SF4 Boss Talks Mortal Kombat, Western Design Philosophy

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SF4 Boss Talks Mortal Kombat, Western Design Philosophy

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Street Fighter IV producer Yoshinori Ono thinks that Western fighting games are all about the payoff, not the journey.

Street Fighter IV has done well for Capcom lately. The original game reinvigorated a flagging franchise, Super SF4 improved it, and SSF4 3D Edition is almost certainly the best launch title on the 3DS. There's a great interview with producer Yoshinori Ono over at CVG, but perhaps the most interesting part is where Ono talks Western fighting games - specifically, Mortal Kombat.

"I've played [MK] and I like it but it's obviously very different," said Ono. "I think it represents the difference in philosophy. I find Japanese games tend to find the 'process' of playing the game as the activity and the result may not matter."

In other words, Ono and other Japanese fighting game makers create games where the moment of fighting is what matters - every fireball, dragon punch, and hurricane kick needs to feel good and be entertaining, no matter who ultimately wins the match.

In Mortal Kombat, however, "the fighting and playing is just a pathway to get to the result - it's the Fatality you want to see." Gamers almost want to skip the fighting and get right to the big finish where Liu Kang turns into a dragon and bites the enemy in half.

Western fighters put more emphasis on the result, not the process of getting there, says Ono. Sure, it's fun when you win, but getting there is just something you have to go through. In comparison, Ono thinks Street Fighter is more like chess, with players reacting to what their opponents are doing.

"Street Fighter is about timing and distance not the visual result from the fireball."

I'd also say that the difference between the Street Fighter series and the Mortal Kombat series is that one is great and one is mediocre at best, but that's just me.

(CVG)

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That's...surprisingly insightful and on the mark.

Most of the time a Japanese developer is quoted in one of these news posts, it makes me facepalm.

But that's basically dead-on. And surprisingly revealing about design philosophies between the East and West. When you look at Japanese action games versus Western action games...Vanquish was action, action, action. And the cutscenes featured a lot of action, too. Whereas a Western shooter usually has break up sequences like Half Life 2's conversations with allies in little bases scattered around the game. Or the lengthy jogs pasts row of allies soldier foreshadowing the giant battle taking place their 10 minutes later, such as the second mission in Halo 3.

I need to play chess more often.

Soo.. I like MK better than SF and Vanquish more than CoD.. Dat bad?

Onyx Oblivion:

But that's basically dead-on. And surprisingly revealing about design philosophies between the East and West. When you look at Japanese action games versus Western action games...Vanquish was action, action, action. And the cutscenes featured a lot of action, too. Whereas a Western shooter usually has break up sequences like Half Life 2's conversations with allies in little bases scattered around the game. Or the lengthy jogs pasts row of allies soldier foreshadowing the giant battle taking place their 10 minutes later, such as the second mission in Halo 3.

Shouldn't a good 'process' lead to a satisfying 'result'?
Why is it either/or?

He's definitely got a point. I've liked versions of both games, but for the longest time MK's characters were only really differentiated by their special moves and fatalities. And the combo system as frequently as not has felt more like punching in a phone number than anything with any art or skill involved.

Still, I will be interested to see what the new version of MK brings to the mix.

Always been a SF fan myself. Never like the way that MK special moves felt like entering cheat codes; the SF special moves always made more sense and felt more organic.

In any case, I agree with Ono. MK is always about the big finish, whereas in the SF games I've always felt that the entire fight could be epic.

HankMan:

Onyx Oblivion:

But that's basically dead-on. And surprisingly revealing about design philosophies between the East and West. When you look at Japanese action games versus Western action games...Vanquish was action, action, action. And the cutscenes featured a lot of action, too. Whereas a Western shooter usually has break up sequences like Half Life 2's conversations with allies in little bases scattered around the game. Or the lengthy jogs pasts row of allies soldier foreshadowing the giant battle taking place their 10 minutes later, such as the second mission in Halo 3.

Shouldn't a good 'process' lead to a satisfying 'result'?
Why is it either/or?

As far as the Ono in the article I think he's saying there's more EMPHASIS on one rather than the other, not necessarily that you don't have both.

Also, I don't know why I keep playing mortal kombat games, I haven't enjoyed one for more than a half hour or so since Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. (That and shaolin monks me and my old roomie played the shit out of that)

guess that explains y only japanese fighting games are used in Competition. SoulCal, Melty, Blaz, MVC3, SSF4, Tekken, etc.

plus there aren't many notable western fighting games other than MK that i can think of in recent memory. Don't believe thats a fair assessment based on a single franchise. Then again i don't disagree.

HankMan:

Onyx Oblivion:

But that's basically dead-on. And surprisingly revealing about design philosophies between the East and West. When you look at Japanese action games versus Western action games...Vanquish was action, action, action. And the cutscenes featured a lot of action, too. Whereas a Western shooter usually has break up sequences like Half Life 2's conversations with allies in little bases scattered around the game. Or the lengthy jogs pasts row of allies soldier foreshadowing the giant battle taking place their 10 minutes later, such as the second mission in Halo 3.

Shouldn't a good 'process' lead to a satisfying 'result'?
Why is it either/or?

It's not always the case, as there are exceptions to EVERYTHING, but frequently it ends up that way.

I mean, look at Zelda. This is NOT a game played for a satisfying result, assuming the result is the ending. There's no major narrative push...Most of the motivation is gameplay related. The motivation is the see the new puzzles and bosses, and dungeons. You aren't playing to see the ending of the game. You're playing for the journey.

When we get into RPGs, it tends to REVERSE. With WRPGs focusing on the journey, and modern JRPGs (not all of them, though) focusing on large amounts of post-game content. For example, the popular Disgaea series only truly BEGINS once you beat the story mode, which is basically a gigantic tutorial.

HankMan:

Onyx Oblivion:

But that's basically dead-on. And surprisingly revealing about design philosophies between the East and West. When you look at Japanese action games versus Western action games...Vanquish was action, action, action. And the cutscenes featured a lot of action, too. Whereas a Western shooter usually has break up sequences like Half Life 2's conversations with allies in little bases scattered around the game. Or the lengthy jogs pasts row of allies soldier foreshadowing the giant battle taking place their 10 minutes later, such as the second mission in Halo 3.

Shouldn't a good 'process' lead to a satisfying 'result'?
Why is it either/or?

MVC3 is both. god its exciting to watch when the Commentators know what they are talking about, its just damn good to watch. Both the process and the ultimate finish by lvl 3 X-factor comeback. XD

I agree with the closing comment, MK has always been great fun while SF has always been mediocre at best. MK's AI has never been near the cheater SF's has been. See Exhibit A:


They also somehow can instantly do moves you have to hold for 2 seconds to charge (like Guile's Sonic Boom/Flash Kick and Bison's Psycho Crusher).
Tekken also gets red flagged for cheating AI, mostly due to the last boss is the arcade modes. Jinpahci is the single biggest cheater I've personally faced. He is the reason I gave up on a series I used to enjoy.
Though Shao Kahn was a cheating arsehat in MK3. That was back when arcades mattered and when games in general were much more of a challenge (the phrase "NES hard" exists for a reason, SNES era games weren't any easier). Otherwise, MK final bosses were never overly cheap (only ones I haven't fought are the ones in 2 and 4).

East and West have always had different philosophies though. For example, pretty much everyone in European armies had shields (up until late medieval when tempered steel plate became the norm, you don't need to carry a shield when you are wearing one). Japanese warriors never used them since they were regarded as a cowards tool. Samurai did have some rather ingenious ways of stopping arrows, but a simple bit of wood covered in rawhide works better (and is effective against melee weapons as well).

Yeah. SF is about timing, MK is about fun.

As much as im likely to get flamed for this, I agree.

Compare gameplay examples from MvC3 and the upcoming MK.

Dont bother going to youtube ive done it for you.

Now Kratos' trailer when compared to Tasky the fighting scenes just look boring. Not to mention that Kratos' attacks always seem to be punctuated by grunts.

The reason why i stuck more to fighters from Capcom than the likes of MK is because the fights look awesome. MK is just about the violence and if it wanted to specialise in that, it certainly suceeded.

Before you start hitting on the story excuse, its bloody obvious that no-one comes looking for any game of this genre for a story.

MK series mediocre at best? I strongly disagree. Sure, there were a few mediocre games (and a few BAD ones) in the series, but games like MK 1,2,3, Trilogy, Shaolin Monks, Armageddon and Deception were all good games. At "its best" MK games are GREAT, not "mediocre".

On topic:I agree that SF and MK have different philosophies (both valid imo)...and thatīs great. I certainly would not like to see all the games doing the same. MK has its own over-the-top b-movie style violent themes, itīs about flashy moves, fatalities and a "style over substance" approach to gameplay. SF is more about timing, balanced gameplay with lots of strategy with a more conventional thematical approach.

I like them both :)

This is a completely gratiutous comment. The real noticable difference between Japanese and western fighting games is how Japan has advanced access to the most current and cutting edge games in the genre that are released in only arcades like Aquapazza or the latest Virtua Fighter. the only difference with western fighting games is that they are a couple of steps behind Japan as well as targeted at a console audience.

SSFIV with it's 20 second long FMV ultras isn't so different from Mortal Kombat otherwise.

EDIT: To clarify I don't think the design is related causally to region. MK has novelty and emphasized flash simply because it requires them to make up for its shortcomings in complexity.

An isolated case is not a pattern. I don't want to dismiss what he's saying, I haven't thought about it that much myself, but "Japanese games are about the journey, western games are about the result" is a pretty bold claim when you only have one example.

ZeppMan217:
Yeah. SF is about timing, MK is about fun.

Bingo. When I play a fighting game 8/10 I'm in a bad mood and need to blow off some steam, and 9/10 I'm in it to HAVE SOME FUN.

The only Japanese fighting game I actually like is BlazBlue since it combines both fun and timing.

Mortal Kombat is indeed about the spectacle. Although I still feel that Mortal Kombat has the best developed storyline and characters of any fighting game. Since Japanese fighters often have storylines that are horribly convoluted and characters who motivations seem to morph from game to game. That being said, I think it's a bit ridiculous to call MK "mediocre". MK may not be the "chess match" that Street Fighter is, but it has been fairly decent at keeping the mechanics more accessible to new players. Mainly by not punishing them for not knowing how to 500 hit unbreakable combos and keeping a large number of the movesets mostly similar in nature.

Seems like a brilliant opportunity to combine the two philosophies.

I think this latest Mortal Kombat is looking pretty good as far as the fighting is concerned. The combos, the specials, they're all there.

Ah Capcom, bring Gundam Extreme VS to le Xbox, then I will care about what you say about Western fighting games :P

... please

The guy is right about his comparison but we really gotta stop this, east does this but west does this, crap. First of all, MK can't speak for all western games and SF can't speak for all eastern games. There are many different philosophies within both regions. This help creates unnecessary discrimination between people (which I won't be surprised if there's some retard comment on how much Japanese/Western games suck) that is more shameful than the console wars.
It was reasonable to compare 2 games but it wasn't for 2 regions, that's all I'm saying.

Makes me think of the Intro to Baseketball where the narrator is commenting about how sports are changing in regards to the execution no longer being as important as the victory dance.

Mister Benoit:
Makes me think of the Intro to Baseketball where the narrator is commenting about how sports are changing in regards to the execution no longer being as important as the victory dance.

That was a movie where Trey Parker drank liposuctioned fat to make a guy miss a free throw. I mean don't get me wrong it was a funny movie, but an utterly ridiculous premise.

Sir John the Net Knight:

Mister Benoit:
Makes me think of the Intro to Baseketball where the narrator is commenting about how sports are changing in regards to the execution no longer being as important as the victory dance.

That was a movie where Trey Parker drank liposuctioned fat to make a guy miss a free throw. I mean don't get me wrong it was a funny movie, but an utterly ridiculous premise.

I fully stand by my statement.

The new MK thats coming out really seems to improve on the actual gameplay or the "process" of getting to the Fatalities. I found it to be ALOT more fun than MvC3 when I played it at PAX. I suppose thats because I didn't get my ass handed to me by my friend when we played.

Good to see the ol' ethnocentrism is still prevalent amongst Japanese devs. I mean, when I play a fighter, "Western" or otherwise (god I hate that term), it's all about the inconsequential bonus input after the match has been decided.

I mean, it isn't as though a great many Mortal Kombat games, and other "Western" fighters, have their in-match mechanics and mindgames. Nope, all about dem after match bonuses!

Ono's an idiot. But this shouldn't be surprising; he's the guy that says "parrying was too hard," when the reality was "parrying was way, way, way too easy."

Frank_Sinatra_:

The only Japanese fighting game I actually like is BlazBlue since it combines both fun and timing.

BB and GG (both developed by Arc System Works) are the only two big Japanese fighting games I actually enjoyed. Although, I wouldn't say that either of them rely heavily on timing of the actions. I'd say they're fun centric with a slight classical Japanese twist.

i dunno bout this because in the new Mortal Kombat game from what i`ve played of the demo it does a good jo of leading up to the bid finish. With the new MK the damage on ur opanent a acumilates as you fight give a real sense of satisfaction once the fight is over. It lets you look at the game and go i did that and its not just a combo or cutscene its real time and is different every fight. I dont know if i got my point across hear but these are just my thoughts.

I really dont see mortal kombat or street fighter at deep as all that. They are both about the same to me. I mean it depends on the player not the game. I dont usually waste time on the fatalities just punch him so he goes down. They are both nice franchises in my opinion, but to compare most fighting games on a deeper level when most are pretty much as shallow as it gets seems a little to speculative and opinion based to me.

I find the whole "chess" referance kind of silly to be honest.

The reason being that especially with the older MK titles, the characters had a very specific set of moves that were universal between the characters. Punch, kick, sweep, uppercut, etc... with minimal differances between the characters except for their special moves which were reasonably well balanced.

This to me made MK more "chess like" as both players function using the same exact rules for the most part.

In comparison, Street Fighter has always been a game balance nightmare. While Mortal Kombat was never balanced, Street Fighter has always been extremely unbalanced. The characters in Street Fighter are more unique, but do adhere to something of a "tier" system, with some characters simply being outright better than others. Even arguements by fanboys about it being balanced tend to fall flat when you start looking beyond the moves themselves, but towards things like ease of execution compared to relative power.

I remember reading that when they were working on Guilty Gear, their design philsophy was oddly one of ignoring any conception of game balance, and making every character as broken as possible, hoping that it would more or less even out, and they could balance it later. It worked to an extent, but one of the reasons why I think they moved on to "Blazblue" (which is not without it's problems) was that they were running out of things they could do to help with what was a fundementally broken product.

I'm not getting into whether Street Fighter, or Mortal Kombat is more fun. What's more nowadays I think they are both on a fairly even level of broken game balance, and tier arguements. Showing why I don't think fighting games in their current state will ever become a major form of mainstream competition. I just think Mortal Kombat has in the past come far closer to being a "Chess like" experience where everything comes purely down to the player.

Of course arguably, we saw a "chess like" approach to the genere beore either Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, in the form of things like "Karate Champ" where both of the characters were identical in their move sets. I think it's possible to get to a "chess-like" competitive level without resorting tot hat with fighting games, but it's a case where balance has to be put before everything, rather than just being given lip service.

Then again I'm one of the people who has argued that they should add about 3 extra nessicary motions to the "Shoto" fireball of Streetfighter and other ranged attacks. The moves are fine, but are far too easy to spam rapidly given the results that can be achieved by even a relatively unpracticed player in doing so.

Insult without insulting, that's the Japanese way.

Sir John the Net Knight:
Since Japanese fighters often have storylines that are horribly convoluted and characters who motivations seem to morph from game to game.

And MK doesn't? Tell me, whose side is Scorpion on? How about Raiden?
Both sides are equally guilty. (Gear.)

I dont typically care for Eastern or Western developers pointing out problems with the others style. But I do actually agree with this. But I have an interesting question, How many Western fighting games are there? All I can think of is Mortal Kombat. Doesnt really seem like a fair comparison.

Sir John the Net Knight:
Mortal Kombat is indeed about the spectacle. Although I still feel that Mortal Kombat has the best developed storyline and characters of any fighting game. Since Japanese fighters often have storylines that are horribly convoluted and characters who motivations seem to morph from game to game. That being said, I think it's a bit ridiculous to call MK "mediocre". MK may not be the "chess match" that Street Fighter is, but it has been fairly decent at keeping the mechanics more accessible to new players. Mainly by not punishing them for not knowing how to 500 hit unbreakable combos and keeping a large number of the movesets mostly similar in nature.

Seems like a brilliant opportunity to combine the two philosophies.

Err...I'm kinda hung up your idea on MK stories makin...well...any sense at all. By the time Armageddon had been released every character has either had some form of change of heart, been killed and resurrected, or became a god only to be killed anyway. Its one of the more convoluted storylines out there honestly.

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