De­vel­oper/pub­lisher SNK For­mat Ar­cade, Neo Geo, SNES Re­lease 1994


De­vel­oper/pub­lisher SNK For­mat Ar­cade, Neo Geo, SNES Re­lease 1994

I was placed on the art team, work­ing on an­i­ma­tion and graph­ics, and was so happy to fi­nally be do­ing the kind of work that I had stud­ied at col­lege. I was specif­i­cally re­spon­si­ble for the char­ac­ter Takuma Sakazaki. This is how it worked at SNK at the time: one artist would be re­spon­si­ble for one char­ac­ter. Sakazaki had been the fi­nal boss in the pre­vi­ous game, so it was es­sen­tially a char­ac­ter re­fresh.

Ev­ery­one at SNK had quite a spe­cific role, but my case was a lit­tle spe­cial. While I had trained as an artist, I was also very in­ter­ested in game bal­ance, so I had asked if I could be in­volved in this work as well. It worked like this: we would do the bal­anc­ing and tun­ing in the of­fice, then we would take a pro­to­type to the lo­cal ar­cade. Then I would stand around and watch and take notes while mem­bers of the pub­lic played.

If it was player ver­sus com­puter, I would be check­ing the dif­fi­culty to make sure the game wasn’t too easy or too hard, and keep­ing a close watch on the AI to en­sure that the com­puter wasn’t us­ing the same moves over and over. For ver­sus play I would be check­ing whether or not one par­tic­u­lar move was over­pow­ered. This was cru­cial be­cause fans would get an­gry any­time they found some­thing like an in­fi­nite combo, whereby it was pos­si­ble to be stuck in a sim­ple combo with no means of es­cape. They’d also be cross about a change in a par­tic­u­lar char­ac­ter’s de­sign, or a change to a spe­cific move or tech­nique. Some­times they would


com­plain to us di­rectly, but more of­ten they would use the sur­veys and such that we left there to col­lect feed­back as a way to write all of their com­plaints down. In the past we ac­tu­ally treated some of the su­per­move com­mand in­puts as con­fi­den­tial se­crets, and I had in­stances where fans would chase me down try­ing to pull that spe­cific info from me.

Some of the most ex­cit­ing times were lead­ing up to and dur­ing these lo­ca­tion tests, but it was al­ways stress­ful when bugs popped up right in front of you. Some­times the play­ers would even get an­gry or make fun of us. That said, it was al­ways a great ex­pe­ri­ence see­ing the play­ers play our game in per­son. Lo­ca­tion tests in that pe­riod were al­most like a fes­ti­val. Peo­ple would line up in ad­vance of the ar­cade open­ing and stay there un­til mid­night when the ar­cade closed. See­ing so many fans en­joy the game over the course of an en­tire day was a great at­mos­phere and very fun for me. Some play­ers were so ded­i­cated to the event that they would bring their own lunch. I re­mem­ber times when the en­tire neigh­bour­hood would be over­flow­ing with cos­play­ers who were also at­tend­ing the event.

King, an an­drog­y­nous Muay Thai fighter mod­elled on the singer Grace Jones, fea­tures heav­ily in King Of Fight­ers, but de­buted in Art Of Fight­ing as its sole playable fe­male char­ac­ter. She was re­ferred to as ‘he’ in the mar­ket­ing ma­te­ri­als, how­ever

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