John Tobias Tao Feng Interview

Patrick McCarron - March 19, 2003

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What level of interactivity do the stages in Tao Feng have?

Tobias: Each stage is different; some have more hazards than others. Interactivity happens in a few different ways, one is through attacking off of objects and walls or swinging around poles. Different environments have varying amounts of poles in them. So, that's one way to interact with the environment is by using it to perform attacks off of. The other is by knocking your opponent into hazards. And actually that's the other way to advance your opponent's limb damage state. Knocking them into a hazard really doesn't cause any extra damage, but what it does do is advance your opponent's limb damage state. And there are different ways to knocking your opponent into hazards. That's primarily how the backgrounds function. As you play the game, it's important to get used to the layout of the particular environments and knowing where you are at during any point of the fight.

Promotional posters of Tao Feng characters created for E3 2001.

What happened to the stage to stage connectivity feature that was mentioned at last year's E3? Does that exist at all anymore in any form at all? Or was it totally scrapped?

Tobias: Initially with the game we were going to do stage transitions. Some of our environments are really big and we were going to have dividing points where you could knock your guy into another area. As we developed the game we learned there was a trade off. Either we were going to do all this damage to the environments like the walls chipping and the floor cracking. And on our street level there's the El [elevated train] platform with a train overhead and a truck that's on fire. All this other stuff we felt really added to playing in the environment and made a character feel like he was really fighting in a world as opposed to just a hovering platform. And that was really important to us, and our ability to do that would kind of go away if we wanted to do the transitions. When it came time to make the tradeoff we decided that having all these other elements were more important than transitioning between areas, which had been done before.

What is the Chi meter and how is it utilized in the game?

Tobias: The Chi meter is a little meter that exists under the health meter. As you fight and successfully land blows, you build your Chi. Once your Chi meter is full, you can use it to perform a Chi attack. Every character has three different kinds [of Chi attacks], and they do different things. So, you can use your Chi to perform a Chi attack or to heal limb damage if you want. Healing yourself depends on where you're at in the match, depends on your comfort level in terms of who you are fighting. You may feel that the guy you're fighting is such a scrub that you're fine with the Limb Damage and decide that you'd rather do the Chi Attack to cause more health damage. It kind of injects another element of strategy to the game.

Explain the game's combo system. Is it a primarily button queuing rhythmic system like Killer Instinct or is there also a juggle aspect to the combo system? And is there a training mode to help your learn the combos?

Tobias: We have a little of both. We have longer form combos that are "Killer Insinct"-ish and then also have methods of popping your opponent up in the air to create little combos that way. In terms of performing the longer form combos, a lot of it is queuing and some of it does involve more of a timing aspect. It really depends on the character or combo. Training mode is good for learning what queues and what involves timing.

With the current lack of online play in most fighting games, fighting games for consoles have been turning to new ways to keep players interested. What did you do with Tao Feng's single player game to keep players coming back for more.

Tobias: Tao Feng single player game is generally the Quest mode. That's kind of the method of facing your boss in the game. In reguards to online play, we would have loved to have had Tao Feng function online. I think when we started and where Xbox Live was at the time, didn't coincide with us building the engine. I think that all fighting games at some point have to have some kind of online play ability. There are some latency issues that have to be solved for that to work well. I think that with the demise of the arcade the competitive aspect of fighting games has gone away, but I think online can kind of bring that back. It's exciting to see the Capcom game that just came out. They actually do it fairly well but there is some lag that occurs on occasion, but it's not too bad and it injects some of the competitive element back into the genre. I thnk that's important because with the demise of the arcade the competitive nature of the game only happens when you've got a friend over. That's where the single player experience has become so important. But like I say that with broadband creeping up more and more and with Xbox Live there is a chance to reinvigorate fighting games with the competitive nature that has gotten lost over the years. It is depressing going to arcades and there is no one and nothing there. If there is a new game out you are lucky to find it.

Page 4: Tao Feng Continued
Page 6: More Tao Feng & The Future
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