Ever since its first incarnation on the Dreamcast, Soul Calibur has always been one of our favourite beat-'em-up series'. You can keep your namby pamby unarmed combat and way of the open fist malarkey, give us a big sword, killer looks and some of the most intense hack n' slash ever seen and we're happy as a pig in the proverbial.
Now the newest incarnation of the series, Soul Calibur III, is about to erupt all over again this November bringing Namco's trademark weapon wielding to a whole new level and we've tracked down Seido Ozawa, chief character designer on the game to quiz him on the latest characters and other Calibur related goodness.
Here's what we discovered:
Please introduce yourself and what you do on 'creating characters' for Soul Calibur III?
Seido Ozawa: I'm Seido Ozawa, Chief Designer around one and half years (since beginning of the SCIII project and Character Creation)
Who is your favourite Soul Calibur III character - and why?
Seido Ozawa: Maxi - Maxi has an attractive and unique set of motions using the nunchaku, different even when compared to the other Soul Calibur characters. Just watching how the nunchaku moves is interesting.
What is your exact role/contribution in the development of a character?
Seido Ozawa: This feature is new to the series so the Soul Calibur team did not have the technical know-how of a character customisation system. So the programmers and developers got together and collectively developed a system where you can change your character's clothes and wear layers of clothes.
We started from scratch for we had nothing to build on, so we had really had to create individual equipment, clothes and items efficiently. My role in this was to plan the schedule, set up and manage the work process and finally check the quality of the finished items.
Where does the inspiration come from when beginning the process of character creation?
Seido Ozawa: The producer Yotoriyama-san was the one that brought this concept to life and established the mode. With his strong determination, he was the catalyst in infusing a new mode in an established series, something that is not easy to do - all a result of his accurate decision making based on a wide vision with an understanding of both player and developer needs.
With regards to the design, I receive much inspiration from the character designer Kawano-san, who has designed many of the Soul Calibur III characters. The process starts by dividing Kawano-san's design into separate parts, which is done by the character creation modellers, myself included. When we divide the parts we constantly ask, how should clothes designed like this be modelled? If necessary, the modeller will arrange the design. Kawano-san designs very quickly and has lots of ideas. He is a great designer. He was an integral part of this feature which makes me think that Character Creation would not be a success without him. Kawano-san would design and then the creation modeller actualizes his designs - a great combination done very efficiently. I would love to work with him again!
Do you begin with an idea for a weapon and then build the character around it?
Seido Ozawa: There are cases where we try to fit various weapons in one character and also cases where we create a character with a weapon in mind. It is a process that also involves the story and moves of the character so we have to be flexible. We have to really grind it out at this junction to create appealing characters. The characters, the story, the weapon, the moves and motions are all very important aspects of the Soulcalibur series and so we all spend much of our time contemplating which direction to take the series.