E3 2012: Dead or Alive 5 interview with Yosuke Hayashi and Yohei Shimbori
After spending a bit of time playing Dead or Alive 5 and then learning about it behind closed doors, I was moved over to another room in the Tecmo Koei booth. There I met Producer Yosuke Hayashi and Director Yohei Shimbori. It goes without saying that it was an honor to meet these two developers, and while E3 was coming to an end, I was still able to ask them a few questions about the upcoming Dead or Alive 5.
David Sanchez: What will Dead or Alive 5 offer longtime fans of the series, and what will it offer newcomers? Will the gameplay allow die-hard fans and newbies to enjoy the game together?
Yohei Shimbori, director: The concept [of Dead or Alive 5] is "fighting entertainment" — the core of that is a fighting game. So it's a solid fighting game with a good system that existing fans know and love. They'll appreciate the Dead or Alive 5 gameplay as a fighter. But you also have that entertainment level that [will allow] people who aren't so familiar with Dead or Alive or even fighting games in general to have fun just watching.
The stages we were showing before, like the clown stage, that's a level of entertainment that can draw in new people into the game, and they can still have fun with the game; maybe not as much on the technical level, but as entertainment, they can enjoy it. And we're putting in systems which in the game can lead players to become stronger fighters, and hopefully they can learn to appreciate the fighting aspect, as well.
DS: I noticed there's a lot of emphasis on the theme of fighting entertainment in Dead or Alive 5. Aside from reaching out to core players and newcomers to enjoy it, what other driving force is there behind fighting entertainment? It seems very larger than life and over-the-top in a really, really cinematic way, which is pretty cool.
Yosuke Hayashi, producer: We're looking at how fighting games have evolved. We see that they're going more toward their core audience, the core fighters. So the systems get more and more complicated, and while that can interest the core fighters, someone just watching the fights might not know what's going on if they don't know the system that they're watching; it's not that interesting to watch. If you do that, if you keep chasing the same core [audience], you're going to shrink it more and more and more, shrink your market more and more and more.
So we thought that we needed to go more over-the-top and have that layer of entertainment to draw people in to where you can have fun just watching a match. And that's a way it can get people interested in the fighting game, as a game. [Players] get in that way, and then you lead them to become a strong fighter. That's the reasoning behind going for the fighting entertainment — it's to move the genre forward, rather than just chasing that core [audience].
DS: And there will be new characters in Dead or Alive 5 in addition to the roster of classic fighters, correct?
YH: Yes. We will reveal them at a later date, but there will be new characters.
DS: Without spoiling anything, how do you handle creating new characters that can both be compelling to use by the longtime fans and strike a balance amongst the classic cast of characters?
YS: In order to figure out what kind of characters we want to put in, the first thing we look at is fighting style and the second is what kind of character they would be personality-wise. For personality and look — what kind of characters they are — you look at the [existing] roster and you see what type of character is not there. So you can start to think in those terms, and the personality, and that character, him or herself, takes a shape.
In terms of fighting style, we actually used to go a dojo and train in martial arts. So then we have that kind of background, and we like to use existing, well-known fighting styles, again looking at the roster and seeing what's not represented, and trying to find a good match and something that players would want to play and have fun with. So those are the two main ways of thinking about characters.
DS: Personally, I'm a big professional wrestling fan, and one of the things that always stands out to me in Dead or Alive games is the fact that these characters are pulling off double team moves, suplexes, powerbombs, and other maneuvers. Can we expect to see some new pro wrestling moves in Dead or Alive 5?
YS: The character that we showed you, Bass, he's a pro wrestler, so you definitely have new moves. So we have this move, then we have this other pro wrestling move. What if you put them together? So that's sort of the starting point for a lot of the new moves. So yeah, definitely, there are new pro wrestling moves in there. So yeah, use Bass, and try and find 'em!
DS: All right, well, thanks so much for answering my questions! I appreciate it, and I'm looking forward to the game!
YH, YS: Thank you.
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