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A Few Questions With Yoshinori Ono

Street Fighter X Tekken's producer talks filtering players, the 90s boom, and where he might go with Street Fighter 5, 6 and 7.

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Yoshinori Ono has been the face of Capcom fighting games since Street Fighter IV.
Yoshinori Ono has been the face of Capcom fighting games since Street Fighter IV.

Between Street Fighter IV, Super Street Fighter IV, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, there have been plenty of fighting games from Capcom in the last few years. Street Fighter X Tekken will join that lineup later this year, a game Brad and Jeff were happily surprised by. Too much, too soon?

Our latest look at the game had the always-energetic producer Yoshinori Ono nearby, and as the demo wrapped up, I had a chance to ask a few questions. There wasn’t enough material to produce a full story, and I’m not interested in running four tiny stories, so I figured you should just go ahead and read everything.

Giant Bomb: With the gem system, why not allow users to filter out players, based on whether or not they are using gems?

Yoshinori Ono: When we were putting together all the concepts, we realized this would be the most ambitious fighting game that we’ve ever put together. Definitely, the gem system was part of that. If we made it so players could filter out players without gems and things like that, I mean, it’d be one way to play the game, but when we put together our initial vision of how it played, that was a very important part. Yeah, you can go into battle without gems--you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to--but we really think it’s a shame because we really think it makes the game better. As a whole, it’s a very important part of the game.

Giant Bomb: Fighting games were a massive hit in the 90s...until they weren’t. With several games now under your belt, how do you avoid falling into the same complexity pit that alienated so many players all over again?

Ono: As you mentioned, once fighting games had that boom in the 90s, basically the market was flooded with all sorts of different fighting games. Like we mentioned, they were kind of made for the arcade setting, so while there was a lot of them, they were actually really simple at heart. Some of them got kind of complicated--Third Strike had parries and stuff. For Street Fighter X Tekken, what we wanted to do, it all comes down to balance. You wanted to be able to appeal to the casual audience, while having enough stuff in there for hardcore fans to play, research and do their thing in the training mode. What we tried to do with Street Fighter X Tekken was to put in aspects that would appeal to all users, things like cross rush, the tag battles--these are the things that the casual user can really enjoy really easily, while it also has some merit for the hardcore players. It’s definitely really hard, but we tried our best with Street Fighter X Tekken to keep everyone in mind and make something that everyone can enjoy.

One more thing that wasn’t available in the 90s was online play, and that’s something that we put a huge focus on this game. All the modes in this game can be played online, and you can do online, offline, [and a] mix of human/CPU. We wanted to give players as many options as possible. The great thing about fighting games is that it’s like one-versus-one, and you’re trying to compete against the other guy in that kind of arcade setting. With online, we’ve been able to do is bring that kind of arcade setting onto the Internet, so you can do it, even though arcades don’t really do well these days, it’s still the kind of experience you can get if you’re playing the game online. We want players to foster that human network, human interaction--going back-and-forth with ideas and strategies. We think that Street Fighter X Tekken, [with] the new net code and things like that, will help them really enjoy the online.

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Giant Bomb: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from working with another developer’s set of characters?

Ono: We thought King was a tiger. He’s not! He’s a lion. [laughs] He has spots...he looks like a tiger, but, actually, he’s not a tiger.

Through this collaboration with Namco Bandai, we’ve been able to see, basically, what their philosophies were when they were making fighting games, and we learn. Although every developer has a different way of expressing it, it all comes back to having tournaments and supporting the community--the tournament scene. Namco Bandai are also big players in the community of fighting games, and through our collaboration with them, it’s [clear it's] really important to help foster the community. So for future titles as well, we want to keep putting our support with the community, helping them out in any way that we can, so that they can continue to have big tournaments and really grow the genre.

Giant Bomb: When you think about fighting games in 10, 20 years, what do they look like?

Ono: For me, the key word is customization. With Street Fighter X Tekken, this was a big challenge. It was the first time we’ve done anything like this with the gem system, but I think fighting games would really benefit from having a little bit more of that personal touch. How am I, as a player, approaching that particular character? In 10, 20 years, if fighting games can get to that point where everyone has their own little personality within their own character, I think that would really benefit the genre. It’s something that I’m really working hard towards.

If we come up with Street Fighter 5, Street Fighter 6 or Street Fighter 7, I’d like to have players be able to say “Oh, you know, Jason’s Ryu in Street Fighter 6 was so good!” That guy’s character, not that character, not “Oh, Yun and Yang are so broken!” If I’m still working for Capcom in the next 20 years and they haven’t fired me yet [laughs], that’s the goal that I’d want to work towards.

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