Iwata Asks: Megafied
Tuesday, October 19, 2010 at 7:52PM
Richard Terrell (KirbyKid) in Interview, Mega Man
Iwata: Okay, first could you please introduce yourselves and tell me how you were involved with this game?
Richard: My name is Richard Terrell from B.E.S indie game studio. But many know me as the KrazyKirbyKid or KirbyKid for short. I run and write for the Critical-Gaming Network including the gaming and mixed-media blogs. I was the artist, designer, and programmer for Megafied: Makoto's World.
Marcus: My name is Marcus Terrell. I was the programmer and designer for Megafied. 
Richard: We've released other games but most people seem to ignore them. 
Iwata: That happens sometimes when everyone is busy. It's happened to me, too. I kept mentioning something, but everyone pretended like they didn't hear me. (laughs)
Everyone: (laughs)
Iwata: So you've been working together for ten years.
Richard: Much longer. We've been brothers my whole life. Mario Brothers since our first gaming system the NES. Teammates in every competitive game we play. And partners in most of the games I've worked on.
Iwata: Is that so. (laughs). Well, I'd like to start by asking you how development began.
Richard: We didn't start with a game design document or anything. After we saw the 8-bit Street Fighter characters, we couldn't help but have long conversations talking about exactly what different characters would play like in a Mega Man game. Just out of curiosity, I looked up some Game Maker Mega Man engines. With a little digging, I found two featuring levels and one featuring a boss character.
Iwata:  When you heard that, what did you think?
Marcus: I thought we had a good base for the game. I was pretty sure we wouldn't find a perfect engine. As long as we could get the feeling of moving Mega Man down, that would be the most important feature. Everything else we could modify. 
Iwata: It was possible as far as the engine went.
Marcus: That's right. We were only looking for a fan production. Not to create a true Mega Man game.

Richard: Working on the controls and movement for Makoto was tricky. We insisted on keeping the controls simple. Something you could play with just the Wiimote (my favorite gaming controller). This was a big change from a Street Fighter game that is usually designed around 6 buttons. Getting the attacks to feel slow enough and the Hayate/Fukiage motions to feel just right so that experience Street Fighter players can jump right in and fight took a lot of fine tuning. It had to be perfect though. Otherwise we'd run into problems with everyone's love for Makoto.
Iwata: Everyone's love?
Marcus: Everyone's love for Makoto who love Makoto. As I said before, the movement of Makoto Mega Man is the most important part of the feel of the game. Mega Man is a character who already has access to a variety of powers. So designing a Mega Man with Makoto powers isn't too strange of an idea. If Makoto played exactly like Street Fighter, players would feel out of place in a Megafied world. 
Iwata: But that wouldn't make for a good game.
Marcus: Exactly. Makoto jumping over pits would be a nightmare. 
Iwata: I see.
Richard: The first thing I did was to create all of Makoto's basic moves like dashing, attacking, jumping, standing, and walking. Walking was the hardest. Makoto has a very unique and lengthy walking animation in Street Fighter 3rd Strike. Converting the animation into much fewer frames with only a few pixels was difficult because I had never done animations or pixel art for a game before. 
Iwata: Really?! (laughs) That must have made it hard for you. 
Richard: Really. I learned that the little bit of red color and that yellow scarf were very important in helping the player know exactly what Makoto is doing. Because, unlike Mega Man, Makoto does a lot more crouching, twisting, and rotating that obscures her minimally defined body. 
Marcus: The Hayate charge is a particular animation that sets Makotobot apart from MegaMan. The only stationary animations that Megaman has are glowing when charging or blinking his eyes. These animations are very simple. Makoto's billowing scar has the same amount of frames as Mega Man's blink, but it makes a more fluid expression. The decision to use Concrete Man's stage came after we decided we were going to use a particular enemy set. When planning we couldn't separate the enemies we chose from the level they were in. So naturally, we chose to use it all. 
Richard: Development really took off after that decision. 
Iwata: Like everything was going according to your plan?
Richard: Right. After about 3 weeks of learning and tinkering, and one week in crunch time debugging the game, we were finished. 
Marcus: Both Mega Man and Street Fighter 4 are considered to be very difficult games. Even though both are considered difficult by players, to conquer either you have to exhibit a sense of self mastery. One between Mega Man and the environment. And the other between Makoto and the opponent. 
Iwata: Does that mean that you made an effort this time to cut down as much as possible on the people who start playing and then say "I can't keep up"?
Marcus: Just like Street Fighter and its arcade roots, the general conception is as long as you put in enough quarters into the machine you can always make it to the end. In other words, if you have enough lives you can make it to the end. In Megafied there are no game overs, and when you die you start at the beginning of that room. So this way as long as the player has the drive, they can reach the end making Megafied both challenging and accessible. 
Iwata: Those don't quite go together, making it more challenging and making it so anyone can play it.
Richard: We made the game so that anyone who keeps trying can brute force their way to victory. But the more advanced players can go for more difficult moves like the Fukiage and long combo strings. I think the maximum combo on Concrete Man involves a fukiage, into a jump tsurugi, a standing kick canceled into a hayate, into a 1 frame link hayate. It does about 16 points of damage. That's over half of the life of the boss!
Iwata: I'm really jealous of that skill! (laughs)
Marcus: One of the key differences between Makoto's playstyle and Mega Man's playstyle is that Karate attacks are generally not applicable to Mega Man's challenges. So we had to tweak some of the really tough challenges by designing elegant solutions. Like the Elephant and the Cannon enemies.
Richard: Yeah. If you think it,  the M.Buster is an efficient and self recycling attack. When Mega Man destroys an enemy, it is eradicated by the gamma energy with no trace left behind. This simply wouldn't happen if you kicked an enemy would it?
Iwata: I suppose it wouldn't. (laughs)
Richard: So we thought a bit like Mario and Smash Bros. If you can't destroy an incoming cannon ball, what would you do to it? Kick it back! And if you can't shoot an elephant in your path, what would you like to do to its trunk that's sucking you in. Kick it shut! So we designed many special interactions into the game like this to fully express the difference between a shooting based character like Mega Man and a Karate fighter like Makoto. 
Iwata: To wrap up, then, I'd like each of you to say a few words to our players.
Marcus: If you really hate fighting elephants, just run right through them. You'll take some damage, but you can skip along to the next section without having to defeat them. And to pull off an easy Fukiage, hold down while wiggling  left and right; then hit the attack button. Finally hit "D" to perform a Karakusa. Unfortunately, this attack was cut from the development of Megafied. 
Iwata: Why is that?

Richard: Though the Karakusa is one of Makoto's most unique and defining moves, we couldn't find many places where the player would be able to use it. I started programming the ability to Karakusa solidified concrete shots, but quickly moved on to other features. The Karakusa is just one of many features that we lost. 

Iwata: You lose a lot of different things.

Richard: I'm just glad the game works. I really hope that people enjoy all the work we put into preserving and merging the feels of both Mega Man and Street Fighter.
Iwata: So you'd be happy if lots of people play the game and find that it resonates with them.
Marcus: Of course.
Richard: We still have plans for the engine for the future. We have lots of ideas we can explore including remixed custom levels, new environments, and multiplayer. If we get a lot of support for the game we might develop new characters or even a large open 2D world that players can navigate Super Metroid style. 
Iwata: Thank you for your time today.
Marcus: Thanks for highlighting our little project.
Richard: And thank you for speaking English. 
Everyone: (laughs).
Article originally appeared on Critical-Gaming Network (http://critical-gaming.com/).
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