In late 2015, Trauma introduced iTZKooPA, a host of our Instance Gratification livestream since its pre-Twitch inception, to 20XX. He sold it simply, “It’s Mega Man” and the cliff walker was in. The two, neither having been close followers of the Kickstarter campaign nor, like the rest of the world, partaking in any recent Mega Man excursion spent the evening experimenting in the old school designart, traversing side-scrolling worlds filled with odd baddies and power ups of dubious aid. We don’t need to explain it, simply take a gander after the cut (and don’t forget to subscribe!).
Plenty of time has past from that September night. Despite that 20XX remains unreleased. Making Mega Man fans even sadder than an abandoned Rush, Mighty No. 9, a similarly-themed title from Keiji Inafune the creator of Mega Man, was recently delayed. Ugh. “Fear not!” came the call from Battery Staple Games. They’re here to rescue us with Steam Early Access! Instead of having the mildly educated Trauma and iTZKooPA return to the scene we sent newcomer and Mega Man aficionado to investigate the latest incarnation. He came back with a parade of questions. Questions that Battery Staple was happy to answer!
[LoreHound] The title’s art style harkens back to the 90s era of games. How much of that is an aesthetic versus budgetary decision?
[Chris King, Creator, Designer, Programmer] Definitely a mix of both.
[LH] There are a lot of references to other games in 20XX. Where these nods and easter eggs always planned or simply came along during dev?
[CK] Much moreso the latter — many just came up during development. They probably won’t all be around by 1.0, though! We love the slightly obscure references that not everyone’ll get — we don’t really like the super obvious ones. They feel less like fun references and more like laziness.
[CK] We’d always envisioned a badass female hero headlining 20XX. It was just part of the original vision, as opposed to having a specific reason why she is who she is. As for the name, Nina, in a very early stage of development Nina and Ace were actually models numbered 09 and 04, respectively. In-game, Nina was “09”, or “Zero-Nine”, then Mighty No. 9 ran its Kickstarter, and we knew we could no longer call Nina “09”.
[LH] Ace reminds me of a Metabot by the way he looks. Was that the idea behind his design? If not, what was the idea behind his look? Why does he look so different from Nina?
[Zach Urtes, Artist] He totally does! I’d say the reason they look different is primarily to make the silhouettes stand apart from each other, and also because I tried to [make the silhouettes] be indicative of their functions. Ace needed to be more covered, but stealthier and more nimble. Nina is built a bit more like a tank.
[LH] When I look more at the characters I try to think of other influences that may have gone in from the 16-bit Super Nintendo era. One in particular is Zombies Ate My Neighbors and the famous Zeke and June. Was that intentional?
[ZU] Haha, no. Definitely wasn’t thinking of Zombies Ate My Neighbors.
[LH] Are you afraid to be competing with Inafune, the creator of the storied series Mega Man franchise, being that your game is somewhat close to the release of Mighty Number 9?
[CK] Not at all! If we were looking at a glut of Mega Man-inspired games I might be a little more shaken. As it is though, Inafune and I are offering very different experiences to an audience that’s been MM starved for quite some time, so I think there’s room for us both.
[LH] Let’s dive into one of our favorite subjects, lore. What sort of plans do you guys have for the story?
[CK] Big plans! Hopefully unobtrusive plans. We’re not ready about to go into deep detail — we’re still iterating heavily — but we want to make sure we’ve got an entertaining, informative reason for the player to be doing what he’s doing without getting in the gameplay’s way.
[LH] Are Ace and Nina humans with super suits, or are they Robots? How did Nina and Ace come to be?
[CK] They’re Contractors, and the source of their strength is plot relevant, so we don’t want to spoil anything!
[LH] Would the addition of the actual bosses at the end of the levels, akin to a Reploid, each have their own story or simply the level’s final challenge? Would they have a reason as to why Nina and Ace are going after them?
[CK] The intent is very much lighttouch here, but yes, each boss should have some level of interaction with the characters. The big vision there is that those interactions would evolve as the player completes (or fails to complete!) runs of the game.
[LH] What is the “Ark”? Does it have any philosophical meaning, like the last hope for humanity?
[CK] Yeah, that was the original intent behind the name. It may not fit super well with the narrative coming in. [W]e’ll see!
[LH] Do you have any plans for any more playable characters?
[CK] Not before 1.0, but we have a few characters (originally cooked up before our small Kickstarter campaign in 2014) that we’d love to create as post-release content. We have a ton of stuff we’d like to do as post-release content if our launch goes well!
[LH] Narrative in video games have come up recently. Sadly, not in a positive light. Again. 20XX has remained light on narrative to date. Will we see any story development in the coming patches for 20XX? If not, why?
[CK] Plenty (see above)! Game narratives work best when the narrative is part of the design from day one, and our delay on this is one of my failings as a developer. We’ve focused on getting the gameplay perfect first, because it’s the part of development we’re good at. Imbuing the world with a solid narrative is something we have less experience with, so we’ve put it off. It’s coming pretty soon in the grand scheme of things though.
[CK] Thanks for yours! We’ve worked hard to make 20XX the best game it can be, and I’d like to thank our amazing Early Access community for being an integral part of our development-feedback loop. They’re better to us than we have any right to expect, and 20XX is a better game for it.
As for when we’ll be out of Early Access, I’m afraid the truth is “it’ll be done when it’s done.” We’ve got internal projections about our release date, but we really want to avoid setting any expectations without being certain that we’ll be able to meet them. We’ll make sure you know as soon as we do, though!