The Making of ‘SOULCALIBUR VI’ (Part 2)

In the Making of ‘SOULCALIBUR VI’ (Part 2), the 20th anniversary of the series, we’d like to introduce what challenges we faced and how we felt about reactions from players.

Project Members of ‘SOULCALIBUR VI’ development
Michinori Ozawa Game Designer / Producer
SOULCALIBUR devotee who has produced a number of titles.
Yoshinori Takahashi Game Designer / Director
A living SOULCALIBUR VI dictionary. The team gave him the nickname “Masuteru”.
Tomofumi Osaka Game Designer / Battle Director
The world’s best SOULCALIBUR VI live commentator.
Masanori Ota Program Engineer / Lead Programmer
Quick to action, super-programmer.
Hideo Yoshie Visual Designer / Art Director
Artist who has worked on SOULCALIBUR series from the very beginning.
Junichi Nakatsuru Sound / Sound Director
A master in the world of game sound.
Kazuo Takahashi Game Designer / DLC Development Producer
The man who will lead the development team of SOULCALIBUR, “Project Soul”, from hereon.
Hiromichi Iijima Animator / DLC Animation Director
New star in the fighting-game genre.
Yoshihito Yano Sound / DLC Sound Director
The man who makes everyone happy!

In response to players’ reaction

■Ozawa: In “EVO Japan”, ”Amy”, and in “EVO 2019”, “Cassandra” has been released. What did you try as an Animator in creating these new characters?

●Hiromichi Iijima
Animator / DLC Animation Director

●Iijima: Making Cassandra means a lot to me because I used to get hooked on playing ‘SOULCALIBUR II’. Masuteru-san (Mr. Takahashi) and Mr. Osaka asked us to make appealing animation both to old and new players.
A theme was prepared to each character, so we concentrated to make an attractive character reflecting it. We’re pretty sure that players love them.
As the sound team talked about characters’ relationships a while ago, we also gave specific facial animation or lines to a specific combination of characters. One of great appeals of SOULCALIBUR series is relationships between characters connected with their rich background. So, we wanted to express it by applying the most suitable facial expression. We believe it worked.

●Takahashi (Yoshinori): For example, Amy and Raphael, a father and a daughter in law, are entirely dependent on each other in their kind of closed world. That’s really important point. So, I asked the amination team to express the relationship between these two characters through facial animation, too. That’s why facial expression of Amy and Raphael is bland or hateful when they fight with other characters, but they look much more relaxed when they fight each other.
Now I’m confident that expression acquired a good reputation from fans.

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●Iijima: I wanted to emphasize Amy’s facial expression because she isn’t very expressive usually. I tried to maximize her charm retaining her original personality by trial and error.

●Nakatsuru: Also at the voice recording, we made lots of requests to a voice actor for more sensitive expressions fit to a character’s emotion, like “That sounds too happy” or “It’s too heavy”.

■Ozawa: That’s really sensitive work! As for facial impressions, many people mentioned about it on SNS. They said “I could see it in her face!”, “Wonderful!” and things like that, and most of them were quite positive.

●Takahashi (Yoshinori): This time, Mr. Iijima and other members achieved such a challenging job – expressing stories through fighting animation! That’s why I admire them.
Let me give you an example. Amy has been taught sword skills by Raphael as a self-defense. But it’s not just a Raphael’s copy. Amy’s motions are described differently from Raphael’s in details because Animators supposed that Amy would arrange the skills in her own way. And when it comes to a showdown, Amy uses a dynamic technique just like Raphael. However, the way to land isn’t same because she is protecting her old wound on her leg caused by an accident. You can see a character’s past and relationships through animation of fighting techniques! Isn’t that crazy?

●All: Yeah! Our Animators are awesome! (applause)

●Iijima: This time, we thoroughly checked the story and setting of this “VI” in advance. Then we struggled to reflect them into animation so that players can empathize with characters. It was very exciting, rewarding job as an Animator.

Elaborated details we worked on

■Ozawa: Now, let me ask Mr. Yoshie. I think Amy and Cassandra’s outfits design are really elaborated. Could you tell us what challenges you faced for that?

●Hideo Yoshie
Visual Designer / Art Director

●Yoshie: I faced a lot of challenges one after another in redesigning outfits. While keeping characters’ impressions and settings, I paid much attention to present fabric textures and add details on surfaces using the advantage of Unreal® Engine (*1)

●Takahashi (Yoshinori): The redesigned outfits should look fresh because they are released as DLC after the game itself and many fans have great expectations. But at the same time, their outfits shouldn’t be totally different. They can’t lose colors of Amy or Cassandra.

Therefore, a Designer needs to know previous outfits and characters’ backgrounds. In that respect, Mr. Yoshie was perfect. He was so reliable because he reflected those things to the visuals.

●Yoshie: You just said that Amy has an old wound on her leg, right? I drew it for the first time in the series. To be honest, I’ve never done it before because I felt uncomfortable drawing a wound on a woman character even if it’s described in a setting. But this time, I added the wound clearly because it is an important factor connected with everything including stories and battles. So, if you play this game in the creation mode, one of the best features of SOULCALIBUR, you can find it on her leg.

●All: Wow, we didn’t know that!

●Ozawa: What I heard now is tempting me to buy DLC.

●Yoshie: Right?

●Osaka: For details of DLC, visit our website!

●Yoshie: Incidentally, Cassandra is wearing stockings made with a material which could not have existed in the 16th century. I devoted myself to express those textures. Our director and I are pretty fussy about stockings. (grin).

●Ozawa: All stocking lovers must be so happy!

“Ongoing” feeling of DLC development

■Ozawa: Mr. Kazuo Takahashi, have you ever had feedback from players about DLC characters?

●Kazuo Takahashi
Game Designer / DLC Development Producer

●Takahashi (Kazuo): Fans welcomed DLCs with great enthusiasm! They said “We’re so happy to see these characters again in the world of ‘SOULCALIBUR VI’!”.
Cassandra, the very popular character, was delivered last of all in the season 1. We are sorry to kept fans waiting. But when she was released, fans looked really excited.
Cassandra is a result of developers’ hard working and love. Among other unique characters, she is also unique enough as a cheerful character in both aspects of game and personality. As for story, we could express the large scale of Cassandra’s heavy theme attractively through conversations with Sophitia.
Every character is special for us, but this time, we realized Cassandra is really important for both fans and us after we received a great response.

■Ozawa: How about you, Mr. Nakatsuru? How do you feel about customers’ responses as a member of the sound team?

●Nakatsuru: Well, an event is an opportunity that we can get responses in the most direct way. At an event, we can check if what we’ve created was right or not. If fans look satisfied, we can become very happy, too. Every time, we get a bit nervous at first, but once we get a good response, we’re so relieved.

●Yano: Yeah, it’s so encouraging.
When Amy was released, I felt she was loved so much by fans. And that means we succeeded in making her more attractive through sounds, too, I guess.
I felt in the same way about Cassandra. I thought I could express her by sounds when I saw fans’ comments like “Her story was really rich and deep.” on SNS.
Every time a new character comes up in future, I’d like to do my best to connect the character and a story.

●Ota: People who come to an event are enthusiastic and that makes me so motivated.
It’s a kind of barometer. When we see customers are pleased with our products, we can believe that they will be like that again if we work hard next time just like this time.
When I see that customers get excited with a release of new character raising a cheer like “Wow!”, I also get excited! I feel like I want to continue working even after I arrived at my hotel room.

■Ozawa: Do you also get motivated when you go to an event, Mr. Iijima?

●Iijima: Absolutely! I can work much harder.
At EVO Japan, foreign fans delighted at the release of Amy were so impressive for me. On the moment of release, I thought “It was great to be able to create this character.”
When I see that players love and use techniques we made, I’m extremely happy and I swear to myself to do my best again.
Developing DLC is such an interesting job because we can receive customers’ responses one after another.

●Takahashi (Yoshinori): We can develop DLC on a kind of ongoing, real time basis. We can develop characters reflecting customers’ responses directly. We’ll try to do better in the second season!

■Ozawa: When Amy was released at EVO Japan, how did you feel as a Designer?

●Yoshie: The excitement at the event was stimulating. I thought I would like to go to EVO in the States someday.

●Nakatsuru: Good response from customers is the best reward for Developers. It motivates us greatly, moreover, money can’t buy it.

NEXT>>>The Making of 『SOULCALIBUR VI (Part 3) 』(Comming soon)

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Distributer: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment

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(*1) Unreal® is a trademark or registered trademark of Epic Games, Inc. in the United States of America and elsewhere. Unreal® Engine, Copyright 1998 – 2019, Epic Games, Inc. All rights reserved.