Katsuhiro Harada Interview: Designing Characters and Making Tekken Fun for Veterans and Newbies

Rev Major of 2019 was an amazing event, and that was made possible by no small measure by the attendance of the more prominent names in the fighting games’ scene. It’s also thanks to this event that we had the chance to ask Katsuhiro Harada, the face of Tekken itself. Here’s the thoughts he was able to share with the few questions we managed to sneak in on his rather busy schedule:

Some of the press in the interviewers included questions regarding how they came up with Josie Rizal and what concepts and ideas they had decided ot use to put her together. Harada and Murray answered that they have been, for some time, wanting to featuer a Filipino character. That they wanted not only to feature a character meant to be enjoyed by people in the Philippines, but also all over the world, particularly Filipinos. They noted that many of them live all over the world, and would like to be able to share, through Josie, a united culture. That they’d like to make her recognizable as a Filipino character instantly just by looking at her.

This applies for all characters they have, where they would like to be able to design characters in a way that it’s a not so over-the-top while strongly representing the culture that they’re being based from. So with that in mind, they decided to keep Josie rather simple but include elements that can be recognizably Filipino, such as the composition and colors of the national flag for her costume.

While they would like to have more liberties over designing characters, the truth is it really depends on the characters they’re making. As they have to consider the politics that may circle around the new characters they are currently developing. While it may be okay to incorporate the design of the Philippine flag for Josie, that may not be the case for other characters.

Another question that was raised was the possible future plans for Tekken after Rev Major, such as maybe bringing back Tekken Tag or such. Harada and Murray answered this by saying that when he started working on this maybe 10 or so years ago, he was only aiming to beat his rival titles so he wasn’t really looking that far forward. Harada claims that he had just one day realized that Tekken has come to a good standing over the years, and has been going through making the game better and more popular by the day. So there isn’t any big long-term plans in sight, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to do, he says there’s still a lot of accomplishments he’d like to achieve with the title. However, he has nothing concrete to present at the time.He was also asked about the Philippine community, where Harada had stated that he appreciates the PH Tekken community quite a lot, as he has visited the country during Tekken events several times as early as the 90s. Murray mentions that “he’s always been aware of the Philippines is a strong supporter of Tekken.” Where while in some places the following for the title may have died down a bit, it never did in PH. Saying that he “he had to answer that loyalty in some manner.”


(We’d also like to thank Micheal Murray for helping us communicate with Harada-san!)

Here are the questions we had been able to ask ourselves

RF: Have you ever felt a time where you needed to ‘reset’ or ‘simplify’ the skill level of the game? Maybe because there’s several generations of gamers now, and maybe to be able to include the younger generation?

H: Not really, because- while it’s true that whether it’s a board game, a card game, or a videogame, experience and skill is kind of an asset that makes you stronger in that said game, and it can even be said that certain skills and knowledge can be carried over to a different game. So if you’re good at one, it’s quicker to become good at another, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Though even with that, it’s not automatic that new gamers can come into a game and just get destroyed by an older generation, because there are invisible positives you get from being younger, these things can almost outweigh the experience in many cases. Whether it’s a first-person shooter or a fighting game. 

For example, an older generation may have much more experience with a certain map, like they know all the good locations and etc., but a younger person’s going to have better or faster reflexes, and can be much quicker in adapting when it comes to new things, so it can’t just be said that ‘Yeah they’re disadvantaged because they’re younger and need to adapt.’

 

RF: Alright, thank you. Next is about the characters. The most recent characters you have revealed are very wild, imaginative, and fun-looking. How do you decide what’s interesting or how do you get inspired in making new characters for Tekken?

H: When I was younger I would be inspired by certain things, like manga or anime. But now, it’s not necessarily like that anymore, I come up with a concept. That can be initially with a fighting style, or race, etc. An example would be with Leroy, which we just announced recently. It started off as character that uses Wing-Chun. We thought it wouldn’t be very unique if it was just another Asian character, right? So, perhaps someone who’s African-American, and even then, sometimes you might see African-American characters but not someone who’s a bit more aged and mature like Leroy. 

That guy would become an instant concept, and then we take that and give it to the designers, the people that actually draw and render them. So they have that kind of framework, but you let them fill out the details however they like. And then they come up with three different types, and as a team we pick which one we like the best.

Harada had tweeted how much he had enjoyed the Rev Major event and even shared the Josiebee joke that’s quite popular with the local Fighting Game Community. Here’s to looking forward to the face of Tekken to grace us with another visit in the near future.

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