The Dead or Alive 6 engine was built on the core of the Dynasty Warriors 9 engine, but all the assets, movements, textures, and models had to be redesigned from the ground up for the new custom engine. In result of this, a lot of fans have complained that the characters now have unnatural movements, and appear to execute their moves stiffly and without the kind of fluidity that the Dead or Alive series is known for. According to the director and producer, Yohei Shimbori, the unnatural movement from the characters is due to the fact that the game engine is still in development.
An interview with 4Gamer that took place during EVO 2018 at the start of the month was recently translated by Siliconera, which covers how Team Ninja is developing the game and the engine for Dead or Alive 6.
Early on in the interview it’s mentioned that the reason that they’ve focused more on showcasing the men instead of the women for the game is because Leifang wasn’t finished in time for the demo. So they had to showcase the homoerotic Diego and Rig in her place.
Even though the game is supposedly six months out from release, Shimbori told 4gamer that the game is only around 20% complete, saying…
“We actually haven’t progressed that much, so it’s at about 15%. However, there are some parts we’re quietly working on, so if you count that then we can say somewhere in the low 20% area.”
Back in June, Shimbori had stated that the game was about 8% complete. So they’re trying to complete double digit percentages each month.
Part of the reason the development isn’t as far along as you may have expected is because – as we previously reported – they scrapped the Soft Engine version 2.0 to use Koei’s Dynasty Warriors 9 engine, which already had physically based rendering built into it. This was revealed back in June, 2018 in an interview with 4Gamer.
Instead of adding physically based rendering to the Soft Engine 2.0, which Shimbori felt would take too long – even though they could have reused all of the Dead or Alive 5: Last Round assets or Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 assets – they decided to switch engines, which meant they had to scrap all of the previous character models, textures, and assets.
Shimbori explains that redesigning all of the characters from the ground up is giving them a “lot of trouble”…
“However, just because it’s a new character it doesn’t mean that it would especially take longer. That said, the Dead or Alive 6 engine itself is being made from scratch, so even if we have existing characters, we can’t use their past data and throw it in like that. The models and textures are a given, but we’re also redoing everything from face to body, and even bone structure. So just because it’s an existing character it doesn’t mean we can easily progress through its development, and that part’s giving us a lot of trouble.”
With just six months to go for its release – targeting an early 2019 roll out – it’s hard to imagine how Team Ninja will finish implementing all of the characters and make all the necessary tweaks in a timely fashion.
One thing is for sure, you absolutely cannot expect any physics-based properties in Dead or Alive 6 that are on par to the Soft Engine, which had advanced to the point of having real-time dynamic soft-body physics. Think of it as a human version of BeamNG.Drive’s vehicle-based soft-body deformation physics.
Designing a proper physics system like that is extremely taxing and time-consuming. The fact that Shimbori decided to scrap the Soft Engine and utilize a modified version of the Dynasty Warriors 9 engine does not come across as being developmentally sound, especially since reviews pointed out how buggy and stilted the game played, with reviewers GameSkinny and pundits like Jim Sterling in particular drilling the game into the ground for a number of game-debilitating issues.
Shimbori himself even reveals that Dead or Alive 6’s unnaturally stiff animations and physics are due to the limitations of the Dynasty Warriors 9 engine, an issue that didn’t exist for the Soft Engine version of Dead or Alive since it handled weighted object movement and collision data far differently than the new engine…
“[…] Furthermore, as for the expressions you can only get from the Dead or Alive series, we do plan on tossing out the old engine and switching to a next generation engine, but the old engine’s performance is just too high and the new engine still hasn’t been developed. For that reason, you might notice some unnatural movements, even in the latest exhibition version. The old engine is something that the old programmers, artists, and I poured our blood, sweat, and tears into. It was something we researched day and night to make, so it won’t be easy to surpass. I truly want to see the completed version as soon as possible, and I believe fans share that feeling as well. I apologize for keeping you guys waiting longer, but please believe in us and the engineers. Thank you for your continued support.”
Some people are hoping that Shimbori and the crew at Team Ninja will be able to re-implement the soft-body deformation physics that were present in the Soft Engine ver. 2, but redesigning a physics core from the ground up for an all new engine is just asking for trouble. That’s not to mention that rebuilding a physics core with that level of fidelity and geometrical deformation would likely take up to several years to complete and refine to the levels that they had achieved with the Soft Engine.
As you can see in the video below from DualShockers, the re-implementation of the jiggle physics are extremely rudimentary and are neither realistic nor as advanced as any of today’s physics engines.
This also explains why there were no jiggle physics at all during the early demonstrations of Dead or Alive 6, and why the jiggle physics added so far are extremely limited. It’s because the new engine doesn’t have advanced physical blending built in, and it’s something the team will have to implement manually.
A much simpler solution would have been to design a new lighting core or upgrade the one in the Soft Engine. It seems baffling why the team just didn’t spend the time to implement PBR into the Soft Engine instead of redesigning everything else from the ground up.
Nevertheless, Dead or Alive 6 is scheduled to release in early 2019.
However, with the information being made public that the engine still isn’t complete and they’re only 20% done, don’t be surprised to find out that there’s an announcement this fall that the game will get delayed into late 2019 or early 2020.