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Tekken 3 team interview

The following interview took place on Tuesday 24 March 1998, at Namco Japan's Yokohama office.
Representatives of the Tekken 3 development team were questioned by editors and journalists from Europe, who included CVG, PlayStation Plus, Edge, and official PS mags from Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. Unless specified by name, the replies are the result of discussion among the T3 development team.

Q: Please describe the development process behind a complex fighting game, such as Tekken 3. The different sections, and the time allocated to each part.

Hajime Nakatani: After the team completed the development of PlayStation Tekken 2, we started planning Tekken 3. What we had in mind was how much different Tekken 3 could be. Then came the new system board, System 12, which is about 1.5 times faster than System 11. So the graphics are superior because of the faster clock time. Also for the characters we were sceptical of just increasing the number of characters. So we stopped to consider the new generation, who exist in a world 19 years after Tekken 2. This meant that we could renew all these characters. We have taken three years over the development of these characters. For example the motion capture of Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art, that idea was also considered for Tekken 2, but wasn't realised. So we wanted to put this into Tekken 3. The other major point was to make this game overall more fun than Tekken 2, and take more time than in Tekken 2 over the balance of characters and overall gameplay than in Tekken 2. The Tekken 3 arcade version was completed in March 1997, and work began on PlayStation conversion in June 1997. For the extra modes, like Tekken Force mode, new programmers joined the project. These didn't take so much time. Most of the time was spent porting the arcade code into the PlayStation.

Q: How difficult was it to port Tekken 3 over to PlayStation. Did it pose a lot of problems? Was it more difficult because it is system 12 based?

Masanori Yamada: Even though the PlayStation CPU is same as System 12, it was very, very difficult. The amount of motion data and character graphic data is very big. We spent most of the time compressing this data so that it would fit into the internal memory of the PlayStation.

Q: When they decided to add characters and to take away characters from Tekken 2, what were the key points considered in making these decisions?

Hajime Nakatani: Let me explain why we chose to reduced the number of characters. In Tekken 2 we have the characters called the Sub Bosses who are basically using the same moves as the original default characters, which wasn't making so much difference over the original characters. In Tekken 2 [arcade version] you can see how many times players choose characters, and we found that the Sub Bosses were not really much used by gamesplayers, which means they're not really so popular and not appealing to the user. So we decided to increase the number of moves which each character can perform. Therefore we decided to reduce the characters which were not used by the gamesplayers.~Q: Tekken 3 is so smooth and fast - it's stunning. What were the breakthroughs that allowed the progress from Tekken 1 through T3?

Naoki Ito: With Tekken 1 and 2, for the polygon models, each of the parts are not connected to make a character. In Tekken 3 the various parts of each character are connected as one continuous body. Also, with regards to the compression of the data, even in Tekken 2 the data was really huge. King's data, for example, reached the limited of what could be compressed down for PlayStation. In Tekken 3 the data is three times larger, but we managed to compress this into PlayStation.

Q: Which people are used for motion capturing?

T3 Team: For Hwoarang it was Hang Su-Il, who is a champion of Tae Kwon Do arts. [Hang Su-Il is opening a gym in Yokohama soon]. For King we used two pro-wrestlers from Japan who are very popular [Minoru Suzuki and Osami Shibuya]. For Eddy we invited Master Marcelo Pereira, [a Capoeria fighter] from the United States. We also use motion capture for the other characters in the game.

Q: How did you come up with the ideas for the unique characters in the Tekken series? Did any of the Tekken team's personal traits go into the characters?

T3 Team: A good example is Eddy, since he wasn't planned to be the character you see at first. The development team wanted to include a character who used Capoeira, so the idea was passed on to the artist team. Mr Kimoto requested the artist to make a female character for Capoeira. However the artist said it was too difficult to design a female character who used Capoeria, so there came Eddy. Also for Ling Xiaoyu, since most of the Tekken female characters are more than 25 years old, the team wanted a young girl. Also the 2-player colour of Kuma is Panda, in this game. This was actually intended for Tekken 1, but wasn't realised until Tekken 3.

Q: Anything personal - like your favourite bike or something?

T3 team: Actually Ling Xiayou looks like him (the team point to Yoshinari Mizushima, one of the graphic artists, laughing pretty hysterically!).

Q: Are there any other beat-em ups you really like, apart from the ones you did?

T3 Team: Usually we're not getting home until around midnight. So PC online games are popular.

Q: Is there a problem with the tight schedule?

Masanori Yamada: We're currently developing the US version, and haven't had a holiday since finishing the Japanese version.~Q: Who are the team's favourite characters in Tekken, and why?

Mizushima-san: Since I am the artist, I particularly like the characters which took time to create the artwork for. Therefore Jin and Xiaoyu.

Kubo-san: Paul and King, because they are a little weird compared to other characters.

Kimoto-san: From Tekken 1 to 3, I like Nina. Also from Tekken 3 I like Eddy, because I really had a hard time developing these two characters.

Harada-san: Heihachi throughout the Tekken series, but in Tekken 3 I like Jin. This is because Jin is the main character for Tekken 3. As the main character of the fighting game, he should not be too strong or too weak, he should be really well balanced. I had a hard time making sure that Jin was so well balanced within Tekken 3. I also like Jin because Jin doesn't have any special moves that are too strong. Also I like the control feel of this character.

Yamada-san: Xiaoyu, because every time I run the Tekken 3 program, just tapping on the buttons to get through, I automatically choose Xiaoyu [she's the first default character on the Chara Select screen]. Recently I've started to play Lei Wulong.

Nakatani-san: King - because he is rather easy to use, but also there are some aerial moves which can be very tricky for other players.

Ito-san: Jin.

Q: In Tekken 3, fighters can move right or left to avoid some attacks. Why are there no VF3-style Escape moves included in Tekken 3?

Katsuhiro Harada: The main purpose of moving around in Tekken 3 is not only for escaping attacks, but for players to get the advantage by moving behind the enemy. We didn't just want to make an Escape system when we were developing a fighting game.

Q: It was rumoured that Tekken 3 was in danger of being delayed because of technical difficulties - problems with data compression, and so on. However T3 made the deadline, so was there any special technology used to make this possible?

Masanori Yamada: We used a Japanese method called Kamikaze! (Joke) Also I decided not to cut my hair until the project was finished, which made everyone work faster (also a Joke). Actually there are many good staff in Namco R&D, many of them are very good at compressing data. There were many people working on the conversion of Tekken 3, as you can see from the staff credits.

Q: Why did the idea come from for the command system in the Tekken series, as it is so different to any other fighting game? Why is this better than any other? And how has this system developed from Tekken 1 through Tekken 3?

Hajime Nakatani: By pressing any of the four buttons some sort of move can be done. In other games, sometimes players can win by just tapping one single button. We didn't want to make it that easy. So to perform a left-right punch combination, you need to press left punch, then right punch. We wanted to make a more technical game. That's why we chose this system. Like in the Kung-Fu films, where a fighter will counter with another attack, we wanted to reproduce this in the Tekken 3 game.~Q: Did you use the Performance Analyser. At which stages did you use it? Would you have been able to manage this conversion in the same time without it?

Masanori Yamada: We used the Performance Analyser from the middle stage to the end of development. Without it development would've taken a lot longer.

Q: About the PAL conversion for Europe - will it be full screen, and full speed?

T3 Team: We're looking into that possibility.

Q: Which did they enjoy the most - developing the game or finishing the game?

Hajime Nakatani: At the beginning of the development it was a lot of fun, because there are so many ideas - you want to try this, you want to do that. At the end of development comes close, the schedule gets very tight, we get a little tense, saying "why the hell didn't you think about that?!", and so on.

Masanori Yamada: Development is fun, but there is so much work to do that it's not always enjoyable. The development itself was very challenging. I really believe that this team is the one single team who really enjoys developing games. If we didn't enjoy creating this game, we could never have made it a great game.

Q: The next Tekken?

T3 Team: We're taking a holiday after the US and European versions, then we'll consider the next in the Tekken series. Also we're hoping that Tekken 3 will be a success, and if there are many requests from users we will respond to these.

Q: Please could you explain how the AI works in Tekken 3, as it is more 'intelligent' than the previous two games. How does it 'think'. How does it 'learn'?

Hajime Nakatani: In T1 and 2, enemy characters' AI is based on what the players would do. If playes do a punch, the computer will dodge. This time there is a more random factor built into the CPU AI, so that's why it's not so easy to win doing the same thing every time.

Q: What makes a great Tekken player? What are the skills required?

Katsuhiro Harada: First of all, practice each move 100 times before going to sleep. Also, always play with someone who is better than you. Never be satisfied beating any player who is not better than yourself. If you keep on practicing by playing against good players, anyone can become a great player. From there players can develop their own combinations, moves, and tactics.

Q: Was the balance of the gameplay adjusted for the PlayStation version, either in response to feedback from arcade players, or to account for extra PS characters?

T3 Team: No, we didn't change a thing.

Q: Who is better, Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan?

T3 Team: (They take a vote. It's a big hands down for Jackie Chan. And a big hands up for Bruce Lee!)

Q: Do you get gaming Otaku to playtest the games, so that you can get the balance right between characters?

T3 Team: We get some people who are very, very good players to check this out.

Q: Finally, who is the Tekken in-house champion.

T3 Team: That would be Mr Harada!

// Interactive
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