especially, that eventually demand that a player hit the books, and then hit up training mode, if they want to proceed. What they are is different for each game, and when and why they matter is key.

That a player will need to learn and practice if they want to improve is a fact. But if they have to spend 6 hours in training mode, with a laptop, a movelist printout, and a music stand, before they can do bread and butter punishers, well, that’s a problem. That’s an entry barrier that most players will not bother to pass.

Of all the modern fighters, Soulcalibur can at least claim a simple enough input barrier, at low levels, for most characters. As well, there are no 1-frame links, dash cancels, very little in the way of fuzzy guard or option selects, and most of the game’s systems are transparent enough. The biggest demand on a player’s time is interaction with the other characters, so they can recognize moves and setups, and know the optimal responses, and most of that can be puzzled out during actual play.

Yes, there are Just Frames, and yes some of them are both difficult and crucial, but given the option to choose between Just Frames and 1-frame links, I’d choose Just Frames 9 times out of 10. That’s not to say Just Frames are perfect, or even particularly well done; as they are now, they’re too often arbitrary in their placement and random in their effect. Some are must haves, some are superfluous, and there’s no rhyme or reason for the distinction.

Being able to refine and distinguish play is what these complicated subsystems should be for, not as basic hurdles to throw new players off.

As an aside, who else has somewhat fond memories of bringing printed movelists to arcades?

I totally agree. RT @briancgiles: SC1 had the best 8WR. SC2 was too strong with avoid. SC3 all stepping weak. SC4 too slow, stuck in mud.

Every game has its suited speed and pace. Generally I like fast games. RT @BladeHero7: I really don’t like really fast paced games.

I personally like the gameplay and pacing of Virtual-On OT but SC is definetly closer to Virtual-On Force RT @tetubusi:

That last comment is lost on me; I haven’t played Virtual On since it was in arcades, and that was just one of them, so I’ve no basis for comparison.

What’s clear is that Daishi still prefers Soulcalibur 1 in a lot of ways. That’s the game he started with, so it makes sense. It’s been a long time since I’ve played Soulcalibur 1, but I can safely say that all forms of movement — from 8 way run to backstep — were orders of magnitude faster than they are in Soulcalibur 4, and safer.

Daishi has been repeating 2 points: that he prefers faster games, and that he prefers faster, if not safer, movement. Which is a complete reversal of the direction the series has been moving in since Soulcalibur 2.

All I dream about is work. I just want to get the game done and release it! RT @Trace_afj: Today I dreamed that I play with Setsuka in SCV..

What do you like about Talim? RT @JakajanTiamu: The things I want most from Soul 5. Talim please

I like Cervantes from SC1 the best. RT @astrofaes: SSF4- but SC is already the perfect pace. P.S. plz bring back cervantes from SC2, not the davy jones ripoff in SC4!

I understand but the same thing can be said for other characters as well. Both Yun Seong and Hwang have their fans so it’s a hard pick. RT @Zephyrus21: what I want the most for SC5 is Hwang and Li Long. Please bring them back

Shura might be a bit hard for many reasons.. RT @Dentenshi: Bring Shura back please ;D

More requests for returning characters. Of the lot, Cervantes seems like the safest bet; he’s been in every other Soulcalibur game, and is both an original member of the cast, and without any clone characters.

Except for Shura, of course. But as Daishi says, she’s unlikely to return. She’s not really an official Soulcalibur character, but instead a bonus character designed by Hiroya Oku, the artist behind the popular Gantz manga and anime. Who owns the license? Would Namco pay Oku a second time to use a character who is a 1:1 clone with no connection to the Soulcalibur story?

Talim is also a unique character, and seems popular enough. No reason to remove her from the game. Setsuka as well, and Daishi has said that both Cervantes and Setsuka are amongst his favourite characters in the series.

As for Hwang, Yun, and Li Long. On the surface, there’s no reason that Hwang and Yun couldn’t co-exist, and Hwang is always around, as far as Soulcalibur’s story is concerned. Li Long? He was neat in Arcade Edition, but didn’t cross over like Amy did. Maybe bald dudes who swing pointy sticks aren’t compelling enough anymore.

Logic is necessary but logic alone can be boring. FUG joined the team from SC3 and his my work mate now. Sits near me. RT @crna_ruka:

This is interesting. This ruka guy makes a long series of posts about game speed and balance and the like, but all in Japanese, so I’m not going to post it here. However, at one point he name drops FUG, and if I’m reading everything right, that means that one of the best Nightmare players in Japan is working under Daishi now. There are vids of him in action, playing Arcade Edition.

That’s another tourny player on the team.

I played both X-Men and X vs SF. I also played Tokidensho Angel Eyes 😛 RT @tetubusi:

I still prefer XvsSF to any other VS game — its only flaw being Captain America’s absence — so Daishi demonstrates good taste, as far as I’m concerned.

Touki Denshou: Angel Eyes is one of those mid-90s Japanese fighting games that never made the jump overseas. A 2d, all-girl fighting game that was basically Arcana Heart before Arcana Heart, and most notable for crudely mixing pure 2d sprite characters with 3d, prerendered abominations, at least for the arcade release. It was fast, though.

What a rare opinion. RT @igorpelego: The thing I love the most about SC4 how difficult and challenging ToS was. I hope you can bring us something like that!

There’s a basic problem with these extra modes. Well, 2 problems.

First, they’re a means to an end. People play them because they’re either the best, or the only, way to unlock stuff they actually want.

Second, and this dovetails into the first, the player has to fight the game’s AI. Which means that the best strategy, and the way most people will play, is to find the easiest or fastest way of exploiting the AI’s weaknesses so they can get the next unlockable item.

So in a perverse, obtuse way, there is strategy involved, just not the kind the developers intend, or the players want. It’s probably too difficult to separate the problems and not worthwhile in the end.

Not to say that such a mode wouldn’t be, or shouldn’t be, included in the new game, just that it should be divorced entirely from unlockables. Give the players an interactive story and arcade mode. Or better yet, a download-based conquest mode modelled on Soulcalibur 2 arcade and Arcade Edition, where the enemies are generated from ghosts the game updates from leaderboards and friends lists. There are enough options, just from backtracking through the series, to negate any need for a terrible Tower of Souls of Chronicles of the Sword.

Not being able to pull them off often was the main problem. RT @Lasership84: Please improve the presentation of the finishing moves from sc4

This is an interesting sentiment, considering the way Critical Finishers progressed through the history of Soulcalibur 4. Before the game was released people were sure they’d be a game-breaking gimmick, after the game was released it was obvious that they weren’t, then the game was patched and Soul Gauge damage was lowered across the board, making Critical Finishers even rarer, and in Broken Destiny they were both harder to land, and easier to defend against. The trend has been toward making them the equivalent of an i900 unblockable, or Guilty Gear’s Instant Kills; something that exists in the game, but almost never happens in a real match.

Which again leads me to believe that Daishi has something up his sleeve.

Sorry, I don’t know Ninja Turtles very well. RT @PhotonRez: Do you like the Ninja Turtles? They’d be great for a new Soul game.

Is Berserk popular in the west? RT @altrodesi: and Guts from the manga berserk would be great guest characters.

Didn’t know Guts from Berserk was popular overseas.

Need to ask the boss, Higuchi-san. RT @aeconklin: Have you considered adding “Tales Of” characters from the RPG as bonus characters for SC5?

Ninja Turtles! The best guest character suggestion yet. Someone mail Daishi a Ninja Turtles trade.

As for Berserk, while the manga and anime are well loved by a fair number, Guts is far from a household name. He’s not even up to Spawn’s level. His video game presence is even lower, with the last Berserk game released outside of Japan more than 12 years ago, and on the Dreamcast. For whatever reason (sales?) the game’s sequel was never localized, which isn’t a good sign. Not to say he wouldn’t be a neat character, but if you dressed Nightmare or Siegfried up you could accomplish the same thing.

Now, Tales characters. That would be something. Namco already owns them, Namco wants Tales games to sell outside of Japan — regardless of how bad they actually market and distribute them — and there are Tales games  both in development and scheduled for release. Back when Soulcalibur 4 had been announced, and Project Soul had said that there was a big guest character reveal in the works — ended up being the Star Wars characters — the Tales series was high on the list of candidates. In fact, Lloyd from Tales of Symphonia did make a guest appearance in Soulcalibur Legends.

Would have to work with a company. Offcourse I will ask for the highest quality 😉 RT@msasbaly: have you ever thought about making SC Anime?

And why not? Every other fighting game series gets some shitty anime adaptation.

If anyone’s curious, Virtua Fighter English Dub > King of Fighters Another Day = Street Fighter 2 The Animated Movie >>> Tekken The Motion Picture. That’s as far down that rabbit hole as I go.

I can’t be the only person who bought the Street Fighter Anniversary Collection because they included the movie on the dvd.

Good idea. Not sure who’s in charge at the company but we’ll have to organize it! RT @lifeasadesigner: Namco SPONSORING Nationals in JP/US

Take a hint from Blizzard, and put some money down. It attracts the players, it makes things exciting, and it pushes the boundaries of competition.

I want to but I can’t 😦 Think positive! It’s a surprise waiting for you! RT @Trace_afj: can we know when are you going to show something?

The earlier the better… is all I can say. RT @jaeseongoppa: When do you think you can release Soul Calibur 5?

Whatever he’s got right now is just concept art and napkin notes anyway. I have to believe that when there’s some real news to announce, we’ll get it.

Finally:

Advertisement! Siegfried and Mitsurugi will appear in Family Stadium 2011! http://twitpic.com/44yd0o http://twitpic.com/44yd0q

Pro Baseball Family Stadium 2011 is a 3ds launch title. There’s not much info about it anyway, just a few screenshots that make it look like they’re going for an oldschool style, which is fine with me. I haven’t enjoyed a baseball video game since the NES.

It would be a neat, if not very timely, cross-promotion if the new Soulcalibur game included the baseball uniforms as alternate costumes.

Daishi’s Twitter – Round 8

Weeks 8 and 9 – 12/02/11 – 25/02/11

Went home early today. I was busy this week and couldn’t check twitter. Sorry 😛

Which is the reason this update is late. Daishi got snowed out, went to a dinner party, and didn’t post much of anything else for the third week of February. Thankfully, he started posting again this last week.

@Daishi_CALIBUR When making the new SC, remember the international players please! ソウルの新作成を作る時、日本プレーヤーだけではなく海外プレーヤーも考えてね!

@itsumobasho Off course I’ll be considering everyone fairly. The Japanese players often say the same thing about them.

This is not simply a trade-off between guest characters and arcades.

Exact numbers are hard to come by, but a few things are clear: Soulcalibur sells better overseas, and whether that’s from the size of the overseas market or not is probably irrelevant. Namco is, along with Sega, at the top of the Japanese arcade market, as a manufacturer, and as an owner, and while Japanese arcades are still big enough business — pulling down numbers in the $3-6b USD range — Japan itself has been in an economic slump for years.

Namco has included guest characters that are distinctly Western, while still giving Japanese fans something, with bonus characters designed by manga artists.

Tekken does well in Japanese arcades, Virtua Fighter does well in Japanese arcades; in fact, Japanese arcades appear to love 3d fighters. But do Japanese fans want a new Soulcalibur game in their arcades, and do Western fans want to wait 6-18 months for a console port. And there are many other factors to consider, from the gain or loss of marketing momentum, to the distance we may be from the next console generation.

It’s not as simplistic as Japanese fans want an arcade release, foreign fans want a console release and guest characters. When the discussion takes that form, everyone loses. Right now, Namco is on the tail end of a major restructuring, and their absolute priority is to turn a profit as soon as possible, and while they may still be a major manufacturer and distributor of arcade games, and while they may be continually disappointed by how their console releases perform in foreign markets, the choice to have an arcade release is still unclear.

I’d love it, though. ❤ arcades.

LOL too much ! marks @Hennisythedon PLEASE KEEP CHARATER CREATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There’s no reason to think that character creation and customization wouldn’t be in the next game. It’s standard — at least the customization — for modern 3d fighters, even in the arcades.

We’re working on it! @JasonAxelrod me too…better balance for the next game please!

@nomusher I see, there’s nothing wrong with having a hardcore opinion.

Daishi will be swamped with balance requests right up till the game is released, and then patch requests right after. It’s important to keep in mind that whatever balance decisions are made will revolve around the new game, not the old ones. Until we’ve got any idea of what the new game will be, anything more than general requests for balance are pointless.

Daishi is still fielding general fighting game discussions. First up, pacing:

So when you say Soulcalibur is fun, is it because it’s fast paced? Slow paced? Or just right?

Fast paced fighting games are popular but not so if it’s too fast paced. Maintaining the the balance is difficult.

There are small differences in pacing in SC2, 3 and 4. Not attack speeds but damages done and tuning of the 8WR RT @broccoman @Daishi_CALIBUR I don’t think you need to change much on game speed in SC. It’s just right where it is to me from SC2-SC4.

Pacing isn’t as simple as game speed, as Daishi rightly points out. It has a lot more to do with options and damage output.

We will now examine sample high level matches from various 3d fighting games. Objectively.

First up, Virtua Fighter 5:FS. Source: Tournament matches found on Sega’s official youtube channel. Match 1. Match 2.

Things to note: Virtua Fighter has a 45 second round timer, the lowest of all modern fighting games, both 3d and 2d. Both matches went all 5 rounds, and rough math puts the average round length at 37 seconds, including post-match replays, pre-match character and stage intros, and post-match winning poses. The matches themselves averaged out to 3 minutes, 5 seconds each.

Next, Tekken 6. Source: Tekken Crash Season 5 Royal Rumble Tournament. Match.

Things to note: The 2 sets played took about 8.5 minutes, all inclusive, and only 1 of them went to 5 rounds, making the average round over 60 seconds, and the average match length over 4 minutes. Granted, they went back to the character select menu, and Koreans supposedly use a slightly larger health bar, but even if you lop off time for extra character intros and loading times, that’s still well above Final Showdown’s times.

Last, Soulcalibur 4. Source: 8wayrun.com’s match of the year for 2010, Belial vs Rufus.

Things to note: The 3 sets took 8 minutes, 40 seconds, though intros were skipped. That’s 2 minutes, 50 seconds per set, and 40 seconds per round.

What does any of that mean? Nothing, really, except that expectations don’t equal reality, and pace is more than numbers. Is Virtua Fighter a faster paced game than Tekken? Is Soulcalibur? Is pace about speed, or is the more deliberate action of Virtua Fighter what gives the series its reputation? In a general sense, Soulcalibur seems to be aiming for a middle ground between the huge stages and combos of Tekken, and the intimate stages and action of Virtua Fighter.

As for pace within the series itself, the same things apply. Soulcalibur 2 may have been a fast game, but it was also a very safe, very poke-heavy game — and that was partly because of the bugs, while Soulcalibur 3 was a huge damage and ring out game — and that was mostly because of the bugs. Soulcalibur 4 has a slower feel from more unsafe movement and harsher damage scaling. As Daishi said, there’s more to the feel of speed than just putting game speed up to 11; step, safety, and damage are important factors.

You can rely on me! RT @TreSanBan: Well, we’re trusting that as a former tourney player yourself, you’ll do what’s best for the Soul series.

At the time I thought SC1 was balanced but is it still so today? SC2 I thought had too much freedom and also had bugs. RT @YoshiCookie: Soul Calibur I and II were very well balanced.

Here Daishi is likely talking about Soulcalibur 2’s g2 bug, which allowed a player to cancel the recovery of GIs and certain moves, and the easily abused steg-g, which allowed players to sidestep vertical attacks while being safe from horizontals, and gave them huge openings for punishment, which was the best way around Soulcalibur 2’s very safe movelists. Of course, all that was much worse in Soulcalibur 3, but we don’t talk about Soulcalibur 3.

At least Daishi has the balls to acknowledge the bugs, even if he’s only doing it for a game he didn’t work on.

The best thing that can be said for Soulcalibur 5’s hopes in the balance department is that every other fighting game is getting updates with bug fixes now, and Daishi is the first chance Soulcalibur players have had in a long time to demonstrate bugs and problems with a definite chance that someone who can affect things will actually see them.

That’s right, accessibility is impotant too. RT @TriforceBlade:I imagine so. Another difficulty is making the game accessible to newcomers

Just like chess, unless you learn the rules it’s no fun. But I don’t want players to have to “study” the system to enjoy a game. RT @BYS777: I want to understand the system elements while enjoying the story rather than a tutorial

The all important accessibility vs depth debate rears its head.

It’s difficult for a person who knows how to play the game, who has put effort into learning it, to understand exactly what someone who has no interest in learning the game wants from the gameplay, and at the same time, it’s difficult for someone who is more interested in the frills and fluff to know what someone else would want from the game.

Soulcalibur has been attempting to bridge that gap for a while now. As far back as Soul Blade’s console release, Namco has been including more and more fluff options to keep people interested in the game, and fortunately, that seems to be what people want. If the next Soulcalibur ships with a Create-A-Soul, an Edge Master or Mission Mode, and plenty of unlockable concept art, weapons, theatre and gallery options, and a well-implemented Story mode, that will be enough to sell it to people who want those things.

When a player decide to dig a little deeper, that’s where the real problems begin. Easy to learn, difficult to master is a watchword for the genre — for any genre, yet the games that enjoy the most popularity are seldom that: they’re more about what players can aspire to, and the steps they can take to get there, and — this is the most important thing — keeping players interested along the way. There are clearly defined, and expected, plateaus for players to reach, and the balance is in keeping each step vibrant while still making the next step appealing and reachable. That’s what Soulcalibur should be aiming for.

What can be said in Soulcalibur’s favour is that it’s able to give most players the flash and instant gratification they want. Big, showy moves are all over the place, and easy enough to execute. The problem is that as you progress, you realize that big, showy moves are rarely ideal; that small, safe moves are what you need. That is what hurts, because who wants to get better only to have their options reduced?

Tekken has combated this by putting the show into the juggles, something that everyone gets to do, even though the general options and pokes atrophy as skill increases. Virtua Fighter prefers to level everything out, giving the player a large variety of viable moves, but with fewer that stand out. If Soulcalibur wants to keep aiming for the middle ground, it will need something new to shake things up. And that would lead us back to Daishi talking about meters, and how he enjoys managing them.

http://twitpic.com/40pj3o To my left is producer Mr. Tago. Its not a very good angle but @Filthierich might upload a better photo.

This guy is a mystery to me. I can’t find him in the credits to any past Soulcalibur game. I guess he’s the new guy.

And finally, Daishi shared posts that included pictures of him alongside Namco community manager filthierich, a huge statue of Zasalamel, and a swanky replica set of Cassandra’s sword and shield from Soulcalibur 4.

As an aside, a while back Namco secured a controlling share in D3, a publisher linked with series such as OneChanbara, Earth Defence, and Puzzle Quest, and with connections to Tamsoft, the creators of the Battle Arena Toshinden series of 3d weapons fighting games. Shura may as well be an OneChanbara character anyway.

Of course, it doesn’t mean anything.

Daishi’s Twitter – Round 6

Week 6 – 29/01/11 – 04/02/11

@YAMA__KATSU I was in a lower position too so I know how you feel. We often know more about games than the higher ups.

So it’s our job to protect the game for the players and create what they want. I’m still a trouble maker in the company lol.

@YAMA__KATSU You quit SNK? That’s sad to hear.

Intentionally or not, Daishi’s very presence indicates a turning point for the Soulcalibur series, and that reflects Namco’s current mindset. They want to make money, like they always have, and they continue to make moronic and off-putting decisions when it comes to their Western fanbases, but they need Soulcalibur to be their great Western trump card.

Tekken is beloved by many people outside of Japan, but it still maintains a strong local following. Conversely, Soulcalibur lost a lot of steam in Japan when it was removed from the arcades, yet still sells very well everywhere else, and is adored in France (similar to the King of Fighters series in South America). Assuming any sort of competence in Namco, they must be aware that this new Soulcalibur game is, more than even the last one — and barring radical changes — a game they’re making for the Western market. Probably the only game they’re making for the Western market.

And now Daishi, under Harada’s banner of openness, continues to paint himself as a — very shy and polite — maverick. From the way he was first scouted, to his design choices, and even his relative inexperience within the Soulcalibur team as whole, Daishi seems like an odd choice to head up a project that Namco needs to succeed. Or maybe not. Maybe they’re finally making all the right moves, and they think that letting someone new, someone with fresh ideas, lead the development team, someone who might actually listen to and respond to fans and their concerns, is just what the doctor ordered.

The only thing that’s clear right now is that this project is gushing over with potential.

For anyone curious, this is all in response to Masaaki Kukino’s twitter. Who is Masaaki Kukino? He’s the producer of King of Fighters 12 and 13 that quit back in November. That announcement came along with the rumour that the new SNKP boss isn’t so keen on video games, leaving King of Fighters fans in the lurch, since they’re still waiting for King of Fighters 13 to actually get a console release date. Thankfully, SNKP has said that they’re not quitting video games just yet. King of Fighters 13 will probably get that console release date this year. But King of Fighters 14? We’ll worry about that rickety old rope bridge when we finally get to it.

@Daishi_CALIBUR I welcome the trouble maker… as namco has lost a bit of its flair in recent years.

@JasonAxelrod Making games with a salary man mentality is hard. You need your own vision. Just look at Harada-san, he looks like a yakuza!

See?

Apparently, they were planning something like that for SC1, SC2 back in the day. RT @OOFMATIC: SC5 needs another Samurai to rival Mitsurugi!

I see that Author has a bit of a fan base? Can’t I just paint Mitsurugi’s hair blond? I guess not…

Initially, Arthur replaced Mitsurugi in Korea (for obvious cultural reasons), but he was quickly forgotten (except a brief return in Soulcalibur 3). And there were assholes with guns. But, when Mitsurugi eventually got his rival it wasn’t a Samurai at all, it was a pissed-off half-Japanese lady.

Mitsurugi, like the main Japanese heroes of many fighting games, has been a character on a journey to find his true power. The reason? To overcome the Samurai’s ultimate obstacle: rifles. Having another Samurai to fight against wouldn’t put a human face to his enemy, it would have changed that enemy completely. Unless it was a Samurai with a rifle. Either way, he overcame that obstacle and got new rival at the same time. Could he use another? Why not.

@neoaiq Still deciding whether or not we will have guests. If we do, who will it be? If not, what can we do instead? Still many issues..

I still think the best way to go would be licensing costumes instead of characters, but if they can come up with other things to “do instead,” then I’m down with that.

@tetubusi I put my soul in balancing Rock but he was changed again on the PSP version… Like I said I don’t favor characters, just in case.

Speaking as a Rock player, if Daishi was doing his best to balance Rock, he was doing it for a different game. Rock suffers from nothing more than Soulcalibur 4’s basic systems not favouring his playstyle. At all. But at least he was unique and fun to play. Given the chance, would Daishi just balance the rest of the game around such a unique style?

Funnily enough, Rock is much stronger in Broken Destiny, mostly through simple damage buffs and improved options. He’s still completely out of place, though.

And finally:

Kūkai is very intriguing. I will never be as great as him.

The Kukai Daishi references is also known as Kobo-Daishi, and is a famous Japanese monk and scholar who’s achievements include founding a Buddhist sect and inventing kana, the alphabet that makes up the bulk of written Japanese. He’s kind of a big deal.