Cem: We are together here with Carmelo from InsertGame, Mac from SignedByR, Filip from Hardedge.Org and me, Cem aka Kendeep from Orochinagi. We are delighted to have our interviewees Yasuyuki Oda-San and Nobuyuki Kuroki-San from SNK. First of all, we are happy that you are here and we hope you have a great time here.
Oda-San: This is the first time I’ve come to Germany, and I’m really enjoying it so far.
Cem: Happy to hear that. You have recently returned to SNK, and you have been at your previous company for quite some time for Street Fighter 4 and SFxT. What exactly made you return to SNK?
Oda: We are honored to tell you that the both of us (Kuroki-San) came back to SNK.To explain, the people at SNK were not doing consumer games for a while. Mr Kawasaki wanted to come back to consumer games.
Cem: So SNK came to you asking you to work for them again?
Oda: Yeah. To be more precise, we got called by Ogura-San, who is the main Illustrator of KoF14 and a member of the Ex-Fatal Fury team.
Filip: Oda-San worked on the SF4 and Cross Tekken Series. How was your experience at that time and did something out of that experience influence the development of KoF14?
Oda: Of course at the work, my previous experiences influence my work after that, but to be frank I cant explain you in detail how exactly it influences my work at SNK.
Carmelo: How did you approach the design of the engine of the game and how come you did not work with an existing engine and what are the benefits of your engine?
Oda: At the beginning of KoF14 we actually started using Unreal Engine, but due to some conditions, costs and some staff members we decided to go with our own engine.
Cem: In past IPs, there are fan favourite characters like Oswald, Freeman, Honfu or Rick from Real Bout and most of them never really got into KoF except for Oswald who came from KoF11. But since they are actually fan favourites characters and with the addition of characters like Tung or Geese, can we expect these characters at some point in the future, may it be for KoF14 or for a future installement?
Laurent (Translator): You mean characters which as..?
Cem: Like Oswald, Freeman, Honfu or Team USA. Heavy D!
Oda: There is no chance that they will never appear. Oh yeah, Kuroki-San was the designer for Rick Strowd.
Cem: Nice! Rick is awesome.
Filip: What was the focus of developing KoF14 and why? What did the team focus on first and primarily?
Oda: First, we made sure the game appears on the screen. We worked so that it was playable at first. Then came shaders, and in parallel we took care of the motions and the gameplay. Plus the system and sound and voice actors were also important aspects, doing the paper work with them. So everything was done in parallel.
Carmelo: Many players are excited for the netcode of the game. Ragequitting is a real problem right now. Do you have anything done to punish Ragequitting?
Oda: There are going to be penalties for Rage Quitting players. The game investigates the connection of the online players and the game penalizes by match making the disconnecting players together.
Carmelo: That’s a very nice solution.
Mac: Also about the netcode, in the previous KoF Games, like 13 or Steam Edition, there were complains about the netcode. The steam version improved a lot but not perfect still. What did SNK do in the development to improve the netcode and give the players a better online experience?
Oda: The online of 14 will be done through Peer to Peer connections. We were aware of the online connections and heard feedback about that. We made sure that KoF14 would give the best experience.
Cem: In the beginning there was a lot of feedback and criticism for the appearance of the game. Longterm some SNK followers gave their trust to the game, thanks to the appearances of the new stages like the Castle Garden which I think most SNK fans really appreciate. While the graphics at some point are at some point a common point of feedback, how did the team react to the reaction?
Kuroki-San: As you know the game was first presented at PSX last year. The game was not finalized and completed, so we just kept working on the game to make sure to improve the quality. So we decided to just keep walking to reach the current quality, improving on past things such as the shaders. We dont have quarters outside of Osaka, so we had to search for publishers. Thats why we had to announce the game which was still in development in order to reach out to publishers.
Mac: So there is no SNK place in USA no more?
Adam (second translator): There is still an office in USA, but as Oda-San commented, we dont have any headquarters in Europe, and everything on the bussines side is still based on the Osaka-side.
Filip: There was a rumour about a yearly patch?
Oda: That’s only a rumour.
Carmelo: What about game centers. I heard a lot of GC are turning down bussiness. Do you have any plans to bring SNK back to the arcades also?
Oda: We have no plans for the moment, but if the conditions are all ready, we will be happy to release games for the centers again, and I would love to go for that again.
Mac: In recent interviews you said you loved how KoF13 did at Evo for 3 years in a row. Does SNK have plans for supporting tournaments around the round or push KoF in the e-sports series?
Oda: Theres a lot of tournaments all over the world. We are working with partners in Europe and North America, Deep Silver and Atlus to support these events and tournaments. We are going to keep doing that post-launch as well.
Cem: In what aspect does KoF14 want to compete vs other fighting games?
Oda: With KoF the fact that we have 50 characters, due to the 3 on 3 mechanic, we are sure we can compete with this.
Cem: Yeah, the characters are a lot of fun.
Filip: KoF tried many different styles 1999/2001 had the strikers system, 2003 and XI had the Tag Shift System. Do you want to try something similar again or rather go for something unique?
Oda: The striker system was not that fun personally, compared to other games that used a similar system. I would like to challenge new game mechanics in the future.
Carmelo: How will you treat wishes from the community about KoF14 in terms of fixing bugs, glitches or things that are unintended like the fuzzy guarding and stuff like that?
Oda: We will make sure to remove all type of bugs that will arise in the game.
Cem: You two have been part of the game development for a very long time. You have been doing a lot of fighting game work. What exactly is it that keeps you doing fighting games?
Oda: It seems there is a misunderstanding. We have been working on different game genres, we are just known for fighting games, for example Kuroki-San worked on Sonic.
*everyone laughs and is in awe.
Cem: Gotta go fast!
Carmelo: Where do you get your inspiration from and how do you approach new ideas for games?
Oda: I can’t really say, it just comes like that. Maybe it falls down from the space?
Cem: Concerning the soundtrack of KoF14, Hideki-San (Sha-V) is working on it. He also worked on KoF11, which I really liked. How come he got to work on KoF14 again?
Oda: He is the guy for that.
Cem: Ah, so he works at SNK?
Oda: Yes. Another thing about Sha-V-San is that he left the company and came back many years ago before I did.
Carmelo: Did you have any plans to ever bring the Garou Densetsu series back? I was always hoping for a prequel featuring Terrys and Andys father fighting alongside Geese, turning into a villain.
Oda: If I was going to make a prequel to the first of the Garou, it would be set between the Art of Fighting series and the Fatal Fury series. If I have the chance to make the prequel I will make it for sure. Actually, everywhere in the world people ask me that question.
Filip: With so many active fighting game studios right now, is there any company you would like to have a crossover game right now?
Oda: There is no plan at the moment for a crossover title, but if we have an offer from another studio, why not? The thing is, if we have to work on a character from another company, it’s really stressful.
Carmelo: How about new IPs? Are there plans to bring new franchises to the market? Like a platformer, puzzle game or racing game?
Oda: Currently nothing like this is planned, however as soon as we improve our skills and techniques we will look into new IPs and stuff.
Filip: ArcSystemWorks developed a game for Persona, as did Capcom for Jojo and Marvel. If you have a chance to produce a fighting game for a popular franchise, anime, manga, cartoon or anything, which franchise would that be?
Oda: Maybe Street Fighter from Capcom?
Oda: Kamen Rider also?
everyone: Whoa! We know Kamen Rider!
Oda: I’m, a big fan of Kamen Rider, haha.
everyone: So are we.
Cem: In KoF13, in order to create the 2D graphics its documented that the whole team used the 3D rendering technique to draw over the 3D models. Does this technique help in creating the models in KoF14?
Kuroki: We used completely different techniques to achieve the graphics in KoF14.
Mac: Is there any chance which uses the same graphic techniques of KoF13, not only Fighting Games? Like Metal Slug…?
Oda: No plans at the moment for using the technique at the moment. But theres no chance to not do it.
Mac: KoF13 really looked great. One of the best 2D engines made.
Oda: Thank you.
Filip: A simple question from my side: Whats your favourite villain from the SNK games?
Oda: For me it’s Mr. Big. Or Geese.
Kuroki: Geese, yeah.
Laurent: I agree, Geese. Maybe Yamazaki.
Adam: Also Geese.
Carmelo: Was it more difficult to make games in the old days or is it more of a hassle to do them nowadays?
Oda: Now is way(!) tougher! It is harder than it used to be in the past.
Thanks again to SNK: Oda, Kuroki, Laatz and Vernézy, for coming to Germany and we wish them and Koch Media the best with the release of KOFXIV.