Interview with Tekken’s Katsuhiro Harada: Lili’s “fluffy” skirt was an experiment with Havok Physics
We caught up with Tekken Project’s Katsuhiro Harada (development lead) and Michael Murray (senior game designer) when they were here in Singapore yesterday for an exclusive Xbox blockbuster games showcase.
Time was short – they had to leave for Korea shortly after the event – so we weren’t able to ask them a whole lot this time around. But we did speak with the Tekken duo on a couple of interesting extras they’ve created for Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Lili’s fluffy skirt, a Heihachi costume designed by UK comic artist Simon Bisley, and the inspiration behind customisable character panels.
—Recently you unveiled a video of Lili fighting in the game in a knee-length skirt that had amazing cloth physics. What was that all about?
Katsuhiro Harada (interpreted by Michael Murray): Essentially it’s an extra piece of DLC that’s being offered as a pre-order incentive, that we’ve created using Havok cloth physics.
In most other games that utilise the Havok Physics engine, the technology usually surfaces as these objects that can break apart. You don’t really see it being used a whole lot to animate things like the movement of clothings, so we partnered up with Havok to try and accomplish something in that nature for Tekken Tag 2.
And up until now you’ve never seen skirts of this length in the Tekken series too, because in fighting games, characters do a lot more animation than in other action games. They might be doing a handstand and such. So this was kind of a new challenge we did with Havok Physics, and our fans are going to benefit from that by having an extra pre-order bonus to play with.
—Also not too long ago, you revealed a set of six character costumes created in collaboration with various Japanese illustrators you’ve worked with in the past, as well as with UK comic artist Simon Bisley, who came up a helluva look for Heihachi. How did Simon Bisley get involved in the artist collaborations?
In Tekken we’ve always done this [putting out a call for creators who love the Tekken series to design something for us] in the past with Japanese manga artistes who are quite interested in Tekken, and some of whom are fans of the series. So for extra costumes, we essentially chose based on that criteria, because it’s easier to work with them if they understand the title and the characters and such.
This time we wanted to find a similar situation with a non-Japanese artist if possible. And when we reached out to find out if anyone might be interested, we were told [by the overseas marketing/PR team] that Simon Bisley was quite interested. So we were able to have our artists work with him to come up with something unique.
—So is this similar to your collaboration with Snoop, in that you wanted to work with an overseas artist to come up with something that might appeal to people who traditionally have not played Tekken?
Well, it’s not just Snoop. Different from the arcades, for the console versions of Tekken, 70% of our audience are not very hardcore fighting gamers. They’re just your average gamer, thinking of picking up the title.
So this [working with Simon Bisley] is the same not just with [the collaboration with] Snoop, but also some of the other things we’re doing like Fight Lab.
We just wanted to add a variety of different entrances for people to get hooked on the game. So maybe someone who wouldn’t traditionally play Tekken, maybe they might find this particular element interesting, and then from there they can come in and explore all the other great [core gameplay] features we have in the game already. We just wanted that extra hook, to get more poeple to at least take a look at the game first.
—The last time we talked, you said that if more people pre-order Tekken Tag Tournament 2, then the more free DLC content you’ll be able to make for players – outside of things like characters, stages, and techniques. So I’m guessing by that you’re referring to cool extras like the customisable character panels illustrated by artists Shunya Yamashita, Tomio Fujisawa, and Junny.
We understand that the character panels were already part of the arcade version of the game, but will all the new characters you’ve announced have the panels too? Also, what was your inspiration behind giving players the option of customisable character panels? I don’t think I’ve seen it done in any other fighting games before.
Well, first of all, yes, the three artists have each drawn a panel for all the characters in the game.
And this was, like you said, probably the first time it’s done in a fighting game. We decided to do it because we wanted to give the player freedom to customise as many areas in the game [as possible].
As we said before, with the Combot you can customise his moveset, and that’s kind of a first as well. Then there’s customising the soundtrack of the game, for example you can pick which music track you want for the loading screen… so we really want to give the players as much freedom as possible.
Another reason we decided to include this feature, is that the 2D character panels really stand out in the game because Tekken is a 3D fighter. Since with a 2D fighter, the character panels are already drawn in that manner, so if you were to have a customised panel like that, it wouldn’t really stand out because it doesn’t look so different. But since this game is rendered with 3D polygonal models, to have the option to use 2D illustrations for the panels, that’s something we thought would be well received.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 will be available in Singapore on September 11.
Pre-order your copy at your favourite video games retailer today to receive a bunch of bonus premiums including over 150 swimming costumes for the game’s characters. More details can be found at the end of this post.