Fighting games fans certainly know Katsuhiro Harada as the producer or director behind the Tekken series. However, actually since the middle of 2019 yesterday there has been a change of positions in Bandai Namco. The main producer position for the entire Tekken franchise is now held by Michael Murray, starting from April 2019. He is responsible for all matters relating to Tekken’s intellectual property both in Japan and outside Japan, including merchandising matters.
Not long ago, game media Shacknews / GamerHubTV held an interview with Michael Murray regarding Tekken 7, especially his future and the situation after the launch of Season 3. There are some interesting things delivered by Murray, here are some of them.
The announcement of Leroy Smith’s character at EVO 2019 yesterday was quite a horrendous fighting game community. In addition to his fighting movements inspired by the Wing Chun martial arts (now popular in pop culture because of the film Ip Man), Leroy Smith was also widely praised for being considered successful in representing African-American culture well. His appearance and background story were unique and impressed “badass”. How did this character idea initially come about?
Murray said that the Tekken development team had long heard of fans who wanted a new character based on real martial arts. The discourse of emerging Wing Chun-based characters is often a discussion, but they do not yet have a clear vision. Just recently Tekken designers got the idea to make it cool.
Some iconic elements of Wing Chun will be raised as part of the Leroy martial arts movement. One is the famous “one inch punch” style, as we can see in the Leroy Smith trailer video. Leroy will also have parry movements while attacking like a real Wing Chun technique.
When Tekken 7 was first released, this game received criticism because of old characters that did not appear, for example Lei Wulong or Craig Marduk. In Season 3, Tekken 7 only gets one more old character, Zafina. According to Murray, there are difficulties in presenting old characters in Tekken 7.
One reason is because of the engine change to Unreal Engine 4. In the previous game (Tekken 6 and Tekken Tag Tournament 2), Bandai Namco created its own engine, but they switched to UE4 in order to create the best visual quality but with high performance. As a result, they have to create a new character model from scratch again. All character animations are given special attention to be accurate and have the right balance. So entering old characters is not as easy as porting existing character models.
Another obstacle is because Tekken 7 has cool guest characters and many fans (Geese, Akuma, etc.). The development team wants the old characters to be as cool as the guest characters, and can create the same hype. “So we added a new surprise. This time he (Zafina) has a special move, as you can see he has Rage Arts and other animations in which he has the hands of Azazel, the boss you fought in Tekken 6. ”
It is no secret that the Bandai Namco – including Katsuhiro Harada – himself did not think that Tekken 7 could be as successful now. Harada once said, usually fighting games have a year or two before developers make sequels. But Tekken 7 is entering its third year and still continues to be successful, even the competition participants in EVO continue to increase.
Murray said that at first they only planned for one DLC Season when Tekken 7 was launched. It turned out that Season 1 was a success and fans were hoping for Season 2 support. Murray and his friends then had to hurry up to complete the administration in the company to launch the Season 2 plan.
Murray is also not sure whether they will release Season 4 or not. But he feels that the competitive ecosystem is a factor that affects the longevity of Tekken 7 on the market, more than the expectations of the developers.
Zafina can now be played on Tekken 7, while Leroy Smith will be released in the winter of 2019. Then Season Pass 3 will still feature two more characters, but he confirmed that the two characters are not guest characters. Both will be released in 2020, as well as other content in Season Pass 3. In your opinion, will Tekken 7 continue to be successful until Season 4?
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