Interview with Keiji Inafune, the Father of Mega Man, on Choosing Kickstarter to Expand the Potential of Game Development [2/3]

Here is the second part of the interview regarding the Kickstarter project for Mighty No. 9, the new game by Keiji Inafune, the father of Mega Man.

TOM: Is there a specific reason or occasion that made you put your back into this?

Inafune: There was no specific occasion. However, every time I went to an overseas event, a lot of fans thanked me for making Mega Man, and each time it made me realize how my work makes people so happy. So you could also say that my reason is to return the favor to those who are proud of me for making such a game––to make a game that makes them even happier. I already resigned from Capcom, so I can’t make Mega Man. Nonetheless, I still have the experiences I gained through making Mega Man, and I am sure that together with my colleagues who also worked on Mega Man, we can make an even more interesting game. Kickstarter was the best way to have the fans decide whether that confidence is justified.

TOM: And as a result, you got plenty of support from fans throughout the world.

Inafune: I am so happy we succeeded. What I can say for sure is that it wasn’t easy to get all this way. I started gathering the production staff and making the game about four or five months ago. We didn’t have any support at the start, so we had to pay the development costs from our own pockets. Kickstarter is very risky, and we realized what would happen if we failed to reach the target amount. We just had to prepare ourselves to take such a risk, and starting working on the game. We managed to collect $900,000, but if you ask if it’s enough to cover the production fees, it’s not. If we deduct the cost of the rewards (special favors to the supporters) and the commission fee for Kickstarter, the remainder is not so much. Of course, if you compare it to having no support at all, it’s worlds apart, but I would like the supporters to understand that even though we managed to collect a considerable amount of money, it’s not as much as it looks from the outside. However, if it comes to making something incomplete because of lack of funds, I am prepared to use my own money to make a proper game, so don’t worry about that point.

TOM: Was your decision to develop Mighty No. 9 as a PC game also to reduce the costs?

Inafune: It's one of the reasons. Let’s say we make it for the PS3. But then, the Xbox 360 and Wii U users would want it to, so we would have to develop it for all consoles. However, that would of course require more funds, and it would also increase the hurdles. I thought that if we made it a PC game, we could easily distribute it to a lot of users, and so we decided to start with that.

TOM: You are planning to release the game DRM free. What do you think about the risks of pirating?

Inafune: It’s not like I don’t care, but we see this project as an indie game development. That’s why we chose to leave more probabilities for the players rather than clinging to our rights. The first people to play Mighty No. 9 will be those who helped fund it, so even if there will be people who play with a pirated copy, those are just irregular cases. What we have to consider most are the interests of our contributors. It is also our duty to create a game that makes them happy. If we only concentrated on controlling the pirated versions and made a game that wouldn’t please those we want to please most, that would be mistaking the cause for the end.

TOM: It’s because making new ways to enjoy the game by using mods is becoming the biggest charm of games among game fans, right?

Inafune: I think it’s important to perceive mods in a positive way as a tool that strengthens the bond between fans and expands the community, which are good for the game. The reason we can think so flexibly is also because we are indies.

TOM: In my opinion, the fan community plays a very important role in a game, so I’m very curious of the public’s reaction once the game is released.

Inafune: Yes, I want to see Mighty No. 9 going around the world together with the fans.

TOM: Let’s shift gears a bit if that’s okay. In what ways will Mighty No. 9 differ from the previously mentioned Mega Man?

Inafune: Since we are currently building up the game system and the minute parts, I can’t tell you details, but we are planning to make it so that fans will feel a big difference in the story. We want to create a story and a world that suits our era and is deep at the same time. You see, I couldn’t really put that many things into the story of Mega Man, which simply starts with “Dr. Wily is planning something evil. You have to stop him!” There is no doubt that the story is simple and easily understandable, but it’s also a fact that as a game, the story wasn’t the highest priority. For that reason, I think when fans talk about Mega Man, they might say things like, “The boss in that stage is...” or, “The music of that stage is...” but they hardly mention the story.

TOM: Now that you mention it, that may be the case.

Inafune: But Mighty No. 9 will be different. No. 9 means he is the ninth member of a team that participates in the robot fighting league Battle Colosseo. It also means there are characters No. 1 to No. 8, and the protagonist is the spare for the team. He is the only one who doesn’t have any outstanding powers. If I had to give an example, he’s somewhat like the Ugly Duckling. Among the other eight characters, however, there are scary guys as much as there are reliable ones, and the story unfolds between these characters. To make the game more enjoyable, I am trying to make use of the know-how I accumulated during Mega Man in every aspect of the game––in other words, the attractive action and engaging stage designs.

TOM: When I saw the game plot on your Kickstarter page, I had the impression that the word “potential” is very important in Mighty No. 9. What can you say about that?

Inafune: You could probably say “potential” is the game’s keyword. The protagonist, who is unable to do anything, borrows the strength of others and grows little by little. He starts from thinking he has no worth, and then he realizes that he can imitate and grow by absorbing the abilities of the other characters. In the end, he goes to rescue the other characters, his brothers, with the powers he gained. You can also change the word “growth” for “learning.” Robots and humans keep on studying while continuously growing, and when they stop learning, their growth also comes to a halt. We incorporated that as a message to the fans who play this game, and by playing, the player not only improves his gaming skills, but also grows mentally, step by step. I want players to remember that pleasure. Retro games all had the same concept. But in recent games, you can make your character stronger in a short time if you pay money. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but I definitely think that the concept where the player can grow little by little by playing should come back into games. In a sense, the system of Kickstarter itself is also linked to that concept; the project grows by borrowing the power of people around the world. What’s important is to go step by step every day.

TOM: In other words, does that mean that at the end of Mighty No. 9’s growth, there is a chance for a sequel?

Inafune: Of course, it’s possible. Whether we do it by Kickstarter or not will change with the flow of time.

Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter Page

photo by Miyuki Suemitsu

This is a Tokyo Otaku Mode original article.

Interview with Keiji Inafune, the Father of Mega Man, on Choosing Kickstarter to Expand the Potential of Game Development [2/3] 1
Interview with Keiji Inafune, the Father of Mega Man, on Choosing Kickstarter to Expand the Potential of Game Development [2/3] 2
Interview with Keiji Inafune, the Father of Mega Man, on Choosing Kickstarter to Expand the Potential of Game Development [2/3] 3
Interview with Keiji Inafune, the Father of Mega Man, on Choosing Kickstarter to Expand the Potential of Game Development [2/3] 4
Interview with Keiji Inafune, the Father of Mega Man, on Choosing Kickstarter to Expand the Potential of Game Development [2/3] 5

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