MvC 3 interview: Ryoto Niitsuma talks characters, design and Marvel
Last week, PS3 Attitude visited Capcom’s UK headquarters to meet Ryoto Niitsuma, producer of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and take him on at his own game. While we were playing we were able to put plenty of questions to him regarding the style of the game, the characters, its balancing and much more. Niitsuma-san was in good spirits and looked to be excited about the upcoming launch. Who can blame him?
Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is due for release in a few weeks, and it could very well be one of the best fighting games of this generation. It looks brilliant and fans of the series can rest assured that the gameplay is still as manic as ever. If you’ve still to read our preview, make sure you do. As for the questions, here you go:
[PS3 Attitude] Are you finished now, ready for launch?
[Ryoto Niitsuma] We are just on the downloadable content right now, which isn’t finalised, but they’re on it.
[PS3A] Marvel characters have a very American style, while traditionally, Capcom has a Japanese style; was there any difficulty in adjusting?
[RN] This time we concentrated on maximizing the display of Marvel characters more so than Capcom characters. In a way, Capcom characters are more flexible – they are still in the melting pot, quite random in a way – while Marvel are a bit more consistent with their stuff. We want to make sure that their characters are portrayed at their best so we’ve made the whole game in an American comic book style, rather than conventional Capcom style. So I don’t think there was any difficulty in terms of the mix there; it just made it more interesting that two very different philosophies, in their way, emerged.
[PS3A] You mention you went with the comic book style with the game; is that what lead to a slightly more story driven game?
[RN] At this point, we could probably say that was true, but when we really started, the only thing we had in mind was that particular style of American comic, and the fact we put more weight behind the story came afterwards. So it makes sense now to say what you said, but honestly speaking the comic style just came first.
[PS3A] Did Marvel give you a lot of creative freedom?
[RN] Marvel had given us full trust in terms of the game creation, but further we came away from the game itself (i.e. assets, trailers and artwork – things that aren’t directly involved with the game) they were more picky. So they gave us trust in terms of the actual making of the game (game balancing etc.) but how characters are presented, what they’re wearing, how they say things, and those things, they were very particular, and obviously we were able to accommodate them in full
[PS3A] Are there any characters you went to Marvel with, only to be told you weren’t allowed to use them?
[RN] Capcom and Marvel both had different priorities. So for Marvel, it’s all about popularity and recognition rates; for Capcom, it’s all about playability – if the character fits in the game, if they suit the mechanics. Mostly, the choices that Marvel made have been based on the recent activity of their characters, and assuming the activities that they’ll be having in the next few years. So for some characters we suggested, Marvel wouldn’t just reject it, but they would come to suggest a different character or a similar character to the ones they wanted.
But there was one character that we really pushed for, which was Shuma-Gorath. Marvel actually kind of questioned us, saying “Why do you want Shuma-Gorath?” But we like those odd characters, especially the tentacle bits. So we pushed back on Marvel and said “please let us make Shuma-Gorath”. They said “All right, if it’s just a DLC character”. So, you know, we managed to get Shuma-Gorath in.
The other thing is, Marvel and Capcom were both aware of overlaps; we didn’t want overlaps. So unlike in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, you will notice in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 we have no clones… all models are unique, and all the move-sets are different. We also didn’t want a similar type of character in the game. For instance, from Fantastic Four there is Thing but we already had Hulk, so we didn’t really need both. For the same reason, we have Chris Redfield from Resident Evil so we didn’t really want to have Punisher from Marvel, because, again, they are quite similar.
All in all, it was a matter of balance, propriety, and a clash of wish lists; so there was a lot of negotiations going on. But, at the end of the day, Capcom and Marvel have a fantastic relationship and we’ve got a long history of making games together; so it was a very productive negotiation and we’re both happy with the final roster
[PS3A] The roster from Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was 56 and we’re now down to 36; you have partly explained the reasons, but what’s been improved by this?
[RN] In Marvel vs. Capcom 2, there were obviously clones, and back in the day you could just port the sprites from other fighting games and just stick them on, which is why Marvel vs. Capcom 2 had so many numbers. Some of the characters were very similar and there was almost no “taste” difference. So you could pick either and you’d have the same sort of character. But in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 we’ve made every single character from scratch. They all have different move-sets, and obviously, they are 3D modes, so we made all the new assets from the start. So there’s absolutely no overlaps, and I think each character is so much more distinctive compared to Marvel vs. Capcom 2. So maybe it’s slightly lower in terms of sheer number but, in reality, I actually think this has more in terms of variation.
[PS3A] We know you take fan feedback seriously. What have you learned from the community and placed in the game?
[RN] The majority of the things the fans say are just likes and dislikes of specific characters and you cannot win when it comes to character selection, and they tend just to say things out of emotional context. It’s very difficult to distinguish between valid points and just rants, but points that are valid points we do take into consideration. I won’t say exactly which parts because then I’ll be receiving loads of letters from people about these things. But we definitely listen, and if it’s logically described and if it strikes a point then, we’re not stupid, there’s no need for us to reject them just because they come from outside. So we’re definitely up for fan feedback.
Just to give away a few examples to show that we do listen to fans. One of the things, when we switched characters, people who played Marvel vs. Capcom 2 all said that because the switching was a command it also led to a move that people didn’t want – so instead of tagging they did a dragon punch or whatever. Instead of making it a command, we made it into holding a button. That’s one thing. We also changed the jump path characters take, because it used to be a bit too long up in the air. It’s now a lot sharper. That was another thing we didn’t think was a problem but people wanted us to change it, so we did. From those both points, we acknowledged they were valid points so we changed them.
[PS3A] You mentioned the emotional attachment the fans have, but who’s your favourite characters in game?
[RN] Because I have to be corporate, I can’t be seen taking this to my advantage. I have to, at least, pretend to be impartial and not to put too many personal likes in or else the whole game becomes Darkstalkers. But characters like Dante and Amaterasu, I like them, but it’s also true, and I suppose universally acknowledged, that they add value to the game. So they are good. But when I play, it’s actually different; I play with Wolverine, Dante and Amaterasu. They’re all really speedy characters, and I like to play with lots of combos because they make me look better than I really am. Those characters enable me to look better than I am.
[PS3A] How popular do you think Marvel vs. Capcom 3 will be with the competitive scene?
[RN] It’s been designed for competitions as well; everything is balanced that way. I’m expecting it to be used in the high level competitions. Although people will be playing it and appear to be just button bashing, there’s obviously a distinct difference between the beginner who button bashes and pros who are really pushing things as many times as possible on purpose. So there are clear lines there and I think it could easily be used for high level competitions.
[PS3A] Where’s Mega Man?
Ha! No Mega Man
[PS3A] Majiesto will be very disappointed
[RN] There is Zero!
[PS3A] We were watching the trailer for Phoenix earlier. Is it hard to balance a character that can destroy worlds against Chun-Li?
[RN] Most Marvel characters can pop planets, whereas Capcom characters can maybe destroy a brick! So we can’t really have faithful background with the characters, so they had to be equal in game – but that’s very true.
[PS3A] Would you be tempted to put yourself in the game, and if so, what would your character be like?
[RN] I’d probably be lynched by the fans, but if there was to be one: there’d be a health bar, but nothing actually appears – he’d be too shy to show up. Even if you tag, he won’t come out.