Yoshinori Ono Speak About Street Fighter IV-Street Fighter V - Games Weekly

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Yoshinori Ono Speak About Street Fighter IV-Street Fighter V

 When Yoshinori Ono joined Capcom as a sound designer in 1993, two years after the release of Street Fighter II, his goal was merely to find a way to work on the revered fighting game series. He would not only achieve his dream, but exceed it, becoming the series’ producer 15 years later. But it almost didn’t happen. By 2000, Street Fighter had vanished from the company’s roster. A dismayed Ono petitioned his bosses to give him a chance to revive the series. Eventually they relented, and 2008’s Street Fighter IV would make Ono famous not only as the man who helped reawaken a faded genre, but also as a kind of mascot for Capcom.

Round-faced, talkative and given to fits of giggles, Ono is a likeable, genuine figure in a corporate landscape full of dourness and fakery. But there’s more to Ono than the frenzied cosplayer beaming for the camera while clutching his Blanka figurine, and his mark on Capcom runs deeper than Street Fighter. Now, 22 years after he joined the company as a hopeful graduate, Ono describes his journey to date, and the games that have defined his life’s work.


Street Fighter IV
“I first started thinking about the possibility of Street Fighter IV because I was always being asked about the series by press when I was out and about promoting other titles. People seemed to know that I’d worked on Street Fighter III and so would naturally ask me whether or not Street Fighter IV was a live project. I would turn the question back on them, asking: ‘Are you interested in a Street Fighter revival?’ They always were.

That’s when I started to seriously consider the idea of bringing Street Fighter back. In terms of Capcom, it’s similar in a way to how Monster Hunter Frontier Online  got started. I suggested the idea to Inafune. At first he told me that he didn’t think we needed this kind of game any more. He told me that he didn’t think there was enough desire out there for the fighting game genre to return. But I kept bugging him about it. Eventually, members of the press started to ask him about the future of  Street Fighter  during interviews. That’s when he realised that there was a genuine appetite there and that I hadn’t been making it all up.

He came back to me and said, ‘Well, why don’t we give it a shot?’ It was around this time I realised that the media brought the passion of the fans to our attention. I’d always seen my interactions with media as one way: we were telling them about our games. But with  Street Fighter,  it was the media who communicated this groundswell of support for the game to us. That changed something in me. From then on, I saw that the relationship between us should be one of open dialogue. Improving the conversation between the fans, media and the studio was something I was eager to do with Street Fighter IV .

In all honesty, Street Fighter IV felt like a unique moment of fate and destiny. I’d started out in Capcom working on the series, had moved on and learned a great deal on other projects, then had come full circle back. I’d met Inafune and had learned how to become a producer. I’d learned how to create and nurture communities. And I had never lost my passion for the series. All of these elements came together at the same moment to make the game a possibility.

There was more serendipity. At the time when we started to get the project off the ground, Capcom didn’t have enough internal staff to assign to it. We had a number of different projects on the go: Lost Planet, Dead Rising, Devil May Cry 4 and Resident Evil 5. I needed bodies, but was only able to find ten or 15 staff. That’s when I heard that there was a team at Dimps that was available.

Dimps is a Japanese studio that was founded by Takashi Nishiyama, the former Capcom employee who created the very first  Street Fighter . As you can imagine, I became very excited when I heard the news. I called Nishiyama and he told me that the staff members he had available were some of the guys who had worked on Fatal Fury. So there was this wealth of knowledge within the team from the beginning, not just in terms of fighting games, but specifically the kind of ’90s-era 2D fighting games that we wanted to rekindle. As soon as we were able to take the Capcom guys and combine them with the Dimps team, I knew we’d be able to create something special something that would appeal to the Street Fighter II fans as well as bringing in a load of new people.

It was a complete team effort between Capcom and Dimps on the first iteration of Street Fighter IV, to the point that we created a company specifically to get the project off the ground. We called the [limited liability company] Blue Harvest, which was George Lucas’s codename for Star Wars. That shows you how much each party was invested in making the project happen. When it came to Super Street Fighter IV, we were able to do the work internally. But to begin with, it was a complete collaboration.”
  •  Street fighter IV was about reviving a passion. street fighter V is about growing that  passion”
Street Fighter V
“We’ve been working on Street Fighter IV for the past seven years now. There’s been a lot of rebalancing and so on, but the game is still going strong, even today. We recently announced the details of an eSports tournament with a prize pool of half a million dollars. So the game is healthy and so are the communities. All of this means that, with Street Fighter V, we have a fantastic opportunity to create something with a larger scope, a game that encompasses all that Street Fighter has become in the last few years, but which also expands on that to become something it has never been before as well. So now we want to create something that nobody is expecting. It’s going to be a title that caters to fans, of course, but one that also invites completely new players onto the scene. Street Fighter IV was about reviving a passion. Street Fighter V is about growing that passion.

I’ve worked on many different projects within Capcom, but in my career here, the greenlight process for Street Fighter V was comfortably the most straightforward. This game was probably a hundred times easier to get off the ground than the previous one. The passion around Street Fighter is currently such that the internal team within Capcom has been incredibly eager. There have been far fewer obstacles and far less stress.

In personal terms, Street Fighter V represents something new for me too. At the moment, I’m trying to find a new way to lead the title by empowering the different regions around the world to work on it and contribute. I guess you could say this is the point in my career at which I’ve switched from student to mentor. In the same way that Inafune taught me so much about making games, I’m trying to impart my knowledge to the different key people on the title in order to teach them everything I know about how to make fighting games and how to grow and nurture a community around the game. It’s bringing up the next generation of creators. I feel like Street Fighter V is the project in which this is going to happen. The seeds are going to come to fruition.

That brings a lot of pressure too, of course, both from fans and bosses, who all expect great things. We have so much feedback being blared at us all the time. But what I’ve learned over the years is that it’s not always the loudest voices that you need to listen to. Often these people don’t represent the masses. So it’s a case of finding key people in communities around the world, those who aren’t as visible perhaps, in order to hear their take. Obviously, you can never make everyone happy, but if we can make the majority happy, then I’m confident in Street Fighter’s future.”

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