It was time to add colour. This is where the work comes to life. It is no longer going to be black and white, finally, I can add flavour to this piece.

A quick re-cap on how to read the data and what it looks like at this point. Each card represents one of Josie Rizals’s move.

Doing research

I start with the concept and understanding what Josie means, what she represents. I found an awesome concept image of Josie from Tekken’s facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/tekken/posts/josie-rizal-concept-art-sketchdesigned-by-mari-shimazaki/10153149974377978/

I learned about the sumpa-kita, it’s a Philippine jasmine flower. Her clothes are embellished with the design of these flowers. I started to sketch out shapes and colours related to Josie in my notebook. It becomes a reference for me to look back to. You might wonder why bother drawing it out when I can just look at an image of her. Drawing is a process to understand and observe. I have to look carefully at what I am drawing and I see things that would go unnoticed if I was just looking at it. Drawing isn’t only meant to communicate what we want to convey, it’s important to help us learn and understand.

Trial and error

I was really struggling with how to show start-up frames. I tried to figure out the appropriate shape. Initially, I had stacks of boxes to show start-up frames. They were spread out vertically and horizontally, which in hindsight wasn’t smart. As I was trying to read the dataviz, I was struggling with the two direction of reading start-up frame. I decided to change that and only allow you to read in one direction. The best way for this to fit was to only fill it up vertically.

So I explored some ways to do that.

I settled on something circular since it was most efficient with space. I didn’t like the shapes I had so far and I was stuck. I looked back at my notebook and noticed the flowers I drew. An idea struck and I thought to use the Sumpa-kita as start-up frame. Once again, a lot of trial and error here.

The colours used in her character design take inspiration from the Philippine flag: blue, red, yellow, and white.

I make a palette out of these colours as a starting point in Illustrator. I use the eyedropper tool and pick out colours from her concept image.

To determine how to combine and place colour on the cards, it’s a lot of trial and error.

Making differences more obvious

I was still not satisfied with how the damage section looked. It was still very hard to distinguish the differences between the various damage levels. If you look below, it’s not immediately obvious how they differ, especially if you view them individually. In addition, I think if you have a hard time naming them, then it becomes hard to comprehend. What would you call these, would you struggle talking about it if you were explaining this legend to a friend? I did and I needed to change the shapes.

I tried to convey the idea of more with quantity, in this case the number of corners.

So, I thought why not try using a circle in the background? That might work. Maybe I can keep playing with quantity as a variable.

I chose to use circles because when you land a hit on someone in Tekken, there’s a nice circle effect that appears on impact.

I reflected on how to express ‘more’, and realized that I could also play with space and intensity (e.g. something like colour where darker colours show more).

I tried to play with space using a circle as a background. I used various radii to convey the three different damage categories. The larger the radius, the more damage it had. I also tried out gaussian blur effect, which looked……very bad.

I still wasn’t very happy with what I made. All the versions I tried out looked weird, and it was hard to tell the difference between small and medium damage.

Once again, I was back to my notebook.

I started sketching ideas and one idea looked interesting.

I thought this was interesting. Using small bubbles to represent damage. Here, I can play on space and quantity to convey ‘more’.

I settled to use these bubbles and have come up with size, quantity, and space to convey more. If there’s more damage, the bubbles are larger, there’s more of them, and they take up more space. In addition, more of these bubbles would be filled in. As a bonus, I have these bubbles concentrating around the hit level of the move, so it helps focus your attention.

The final result

Moving forward

I shared the latest version with the Tekken subreddit community. I got lots of feedback, but declared I was done with the project and wasn’t going to make any more changes.

I felt the most recent version expresses Josie Rizal as a character. It shows her origins through the Philippine jasmine flower and the colours used represent the national flag. The ultimate goal was for these cards to feel that they belong to her. If you held these cards, you wouldn’t think they represented any other character.

I had a lot of challenges dealing with the data for this project. Most of the data I collected come from Rbnorway, but the data collection method isn’t documented and I have no idea how accurate the data is. I have found some mistakes when I was going through it. I can’t complain, I don’t have access to the proper resources to collect anything that is better than Rbnorway. I limited the time I have to complete this project so I could get it out quickly. I was more interested in testing out an idea to visualize the data, whether or not the data is accurate or complete is an entirely different issue. I wanted to present a novel way for people to learn Tekken with data visualization. I was lucky that I had the Tekken Reddit community I could tap into.

One of the moderators of the Tekken Reddit has been giving me feedback since version 1. He said something interesting about what I was doing for this project:

I’ve not seen anyone with your skill set take an interest in Tekken. I’m excited to see the end product. Hopefully, it’ll inspire others to do something similar.

There’s so much data out there that could be visualized, and there’s so many communities who could use our skills. Tekken isn’t something people might think about visualizing. Maybe people might look into player statistics and that’s about it. I took a different angle of integrating dataviz into a process to teach others the game. This comes back to the theme of work I want to keep exploring, ‘viz the world’. Are there places where a dataviz person has never stepped into, but once they do, they could present a novel solution to a particular communication challenge.

If I was ever to come back to this project, I would want to collaborate with a domain expert who could help me check the quality of the data.

…Another thing. The frame data for the transition moves look wrong. Looks like the frame data is for the move without the cd transition. 3,2~f can definitely be launch punished

For this version, another feedback I got was that it was important to consider medium. The categories of the moves only makes sense when viewed in video format. This is true. I ripped the information from a video and inserted it into a print medium, which doesn’t make sense. Perhaps more context is required and this is something out of my control. I lack the expertise to provide the appropriate information.

For the descriptions, like “Punish Whiff/Range” … Sure, that’s what the video had, but imagine the video wasn’t there and you just had description. It doesn’t make sense without a visual example (which the cards do not provide). But if you reworded that to “Long Range Poke” then suddenly it makes a ton of sense. Overall I think the descriptions would need a big rework just because the media has changed so much.

Finally, the ideal outcome for this project is to create these cards for every single character. I wouldn’t be interested in showing all the moves, rather, it would be a selected series of moves. Each move labelled based on how to respond to certain situations.

On a final note, the work I created here only makes sense for static work. I give it value that an interactive piece cannot achieve. A physical card you can move around to make comparisons while learning how to play a character in Tekken. I’ve been more thoughtful recently about how to create projects that only make sense in static format. I might have a bit of a complex where I feel that my industry demands so much from interactive and digital work, yet it’s something I can’t provide. I never liked focusing on what I can’t do, I always believed in betting on what I can do well. I bet my time and energy on specializing and doing it so well that it’s something you won’t find anywhere else.

Regardless if I find opportunities in this way or not, being useful and novel has its place in this world. I am focusing more on creating things that solve problems and reduce pains. If I can get better and identifying these opportunities and ways to address them, I think there’s a chance for me to do something interesting in the dataviz space.

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