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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Tomonobu Itagaki Talks Dead Or Alive 4 [Xbox 360]

Tomonobu Itagaki Talks Dead Or Alive 4

"Just after the last day of the Tokyo Game Show, Billy and Jeremy were invited to the offices of Team Ninja to go hands-on with Dead Or Alive 4 for the Xbox 360, and chat with its creator Tomonobu Itagaki.

Game Informer: How was the reception of Dead Or Alive 4 at the Tokyo Game Show.

Itagaki: I think it was close to perfect, outside of the online mode. The venue didn’t provide the best infrastructure to test the online mode. That’s why it worked out the way it did. Otherwise, the reception was good.

GI: We were very surprised with the online lobby setup for DOA4 with the Halloween theme. Are there multiple themes? What made you decide to do something like that for the online lobby?

Itagaki: You’ll start out with one that is free, but there will be lobbies that you can purchase from the online marketplace. Even if you don’t purchase any more from the online market place – if you’re a casual gamer – of course you’ll be able to play the game online without spending money. The free set of avatars will be ninja themed. You’ll be a lesser ninja. You’ll have to upgrade to get out of this sort of low class, lower set of ninjas.

One of the lobbies available for purchase on Xbox Live.

GI: Is the Halloween one you showed at the event one going to be the one that is the default free lobby?

Itagaki: No, only one will be given away for free. If Ninja is the free one, the Halloween lobby you’ll be charged for.

GI: Will any USB keyboard be able to be used for chatting in the online lobbies?

Itagaki: Of course.

GI: It shows the game inside that pumpkin TV, but can I hit a button or walk my character closer to the TV and see that game full screen?

Itagaki: Yes.

GI: Will any of the lobbies or avatars be unlockable in the game?

Itagaki: No, we can’t do that. The story of DOA happens on the other side of that little TV screen. The side in front of the TV [ed: the lobby] isn’t part of the DOA world. I don’t know which side we consider is the virtual world. However, since we don’t allow character customization in the game, we are allowing it in the lobbies.

GI: Why use text chat instead of voice chat?

Itagaki: Voice chat gets to noisy and you can’t always understand what people are saying. International players too, you can’t understand what they’re saying, so text chat was a better option.

GI: You’ve always pushed the hardware you’re working on quite a bit. What have you been able to do on the Xbox 360 that you haven’t been able to do on the first Xbox?

Itagaki: At E3 we were one of the few developers to show their game demo on Xbox 360. Although it wasn’t playable. Most of the games were 15 fps. Our E3 trailer we tried getting it to 60 fps, but it ended up turning out to be around 45. That was E3. Now we’ve brought it up to 60. To be more specific, maybe it’s about 55 fps. From now until launch we’ll bring it up to 60. Other developers are now trying to bring their games up to 30fps. That’s a fact. Can you think of any other games that are running at 60 fps? Every Party? (laughs)

GI: How many total people can come in an online lobby?

Itagaki: You remember what happened when we tried 16 players. In stable conditions you could pack 16 people in. Knowing the nature of this game, I’m thinking eight may be a better number. For chatting in the lobby it would be fun to have 16 players in here, but for the number of people who can actually join the match we’re thinking eight would be the better number.

We experienced this with DOA Ultimate, with eight people you don’t get your turn quick enough, and it just becomes that less exciting to be a part of. And that’s even in a tournament setting. In all actuality, one of the eight has to serve as a judge for the tournament so seven can actually play in tournament format. With this you don’t need that one person, and you can watch the match on the TV." [more]

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