OK, so I made this very, very fast, so it might be inaccurate from time to time. Sorry for the mistakes and typos.
Mr. Kukino (Producer or KOF XII), NG Hakase (producer of KOF 02UM), the green Yusa, interviewed by a FFL guy named Sashimi
- how much time and work / character ?
K: One person alone would have had to work 16/17 month to create one character. The art director supervised everything, while the staff was divided into teams at each stage of the development. Each character was created by a team of around 10 people.
- How many frames per move/character?
K: it varies greatly, but the most detailed move has around 30 different frames. Each character has between 400 and 600 frames.
Yusa : The total number hasn’t much increased since the neogeo days. Less, and it looks ugly; more, and the balance is destroyed.
Our goal was to rework all the useless moves so they would look more natural, and make everything move smoother. You have to keep the same ratio of frames by character, or it just won’t be KOF anymore. This was the first thing we agreed upon.
- There are less characters then usual, and I guess there were several characters you absolutely wanted but had to remove in the end?
K: We wanted to create the ultimate fighting tool, and we chose the characters accordingly. You’ll see.
Y: Instead of removing character, we created KOF XII as a base that will grow like the older games of the series. It’s not because a character wasn’t chosen this time that he won’t ever appear anymore. Our final goal is to ultimately redraw every single KOF character in this definition.
- The backgrounds are very lively this time. Concept/favorite character?
K: The art director supervised all these as well. He created the sketch, and the staff worked from that base. That’s why they are so great. They move much more than any background until now. Since each one represent a country, each one has a very strong personality.
Y: And your favorite character?
K: We worked a lot on the fat lady in the France stage (w).
Y: what about you, hakase?
NG: the fat lady as well! (w)
K: the concept of this stage is some kind of luxury resort, that’s why the people there are so well fed. Also, the character in the foreground that moves a lot is called “Madame Catherine”… (w).
- Several characters are back to their roots. Will there be characters from old SNK games that are going to appear in a KOF game for the first time?
Y: Well… Raiden, for example.
- Question on the development are over. Now, about the system and the characters.
Will all the characters share the same ending?
K: No story, no individual ending.
Y: As a maker, we WILL finish the Ash storyline. XII is the ultimate fighting tool and a base for future projects, so we worked mostly on the system and the graphics.
Will there be a super gauge?
K: Of course.
Y: We never thought of removing it.
And a combo counter?
K: Of course. (w)
How many alternate colors?
K: 4, but we are still working on it.
What about the super-super moves, MAX supers, MAX2, Leader supers?
K: This time, the usual supers will be the highest damaging moves. No MAX, MAX2 or other.
Will there be visual effects when you finish your opponent with a super?
K: We don’t think so.
Ash moves a lot differently.
K: Ash was quite different from the rest of the cast. We reworked his moves and speech to be more consistent with the rest of the cast.
Y: And he’s not the only one. In older KOFs, even with 40 or 50 characters, the characters that are really used are much fewer. This time, we worked on each of the 20 characters so they each have their own flavor, so they are all used. It’s always sad when nobody use a character. Since we are reworking everything from the beginning, we can change even motions and very tiny detail to make each character everything.
Will you use moves from the KOF MI series?
K: If it blends well with our current engine.
Y: MI is a gaiden for the main series, so it can take a lot of liberties with the story. But we can’t take the risk to mix parallel stories with the main one.
Will the music be made by the same team behind KOF XI?
K: It’s not really a team, we are just using our usual staff. Each stage will have his own 2 BGM.
By the way, the music for the promotion movie is specifically for it. We will let you hear from the actual music of the game later.
Strong attacks and special moves cancel each other. Can you tell us more, or are you still working on this system?
K: Of course we are. It’s a brand new system, and we are trying to make it very easy to pick up. For now, all the moves stronger than a strong attack cancel each other. We will modify it in the final product according to what people think of it.
Why won’t there be actual teams this time?
K: Since we don’t have to create team stories, there was no need for default teams.
How about the ura characters from KOF 98 ? Do you think you might reintroduce them?
K:It’s hard to answer this question, but so far, no.
Y: Some fans from the AM show wanted high resolution and sharp animation, while the other half wanted many characters, even if that meant NG sprites. They wanted to continue to use the characters they invested a lot of effort into.
Our answer to this second half of our fans is the UM series. 98UM already did that, and 02UM is the next step. They are an evolution for the NG sprites. On the other hand, the main series will continue to evolve on the visual side. Since users want different things, we give them the opportunity to chose the one they like the most.
You have changed some of the moves, what made you do this?
K: The moves are part of the flavor of each character. We wanted to make some of them even more memorable and in touch with the character.
There are especially few characters this time; did you fear you may risk to lose some character’s fans?
Y: Of course, and the characters that were left away this time will be reintroduced in the sequels. 98UM and 02UM won’t be their last appearance.
You scheduled a location test in April, but it was canceled, and you stop communicating on the subject for a long time. Could you talk to us about this incident?
Y: We were looking at our rivals’games, as some of us wondered if we should release the game with even fewer characters. But we couldn’t make a KOF with less than 20 characters, so we decided to stop there and add some more. It was far too early to make a location test: the systems were rough, and we still had a lot of work to do. We couldn’t make a location test with such an early product, so we decided to just show our game so far at the AM show.
Our biggest concern was to add as many characters as possible.
Nona is the art director for this game. Did the rest of the staff opposed some of his decisions?
K: He worked on everything, from the characters, the backgrounds, the special effects, up to the selection screen, while the director had the final word. That’s why there was no opposition, but instead he listen to all their opinions, mixed them, and transformed them into graphics, that the director approved to make a real KOF world. Of course, some stuff that didn’t fit in XII were left out.
Y: We worked a lot on the feeling of unity of the world. In XI, you had an opening, character illustrations, main visual, character select, winning art, and each used different arts. We unified this in XII. A weaker graphicer couldn’t homogenize all this, and the strongest artist we had at SNK was obviously Nona. You need a lot of energy, talent and determination for this work, and Nona was the obvious choice.
The sprites used to mix different styles according to the person who draw them, but this time, we work so they all looked coherent with each other.
Y: At first, we thought about it, and noticed that in a 2D game, there are walls, but at the same time there aren’t. Bouncing on the wall can look like a bug, and it didn’t fit with our current system.
Last question: Online. Will there be a card system, or an online service?
Y: It makes the game more expensive for the operators, and we thought we would be more accepted with a lower cost.