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KOF14 developers interview by Famitsu, Pt.2

Posted Aug 23 2017 at 12:25 (Tue)

KOFXIV is now out in varous regions of the world, and the developers have been hard at work to promote their new game. Famitsu has posted up a 4-page interview with the game's developers; producer Yasuyuki Oda, art director Nobuyuki Kuroki, motion artist Youichiro Soeda, and programmer Seiji Andou.

The following is a synopsis of the second half of the interview, courtesy of MMCafe.

- There's quite a number of new characters in KOF14, but things just turned out that way. South America and China was added in because the series is popular in the region. Also, mainland China players apparently don't view the Psycho Soldier team to be Chinese, so that's why the devs ended up adding a separate "China team" to 14.

- The staff were thinking of adding stereotypical Shaolin fighters and whatnot into the China team, but when they traveled to China to think about things, they realized that everyone's pretty modernly fashionable. So instead they decided to add in cool looking characters.

- For the same reason, Nelson isn't the typical buff-looking type of boxer, but a more cool looking type with the aesthetics of a main character that's in par to Kyo and Iori.

- When they were thinking about the game's roster, they split characters into different groups like: for hardcore gamers, for casual players, for female audiences, for youtube/video viewers. And according to that, they changed the character's designs.

- Popular characters like Yamazaki and Blue Mary were obvious picks for the roster, but it would've ended up making the game into a Fatal Fury. Oda wanted a game that felt more "KOF".

- The game doesn't have many characters from AOF so characters like Jack Turner and John Crawly were candidates that Oda wanted to add in, but he pulled back thinking that people would be like "who is this?"

- Given that the KOF series is more than 20 years old, some of the younger generation don't even know what KOF is. So that's one of the reasons why the character designs have been updated (to look more modern), and new characters like Shun'ei and Meitenkun have been added in.

- Oda's reaction when told that people will forget about AOF and other titles unless they make more sequels: "If I'm going to make to make sequels, I'd rather remake them from scratch and sell them as a completely new title (laughs)"

- Everyone admits that games on the NeoGeo CD took horribly long to load.

Andou: "I had to watch the loading screen monkey for like two minutes"
Soeda: "We witnessed the monkey being drawn in our office. It was done by the guy who did Lee Pai Long in AOF2 (laughs)
Kuroki: "It was so horrible back then because the loading time really hindered our debugging process. We couldn't say it, but we got so sleepy"
Soeda: "By the time the game loaded, we've forgotten what we wanted to check. Back in those days we used to debug during midnight so yeah, we obviously fell asleep"
Kuroki: "There was a time when I debugged with Soeda and he kept walking forward when the match started. I thought he was charging for a move but turns out he was just sleeping"

- Doing character motions for 2D in the yesteryears was hard work. For example Rock Howard had about 1000 animation patterns in MOTW. The shift to 3D makes it a lot easier but it also requires a lot more staff to work on each character before they can be displayed on the screen (modelling staff, animation staff, programmer, etc).

- Back when MOTW came out, the game's developers asked the KOF dev team to skip from using Rock Howard for at least one iteration since they didn't want him to get used up too quickly. But for some reason the KOF devs never added him to the series even after that.

- As for KOFXIV, Rock isn't in the game because Geese is in there and it would've made things a bit complicated if both of them were in the there from the get-go. So maybe he might be added in the future. All in all, Oda wants to add in characters from a lot of places, not nessesarily just fighting games.

- SNK's retreat from the pachislot business was the most unexpected thing during this project, given that Love Heart and Muimui are in the roster.

- XIV's story will continue on to XV.

- There's no concept of elapsing time / age in the world of KOF since 1995 (note: the characters aged a year from KOF94 to 95, but they've been the same ever since). As one of the head guys in the KOF dev team said back in the old days.

- If there's anything in the game that's balance breaking, the staff will fix it. But it needs to be more like fixing a glitch than a rebalancing patch.

- No DLC characters in the plans yet. If there's enough requests they'll think about it. There isn't any room on the character select screen, so they'll need to think about that if they add any in.

- F-Shiki/Fuzzy Guarding was unintended and needs to be fixed, but again, the checking process is required for all 50 characters in the roster so and they need to fix it carefully.

- The game balance hasn't gone under a huge change since the demo version, but they've been tweaking the game after the demo build was done so it won't be exactly the same. Also the devs found some unintended things since the demo so those points have been fixed. Again, legacy support will also be in.

- The staff have post-release promotions under plan. Not everything is solid yet, but there's certainly going to be a major tournament (tournamenty series, most likely).

- The staff are thinking of ways to support the community and hoping to release details at an early stage.

- Oda wants to bring back some of the older NeoGeo titles, but he can't move. He notes that some overseas media have reported that he's already on to a new title, but it's certainly not true. The company doesn't have enough staff members to begin with.

- Soeda and Oda both agree that it depends on KOF14's sales. But bottom line, SNK simply doesn't have enough developers right now. Outsourcing is an option, but the devs want to make solid games in-house, so that's out of the question.

- SNK has a lot of development teams especially in the mobile/smartphone side of things, but they only have two studios. One of them is making the KOF series, and they barely had enough staff to make KOFXIV. They might be able to do more things as the years go by and the development environment gets better.

- Kuroki admits that even when they go to schools to recruit potential new workers, none of the students even know SNK, although he notes that it's because fighting games have become kind of niche

- Andou notes that NeoGeo cabs were easily accessible at candy shops and supermarkets and whatnot in the old days, but nowadays there's really few places where fighting games can be casually touched.

- If Soeda was allowed to work on a NeoGeo sequel, he'd want to reboot the Fatal Fury series to fit the modern audience.

- As far as the fighting game development scene goes, Kuroki says that he still sees the same faces even though there's more people. When he first started making fighting games he was in a team of 10 developers, but nowadays the development team sizes are a lot larger and the workers have roles thare are more specific.

- On the other hand, Oda notes that a lot of people that used to work on fighting games aren't going hands-on with development any more. Some have quit the business, others have changed to management position or runs their own business.

- Soeda admits that only idiots that love creating things are the ones that are left in the development scene

- One of the huge changes in the development scene is that the people are more "normal". Everyone is decent now because they've gone through education and college. Oda points out that his company is normal now; you don't have people working all day. In the old days the developers might only go home once a week to pick up some new cloths, and the rest of the days they're working and sleeping in the office.

- Soeda notes that some people washed and dried their underware in the office

- Oda also notes that they manage their budget now. Apparently in the old days SNK didn't have anyone doing accounting, and also didn't have to plan out their schedules that well, one of the reasons being that they were making games for their own hardware and deadlines weren't that strict. Nowadays their budget is well managed and they simply won't allow staff to sleep in because it's a budget problem to begin with.

- Talking about how they made games, Soeda mentions the way how he'd pose in all sorts of ways in front of his desk as reference to the motions he needs to create, like punching and actually throwing someone. He says he still does the posings, although he doesn't do holds on people any more.

- Oda notes how he had someone perform a Command Sambo hold on himself which he used as reference when he was creating Blue Mary.

- One of the differences from the yesteryears is that the developers get a lot of respect from social networks. Kuroki notes how he gets a lot of messages from overseas fans via Twitter and Facebook, and he's happy about it. Both Kuroki and Oda admit that thinking about the overseas while making a game isn't something they've done in the past.

- For anyone wondering who made the horrifically old-school-SNK CPU algorithm in KOFXIV when its difficulty is set to Lv5, it's Andou's doing.

- Kuroki likes to work with 3-year plans, but he was told by Oda that consumers nowadays can't wait for that long. Whatever the case, Kuroki plans to throw in surprises that'll stun players if there's going to be sequels.

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