Shoryuken interview: Dead or Alive 6 director Yohei Shimbori talks about the open beta, NiCO, free to play possibilities, and more

By on January 30, 2019 at 11:00 am
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SRK was given another opportunity to speak with the mind behind DOA6, and discuss the final rounds of development.

It’s been less than a year since Dead or Alive 6 has been announced, and its release is nearly upon us!

Nearly a month and a half before the release of Dead or Alive 6, Shoryuken was given the opportunity to travel to Koei Tecmo America’s headquarters and interview DOA6 Director and Producer, Yohei Shimbori, to discuss the beta, closing development, and future support.

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Austyn “Lazybones2020” Roney: Thank you all for having me again, it’s wonderful to be with you! With it being so close to the release of Dead or Alive 6, how are you feeling about development?

Yohei Shimbori: Of course we are doing our best with development, but at the same time since I am here and not actually watching over the development cycle, I’m a little bit worried. [laughs] We are hoping that the fans, of course, will continue to support us.

Lazybones2020: Even though there was a little bit of a delay, I am sure fans are looking forward to the game more than ever. Can we go into specifics of the two-week delay? What is going to be changed and why was it needed?

Shimbori: The cause for the delay was just small bugs here and there and so we wanted to resubmit the master for the game. At the same time, we wanted to make small character adjustments in balancing the gameplay.

Lazybones2020: And part of that I am sure was taking the information from the beta that you just had. Was there anything specific you have learned from the beta, or was it more of a stress test for online functions?

Shimbori: It would actually be both, we wanted to fix whatever we found as well as using the comments from the users as well as fixing the game including balance.

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Lazybones2020: Were there any specific gameplay mechanics that you have seen the fans give feedback about? I have seen a vocal segment of players discuss the sidestep and its speed not being what they expected.

Shimbori: Looking at the feedback, from mostly the North American players, the “ground game” was not received as well as we expected. That’s something we would like to improve in terms of balancing.

Lazybones2020: There is so much variety to the gameplay, with the basic strikes, heavy attacks, blocks, holds, and the break gauge system, it’s incredible to think of the mixups that are possible in this game. Nyotengu is especially fun to combine air and ground moves with, thanks to her flight. How do you keep all of the combat options together?

Shimbori: I’m a pretty big fighting game fan, it even shows up in my dreams. [laughs] I guess I just come up with it.

Lazybones2020: [Referencing Shimbori’s Bayman outfit] Do you have multiple costumes at home?

Shimbori: I’ve got a few! [laughs] I get made fun of with my other costumes, so that’s why I wear this one.

Lazybones2020: Well this one is great, it suits you!

Lazybones2020: I have read in other interviews that this game was unaffected by Sony’s recent policies regarding censorship. Was this ever a concern for this title’s development, considering there are two separate versions of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Scarlet, one for PlayStation 4 — which was censored — and one for Nintendo Switch, which remained unaffected?

Shimbori: Of course we are careful with making changes because if you look at DOA5 Last Round and Xtreme 3, they are very different games. Last Round is a fighting game of course, and we wanted to focus on the number of enjoyment players got from Last Round and making it better.

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Lazybones2020: NiCO, is the final new character that I’m aware of, that has been added to the game. Could you tell me a little bit about her development and how she fits in the universe? From what I understand, she is a scientist who is researching the other characters to make a kind of ultimate fighter.

Shimbori: Regarding the story, we can’t really talk about that since we want to keep it a secret, but as a fighter, of course, with DOA there are different fighting styles so we wanted to add a new fighting style to it. She uses Pencak Silat, a historic fighting style from Southeast Asia. We want to clarify some things about NiCO as well. When we had the reveal trailer for NiCO, it made it look like she mainly uses electric attacks, but she is also a master of this Pencak Silat fighting style.

Lazybones2020: When designing, NiCO, she’s obviously very cute and also appears as a genius, what brought you all to this appearance?

Shimbori: She was originally designed to be a Russian character, so we took a look at a lot of female Russian characters. We also took a look at pictures of different ages, from young to old, from both Russia and Ukraine. We asked our character designers have the facial design, known in DOA, and match it to the images we found. She actually ended up being Finnish!

Lazybones2020: Speaking of character designs, the overall look for Dead or Alive 6 is the best its ever been. Was there a style guide for establishing these characters in the newest iteration of this universe? How was the look determined?

Shimbori: With regards to the design, we actually didn’t change it completely from the previous designs, the new look all comes from the new engine. We had to look at how lighting works, shading, as well as character facial animations.

In the previous game there were no real time shadows, but with DOA6 since its a new engine, there were new challenges with the new technology, so we had to focus on smaller details. So for example, if a character makes a weird face, its really going to look like a weird face.

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Lazybones2020: Earlier, a couple of weeks back, I saw a listing on the Microsoft Store for “Dead or Alive 6: Core Fighters”. Is this supposed to be viewable, or is it an early look at the future free to play initiative you previously mentioned?

Shimbori: It was a mistake actually, we didn’t mean to post that in the store. I’m actually pretty surprised to see it on the store. I can say that we have planned to make a free to play version of Dead or Alive 6, however, we haven’t announced what kind of content that is going to be in it or when it is going to be available, but it will most likely be a short time post launch.

Lazybones2020: Ah, interesting! I have seen some things pop up early on the Microsoft Store from time to time.

Shimbori: The fault was actually ours, internally, not the Microsoft Store.

Lazybones2020: Good to know! As a side note, there is a physical collector’s edition in Japan for Dead or Alive 6, is the only collector’s item coming to North America, the steel book?

Shimbori: Yes.

Lazybones2020: Will the pre-order DLC and Deluxe Edition DLC be available to purchase separately for those who might not be able to have purchased the game in time?

Shimbori: We can’t really promise anything right now, but for characters, we are planning on having them purchasable at some point, as well as the deluxe edition costumes. We are considering having Nyotengu purchasable at some point after launch.

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Lazybones2020: Understood! Now that we have the full launch roster, are there any characters you would have liked to have in the game but couldn’t, or would you like to focus on adding more original characters moving forward?

Shimbori: Nyotengu and Phase 4 were added at a later time, and I’m pretty satisfied with that. In regards to adding characters at a later time, at the very beginning, we took out any characters that were not involved in the story. Based on fan reaction, we might add new characters, veteran characters, or even collaboration characters.

Lazybones2020: I saw a lot of the character customization in the new modes you have available. It’s nice to see that there are so many costumes available without requiring an additional purchase. What prompted you to include these costumes and allow them to be unlocked and what brought about the design of these costumes?

Shimbori: Of course, we don’t want to just give away the costumes for free, we want players to try out characters. During DOA5 we looked at how people would test out the game, especially in Core Fighters, then leave. So we wanted to add some motivation to that, so that’s why we added the in-game currency for players to get things they want. We added the Quest Mode to accomplish this!

Lazybones2020: The Quest Mode is quite a lot of fun! I enjoy having a concrete goal to strive towards and unlocking costumes makes it even better!

I’ve got time for one last question, for the esports side, now that the game is coming out, are there any plans for tournaments near the launch of the game?

Shimbori: It is still currently being looked at but as soon as we have something solid we will announce it as soon as we can. We are all striving towards this right now. Before launch, we are going to be a part of Evo Japan, it won’t be one of the main tournaments because it is prior to launch, but we do have a stage that will be available on day one, on February 15th.

Lazybones2020: Wonderful! We are all looking forward to seeing how the players react to the title once it’s launched and for its continued support. Thank you again for your time, it was great getting to meet you again! I hope we get to see each other again soon.

Shimbori: Certainly!

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Dead or Alive 6 is barely over a month away and players will have a lot to look forward to with the new title. Its been a great ride covering this game from announcement to finish, it’s only a few more moments until we all get to see what DOA6 has to offer!


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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.