Tekken 8 Producer Michael Murray Talks About the Return of Tekken Ball and Why Bring it Back

Coming from Thailand Game Show 2023 and the recently concluded Closed Beta Test, Tekken 8 is riding a wave of confidence, and Producer Michael Murray is loving every second of it as evidenced by an interview that we were part of during Thailand Game Show 2023.

From all of the tests and since announcing the game, the reaction we’ve gotten has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Murray. “First, the game looks so good because the characters have been built from scratch. It’s the first Tekken game on a new generation of consoles, and I think our game is one of the better-looking fighting games out there.”

tekken 8 xiaoyu pose

While looks can only get you so far, Murray stressed that Tekken 8 also features substance over style – from the base game alone, which features a respectable roster of 32 characters, to the new Heat System and how it changes the game as a whole – makes Tekken 8 feel like a proper sequel.

One aspect of the game he is particularly proud of is how Tekken 8 provides tools to players who want to learn the game, noting that you don’t have to scour the internet to find guides to get good. “There’s Special Style, allowing players to control the game and enjoy it more easily. There are combo challenges, and players can even try out Arcade Quest to learn the basics, but there’s also a cool feature called My Replay and Tips that allows players to upload match replays, and the mode tells you what you can improve on.”

“You blocked this, but you could have punished it with a better move, or your combo was weak and you could have done this instead for more damage. It will even tell you that you’re having a hard time with an opponent’s string and you can duck the second hit.”

“All of these modes that tell you how to be a better player are what really set Tekken 8 apart and make it a standout fighting game.”

tekken 8 special style 2

Depending on how you look at it, 32 characters could look like a lot or could be slim. Whatever the case may be, 32 is indeed a respectable offering, especially since Murray mentioned that it takes around 9 months to create a character.

“For a guest character like Akuma, it still takes a long time but at least we know what kind of techniques and fighting style they have,” says Murray. “For Azucena, there’s a big community in Peru so we wanted to make a character towards that. We think of the kind of look, fighting style, what makes her unique, kind of gameplay… All these things take, I would say, at least nine months. At least, and that’s just coming up with these things, and you still have to do motion capture, animations, voice recording, character models, and everything else.”

Azucena, in particular, was created to spotlight the very passionate Tekken community in Peru. The development team did research down to the smallest details – history, coffee setting, costume details and traditional designs, and more. “We don’t want to make some story like maybe she’s an Eskimo, but she’s from Peru, right? It has to feel realistic to that the people who are actually from Peru think of her a great representation of themselves and make them want to play the character.”

tekken 8 azucena

Related – Tekken 8 Collector’s Edition Revealed

One feature that players have been looking forward to since it was unveiled was Tekken Ball, and when asked whether there were new mini-games that would come, Murray mentioned that they are focused on making the base game as robust as it can be. “With a roster of 32 characters, that’s still not enough, because some people’s favorites are not going to be a launch, right? It’s very difficult deciding the balance between these things.”

“You see me put a strong emphasis on loads of content that allow people to understand how to play the game more effectively and not have to put a lot of effort. A lot of resources have been devoted to that,” Murray explains. “Tekken Ball is going to be kind of the main mini-game to focus on.”

While Murray did not divulge whether something new will be added later, he points out that Tekken 7 went on for 7 years and got updated with a lot of content. “We hope that if Tekken 8 is successful, there’s possibilities for additions later on.”

Starting from Tekken 3, fans have come to expect these types of mini-games every time a new game comes out. When deciding what to bring back for Tekken 8, Murray pointed out that the last time it appeared was a long time ago during a Wii U version of Tekken Tag Tournament and not many people may have had the opportunity to play it.

“People have just been asking us (myself and Harada) for that to come back for so long and it just fit perfectly because there’s a beach area that we wanted to do because it would be relaxing and you can hang out with friends and chat and do whatever. It was the perfect place to do Tekken Ball, which was something that was being asked for a long time anyways, and it just fit.

tekken 8 tekken ball

Murray also talked about the inspiration for the arcade-style setting of the fight lobby.

“Nakatsu (Director) and I grew up in the arcades, and it was just such an awesome place because you get so much information from other players. You meet a lot of friends if you just go after work, you don’t know anyone but you like the same thing,” Murray says. “During COVID and the lockdowns, you couldn’t interact with people directly so we thought if there was a place online that makes you feel like you are in an arcade, then it’s easier to make new friends with people who love Tekken.”

“We were quite surprised when Street Fighter 6 came up with something kind of similar, but Tekken 8 is unique in how you get to interact with other people and with the Tekken Ball area… and just the whole arcade vibe is what we were going after. We didn’t take one particular arcade and we looked at famous ones worldwide, with elements of Las Vegas, and it feels familiar if you’re a fighting game fan.”

tekken 8 fight lounge

As the launch date of Tekken 8 fast approaches, the team is definitely in high spirits and they do not let the leaks and issues get to them. “Some of the behavior online is disappointing in some respects, but we don’t let it bother us too much. At the end of the day, we have to remember that they just like the game so much that they’re very excited, and while the direction that their excitement goes is not something we approve of, it comes from a place of being excited about the game.”

“We’re in good spirits because we’ve been able to show off a lot more of the game recently during a lot of press tours,” says Murray. “The overwhelmingly positive feedback we’ve received from the media and fans has been good for the team to know that we are going in the right direction.”

When asked about what feature of Tekken 8 would entice newcomers to play, Murray answered something simple and direct to the point – graphics.

“Honestly, it’s kind of a dumb answer, but graphics, right? When you pick up a game, and they’re not cheap, you want an overwhelmingly positive experience and graphics are the first thing that you’re going to notice and say that ‘wow this is next-gen.’ Tekken 8 really stands out in that front and it motivates you to actually go and pick up the game.”

tekken 8 first look gameplay

Special thanks to Michael Murray for taking the time to answer questions about Tekken 8!

Tekken 8 is scheduled to release on January 26, 2024 for PS5, Xbox Series, and PC.

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