July Development Update: Can you feel that icy breeze?
Mighty Beckers, we’re back on track,
The last couple of days were eventful to say the least, and we’ve learned a lot from your reaction to our last update’s Anime Expo announcements. Thank you for the feedback, support and inquiries, we’re reading and reacting to it all. More on that in a second though, for now let’s focus on July’s development update, and for that I leave you in Director Imaeda’s more than capable hands.
BECK SPRINGS INTO ACTION!
Imaeda: Hello Mighty Beckers, it’s me again! With an animated series and new funding campaign in the works for Mighty No. 9, our project is really picking up steam! ...That being said, it's times like these one has to take a step back and make sure to be remember their roots. Let’s go back to basics, and take a closer at Beck’s basic in-game actions.
Run, Jump, ‘n Shoot-man! Though these might be as basic as it gets, they must feel just right as they can potentially make or break the game if they aren’t expertly tuned. That being said, that backward jump-shot is real slick!
Our tiny little Beck has to explore big stages full of ups and downs… literally. Though you might think to yourself that he looks a little comical climbing up and down those big ladders, let me assure Beck is giving even this simple task his absolute best!
Kept you waiting, but here it is, the heart of Mighty No. 9’s gameplay: The Dash. No sign of the timid little Beck inching up those steps here, as the Dash’s fearless forward surge takes enemies head on, and shows us just how Mighty our hero really is!
Last but not least, once you’ve weakened the enemy with a few shots, dashing into them triggers your Absorb ability, which allows you to absorb their Xel (the bits robots are made of in the Mighty universe) and convert it into power-ups! This ability is unique to Beck in the Mighty No. 9 world, and it’s this ability he has to use in order to save everybody.
That being said, you’ve gotta be careful when attempting to absorb enemies. If they’re not sufficiently weakened first, you run the risk of getting hurt. Also, not only is the amount of damage from ramming head on into unweakened enemies greater than average, you will get pushed backward upon contact too! And if there’s a pit or trap there… Well let’s just say abuse the Dash/Dash-Absorb action at your own risk...
When you do use these actions to successfully absorb those blocking your path or, say, a Mighty Number boss, a new power surges through Beck and he…
And now that I’ve whet your appetite with that concept art entree, let’s move on to the piece-de-resistance: this month’s (work-in-progress) ROM check by Mr. Inafune.
WHO TURNED OFF THE LIGHTS…?
Been a while since we had a ROM playthrough in the Osaka office, hasn’t it? Inti Creates’ Takuya Aizu and Kinshi Ikegami have made the trip all the way from Tokyo, so we promptly started the check!
The latest addition to this build is the lights-on, lights-off mechanic specific to one of the stages in the game (though not unique to Mighty No. 9...). Some enemies will take advantage of the darkness to attack you, so there isn’t a moment of respite!
Not only is this stage gloomy at best, and its platforms always treacherous…
But to make matters worse, enemy attacks get more intense in the dark!
And there in the deepest, darkest depths, she lies waiting...
...And so forth and so on! To tell you the truth though, despite the fact that we’ve put up screenshots to go with the usual ROM development progress this time, this new stage received some pretty harsh feedback. The stage’s layout, the failure to capitalize on the darkness/light mechanic, and really the whole direction were criticized. But the biggest issue (that left a lasting impression) was the uninspired placement of enemies within the stage.
“It’s fine to ramp up the difficulty, but the most difficult enemy Beck faces appears again and again, and his placement pattern is repetitive. Because of that, the entire stage ends up feeling monotone, and I’d like to see a lot more variation there,” said the Inafking.
He's right, of course! Just like in a movie, you can’t make every scene the climax, now can you? Don't worry though, Beckers, you can definitely look forward to all of these issues being completely fixed by the time you get your hands on the game of course!
Inafking went on to clarify: “Think of it this way, if all you had was meat, meat, meat every day, you’d get tired of it, right? You’d start clamoring for variation like “salad! potato! steak!”, right?”
Spoken like a true poet.
THE MAKING OF NO. 2
Last but not least today, we think it’s about time we gave this Mighty Number the full-blown design breakdown treatment: hello, No. 2! Can’t let the hub bub of the weekends’ announcements steal the spotlight, right? You know the drill, we hand the mic over to KIMOKIMO and Imaeda!
KIMOKIMO: No. 2’s design was revealed at the very beginning of our Kickstarter campaign. I remember thinking “Is it really alright to open with a character whose face we cannot see?” at the time, but the whole thing went on without a hitch and I could breathe easy.
I can’t say the design has changed much between now and then. I guess the only differences now are the shape of the head and the lack of a water tank, right?
Imaeda: From the looks of the silhouette, you can’t really tell whether it’s a boy or girl. I had originally proposed No. 3 and 8 be female, but...
KIMOKIMO: No. 2’s theme is water and ice, so I thought that’d be more fitting for a female character than No. 8. That faucet on 2’s head was originally reminiscent of a ponytail on purpose, as she was designed with female characteristics in mind. Indeed, our Mighty No. 2 is a girl! In the end the faucet itself was moved to the hand, and the head became bulb-like in shape.
KIMOKIMO: Beck’s design was based on a astronaut’s spacesuit, so when it came time to design No. 2 around the themes of ice and water, I immediately turned to a personal favorite: old-timey diving suits! These old suits have large bulbous helmets that I find adorable, so I made the character baby-like and gave her a water-bubble shaped carry-on tank. I really tried to make the character as cute as I possibly could!
Imaeda: One look at KIMOKIMO’s art and I instantly knew what No. 2’s personality was like. She would be very lively in-game, and particularly mischievous when she spoke. I even dare say her dialog was the easiest to write!
KIMOKIMO: Incidentally, the tank on her back is reminiscent of a baby bottle, while the contraption over her mouth was designed in the shape of a pacifier! When she sprays water out of her hose hand, it’s almost like a baby going potty! XD
Though she was devised to be the Mighty Numbers’ adorable mascot, I really like having her cute appearance be a stark contrast to her tremendously powerful ability.
KIMOKIMO: I thought the straw protruding from her back was a funny touch, and was very happy to see Inafune liked it too. The problem of how exactly the tank on her back got replenished with water came up, and the solution was to have the left arm pump water and the right one discharge it. This crystallized into an interesting asymmetrical design, which is always a good thing to have.
Imaeda: Once we settled on a design, we had to figure out how No. 2 would move in-game. So we turned to KIMOKIMO again for another session of brainstorming and the resulting set of accompanying sketches.
KIMOKIMO: I have to admit we only ever showed the final design of No. 2 as it stands today. So I thought I’d mix it up by sharing the very first (and very girly) sketch of No. 2 I thought up. TA-DAAA!
Around the time when Mighty No. 1 was still a boxer, I’d thought Mighty No. 2’s affinity with ice would go best with a slender figure skater’s figure.
But when we settled on headphone-like protrusions as a key element of the Mighty Numbers’ design, the design we have now fit perfectly and there was no turning back.
Imaeda: The original designs really capitalized on the idea that the battle Colosseum was a sports event. As we narrowed its function down to pure combat, the design of the robots naturally focused more on that end and we got the battle-ready, powerful designs we have now.
KIMOKIMO: Given the chance, I’d love to revisit that original design and tweak it into something more combat-ready with offensive capabilities. As game development soldiers on, and I find myself with more and more time to explore different design venues and characters, I’m sure the chance to rework it into something new will arise eventually. I look forward to it!
IMAEDA'S PHOTO CORNER
Imaeda: Thought I’d sign off with this wondrous photo of Inafune striking a cool guy pose in the midst of the latest ROM check. Enjoy!
Don’t think we could’ve gotten a more raw reaction out of the -admittedly mischievous- man himself!
And that’s it for the development side of things for today! Thank you, Imaeda-san!
Now let’s talk stretch goals, concerns and voice acting.
The bombshell of an announcement from Anime Expo saw quite the sizeable reaction, and we realized a few things needed to be explained. We do apologize for any confusion we caused, and want to make sure all matters are clear. We’re putting together a new FAQ now to answer the most pressing concerns, so keep an eye out for that!
Of all the feedback and suggestions we’ve received, one of the most prominent requests so far has been making both Japanese and English voice acting available for the first stretch goal. Truth is, we had intended to have both VAs as stretch goals all along, and to that end we launched the Japanese side of our new crowdfunding campaign at the Japanese crowdfunding site Makuake at the beginning of the week.
We were running on the idea that Japanese fans would be more motivated by Japanese voice acting, and English-speakers by an English one. We were surprised (pleasantly so!) by the Mighty Beckers that came out in droves to support the idea of Japanese voice work, asking us why they weren’t included in the Stretch Goals to begin with.
This led to our decision to combine both stretch goals into one, larger stretch goal, as you can see now on the Mighty No. 9 site. We understand that you still have concerns about this new process, and please know that this is an ongoing dialogue we want to maintain with the backers.
We hope you take this first step as an olive branch, and that you continue to ask us the important questions that guide our internal decisions. We look forward to your feedback!
Please keep your faith in us, and let’s keep moving forward together! (￣^￣)ゞ
- Dina (Mighty No. 1046), KIMOKIMO (Mighty No. 299), Koji Imaeda (Mighty No. 610), and the Mighty No. 9 Team