Mighty No. 9 Comcept Interview

Always Nintendo recently got the chance to interview comcept’s Producer, Nick Yu and Game Director, Koji Imaeda to find out more about the development of Mighty No. 9! Special thanks to Dina Abou Karam for translating from Japanese to English! Be prepared for an exciting interview, there might even be some new info…

Always Nintendo (AN): Hi guys, definitely excited to get this interview started! Would you each be able to introduce yourselves and tell us a bit about what you do?

Imaeda: Hello, I am Koji Imaeda, the director of Mighty No. 9. Apart from directing the overall development, I am also in charge of the game world and scenario. I ensure that the wishes of both Inafune and the backers are reflected in the game.

Nick: Hey there, I’m the producer of Mighty No. 9, Nick Yu. Rather than building the game itself, I’m in charge of managing the entire MN9 project. I have to stay on top of everything related to Mighty No. 9, but rarely do I actually have a hand in the creation process. I do things like manage the project schedules, or propose event and PR. This project in particular is something we’re making together with the fans, so it is my duty to figure out exactly how to make that a reality. To me, the most important thing is making sure Mighty No. 9 is a game that lots of people can get their hands on.

AN:Koji­-san. Over the past year, many Mega Man fans have been scared because they feel as if the Mighty No. 9 franchise might take away Mega Man’s spotlight. Do you believe that the two franchises will be able to co­exist among each of the fanbases in the future? Or will it be complete and utter chaos?

Imaeda: I don’t think this is something you need to worry about (laugh). In fact, I was very happy to see so many fans embrace Mighty No. 9 who are also fan of Mega Man. These two franchises can coexist; I even wouldn’t count out the possibility of a crossover someday.

Nick: It’s actually quite an honor to be compared to such a famous franchise!

AN: I would definitely hate to irritate you with Mega Man questions Koji, so this is the last one, I promise. What are the major differences between Mighty Man (Beck) and Mega Man? Do you think there will be any confusion between the two? Seeing as you’ve already been a part of the development process in two Mega Man games now, I figured that you’d know best.

Imaeda: Beck’s biggest distinctive feature is his ability to dash into enemies and absorb them, resulting in faster, more aggressive gameplay. Moreover, looking at the game’s scenario, Beck is saddled with the difficult task of fighting his rampaging siblings, and all the complex feelings that come with it. This paints Beck as a more grim type of hero. I do think that once people actually play the game, they’ll be able to see for themselves just how different the two heroes are.

AN: Nick­-san. In the Kickstarter project for Mighty No. 9, it is stressed that the team mainly consists of both Western Developers AND Japanese Developers. You just so happen to be the link between each of these worlds! When you translate, what are the main differences and similarities you notice in the development styles of each culture? Does each side try to stand out? If so, what effect does this have on the development process?

Nick: The one thing that stood out most to me—the most impressive fact I guess you could say—is that not once when I explained the concepts behind this project to any company was I met with negative comments like “I don’t think we should do this” or “I doubt the project will succeed”.

In that sense, Mighty No. 9 was immediately received with open arms regardless of country or culture. As for the development side, the advantage of having Inti Creates in charge of it all is that there is no clash of cultures to speak of with comcept (as both companies are Japanese).

AN: While the Kickstarter project was still being funded, comcept really focused on bringing enticing rewards to the table so that people would be encouraged to support the game and its development. Some rewards included 3D-­printed models, plushies, and even special in­-game transformations! Of course all of this stuff is cool, but comcept took it a step further by allowing backers to be featured in the game! What were the risks in doing so?

Nick: Having backers appear in the game, and making the game together with them is a lot easier said than done. Game development by nature involves a lot of discussions (or should I say arguing?) within the team itself. Add the fans to this equation and you don’t just simply add time, but also the high possibility of the conversation never really coming to a satisfactory conclusion. That’s the biggest risk you’d encounter. On the other hand, when both the team and fans are thinking in the same direction, there’s barely any delay to speak of.

AN: Unlike many Kickstarter projects out there, comcept has stayed focused on the community aspect of things long after the Kickstarter was funded! This includes creating a backer ­only community forum and holding backer-only events. What are your reasons for doing so?

Imaeda: Mighty No. 9 as a project was made possible by the backers, that much is clear. So when we were faced with the question of how to respond to backer expectations, backer-only forums and events were clearly a necessity.

Nick: “Making a game with the fans” was one of Inafune’s dreams, and one of the important concepts behind this project. It’s easy enough to say it, but making the game together means incorporating fan feedback into the game itself. Kickstarter already has a big community built around it, so it was the most natural way to bring the fans into development.

AN: KIMO KIMO, Could you tell us a bit more about the character design in Mighty No. 9?

KIMO KIMO: One thing I paid special attention to was capturing the sense of design Inafune was going for. In the end, the only way to do this was to build out these designs while discussing the details with Inafune.

It certainly wasn’t easy, but the moment a character was born was so enjoyable that it never felt like a chore.

I put a lot of devotion into each Mighty Number, so I like all of them! The one that took the longest to create was definitely Mighty No. 7, although truth be told I was most worried about No. 1 because he set the tone for the design of all the other Mighty Numbers.

Mighty No. 5

AN: When Mighty No. 9 is released on the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, can Nintendo fans expect to see Miiverse integration within the game? If so, how will this play out?

Imaeda: Compared to other systems, the 3DS or Wii U run on two screens rather than one, and that is something I’d like us to make good use of. As for Miiverse, weeeell… I haven’t thought that one through yet. I’m sure we’ll think up a few ways of linking it with the game…

Nick: The project has only just made it out of the alpha stage, so we haven’t started working on the ports to each platform yet. That’s one of the steps we’ll be looking at from here on out. If we can get support for this from Nintendo it’s not out of the question, but for now we don’t have any plans.

AN: After Mighty No. 9’s release, can we expect to see and Downloadable Content, either free or paid? Fans would most definitely be excited if you guys continued to provide continued support the game!

Imaeda: Of course! We are crafting the game with the possibility of future DLC in mind. As for the type of DLC, we’re still trying to figure that out.

Nick: The cold reality you have to face as a producer is that Kickstarted projects come with a built-in ceiling where the budget is concerned. In other words, the amount of pledges you get during the KS campaign itself is all the budget you’re going to get. We don’t have the wiggle room to make any additional content that wasn’t promised during the campaign. However, we can get that wiggle room if the game ends up being a hit, and that’ll be a whole different story…

Mighty No. 7

AN: Koji-­san. Since you’re the Director of Mighty No. 9, it would be pretty fair to say that you have the best understanding of the development process and collaborative process as a whole. After seeing the dynamics between everyone who is part of the game’s development, do you think that comcept will be able to come together and make Mighty No. 9 sequels in the near future?

Imaeda: Let’s not get ahead of ourselves! (laugh)  First and foremost, we need to devote all of our time and energy into making the first game a success, so we don’t have the spare time to think about sequels! Although… the idea “if we do this in the first game, how about this or that for the second or third!” often comes up in discussions with the dev team. Everyone on the team definitely has what it takes, so I’d like to make sequels happen.

Nick: I’ve yet to meet a creator who doesn’t think about sequels! (laugh) Our Mighty No. 9 team is no exception. Depending on how well the game does, you might not only see sequels, but maybe spin-offs as well! Let’s do it, everyone!

Mighty No. 6

AN: Tell us about some of the latest updates on the development of Mighty No. 9! What else has comcept been doing to keep fan enthusiasm strong?

Imaeda: As Nick just mentioned, we’ve only recently finished the alpha stage of development.  We’ve been able to confirm the game’s entertainment factor, and the next phase consists of gradually adding in new characters and fleshing out levels. Through development updates and periodic surveys, we want all of our fans to enjoy themselves all the way up to the end of development.

AN: What was comcept’s experience like developing with Nintendo? Do you plan to continue making games for Nintendo console’s in the future?

Nick: It’s a little nerve-wrecking, but at the same time it’s quite an honor. I do think Nintendo has a knack for making hardware that offers unique ways to enjoy games. Making games for such systems is the ultimate creative challenge for creators, and a fun one at that. Given the opportunity, we’d love to make more games for them.

AN: Does comcept have any new or unreleased information that they’d like to announce? Updated game screenshots or new videos possibly? *wink wink*

Nick: Well as I’ve said earlier, I am privy to ALL things Mighty No. 9. Let me say that doesn’t solely extend to the game itself, but to all of Mighty No. 9 as a franchise… The possibilities are endless!!

We love getting fan reactions to new material we release, and so we’d love to show you and your readers new information on Mighty No. 9! That being said, we do our best to make sure our backers get first dibs on new information. This project wouldn’t exist without them, and we want them to see our gratitude in every step of development!

AN: Finally, what does comcept have to say to fans who’ve been awaiting the release of the game? Anything else you’d like to tell them about?

Nick: I think there’s someone here more suitable for answering this question… take it away, Mr. Inafune!

Inafune: Fans and readers of Always Nintendo, this is Keiji Inafune.

Some of you may have read this already, but you should know that the development of Mighty No. 9 is coming along very smoothly. The graphics have been getting better and better with each new build… as has the difficulty! (laugh) I want to let all of you get that nostalgic feeling—the one that makes you want to keep going no matter how many times you die. This game is going to be a great one, so all of you please look forward to it! Thank you for your continued support of Mighty No. 9!

Thanks again to the folks over at comcept! The time that you’ve set aside for us and the care that you put into your answers really mean a lot to us! Keep up the great work guys, I’m sure your game will be a huge success!

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