Japanese dev blog covers Juri's looks and personality

Posted by Jonathan 'Catalyst' Grey • November 5, 2009 at 2:20 p.m. PST | Comments: 0
Japanese dev blog covers Juri's looks and personality Jigsaw has translated the latest Japanese Super Street Fighter 4 blog about Juri.

The piece goes very in-depth on what her creation process was. Note that since this is a translation, some things might be a little ways off.
* Juri, part 2 (looks and personality)

Tsukamoto here.
Today, we'll continue our chat about Juri from last week! Well, I won't be doing the talking, but I've invited Design Director Kamei, and the Scenario Designer to give us some interesting insights.
So this week's guest, please introduce yourself.

I'm Kawasaki, the Scenario Designer.

For the last game, there were a lot of people involved with the story, so I mostly worked on the rival battle dialogues, win quotes, and things like that. I did some background stuff too. This time, I'm putting together the whole scenario. My personality? ... well, I'm kind of a loner. My busiest periods are not really the same as most of the other staff, so even at crunch time I'll be all by myself, working feverishly throughout the night. Even when I'm sober I'm always in high spirits, so I guess I'm a "low fuel consumption" type of person too.

Please give us the inside story on how Juri's look was created

Mr. Ono instructed us to create a Korean female character, so from that we started coming up with different designs. If you count all the hairstyle and clothing variations, there were probably around 400-500 different concepts. At first, "Korean" and "female" were the only directives, there was no "Feng Shui Engine" (her laser eye) yet. So at that point we had ideas for everything from old ladies to ice skaters... but when the writers came up with the idea for the Feng Shui Engine, the concept of the character evolved into a character whose body is equipped with this Feng Shui Engine. The original idea was that the Feng Shui Engine would go in the stomach, just like Seth, but then we thought about it being in the palm of her hands, or since the character would mostly be kicking, in her ankles.

So how did you decide on putting it in her eye?

Well, there was just no getting around that putting a big globe in the stomach of a female character wasn't going look be very attractive. So we had discussions about where it should be, and the eyes seemed like a natural choice. A person's eyeballs are already spherical, and as far as artificial replacements go, an eye felt like something very feasible, so that's what we went with.

Her upper body has a spider design that's kind of her trademark, right?

From the start, we felt like, "let's make her an evil, sexy character."

Mr. Ono then suggested, "Why not show some sideboob?" From there, several ideas were considered, and we settled on this top that incorporates the spider motif we had in mind for the character. That's why there are eight straps, and a spider-like design on the chest.

So what can you tell us about what she's wearing below the waist?

The basic idea was to give her a silhouette that looks like a taekwondo uniform. That's a concept that lived on throughout the whole design process. She is a Street Fighter character after all, so we felt it was important that her design include at least some element of a martial arts uniform. The black trim on her pants are not something you would see on a real taekwondo uniform, but we put it there to set her apart from other characters wearing similar clothes. That, and it looks cool when she kicks, too.

What about her colors?

At first she had a pretty plain color scheme, but when we lined her up with all the other characters she didn't really stand out. We decided that she should use a color that's not used by any other character, so we chose this hot pink. An all pink outfit seemed to be a bit too frivolous for the character though, so we added some black details and such, and ended up with the color scheme that we have now.

What part of her looks were you the most particular with?

Well, she's a female character, so I would have to say her face. Her face, or her head, rather. A whole lot of work is going into her head. Even though we're on a much tighter development schedule than we were for Street Fighter 4, her face has been completely remodeled five or six times. Her jawline and muscle structure in particular changed a lot. The shape of her eyes went through many revisions as well.

Originally she had a slightly chubbier face, but chubby doesn't really look evil, so we kind of slimmed her down and gave her a smaller jawline. Of course I would overdo it, so we went back and forth a little (laughs). The face that you see now is the one that finally won Mr. Ono's approval. The lead modeler was a bit confused and unsure of what direction to go at first too, but now he calls her "my Juri" (laughs).

Moving away from her face, Juri is quite slender, even among the female characters, isn't she?

From the very beginning, we wanted her to have a slim upper body. Since taekwondo puts emphasis on kicking techniques it was clear that she should have full legs, but if she had a full upper body as well there wouldn't be any contrast. I conferred with Okada, the director, and decided I wanted to make her upper body as slim as possible. I actually wanted to give her an even smaller frame, to make her stand out more from the other characters, but if she was too small her kicks would certainly lose some of their flair. I mean, if her legs weren't long enough, she wouldn't look nearly as good in motion.

Please tell us about the relationship between her looks and her personality.

With Juri, there were a lot of good ideas coming from all parts of the development team, and I think we kind of influenced each other.

Absolutely. We decided that she should be a villain, and then you guys would design her based on that, and when us writers saw her, we'd think, "Oh, with a face like that, she should be talking like this," and so on.

Yeah, it's like everyone's opinion was taking into account during her creation... Of course, design by committee isn't good either, so there were things I was adamant about keeping even if it displeased everyone else.

What are you referring to?

Facial expressions, more than anything.

You mean like what kind of faces Juri would make?

Designing Juri's facial expressions was a process of trial and error. Since it's a female character, inevitably a lot of cute expressions were created for her at first.

'Cute', can you give any examples?

Well, like she's always smiling, like some of the other female characters. However, that doesn't really fit Juri's character at all, so we set out to create something different. Interesting faces, scary faces... What we ended up finding to fit her the best was a cool-headed look, where basically she doesn't face her opponent head-on, but just gives them kind of a sidelong glance. Like she's just turning her head slightly towards the opponent without actually turning around to face them. Same thing with her mouth, she never really lets out a big smile, but rather a slight smirk on one side of the mouth or the other. Her eyebrows are much the same.

OK, so please tell us which expression you think is the most Juri-like.

The lead facial animation designer came up with a lot of expressions, but the one that really stands out to me is where she looks like she's having fun.

When Juri made a face that showed that she was enjoying the fight, it felt like the animators had really started to understand the character. Until then, the lead animator had kept creating countless expressions, even when he was told they were no good, but finally he came up with this.

The look in her eyes is pretty impressive too.

In Street Fighter 4, we put a huge amount of work into the facial expressions of the characters, and when the characters are hit, even the relative size of the iris and the white of their eyes change. With the other characters, this doesn't really happen except in extreme situations, but in Juri's case it happens quite a bit even when she's just smiling or showing a bit of anger. We wanted her to tell a story with her eyes.

This is certainly a type we didn't see in the previous version of Street Fighter 4.

Well, there was some anxiety over it. Within the company we felt that, "Oh, that's really cool. It really shows her character," but there's no getting around that it's a bit off the beaten path as far as Street Fighter goes. But this is Street Fighter IV after all, so we felt that we could push the boundaries a bit.

I really like Juri's facial expressions. Actually, Juri's win quotes were completely changed on two occasions; the first time was when I first heard her voice. I thought, "With this voice, she should be saying things more like this," and rewrote everything. The second time was when her facial expressions started being implemented in the game. Her faces were so great, so I felt I had to go even further with my writing too. In fact, she started saying pretty terrible things (laughs). Once she started showing different expressions, Juri really felt completely different as a character, and I felt her quotes needed to reflect that as well.

When her facial expressions were implemented, there were quite a few new Juri fans in the design team too.

Yeah, and not in a, "I like her because I'm working on the game," sense either, but more, "I'm gonna use this character! She's so cool!" I think it's nice that even the developers can get excited about a character like that.

Yeah, as she neared completion a lot of people seemed to grow fond of her. For some reason everyone seems to like Juri's sadistic style.
... No doubt about it, our team are all masochists (laughs).

What was the concept for Juri's personality?

When development started, Mr. Ono said, "There have been so many angry complaints from Korean fans, so let's make her strong," (laughs). In other words, we didn't set out to create an average character that everyone thinks is OK, but instead a character that may be hated by some, but will be really popular among others.

The Feng Shui Engine was thought up by the Scenario people, please tell us more about that.

Story wise, the only thing that had been established was "female badguy". As far as villains go, in Street Fighter 4 there are two parties, Shadaloo and S.I.N. If she were to have a connection to Shadaloo, she would have to be involved with characters like Balrog and Vega. On the other hand, if she's connected to S.I.N. she'd be involved with Viper, Abel or Seth. I thought it would be more interesting to have her connected to the Street Fighter 4 characters and thus S.I.N., and to create a link to Seth we came up with the idea of the Feng Shui Engine.

Were there any ideas that didn't make it?

Originally, Juri was going to be nice girl who happened to be with the bad guys, kind of like a tragic love story. When I presented my idea in a meeting, Mr. Ono said, "No way, that's no good," (laughs). "She can't be a good girl. Surprise everyone and make her a really evil chick."

Was anything dictated by her design?

There was the placement of the Feng Shui Engine, of course. In the original outline she had an artificial leg, but during the development the design team came up with the idea of an artificial eye, so we kind of worked together to come up with a new backstory and new abilities for her.

Is there anything regarding Juri's quotes that required special attention?

I discussed it with Tamamura, who's in charge of Juri's in-game dialogue, and we decided that Juri's quotes should contain a lot of double entendres (dual meanings). For example, in her pre-fight intro she says, "You sure look healthy," but you wouldn't really think she's just complimenting her opponent on their physique. Her opponent might not even be so happy to hear it (laughs). That's kind of the level I'm aiming at.

Jigsaw's note: The original line has a meaning closer to, "nice body," but that doesn't really have the same air of ambiguity in English. This is really difficult to translate well, and I'm curious to see what the official translation of Juri's dialogue will be like.

Any highlights among her techniques or motions?

Since she's a Street Fighter character, I wanted to give her a move that can be described with a single word, and what we ended up with is kind of a "senpuukyaku" [piercing wind kick] move.

So visually, I think this move represents Juri. Her Ultra Combo is nice too, the way it really shows of her cruelty and cool-headedness. She doesn't just throw her opponent away, she persistently uses her own body to personally inflict damage on her opponent.

What are your impressions of Juri in her current state?

If you take Chun-Li as an example, you could often feel that, "Chun-Li would never say something like this," or, "This speech pattern just isn't Chun-Li." Apart from their likes and dislikes, there are a lot of things like that to worry about if you want to write good dialogue that stays true to a certain character. But in Juri's case, I could write her dialogue any way I wanted. As a new character, writing for her went smooth, and I had a lot of fun. She's quite unlike any character to come before her, so I think she brings something new to the table, and that's pretty cool.

I'll reiterate what I touched on before and say that she's a character that kind of goes in a slightly different direction than what's typical of Street Fighter, and that wasn't completely without worries. But since her unveiling it seems like there are a lot of people who have taken a liking to her, so now I feel more motivated than ever to keep this process of trial and error going and complete the character of Juri. I feel like after hearing everyone's feedback from today, we'll see even more ways to develop and improve the character. Although, I still want to defy everyone's expectations by exceeding them.

I agree. It would be nice if more people said, "you're taking it this far?" This is Street Fighter we're talking about, so keeping the things that people are nostalgic for in the old characters is important, but It's always really fun to be able to surprise players with brand new characters.

A message for people who have doubts about Juri.

I would like all of you to not look so much to Juri, but rather Street Fighter 4's plot. By that I mean that Juri is in some way quite central to the plot of SSF4, and if you pick Juri when you start playing at home, you'll be thrown straight into the thick of the story. Please, try playing through the game with Juri at least once.

There is of course many things I would like all you players to appreciate, but I guess the number one thing would be Juri's movement. You can tell that the sadistic feeling is central to her character, and I really hope everyone can appreciate her movements and facial expressions forming the appearance of Juri really enjoying what she's doing. Personally, I really like the end of her Ultra. Especially the face she makes as she steps on her opponent. You can actually see both her and her opponent's face, and I just love that contrast.

There are a lot of animations where she's kicking and trampling her opponent, and I love it.

Thank you very much!

A brand new character indeed. I guess everyone has an opinion on her, because there have been loads of comments! I'm glad you're all enjoying this blog!

OK everyone, for the last two weeks we've had four staff members share their thoughts and feelings about Juri. What did you think?

Juri is by no means finished, so we'll just keep on working. Thanks for your support!

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