De­vel­oper/pub­lisher SNK For­mat Ar­cade, Dream­cast, Neo Geo Re­lease 1999


De­vel­oper/pub­lisher SNK For­mat Ar­cade, Dream­cast, Neo Geo Re­lease 1999

Be­tween 1993 and 2000, when I first worked at SNK, I was pro­moted through the com­pany to a po­si­tion of se­nior­ity where I was made di­rec­tor on Mark Of The

Wolves. Fi­nally, I had the chance to make the kind of game that I wanted to make, es­sen­tially from scratch. My boss told me I had com­plete free­dom to make any changes that I wanted.

Now, for a long time I had wanted to make a game that was quicker, in the gran­u­lar sense of the amount of time be­tween the player press­ing a but­ton and the on-screen char­ac­ter ex­e­cut­ing a guard or an at­tack. This meant re­mov­ing be­tween two and four frames of an­i­ma­tion. Prior to this, due to the fact we had these longer in­put win­dows in our games, skil­ful play­ers could ex­e­cute very long com­bos, which I felt re­sulted in bor­ing matches. By re­duc­ing the num­ber of frames, it made the com­bos shorter and brisker, which made matches more en­joy­able to play and to watch. On the other hand, when the at­tacks con­nected in Mark Of The Wolves, I made the win­dow longer, ex­tend­ing the so-called ‘hit stop’. This gives the player an in­creased sense of drama and im­pact.

I also wanted to in­tro­duce an al­most en­tirely new char­ac­ter ros­ter. So we were able to de­velop char­ac­ter de­signs from noth­ing. It was, es­sen­tially, a com­plete re­fresh. This was the first time I had the chance to de­sign my own char­ac­ters. There was no di­rec­tion; we were able to make what­ever we wanted. So I made the char­ac­ters smaller than in pre­vi­ous Fa­tal Fury games, which al­lowed them to move from one side of the screen to the other much more quickly. The game was very well-re­ceived at the time.

Of course, we all knew that the Neo Geo wasn’t go­ing to last for­ever. To be hon­est, on the de­vel­op­ment floor we were all ea­ger to move on to PlayS­ta­tion from quite an early stage. I don’t know if there were any plans for a new Neo Geo con­sole, but what­ever hap­pened, our view on the de­vel­op­ment side was that we sim­ply wanted to make games for pop­u­lar plat­forms.

Dur­ing Neo Geo’s prime, ri­val com­pa­nies had started to re­lease 3D games for ri­val hard­ware. SNK was still fo­cus­ing on games fea­tur­ing 2D sprites, so we had to make up for be­ing un­able to use 3D cam­eras to cre­ate im­pact­ful scenes by putting more work and de­tail into all of our char­ac­ters and stages. The artists at SNK would pay an in­cred­i­ble level of at­ten­tion to the de­signs. Look at Geese Howard from the King Of Fight­ers series, for ex­am­ple. For his su­per move, Rag­ing Storm, we re-worked the an­i­ma­tions on his fin­gers specif­i­cally in or­der to make it look as evil as pos­si­ble. That was the level of de­tail we were fo­cused on.

MarkOfTheWolves (be­low) is among the best-loved Neo Geo fight­ing games. It’s one of the few fight­ers of the era to still fea­ture on the tour­na­ment cir­cuit

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