July 07, 2012

The Making of Tekken - Yutaka Kounoe in a Retro Gamer feature

Sorrel Tilley sat down with developer Yutaka Kounoe for Retro Gamer's latest issue to look back at The Making of Tekken and its "wiki-style" development process.

MAking Of Tekken CGI

"The creation of the Tekken series was completely different to the common development process" 
"The result was [...] an inter-developer battle [...], a method whereby anyone can freely implement an idea they think is good, and if it's unpopular, other staff members can just overwrite the data with something else! This led to a lot of clashing of egos [...]."

Tekken Rare Design Render

"With Tekken, designers were becoming obsessed with their own ideas, and continued implementing them at random. Trying to differentiate these ideas after they'd been added was a process you could hardly call normal. I felt like I was solving a giant puzzle at the same time as making a game. [...] The members were all workaholics; we lived at the office, We used to line up chairs to sleep on because the floor was cold. We were constantly suffering from sleep deprivation [...]."

Tekken Concept Production Art
Tekken Behind The Scenes
Tekken Wireframe CG Image

"Almost everything that was added was also decided by individuals working alone. Nina's throw combo was added by someone working on motion."

"At that point, motion capture was just a developing industry, so we used a magnetic system to capture a portion of the movements we required. This was a method where everything had to be recorded with cables attached, and it wasn't suited to intense action, so we could only use it for reference."
"Essentially, we hardly used motion capture at all for Tekken 1 and 2"

Tekken Motion Capture MoCap
Tekken Making Of Picture

"[...] the first two games were created as an experiment; even the developers couldn't predict how it would turn out. [...] The third game which I was in charge of, was a more calculated production."

Tekken Model Artwork Nina

"[...] problems carried over into Tekken 3 - I wanted to incorporate more strategic play into air combos by introducing safe-falling techniques [...] stances, damage animations, pinning techniques - all these elements got canned because people vetoed them based on their personal preferences."

Tekken Magazine Scan EGM
(Screenshots of an early Tekken 3 arcade build from a Tekken 3 Special Feature in Electronic Gaming Monthly's February 1997 issue. It featured a different version of the character select screen (below) and character specific taunts (above/note Nina's very Anna-like taunt animation), activated by pressing the start button. The blue jeans type pants Nina is sporting would later be replaced with black leather pants.)
Tekken Magazine Scan
Tekken CG Opening Movie
Tekken CGI FMV Movie
Nina Tekken CG Model
Nina Tekken CGI Render

"The Tekken that emerged after I left has fallen below my expectations."

For their latest issue Retro Gamer magazine sat down with developer Yutaka Kounoe to look back at the making of Tekken. What we got is a really interesting 4 page spread with plenty of firsthand behind-the-scenes information; Kounoe gives an honest insight into the making of this juggernaut franchise. My own little blend of (Nina-centric) production artwork and pictures is just to accompany the insightful read.
If the quotations here got you interested go grab a copy of Retro Gamer's current issue #104.
Retro Gamer is a British magazine, published worldwide, covering retro video games. In addition to all good newsagents Retro Gamer is also available in digital format on the iPhone newsstand app and can be downloaded from both iTunes and Zinio (for Windows, Android and iOS devices). You can order a physical copy of the current issue and/or back issues via https://www.imagineshop.co.uk/

After finishing work on Namco's first light-gun game Point Blank/Gun Bullet (1994) Yutaka Kounoe worked on the original arcade versions of Tekken (1994), Tekken 2 (1995) and Tekken 3 (1997), which he was in charge of. Other titles include popular '80s arcade game Dig Dug (1982), drive 'n shoot arcade title Lucky & Wild (1993), the multi-directional shooter Tank Force (1991) and the Xbox-exclusive first-person action game Breakdown (2004). He's the founder of indie game developer O-Games. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here

Sorrel Tilley is a writer, freelance journalist and Japanese translator. He regularly writes for Retro Gamer magazine (Imagine Publishing) and various websites. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here

Images were scanned from the Japanese Tekken - Gamest Mook Vol. 8 (Shinseisha), the Japanese Tekken 2 for PlayStation Player Guide (Sony Magazines), the Japanese Making of Game Graphics 1998-2001 by CG & Digital Video World (Works Corporation), the Japanese Tekken Chronicle artbook (Softbank Publishing), the Art of Tekken artbook (BradyGames Publishing) and Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine issue #91 February 1997 (Ziff-Davis Publishing).

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