Mega Man 11 devs on how Capcom brought back the series, visual style, Double Gear system, difficulty, future, more
Recently, Famitsu published a big interview with a couple of the developers working on Mega Man 11. The Japanese magazine caught up with producer Kazuhiro Tsuchiya and director Koji Oda.
There was a lot of interesting discussion in the lengthy interview. Tsuchiya and Oda went in-depth on how it went about bringing back the series, why the team opted for a more 3D look, the Double Gear system, different difficulty options, and more. There’s also a bit of talk about the future and other topics like the Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2.
We’ve posted our full translation of the interview below.
The key figures behind the new Mega Man game talk about the secrets behind its development!
This is the first game in the series since Mega Man 10, eight years ago. Can you tell us about your decision to make another game?
Tsuchiya: When Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was close to completion (Koji) Oda came to me and said, “Why don’t we do a Mega Man game next? Mega Man has fans all over the world who are hoping for a new game in the series. I think we have a responsibility to answer those calls. We have to do Mega Man next!” This was a chance for us to honor our responsibility to the fans.
So the decision was made based on Oda’s proposal?
Tsuchiya: That’s right. In addition to that we were coming up to the 30th anniversary and Mega Man Legacy Collection was being released. I think if we hadn’t used that perfect timing to revive the series, we would have disappointed many fans. So with that in mind, we began preparations for the project.
And did those preparations go smoothly?
Tsuchiya: Given it had been eight years since the last game, we had to think carefully about the kind of Mega Man we should create. We decided to make that call based on real market research, getting feedback from gamers and fans, then choosing our direction. After this Oda was very busy with choosing the best team to work on the game, which also took some time.
I guess you recruited people who have been involved in making Mega Man games in the past and also love the series?
Oda: That’s true for any game, but you also want perfectionists. I think the quality of a game is decided seven parts by the arrangement of the team. The main team members this time are those who have, in some capacity, been involved in Mega Man games in the past, but also those who have not worked on any Mega Man games, but are nevertheless full of enthusiasm for the series and want to be on the team.
I see. Still, eight years without working on a Mega Man game is a long time.
Oda: Yes, it’s true that after eight years the Mega Man specific knowledge of the people involved in production may have waned, but on the other hand I think this gives us the chance to approach the game with fresh minds. And besides, with a team compiled of those enthusiastic about Mega Man and those with the experience of having already worked on previous games, we were able to overcome those initial difficulties.
Tsuchiya: Oda stood in front all the staff and said, “It’s been eight years since Mega Man 10 and, with the team now made up of members from varying fields, don’t think for a moment the development of this game is going to be easy. This project is like reviving some lost relic of technology. That’s the kind of task we have.” Well, I’m sure it was something along those lines. I think the team heeded those words.
With that sort of buzz in the development studio, wasn’t there a feeling of wanting to create an entirely new kind of Mega Man?
Oda: As it had been so long since the last release, there were perhaps those within the team who wanted a way to properly vent their frustrations. During the development, many different ideas were brought forward, and consolidating them all was a lot of work.
Could you tell us a little bit about the concept for the game?
Tsuchiya: While we want to create that feeling of nostalgia for some of our long-time fans, if we only think like that then younger gamers may end up seeing Mega Man as a kind of ‘game for granddads’, and the series will eventually fade away. Instead, we want anyone, regardless of experience with the series, to be able to enjoy playing the game. For that reason, this time we wanted to redefine the Mega Man series, while still staying true to the original.
Oda: I feel the same way as Tsuchiya in not simply wanting to revive the series, but to add a newness to a game that people can still recognize at once as Mega Man. I think that was the key thing we kept in mind.
You also had to think about changing the characters and stages from dot animation to 3D modelling, right? Was there any pressure on you going from the traditional style found in games 9 and 10 to a 3D style?
Tsuchiya: The dot animation in Mega Man has an extraordinary degree of accuracy. I thought, “If we throw our hat into that ring, won’t we always be trying to catch up to those that came before?” And so I was determined to make this game 3D. Of course, in order to express the essence Mega Man without use of 2D, there was a lot of trial an error involved, and because of that I think there has been some pressure. But, instead of trembling in the shadow of our predecessors, we’re finally able to make the type of Mega Man game we’ve always wanted to make. I think that’s the right kind of pressure to be working under.
Oda: With the recent advancements in hardware, I think a certain standard of visuals and gameplay is necessary. With that in mind, I felt that we would simply be forcing dot animation into the game. That is one of the reasons for the change.
Despite the 3D, when you see the game for the first time and see Mega Man moving, it feels completely natural.
Tsuchiya: Thank you for saying so. At the time, the animation staff asked the animation lead, “when we’re explaining the animation style we want to other members, which game would you like us to refer back to? It’s got to be 8, right?” But the animation lead shouted, “no, 2!”
Really?! But the animation on 8 seems really smooth to me…
Tsuchiya: When Mega Man is getting off of a ladder you can kind of see that he sticks his butt out. That motion lets the player know Mega Man has been climbing and if that pose disappears, then that means that he is jumping instead. During the NES generation, when Mega Man 2 was released, because the patterns of motion were limited it made timing the movements easier for the player to get the hang of. But as the quality of technology became higher and so did the range of animations, the movements became more complex and harder for the player to grasp. So we wanted to refer back to the game where each and every frame had a direct meaning, which was 2.
Ah, so really you’re thinking about making it easier for the player to enjoy the game.
Tsuchiya: No matter what their background, all of our staff did a lot of research on games 1 through 10, thinking about what aspects could be best incorporated into this game, which I am very grateful for.
Aside from the animations, a lot of work went into maintaining the original background and character designs. As a rule, were these the only things you wanted to retain?
Oda: The main two things we wanted to avoid were diverging from the spirit of the series and being so original that it made the game feel strange for gamers. But as the art director is someone with vast experience with the Mega Man series, I think we can safely leave that in his hands.
Because of the rise in quality, there were times in previous games, weren’t there, when it was hard to distinguish the enemy from the background?
Oda: Because the technology we have at our disposal is constantly evolving, we always want to see how far we can reach. But with so much going on, there is the potential for being overwhelmed by what is happening on the screen and dying. Then the fundamental fun of Mega Man becomes fatally flawed, which is a big concern for us.
Tsuchiya: If the player feels that the reason they failed was not because of their own mistake but because of the game itself, they will not want to try again. The player must instead feel like:, “I failed because I messed up.” And then they will want to try again. I think this is the most important thing for an action game.
I see. So, let’s talk about the sound. Mega Man 11 moves away from the classic 8-bit sound, in favor of a more modern feel. What did you have in mind when you were creating the music?
Oda: It wasn’t so much a case of choosing ‘modern music’ as wanting those that play the game to imagine the sort of boss that might be waiting for them.
Ah, OK. There really are plenty of tunes in the Mega Man series that get stuck in your head.
Oda: In the beginning we made all of these modern, incredibly long pieces for the soundtrack, but when you heard them running in the game, something felt off. Because we wanted the music to be something the player could hum to themselves, we decided to go with lots of shorter pieces, running on a loop.
True, there are quite a few famous video game tunes that are easy to hum. Along with the music, the story of Mega Man is also very popular. What kind of story did you ask for this time?
Tsuchiya: Because it’s been eight years since the last game, my wish was that those that are familiar with the series should forget any sort of assumptions of what a Mega Man story should be.
Oda: On top of that, we wanted the player to get into the action as soon as possible, so we tried to keep the text to a minimum.
Looking at the story, it seems to be designed around getting used to the new gameplay systems, such as the Double Gear system. Was this intentional?
Oda: It was less intentional and more the case that Eguchi (Masakazu Eguchi) took all of our various wishes and consolidated them all into one. As expected of him, I think he did a great job.
So, the man behind the Mega Man Battle Network games is handling the story? That should be great. By the way, this game is coming out on four consoles. Was this the plan right from the start?
Tsuchiya: Well, Mega Man is a game with fans all over the world, so in order to reach the widest audience possible, we decided to launch on four consoles. We were also able to release the Mega Man Legacy Collection in the same way.