Developer blog no.4
* Juri, part 1 (moves and abilities)
It's been a week. Tsukamoto here.
Today, we'll give you some long-awaited insider info on the birth of new character Juri, and some of her moves and abilities. So without any further ado, let's hear what our busy director Okada and our Battle Planner have to say! Let's see if they can put you fans at ease...
-First off, Mr. Tamamura will be our guest today, so please give a short introduction.
Tamamura: My name is Tamamura, and I'm the Battle Planner.
I'm in charge of today's subject Juri, as well as the other characters. A lot of my work revolves around data implementation and balance tweaking. Around the office, they call me... the mail order guy. Basically, I never have time to receive stuff at home, so I always have it sent to the office instead. I usually haven't been home on Saturdays either, so I have no choice but to have everything sent here. There are a lot of DVDs and games and stuff on my desk, and pretty much all of it came here by mail.
Hit the link below for more!
-Let's dive right into things - tell us in detail how you came to decide on taekwondo as the fighting style for Juri
Okada: In the begining, we had a lot of ideas for different fighting styles, but looking at the previous games in the Street Fighter series, it became apparent that there were some styles with plenty of representation, and others that had little or no representation. We toyed with the idea of a mixed martial art style, but decided to look for more of an iconic fighting style style, and figured that we didn't have a character who uses taekwondo. A character who uses mainly kicking techniques seemed like it could be interesting, and we thought it would be a fun challenge to create the first taekwondo character in the Street Fighter universe, so that's how we decided on it.
-Did it take long to decide?
Okada: In comparison, coming up with a fitting visual design and a fitting concept for the character was more difficult, deciding on the fighting style actually went smoothly. Naturally, the general concensus was that if it's a Korean character, they should use taekwondo.
-But there were other ideas originally?
Okada: There were plenty of ideas that were never used. For example, figure skating was very popular at the time the game takes place, so we thought it might be fun with a character who uses some kind of sports-based martial arts. We had a lot of other crazy ideas that I think are too embarrassing to comment on (laughs), but I think we'll leave it at that.
-Did you pay any attention to Taekwondo characters in other games?
Tamamura: Well yeah, we didn't want to create something completely redundant. We looked a fair bit at other games.
Okada: Of course, we didn't want her to remind people of other characters too much. She's a new character after all!
Tamamura: Juri does have a neri chagi and moves like that, but we were concious about making them look a little different. Roughing things up while keeping the techniques recognisable was something that caused the designers a few headaches.
-Roughing things up... you mean to fit Juri's character?
Tamamura: Exactly. Like, "if it's Juri's doing this kind of move, shouldn't it look a little more wild?", or whatever. She is a taekwondo practitioner, but she still puts her own spin on things. It might look a bit weird, but that's Juri's style.
-What was the design process behind Juri's projectiles?
Okada: Ah, well, when we're talking about ki powers in planning, "external ki" and "internal ki" are the main ideas that always come up. In other words, there have been two ways of thinking about characters' ki; either they're drawing great power from the ki in their surroundings, or releasing power that comes from within themselves. Basically, it can always be boiled down to one of the two, but in Juri's case, her powers come from a man-made device, so she doesn't really fit into either category. Because of that, we wanted to give her powers a unique look. Tamamura suggested "hey, how about something kinda cotton candy-like?"...
Tamamura: The words "Feng Shui" conjure up an image of using ki from the surrounding nature, and making use of the intertwined power from the trees, plants, earth, and so on. So it's like she's forcibly taking nature's power, twining it around, and throwing it out. In a way, that's how cotton candy is made as well, right?
Okada: So these fluffy purple effects will spring up, and she twirls it around her legs before releasing it.
Tamamura: So maybe she's stronger when fighting in the woods, there's a lot more ki going around than in the city. (laughs)
Okada: Hey, there's a lot of people in the city, maybe she could draw power from them. Like a Genki Dama. (laughs)
-In the footage that has been released, Juri shows off an impressive "pinwheel" move, what was the idea behind that?
Tamamura: There is a tendency for female characters in a game like this to have attacks with a lot of hits. Apart from that, Juri is kind of pleasure-seeker, and the type of character who would enjoy fighting, so it seems like flashy, showy attacks are something what would fit her. Even in a serious fight, she would have fun showing off. There were plenty of other ideas too, though.
-What else can you tell us about her special moves?
Tamamura: Based on her personality, you might say "she's a rushdown character, right?", and indeed, none of her attacks have charge motions. All of her special moves uses quarter-circle, shoryuken, and similar motions.
Okada: Also, we wanted to implement that sense of trickiness of hers, how she's always making fun of her opponents. So we always had that in mind even with things like the movement and trajectory of her projectiles.
Tamamura: Like Bison's Turn Punch, you keep it charged and unleash it at the right moment. Juri should have something similar as well. I think the flying kicks you see in taekwondo look really impressive, and I wanted to give Juri some attacks like that as well, so she has a special move where she does a series of kicks in mid-air. Please try it out for yourselves when you get the chance.
-Any other moves of hers that you want to mention?
Okada: To reflect her personality, we wanted to give her a move that puts her opponent off balance. In the game, the move looks like a taunt but can be really effective in battle, and that's Juri in a nutshell, I think. She can lock down the opponent with a barrage of attacks, and then, when they're desperate to get any attack out, she can use this move. She'll get hit, but immediately turn the tables and go right back into offense.
Tamamura: All this move does is get you out of the way of the opponent's attack, so it's up to you to perform a counter attack of your choice. Maybe you'll find new uses for Focus Attacks? When using this move you can go up, backwards or forwards, so if you go up, you can follow it up with the mid-air move I mentioned earlier.
Okada: She's one of the fastest and trickiest characters in Street Fighter history.
-The Ultra Combo we've seen in trailers looks pretty impactful
Okada: Her Ultra is a great anti-air, but indeed it's rather eye-catching as well. To bring out Juri's character, we wanted her to taunt and provoke her opponent, so that's why we put "that" at the end.
Tamamura: At first we talked about having her kiss her opponent's cheek. We were a little conflicted, but in the end we toned things down a little bit.
Okada: There were ideas for some pretty outrageous stuff though, weren't there?
Tamamura: Oh, for sure! (laughs)
Okada: Some of the more extreme things we talked about would even have needed a higher rating for the game.
-It sounds like you put a lot of work into all of this, so please tell us about Juri's basic movements
Tamamura: Of course we want a character's personality to be reflected in their walk, so I told the designers that even when walking she should show contempt for her opponent. Even in a tense fight, she'd approach her opponent completely relaxed, with her hands at her sides.
Okada: Well, these are the kinds of the animations you'll see the most, right? It's the same for all characters, it's important that even their basic actions show a lot of personality. Even neutral animations need careful attention, or they will just look boring. I'm pretty particular about it.
-So what kind of character is Juri?
Okada: She's the type of character who can really hurt her opponent, but she's not really used to taking a hit herself. Although not to the point where she can't deal with it, of course.
Tamamura: She doesn't have an invincible move like a shoryuken that she can throw out at any time. There's no move she can rely on to get her of any situation.
Okada: In other words, she's not a defensive character. Instead of adapting to her opponent's attacks, she has to take charge and make the opponent adapt to her attacks instead.
-What sets her apart from the other characters in SF4?
Okada: She's kind of a hectic character to play, and that's been decided since day one. The player's hands will move about frantically, and Juri will move about frantically on the screen, and that creates a link between the player and the character.
Tamamura: Yeah, she's not really about meeting the opponent's moves with an appropriate counter attack.
Okada: In fact, her style is not so much dealing with that kind of situation as it is about forcing her opponent into it.
Tamamura: To put it simply, she's all about never allowing her opponent to let their guard down. For example, faced with a hadouken, you can jump out of the way or deal with it in other ways. There are usually a few options, but Juri shuts her opponent in completely and keeps even that kind of freedom from them.
Okada: That said, the game we're playing now isn't finished (laughs), so naturally it won't be as bad as it sounds. But that's the concept, having her opponent kind of wait for their inevitable death...
Tamamura: When played properly, her Revenge Gauge shouldn't really fill up much at all. If it is, you're probably about to die (laughs). As a female character, low health will be her weak spot.
Okada: Well, that's the thing about this game. Having low health means the Revenge Gauge fills up more easily, and having a full Revenge Gauge means a much greater chance of making a comeback and evening the playing field. So I think she'll either win through relentless assault, or a desperate gamble for that kind of comeback. So to me, she's a character who represents both extremes; either showing her real worth when she's cornered, or keeping her opponent cornered and locked down until the end.
-What are your impressions of Juri at this point?
Okada: A character can be powerful in different ways, you might feel that a character is strong the moment you try them, or you might feel that the character has a lot of potential. Juri is definitely the latter. We're creating this character to instill a feeling of "If I keep playing with this character, I bet I could do some really cool stuff" in the players. I want players to try Juri and instantly feel like they have some idea of her potential, but still - in a good way - be completely surprised of what she's capable of once they put more time into using her.
Tamamura: But it's not like her opponents won't be able to deal with her, so I don't think she'll be a one-dimensional character. She's a new character, so people will probably try to find lots of different ways to play her.
-A message for prospective Juri players, please
Okada: She's a character for people who want to be intoxicated by their own techniques.
Tamamura: I think people who use Yun or Yang will enjoy playing with her.
Okada: I want people who brag about their skills to use Juri, so they can practice and find new cool things to show off and brag about. She's a complex character, so she will require a skilled player. Someone with quick fingers as well as a keen mind.
Tamamura: She is strong even when played in a basic way, but finding that real effective Juri style of fighting might take some time. It shouldn't be a problem for SF4 players, but I'm a little worried how well people who are completely new to fighting game will fare.
Okada: Juri is a tough character to handle. She has amazing potential, but may be a bit unwieldy. Mastering her is very difficult, but probably more rewarding than any other character. And if you love the character, you'll get there. I want players to make the character their own.
Tamamura: I think everyone will have a different idea of who she is, so I want everyone to discover their own Juri.
Tsukamoto: Thank you very much. We'll have to hand the blog over to Shiozawa before long, so we should probably stop here for now. What did you think, everyone? I hope you're looking forward to the release of the game. Next week, we'll hear what our designer Kamei has to say about Juri's looks and personality. Oh, and I thought I'd call for the head scenario writer as well, so stay tuned for that. (I'm busy! -head writer) Ah, um, well, see you next week!
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