Shoryuken interview: Dead or Alive 6 director Yohei Shimbori discusses development, DLC, and the franchise’s legacy

By on October 10, 2018 at 2:00 pm
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The team is working to make DOA 6 the best it can be at release, with plans for the future coming at the tail end.

Shoryuken was invited to a private event in San Francisco on October 4, 2018, to get a hands-on look at the most recent build of Dead or Alive 6 and to interview the Director and Producer of Dead or Alive 6, Yohei Shimbori, along with the Creative Director for Team NINJA, Tom Lee.

Together we discussed the title’s development,  DLC, and how DOA6 aims to be the best in the franchise.

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Austyn “Lazybones2020” Roney: It wasn’t too long ago when Dead or Alive 6 was first announced at E3, and yet, at the time, it felt like the title could have come out the next day. How long has DOA6 been in development?

Yohei Shimbori: It’s hard to say exactly when development started, the overall concepts began about two years ago but I was working on other projects at the time. It was about a year and a half ago was when the general preparations for development began, around last winter was when the first prototype was in development. From that prototype, we then went full speed ahead into development.

Lazybones2020: How has the reaction been? Have there been any significant changes to the game that have been implemented based on the feedback?

Shimbori: It is definitely something we take note of. That being said, most of the title’s changes were implemented on our own, but there were some slight changes based on the feedback that we are seeing.

When we think of something that is entertaining or amusing, we immediately want to try it out. Sometimes we like to implement some specific points from the players, like in regard to things like the side-step. It is a game made mostly of our ideas, but we do like to see feedback from the players.

When it comes to negative feedback we tend to not dwell on that too much. From people who have actually played the game, there hasn’t really been any negative feedback and they have all felt the game was much more fun than they thought it would be.

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Lazybones2020: Speaking of fun, I really liked playing with Diego, he has a very interesting style I haven’t seen very much of in fighting games. He has a very intense playstyle with a very raw power to him. How did his development come to be?

Also, when developing a new character, how do you determine what gaps are in the roster that need to be filled with a specific playstyle? How do you look at the roster and say, “Okay, we need a character like that?”?

Shimbori: To the second part of the question, to filling in the roster, sometimes ideas just really pop into my head and I go, maybe this might be kind of fun. But these ideas really come when I analyze the audience and see what kinds of things they are looking for.

In the case of Diego, it’s a little bit different. For this one, I actually talked to Tom Lee, and I asked him “What kind of male character should we add?” And Tom came up with about three different ideas and one of those was a character who was from the city, from the streets, someone who was rough and tough and I thought that really fit the theme of the game which is intense fighting entertainment. I then talked with Tom about what his personality should be like, what are his values, but I really think that Tom should take the rest of this answer.

Tom Lee: I feel you answered most of it. [laughs] I think there was a need for a character like Diego at this time, at this stage of fighting games. He was a collaborative character. Our Western background and their heritage combined created Diego.

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Lazybones2020: A few things that were announced a little bit earlier at TGS were the pre-order bonuses and the deluxe edition bonuses, one being Nyotengu and the other being Phase-4. Why were these characters chosen for these purposes?

Shimbori: In terms of Phase-4, we didn’t plan to put her in, but we thought, “Well, let’s give it a try!” That’s the mindset we had when putting her in. We felt having her was better than not having her.

For Nyotengu it was a different case. We were with the dev team, we were over budget and over our development schedule. We felt that if we wanted to get her into the game, normally I don’t think we would have been able to, but she is a character that I really like, so I had to think of a way to get her into the game. That’s when we thought that having her as a bonus would be the most realistic way we could do it due to our pretty intense circumstances.

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Lazybones2020: Certainly, that makes a lot of sense when you put it that way. Another thing that I noticed with the Deluxe it includes twenty-five costumes, but there wasn’t a mention of a season pass for additional characters. There were multiple versions of Dead or Alive 5, is that something in the endgame that you are thinking of doing with Dead or Alive 6, or will it be one title that will be supported into the future?

Shimbori: I think at this point right now, we don’t have any plans for a “Last Round” or an “Ultimate” version for the game, but those are the plans for right now, they can change. In terms of a season pass or DLC in general, that is actually something we are discussing right now, and we are determining how we should proceed with that. It might end up being a similar business model, it might be something different, we have yet to finalize any plans for DLC.

Lazybones2020: There may not be an answer for this question with it being a ways away from release, but for the pre-order bonuses, the PlayStation 4 version of the game gets a theme, but the Xbox One version of the game gets a Ryu Hayabusa costume.

Once upon a time, the Dead or Alive franchise and Xbox had a really close relationship, with Nicole, a Halo Spartan in Dead or Alive 4, who was a very unique addition to the game. Will the costume be a continuation of this previous relationship or is there another reason for the Xbox being given a costume with its pre-order, and a theme was chosen for PlayStation?

Shimbori: It is a really hard question to answer, at first, I wanted to do themes to both, but Xbox doesn’t do themes. After this announcement, there was a lot of feedback from the fans saying they would be more interested in getting a costume instead of a theme, and it’s something we have learned from for the future in what our fans are wanting.

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(The Hayabusa Armor is a fan-favorite Team NINJA reference found in Halo 3, which while being unlikely, I hope makes its way into Dead or Alive 6 through the Xbox One’s pre-order bonus)

Lazybones2020: That’s okay, it was just a question I had to ask! I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

The new trailer that just came out that announced Tina, Bass, and Mila is very exciting and it’s nice to see these story elements come together. Dead or Alive is a franchise that has a long-running story that is very deep and complex, how is Dead or Alive 6 going to take the story that has been laid out and propel it forward?

Shimbori: I can’t say too much about the story at this point, but I can say that with Dead or Alive 5, we saw some new issues and problems that came up in the story. Some things were not resolved, some of the new characters didn’t have as much of an impact in the story so these are the kinds of things we are looking into for Dead or Alive 6.

Lazybones2020: To all of the fans out there who have been with the franchise and to all of the people who are now becoming interested in the title, what is one thing you want them all to know about Dead or Alive 6 and how it will suit their needs?

Shimbori: There are too many things to mention to just pick one, but I do think that to the new players, I would have to say, “Hey! Why haven’t you played Dead or Alive?!” Dead or Alive 6 has visuals that are incredibly beautiful, and the game is much easier to play, I feel this game will be one that all players will enjoy.

And to the fans specifically, from around the time the game was first announced at E3, there have been some misunderstandings about the game and I want them to feel at ease. We are making this game for the fans, we aren’t trying to make this game into Tekken. Dead or Alive is Dead or Alive. It’s going to be much more exciting and the quality is improving the further we get into development.

I hope that everyone, you will believe in us and come February 15th, I hope that we can all come together and have a big party around the world and enjoy Dead or Alive!

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It won’t be long until we have answers to all of our questions about Dead or Alive 6 as we wait for its release on February 15, 2019, on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Until then, stay tuned for additional announcements and updates for the title right here at Shoryuken.

Additional source: Dead or Alive


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Shoryuken.com Associate Editor. Austyn James Roney began his gaming journey with Super Smash Bros. on the N64 but learned the ways of the fighting game genre with Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Loves all fighters, regardless of dimension or playstyle.