Fighting Words: Capcom’s Seth Killian Talks ‘Street Fighter’, ‘Tekken’ and Marvel

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So know that all this sharing is going on, do you feel like the differences between the various camps of fighting game fans, like Tekken fans, Street Fighter fans, Mortal Kombat fans, is it all just one big happy family now because they’re all on the Internet? Are there still really big differences in their attitudes?

Yeah, I think there’s definitely still camps. And there’s flavors to each of the communities. But I also think there’s also been a recognition that there are more commonalities than differences. So, there’s a bit of the brotherhood feeling but then there’s also, “we just like to fight.” You just don’t want to win at your game, you want your game to win out over the other games. 

You talk about cross-cultural stuff between the different camps. Capcom’s own cross-cultural titles with the Marvel characters have a long legacy, with the latest game coming out this year. What made Marvel vs. Capcom 3 such a hit, in your opinion? Was it the fandom waiting so long for a sequel? Was it the fact that Marvel has this whole entertainment company now? Or something completely different?

I think those are two major elements, of course. There was a lot of anticipation. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is a very loved game. When we released it online, on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, that was a huge hit. So that was a great indicator that MvC3 was going to be strong. And as you say, Marvel has gone from a comic book company–a struggling comic book company, frankly, when we made MvC2–to one of the biggest entertainment juggernauts in the world, with real cross-cultural appeal.

Those really early crossover games like X-Men: Children of the Atom or X-Men vs. Street Fighter sort of pioneered that really over-the-top formula that you see in the super-jumps and really crazy specialty moves. A lot of games have borrowed elements of that and have done their own spin on it. But Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has stuck close to that and looks fantastic, thanks to an all-new graphics engine and updated console technology.

It’s just an easy game to pick up and play but then you can really sink a lot of time into it. For your entertainment dollar, it’s hard to beat a fighting game if you really want to put in the time. You get hundreds, thousands of hours out of these things.

In terms of interface, balance, or substantive gameplay changes, what’s going on with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 that wasn’t going on with the previous edition?

A lot. We’ve actually gone back and re-balanced everybody. Obviously, the primary feature of the game is the addition of the 12 new characters. That’s the meat and potatoes of any new or updated fighting game, you’ve got to have fresh characters.

We went and looked back based on some of the tournament results and just watching a lot of matches and that actually influenced the 12 new characters that we added. The 12 new characters in UMvC3–and some existing characters in certain cases–have brand new moves and modifications to existing moves. It’s character-by-character, but almost everybody has something brand new.

We watch how people play and try to fill in gaps and give people new styles and moves to experiment with. Everybody on the dev team tracks all that stuff closely. One of the guys over in Japan is almost as big a nerd as me about that stuff. He goes to tournaments all the time. Tracks when there’s going to be trade matches online and says, “Check out what this X23 player did here. Very clever.” We balance based around the collective feedback from the community, and it’s all been balanced to be a more holistic package around the new 12 guys. We added Spectator Mode and things like that to, again, enable that social experience that’s so powerful in fighting games.

The other big thing you have coming in the fighting game genre is obviously Street Fighter X Tekken. What has the response been so far as fighting tournament season has progressed and what kind of feedback are you hearing from the hardcore fans? What do they want?

This one actually worries me. Because you know the hardcore fighting guys are not shy about telling you what they think. If they’re not happy, they’re going to let you know. This isn’t even sort of, “I’m sure I can put a shine on this if I wanted to,” but this is really the worrisome truth, which is that people are just having fun with it, and they’re like, “This is awesome. I’m having a great time.”

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