Train2Game recently sat down for a chat with SoulCalibur V game director Daishi Odashima. In this interview with The Train2Game Blog, Odashima discusses development of SoulCalibur V, ongoing plans for DLC, the importance of community feedback and more. He also reveals what he thinks makes a good game designer!
Read the interview right here on The Train2Game Blog.
Tell us about your role as game director.
I’m game director for SoulCalibur V and I’ve been in the team since SoulCalibur III. On SoulCalibur IV I was a game designer, in charge of character designing in game design. In SoulCalibur V I’m the director.
How do you go about designing SoulCalibur V so that all the characters are balanced?
Basically, we see how the players play, and if the players feel that some characters are too strong then we would tone them down. Of course, if they’re too weak vice versa. For SoulCalibur V, we have chances for players to play before the game is out, where there isn’t a full roster of characters, but we have them play and get their feedback. We use that to balance our characters.
So, testing is a huge part of development before the game is released?
It is an important thing but it isn’t the only thing. Like if we receive feedback over a certain character being too strong, we test it in our own development, we play against each other and sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree but the final decisions I make. So if I feel [a character] is too strong, then it’ll be balanced.
In the latest update, some characters have been tweaked following user feedback. How important is community feedback, and will that continue to be important for SoulCalibur V?
It’s really important because in our development we only have less than ten people balancing the character. On the other hand you have more than a million, maybe two or three million, playing and they upload their tournament videos, they write opinions on forums and of course we check all that sort of stuff and it’s really important. But it’s not just taking their opinions, we have to gather them up and we have to come up with the final decision, so it’s really important.
Tell us about the plans for SoulCalibur V DLC.
There’s lots of DLC to come for SoulCalibur V to use in the creation mode, which should be coming every four weeks and there are tonnes of parts to come.
Speaking of creation mode, SoulCalibur V players have uploaded many costumes and characters, can you see yourself taking a community created costume and adding it as official DLC?
We look at them and we think that they’re interesting, but we don’t simply take them, we look after it. Also, we have lots of costume designs that weren’t used for SoulCalibur V that can maybe be used for SoulCalibur VI, and basically these designs are determined by the designers who have the final say.
What was the the reason for focusing SoulCalibur V’s story on two characters, rather than the whole roster?
Our first plan on the storyboard was that we had every characters story, and actually we do have it in the studio, but time-wise, man power-wise we weren’t able to do it and only one fourth of what we planned to do is in the game. Actually, some of the voice-overs are already taken but haven’t been used, so we want to make use of it somehow, but we don’t know how that’s going to be.
What are you most proud of about SoulCalibur V?
I feel that SoulCalibur V is the best fighting tool in this world. For online mode, the lobby system is really made well, also we truly believe that after the character balancing patch it’s going to be a lot better, and I’m pretty sure that any people who are really competitive, or if you’re just starting a fighting game, can enjoy SoulCalibur V as a fighting tool.
A bit about you now, how did you get started in the games industry?
I was invited by a friend to a QA section at another game developer. From there another friend at Namco, who was originally a SoulCalibur competitive player, invited me to the SoulCalibur team for character balancing, and well, here I am now.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into the industry?
Well, my case was really special because I was invited as a specialist of SoulCalibur and this is a rare case. But what I think is important in becoming a game designer being able to describe what is happening within the game: what is fun, the logic behind it and also the communication skills to be able to explain this to other people. Those skills are really needed to become a game designer.
Thanks for your time.
SoulCalibur V from Namco Bandai is out now for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.