The Making of ‘SOULCALIBUR VI’ (Part 3)

In the Making of ‘SOULCALIBUR Ⅵ’ (Part 3), Developers will share in-depth, geeky episodes from their specialized fields.

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 Creator/ 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 Creator / DLC Sound Director
The man who makes everyone happy

As a professional Programmer

●Michinori Ozawa
Game Designer / Producer

Ozawa: Now, let’s get into technical and professional episodes. Mr. Ota, could you tell us your challenges in making battle’s internal mechanics?

Ota: This time, we created a new battle system, “the Lethal Hit”. This system has really complicated conditions for activation such as “do a certain move successfully for a certain number of times” or “do a move successfully from a distance” etc., and those conditions are different depending on a character’s personality. Usually, a Programmer makes what he/she is requested to each time. Like if someone asks me “I want you to make this”, I do it and return it “Here you are”. However, if I worked in that way, I would not be able to do any other things because making the Lethal Hit was so time-consuming.
The important thing is to move Development ahead even if a Programmer doesn’t work each time. So, I had been trying to make a generic mechanism which can be adjusted by a Game Designer while satisfying their requests.

Ozawa: That sounds very professional.

Ota: Yeah, I think so. (Laughter)

Osaka: Every time I made a request to Mr. Ota, he always asked me back. For example, when I told him “I want to make a cool move like this triggered by a successful attack with these conditions”, he replied me back from a player’s point of view, “Sure! Also, if you wish, I can arrange the mechanism so that you can make a different way of attack by changing those conditions a bit. Do you need it?”
Subsequently, other interesting way of attacks I had never imagined popped up and I was so excited. Mr. Ota generalized the mechanism so that I can realize those ideas by myself. With this mechanism, by adding just a minor adjustment, I, a Game Designer, can make a new Lethal Hit! What a surprise! When a Programmer who knows well about fighting-game and a Game Designer work together, possibilities of the game can be expanded unexpectedly. I really enjoyed this process this time.

Takahashi (Yoshinori): Of course the Lethal Hit has to be interesting as a battle system. But at the same time, I wanted to connect it to the story and each character’s personality.
So, I threw my idea to a Programmer, like “I’m sure this character will be so chagrined if he/she loses, and that makes him/her more powerful in the next round.” Then I asked the Programmer if my idea can be incorporated to the Lethal Hit and discussed a solution if it’s difficult. That improvement process was exciting.

Ozawa: Did you feel in the same way, Mr. Ota?

Ota: Oh, yes! But still, generalizing the mechanism is not an easy task. When I’m making it, I always think about how Game Designer alone can complete their work.

Make more beautiful than memory

Ozawa: This time, the theme was “Reboot”. What did you try as a Visual Designer?

Yoshie: I heard that this game is a “Reboot” of ‘SOULCALIBURⅠ’. Strictly speaking, ‘SOULCALIBURⅠ’ for Dreamcast (*1). “Why don’t we recreate that colorful, brilliant images on current hardware while maintaining the impression of 20 years ago?”; That was the start. We tried to express those images including textures or lights and so on using Unreal® Engine (*2) through trial and error.

*1 Dreamcast
Home video game console released on 1998 by Sega Corporation (Sega Enterprises, Ltd., at that time.)

Yoshie: In SOULCALIBUR for Dreamcast, textures’ colors were brilliant. I have worked on making screens or a character’s unique color look bright using effects and lights since that time.

Nakatsuru: Screens were rather too bright then, right?

Yoshie: Yes. So many colors were available and translucent processing or motion play were beautiful, too.

Takahashi (Yoshinori): Expressing metallic luster of weapons are really important because this is a weapon fighting game. Our task was how we recreate those remarkable elements in ‘SOULCALIBUR Ⅰ’ on current hardware.

Ozawa: Masuteru san (Mr. Yoshinori Takahashi), though you were a Player on the time of ‘SOULCALIBUR Ⅰ’, now you are a Developer. What did you ask Mr. Yoshie as a Developer?

●Yoshinori Takahashi
Game Designer / Director

Takahashi (Yoshinori): The experience I played ‘SOULCALIBURⅠ’ was intense. That memory has been idealized during more than ten years.
So, I thought I had to make specific requests as a devoted fan to recreate that beautiful world this time. This game has amazing stages which have deserts, historic ruins, castles, etc., and there are varieties of characters including Ninja, Western knight, and so on.
Developers needed to construct the world of this game using these various elements.
Mr. Yoshie devoted himself to elaborate each element with much care. I’m so thankful for him. Now, I’m confident that players of ‘SOULCALIBUR Ⅵ’ can also experience the same kind of thrill I used to feel before.

Yoshie: I really want to show these settings to longtime-fans. I’m glad if they like it.

SOULCALIBUR’s iconic “Greek Temple”

Ozawa: ’SOULCALIBUR Ⅵ’ was unveiled for the first time in its promotion video (hereinafter referred to as “PV”) played in “The Game Awards 2017” held in the States. How did people respond then?

Takahashi (Yoshinori): A Greek temple has been a familiar stage for fans and it appeared in the opening scene of the PV. So, fans shouted “It’s CALIBUR!” as soon as they saw the floor of the Greek temple.

Yoshie: Just with the floor. (Laughter)

Takahashi (Yoshinori): Yes. Even only with the floor, fans detected the distinctive taste of SOULCALIBUR. And other elements including flying sparks, solid music, and a battle scene using a new system with well-known characters, Mitsurugi and Sophitia, also gave fans a strong impression of a revival of SOULCALIBUR after six years.

Ozawa: On SNS, many fans were saying that Mitsurugi got younger.

Takahashi (Yoshinori): It’s just as we expected.

Yoshie: Yeah. I thought “Right.” We made him younger. (Laughter)

Ozawa: When you started to make stages, the first one was the temple. Was it also a part of your plan?

Yoshie: Yes it was. Because the temple is an icon of SOULCALIBUR, and this game is the only one created with a motif of the 16th century in our company’s products. As a flagship, we elaborated the temple stage, Mitsurugi, and Sophitia at first. And when we thought “OK, it’s ready for release!”, we asked to make that PV. Then, we began to create all stages and characters rapidly one after another based on the flagship. The process before reaching that point was the hardest part.

Takahashi (Yoshinori): Yes, it was. I agree.

Ozawa: It must have been so rewarding.

©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.

Osaka: Through a battle scene in the PV played at “The Game Awards 2017”, we sent a new message – “We’ve introduced a new battle system so that player can play with ‘sword’”. We wanted to show how cool the sword master is. When a character is attacked in a sequence, if he/she dodges all of them and fights back, isn’t that so cool? In the PV, we showed we made that possible in ‘Ⅵ’. When I saw customers got so excited at the dodging scene, I became aware they were expecting this ‘Ⅵ’ more than ever in the series. I was really pleased.

“Reboot” for the Sound team

Ozawa: How did you reflect the theme “Reboot” as the Sound team?

Yano:  In the course of ‘SOULCALIBUR Ⅰ’ to ‘Ⅴ’, sounds had become complicated more and more. We had been making sounds rich to add various expressions. But because of their too much information, some sounds were getting unclear about what they express. So, in ‘Ⅵ’, we’ve tried to make sounds simpler to make them understandable. For example, sword cutting sound, guarding sound, etc. And by using those simplified sounds, we made it clearer what was going on at each moment. We also clarified the characteristic repelling sound of the Reversal Edge. We’ve been thinking of making sounds symbolic all the time.

Nakatsuru: In the PV played at “The Game Awards 2017”, the Mitsurugi’s theme music in ‘SOULCALIBUR Ⅰ’ is partially included. We believe that we succeeded to express the idea of back-to-the-roots to longtime fans by using this sound.

Yano:  Many other past melodies are used for stage music, too.

Nakatsuru: Past motifs are used in an about half of stages. There are both noticeable and non- noticeable motifs, but anyway, I tried to use a variety of past music.

Takahashi (Yoshinori): I wanted both old fans and new fans to be happy. I think the Sound team felt in the same way. They wanted old fans to find a past melody and pleased with it though it’s not in the main melody. Since the Sound team always tried to do something new like that, I rarely needed to give instructions as a Game Designer.

Ozawa: So the idea was from the producing site.

Takahashi (Yoshinori):  That’s right. I completely trust the Sound team because they are doing just fine without instructions.

Ozawa: Mr. Nakatsuru, you have been involved in ‘SOULCALIBUR’ series since ‘Ⅰ’. How did you feel about using past music?

●Junichi Nakatsuru
Sound Creator / Sound Director

Nakatsuru: Well, there were good and difficult aspects. Because I, myself, created the original music, that one is the best for me. It’s fixed, completed in me as a final answer. However, I had to create a better music this time by rebooting, I mean reconstructing, the music once I completed.
Sometimes the rebooting goes well, but sometimes not. Exceeding the original is really difficult. The original is the best after all. Specifications don’t matter. Since memories are often idealized, the impression of the original music in ‘I’ never be changed even if we give lots of reasons, or say that we used such good materials or a gorgeous orchestra.
So, I’ve been trying to approach from a different angle. If I don’t try anything new, the music never be better than the original. I’ve been always thinking what I can do ‘now’. It’s extremely difficult though……

Yano: I simply enjoyed. When I was composing a music, I used a phrase from “New Legend”, which is composed by Mr. Nakatsuru. I was delighted when the phrase fitted into a puzzle in my tune because I felt like the history of SOULCALIBUR had been connected.

Nakatsuru: I purposely asked composing to someone who was not doing it in early times. Since I already have a final answer, as I said now, I expected someone else to create a music with a fresh approach.

Takahashi (Yoshinori): In ‘Ⅵ’, there’s an otherworld stage named “Astral Chaos”. I asked the Sound team to create music for there, but I didn’t give detailed requests – just told them “It’s a chaotic otherworld” or something. Then I heard that a person never worked for SOULCALIBUR was put in charge of that, right?

Nakatsuru: Yeah. I asked to join people who are new to SOULCALIBUR, too. They rather surprised us by creating music using an unexpected approach without preconception.

Ozawa: The sound track has been released. How’s the response? Did all people here buy it? Raise your hand if you did! (Laughter)

Takahashi (Yoshinori):  The response is pretty good. In the sound track, you can clearly hear that which phrase is used in which tune. I often see comments like “I could find points Developers stuck to.” There were also comments like “I’ve never noticed that there are such many tunes in ‘SOULCALIBUR Ⅵ’”

Nakatsuru: 71 tunes in total, I guess.

Takahashi (Yoshinori): As a result that I asked to create tunes for each situation including story modes, many tunes are in it.

Nakatsuru:  Like “Let’s change a tune here”. (Laughter)

Ozawa:  Is it the most ever?

Nakatsuru:  Yeah, it is, or comparable, I think.

Appealing points in DLC Season 2

Ozawa: Let’s talk about upcoming things now. At ‘EVO 2019’ in August, the release of DLC Season 2 was announced. Mr. Takahashi (Kazuo), could you give comments to our customers filled with expectation for DLC Season 2?

●Kazuo Takahashi
Game Designer / DLC Development Producer

Takahashi (Kazuo):  By the time this article is launched, DLS Season 2 might have already started. The delivery of characters and creation parts that were popular in DLC Season 1 will be continued in DLC Season 2, too. We’ll also continue modification and delivery of free contents to make customers happy!
We hope that customers are also satisfied with the volume of game and play it for long time. In ‘SOULCALIBUR Ⅵ’, the compilation of the series, we’d like to do everything we can do as a Developer.
And, we have delivered a character and creation parts alternately in DLC Season 1. But in response to our customers’ requests, we’d like to try to deliver them together in DLC Season 2 not to keep customers waiting.
Also, additionally to our existing customers, we hope new customers to play ‘SOULCALIBUR Ⅵ’. We would like to appeal a new battle system or characters’ new moves, which we showed in the PV at ‘EVO 2019’, to people who think about playing ‘Ⅵ’ or potential customers who have played SOULCALIBUR Series but never played ‘Ⅵ’, and make it exciting.

©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.

Ozawa: Because this is a compilation, it’s good opportunity to buy, right?

Takahashi (Kazuo): Exactly! This will be the best buy. (Laughter)

Ozawa:  Could you tell customers appealing points in DLC Season 2 as a Director?

Takahashi (Yoshinori): In DLC Season 1, we could read customers’ opinions through various routes and reflected them to the product. We would like to make the game which doesn’t waste players’ effort so far, in addition to make it easy for new customers to start from DLC Season 2. ‘SOULCALIBUR Ⅵ’ has been selected as an official game title of EVO Japan next year and it’s going to get more and more exciting. Now is the time to play! If you have never played SOULCALIBUR Series before, this is a chance!

Ozawa: As an Animator, what would you like to appeal about battles in DLC Season 2?

Iijima:  Well, as an Animator, I’d like to keep creating moves that make customers say “So cool!” or “Awesome!” without stopping.

SOULCALIBUR Series have accumulation in its 20-year history. To accumulate more, I’ll keep doing quality jobs.As for a story, I want to express both new and existing characters using effective facial animation etc. so that players can deeply dive into a story.

Ozawa:  Come to think of it, both Producer (Michinori Ozawa) and DLC Producer (Kazuo Takahashi) used to be Animators.

Iijima: Interesting.

Ozawa: The first Producer was also a former Animator, right?

Iijima:  It’s a curious coincidence.

Ozawa: In our company’s fighting games, animation holds an important position.

Iijima: Right. I think animation is quite important when constructing a character’s personality.

Takahashi (Yoshinori): Animator has been a kind of star since when the company was NAMCO. I believe our animation has excellent reputation.

Iijima:  Me, too. I really want to inherit it and keep creating cool moves considered as the best animation in the world.

Takahashi (Kazuo): Animation can be players’ strong motivation to play – like “I want to move this character!”. It’s essential element for fun. Also, animation clearly expresses each character’s personality. Every character has unique and cool animation and strongly attracts players.

©BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.

For the future of SOULCALIBUR

Ozawa: Now, a last word from each of you, please.

Takahashi (Yoshinori): SOULCALIBUR Series has been praised not only for its battle scenes but also for its world-view and stand-alone mode. Every part is indispensable – battle, story, motion, and music. I am so happy this time because we could create the latest one in the series and customers seem like it. I also happy because I could work with new members, not only with existing members.
Moreover, I believe that we can try various things because we are working on DLC Development, which is continuous and ongoing. I feel good working with these members. I hope customers will keep watching SOULCALIBUR Series.

Osaka: I love my job. I’ve been played SOULCALIBUR Series for 20 years since I was in a junior high. During that time, I participated overseas tournaments as a player and had chances to talk with worldwide SOULCALIBUR fans. I found every player has his/her own favorite in the series. So, since I started this development with Masuteru san (Mr. Yoshinori Takahashi), we’ve been making effort to make ‘Ⅵ’ the best in the series. And now, customers talk to me like “’SOULCALIBUR Ⅵ’ is the best!” or “I love it!” at events etc. This job is really rewarding.

Ota: I worked for ‘Ⅴ’ for the first time in the ‘SOULCALIBUR’ series. After that, I had joined other projects and now I came back to ‘SOULCALIBUR Ⅵ’, and I’m very happy with that. In ‘Ⅵ’, I’ve been involved in the development from the beginning to DLC Season1. I feel there’s a room for improvement, so I would like to try to make it better. You can look forward to DLC Season2!

Iijima: I am also very happy to be able to join the development of ‘SOULCALIBUR Ⅵ’ as a BANDAI NAMCO Studios’ Animator because I used to play ‘SOULCALIBUR Ⅱ’ with my friends all night, every night. While I have been working with members, I begun to realize that everyone had so much love for SOULCALIBUR. And now, I’m becoming one of them. (Laughter)
As for animation, ideas for better expression are growing in me, so I would like to reflect them to the product. I used to make animation for the home-use ‘THE IDOLM@STER’, but now I’m making whole different animation in the same company. It’s so challenging and this environment is wonderful for Animator

Yohise: I’ve been involved in SOULCALIBUR Series more than 20 years since ‘Ⅰ’. I’m making characters with much love because I feel every one of them is like my family of long standing. I devoted myself to making characters which going to be added in DLC Season 2, too. I think customers will love them!

Nakatsuru: These three members including me (Yano, Nakatsuru, Yoshie) have worked for SOULCALIBUR for 20 years. It’s almost like our lifework. We have so much love with this product because we’ve been involved in this all the time in some sort of way. This time, we could look back what we have created with the theme of “Reboot”. So, I’m excited about making something refreshed, new thing, not an extension of past works. I think I’m in a perfect environment thanks to BANDAI NAMCO Studios, and developing with much fun.

Yano: In ‘SOULCALIBUR Ⅵ’, its story and worldview sunk in for the first time. Additionally, I developed emotional attachments to characters because I could understand their background deeply. So, I’m very sure that this product will be better and better. Also, all members are so devoted to development, so I think the series will remain popular as long as they have their enthusiasm.

Takahashi (Kazuo): I believe that DLC Season 2 will be even better. Along with that, ‘SOULCALIBUR Ⅵ’ will develop, too. We would like to create DLC Season 2 together with fans with boundless love for SOULCALIBUR, so please look forward to it. Starting from working as a part time worker for ‘SOUL EDGE’, that was my first experience for SOULCALIBUR Series, I adjusted game balance, became an Animator, and became a Part Leader of various mode, then this time, I’m working as a DLC Producer. I have seen a variety of chances, genres, or projects in BANDAI NAMCO Studios firsthand. If you are interested in working at BANDAI NAMCO Studios, don’t hesitate to try!

Ozawa: Finally, I’d like to give messages to those who are reading this article. Since I am a Producer, I didn’t create a game itself. What I created was this team, Project Soul. Not data. This is the best team in the world in making fighting games. I believe I could deliver how enthusiastic our Developers are through this talk.
We look forward to your continuing patronage to SOULCALIBUR Series, Project Soul, and BANDAI NAMCO Studios.

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Distributer: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment

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