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Keiji Inafune Addresses Concerns Over Capcom Legal Issues With Mighty No. 9, Explains Fan Collaboration Plans

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

"With the Legends project we didn't get to do all that we wanted to do"

Over the weekend Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune caused a minor internet meltdown by launching a Kickstarter campaign for Mighty No. 9, a project with an all-star development team and a strong Mega Man vibe to it. At the time of writing the fundraiser has unsurprisingly gained significant backing, surpassing $800,000 with 29 days still to go; $2.5 million is the magic number for a Wii U version, and on current momentum is looks like a strong possibility.

Naturally, Keiji Inafune has been busy talking about the game in the hours since its unveiling, and in an interview with USGamer he was quizzed about potential legal issues or challenges from Capcom. As was pointed out to him, there have been occasions in the past where similar products from former staff of major companies have been challenged, yet Inafune made clear that the possibility won't stop him continuing and producing the game he wants to deliver.

Honestly, publishers and developers always disagree on lots of issues. And so that conflict and that friction will always be there. The Infinity Ward guys are a perfect example, a publisher and a developer disagreeing over what they each think their value is. If you start worrying about that, you're not going to get anything done. It just comes with the territory.

That being said, Mega Man is Mega Man because it's my style. It's my artistic style that created that character. Beck, in Mighty No. 9, is also a character that I've created. If the idea is that I should try to stop creating characters via my style and try to create a different style that totally doesn't fit with me, that doesn't seem to make a lot of logical sense. Certainly I'm not going to do that just to make Capcom happy. I am who I am. My artistic style is what it is. We're all going to naturally gravitate toward what fits us naturally as an artist or a creator or a designer or whatever. That's all I'm doing in this case as well.

An aspect of the fundraiser that's caught the eye is the focus on community feedback and involvement — via dedicated forums — as the development kicks into gear. This inevitably brings comparisons with the contentious beginnings and failings of the Mega Man Legends 3 project. Inafune made it clear that while that community input will be vital, there will be a structure and set of limitations to ensure that the arrangement delivers the best results for all concerned.

I will say this – working with the fans sounds attractive and cool and great on paper. But in reality, the logistics behind it are quite difficult. If you're going to interact with the fans and make sure you're getting the most clear-cut, concise information you can from them, you need to structure it in a way in which… Do they choose between two or three different choices? Are they able to make certain key selections? You can't just throw out a huge wide net and say, "Give me your best character design," or something like that, because then you're going to come up with 8,000 different ideas and there's no way to manage that sort of information.

The fans, the backers, they're not game creators. They're fans. They're people who love the content. They're going to have great ideas, but they still need to be funneled in a way that the people building the game will be able to use them in the best way possible. Finding that solution set, finding those logistics, is going to be key to making sure that this project provides the most for both the creators and the fans that are so interested in it.

... With the Legends project, obviously, we didn't get to do all that we wanted to do. Had we, I think that there would be additional learnings that we could have gleaned from going all out. That's unfortunate, but what can be said is… Going back to what I said before, if you're going to work with a large number of fans, and you want to streamline their feedback in the most concise way possible, providing them with different choices and options to pick from is a good way. At least providing them with some sort of framework, a box for them to come up with ideas within, is going to be something that will be a more effective way to utilize their cooperation. Rather than just saying, "Hey, what do you want?"

An open-ended question like that, to 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 people, it's just going to give you data points all over the map that you're not going to be able to do much with. You don't want to have… "There will be robots or zombies in this game! There will be dinosaurs in this game!" Narrowing those parameters — creating those guidelines, that box — is something that's going to be key to making sure that information is passed back and forth in the best way.

The target release for this title isn't until April 2015, yet interest in this project is likely to be fierce over that sustained period. What do you think of Inafune's comments, particularly those on ensuring a successful collaboration with the community?


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User Comments (27)



KodaSmooss said:

And does anyone know where his game for the 3DS (King of Pirates) is? It was announced last year (or before?) and we heard nothing from it since then.



DreamOn said:

Seems to make sense. It's great that its happening this way since that freedom was likely not gonna come being under Capcom. Here's to the consoles stretch goal!



KeeperBvK said:

As I already said in the other news: Inafune isn't the creator of Mega Man. He might be the creator of many Mega Man games, but he didn't create Mega Man, so please refrain from further spreading this common misconception.



Aedr said:

@ThomasBW84 I have also been wondering about King of Pirates since Mighty No. 9 news came out. Hope it isn't cancelled.



AlexSora89 said:

It's kinda pointless to claim Keiji Inafune "wasn't" the creator of Megaman without telling who is. That said, here's what Inafune's Wikipedia article says on the matter.

Now wanting to capitalize on the fledgling Nintendo system, Keiji's superiors directed him to create a new video game character called "Rockman." Capcom's artist and developer teams were still diminutive at that period in time, and so Keiji was directed to be one of the leading artists in the new project.
When it came to the design for the Rockman game (which was later changed to "Mega Man" in North America), Keiji developed all the art and design for the characters. Due to the small task force, he also constructed the characters into pixel form, as well as the game's respective logo, package design, and instruction booklet. As the Famicom was an early gaming system, only 56 colours were available for display, the majority of which were blue-tinted. Keiji noted that this affected the decision to colour the character blue (as a result, fans have nicknamed the character "the blue bomber"). The design of Keiji's character was also heavily influenced by Japanese animation, and he notes that he took observations from other video game characters present at the time, such as Mario.
In development of the game, Inafune incorporated many references to various music genres, such as Rock, which is the source of the Japanese name "Rockman." Along with this, the team made a gaming system pertaining to the rock-paper-scissors concept, one which the various Mega Man series still revolve around today. The first Rockman/Mega Man game was released in December 1987, after which sales in both countries were competent, but as Inafune later notes, "While it did sell more than we had expected, [Rockman 1] wasn't a huge success as far as the numbers go." Noting this, Capcom superiors dictated that the team begin on a new project called Professional Baseball Murder Mystery, which was only released in Japan.
Nevertheless, the team felt confident about the Rockman series, and urged that they be permitted to construct another iteration in order to amend the previous failings of the original and continue in the light of creativity. Capcom allowed the Rockman team to continue, with the prerequisite to complete the port of Legendary Wings for the NES and Professional Baseball Murder Mystery as well. The team did so, completing the project on their own time, and on December 24, 1988, released Rockman 2, with Mega Man 2 being released later in North America in 1989. The project proved to be a huge success, earning more than its previous iteration. Fans widely consider it to be the best Mega Man game, because of its production values, such as graphics and music. Capcom realized that the Mega Man series was a profitable investment, and many ports were constructed along with regular installments released on a yearly basis.

Additionally, this comes from the character's own Wikipedia article:

Although originally the names "Mighty Kid", "Knuckle Kid", and "Rainbow Man" were proposed, Capcom eventually settled on "Rockman" as Mega Man's Japanese moniker. The word "Rock" in Rockman is a reference to the music genre rock and roll, and is meant to work in tandem with his sister robot, Roll. However, Capcom Consumer Products Division president Joe Morici changed the name from Rockman to Mega Man because he felt "The title was horrible." Such music-themed naming conventions are present in a number of Keiji Inafune's other character designs, such as Blues. In addition, the original Mega Man titles intentionally incorporated a "Rock, Paper, Scissors" gameplay mechanic into defeating certain enemies.
The pixel art for the character was created by the designer of the original game in the series, credited under the pseudonym "A.K", and later turned into a refined illustration by Keiji Inafune.

So yeah, the character was co-created by Akira Kitamura and Keiji Inafune. Which means he actually did create the character, although he wasn't the only one.



KeithTheGeek said:

While I agree with Inafune that an artist should be allowed to work within their styles and what they're comfortable, this project does stray rather close to being a complete copy of Mega Man. It's common for artists to have common themes, design, etc. across their work (like Akira Toriyama, for example), but this character and his game is pretty much explicitly designed to be a new Mega Man that doesn't require Capcom's approval. It wouldn't be the first time someone has done something like this - Walt Disney made Mickey Mouse in response to losing his character Oswald - but it sort of rubs me the wrong way here.

That being said, I'm interested to see where this project goes. I like what they've shown so far, and I hope everything works out for the best with him.



Bliquid said:

I don't see the problem.
He's making the Megaman game Capcom isn't willing to.



sinalefa said:

I hope Capcom is not dumb enough to try to stop this. I cannot even imagine the kind of backlash they would receive if they do.



hypercoyote said:

@KeithTheGeek I don't believe he's making this game so close to Megaman to be rubbing it in Capcom's face or anything, I believe he's doing this because he had been wanting to make a game like this one using Megaman but Capcom never would give him the greenlight.



Rafie said:

@sinalefa They can't do anything about this. Inafune is well within his rights to make this happen. He's not using the Mega Man title that belongs to Capcom.



Aqueous said:

@ThomasBW84 - In his video where he announced this project. He mentioned leaving Capcom, beginning to build an action title he had interest and then having to cancel it. I think that is where King of Pirates went. Unfortunate, I was interested in it if it is the title he referred to.



SmaMan said:

Here's my prediction...

Capcom, who will be absolutely blown away by this project's sales when it comes out, will decide to partner with Inafune and BAM! We'll get a DLC package that puts MegaMan in this game. Classic NES sound effects and all.



SmaMan said:

Looks like we'll be getting the PC version at least! Check out the Kickstarter page! The $900,000 goal has been hit!



JaxonH said:

You're dead on. Could you imagine the immense backlash and damage to Capcom's reputation if they tried to stop this?



WiiLovePeace said:

@Aqueous @ThomasBW84 @KodaSmooss From an interview between Siliconera & Keiji Inafune found here:

"We haven’t seen Kaio: King of Pirates in a long time even though that was one of the first titles that was announced that you were working on post Capcom. The series has grown too into an anime from Studio Pierrot and manga, but what’s going on with the 3DS games? (See a trailer for Kaio: King of Pirates here to refresh your memory.)

Keiji Inafune, CEO of Comcept: Marvelous AQL is the publisher and there are plans to make a manga and anime. At Comcept, we’re producing the game and it’s going well. There is a total effort with all of these collaborators for the Kaio intellectual property, so we can’t just show the game. It’s basically not our choice.

Is it actively under development right now?

Yes, of course."



LztheQuack said:

Inafune created the design for Mega Man, so he does deserve at least some credit

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