The MegaMan Battle Network series exists as an alternate timeline from the Mega Man Classic universe where the internet (rather than robotics) has advanced exponentially. The battle RPG series spanned 6 main games for the GameBoy Advance and was concluded with an epilogue at the end of the sixth game. However, it left many unresolved questions and many fans demanded a 7th game. Many projects have been created to fill this void, but none have progressed as far as MegaMan Battle Network Chrono X. MMBNChronoX is currently in the developmental stage for PC and recently released it’s 4th demo which can be found here.
I had the privilege of interviewing members of MegaDudes Productions, the force behind the project. You can read the transcript below and keep an eye out for an EXCLUSIVE REVEAL at the end of the interview!
Damien: Hello Everyone, I’m Damien, writer at The Geek Generation, and thank you all for joining me. Who do we have here representing MegaDude’s Productions in this interview?
MaxRock: I’m the leader and also the programmer of CX project.
SoulRed12: I’m SoulRed, and I’m the game’s musician.
Midnite: I’m Midnite, I’m the current art director of sorts.
Windsofthepast: I’m Windsofthepast, I’m just a graphics guy.
So my first couple of questions are kinda general and anyone is welcome to answer them. So to begin, What is “Chrono X” exactly? Where does this name come from?
Killer336: Chrono X is supposed to be a theoretical sequel entry into the Battle Network series. The aim is to create a good ending for the series, story-wise at least. We all saw how Lan and his friends ended up 20 years later and that’s all well and good. What I personally aim to do as the writer is to show how they get into that position character-wise. Not only that, but also I want to create an intriguing story worthy of looking an entry to the series, but a climactic one as well. Many people felt Battle Network 6‘s story was lacking in some aspects, especially when you compare it to the original finale of the series — Battle Network 3.
As for the name? It was sort of the best idea for a name that came to our minds. We looked at everything we were going to do, our power-up system, our plot references, and so on and so forth. Chrono X fits to us, but it’s a name that has a lot of in-game meaning — something that you’ll need to play the game to really understand.
MMBNChronoX has been released in a series of demos that have gotten increasingly complex over time. The 4th build of the demo was released at the end of last year if I recall. About how much of the full game in total is currently in development as of now?
MaxRock: It is best to look at this in terms of a divided percentage. The base engine is pretty much at 100%, while the music is somewhere around half, I think (Soul, correct me here). The story is also completed, while the actual programming of it is not. My best answer is that the majority of the programming content in terms of major add-ons is completed. We just need graphics to complete the rest. However making graphics takes time… especially with only a few pixel artists.
I can’t exactly say how far the full-game is, but for sure we will give more information on that as time progresses.
SoulRed12: Well, the music I’d say is about half done, yeah. It’s hard to give a real estimate because we tend to change our minds a bit on what needs (new) music and what doesn’t, but a good portion of the stuff that gets reused is done so that makes up a lot of it.
Midnite: Battle Network Pixel artists aren’t as bountiful as they were a few years ago, haha…
This one goes to the art department (Winds and Midnite for the most part). What was it like building the sprites of new characters with initially only the concept art as your basis – especially with the fan-submitted character that won the contest? Is it a difficult process turning a drawing into a digital sprite?
Midnite: We usually try to keep a reference on all the Battle Network sprites, arts and such so we can keep a good feel of the series. To be honest, I’m not a fan of some of the designs made before I came on board. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult. But with the small team of pixel artists, most of them going on and off the team, different skill levels, it’s hard to keep some sort of quality control. At times our sprite styles just clash with one another.
CactusMan was a character that the team thought had a lot of potential. We wanted to make him cool being a Mr. Famous navi and all but still keep the idea of the original design. I hope the players enjoy him as much as we do!
Killer336: Yeah, we really could use more. That’s the main thing that eats up our time.
Windsofthepast: I personally find it easier to do maps, OW objects, and in-battle sprites as opposed to OW characters simply because of where I originally started with sprites, the Zero series. So doing characters outside of the battlefield is already a bit more of a challenge for me personally…which often leads to what Mid mentioned, the clashing of sprite styles. I’d have to say that the hardest part is getting things to look just right which often means it gets redone a few times more often than not.
I’d like to direct this next question over to SoulRed about music. Aside from some of the songs reused and remixed from previous games, Chrono X features many original tracks that you’ve been credited with making. Aside from the original BN games, do you have any other inspirations that help you make your tunes?
SoulRed12: I do get outside inspiration from some other franchises, yes. The trick, though, comes in ensuring what I produce with that kind of inspiration fits in the Battle Network game. Those who have read some of my posts on various forums know I really dislike analyzing music based on whether it fits a game’s “style,” but there is something to be said about ensuring it fits with the particular scene in the particular game, and the fact that it’s Battle Network will determine some of the variables there for what will fit.
One franchise in particular I take some inspiration from is Final Fantasy (I’m a bit of a Nobuo Uematsu fanboy, lol). But most of the time, what I’ll do is listen to some of Uematsu’s music that strikes me as similar to what I’m looking to create, and then start writing and just use my ear to know when I’m satisfied.
Very impressive. Might I also ask what you use to develop your music tracks?
SoulRed12: I’ve been using Garage Band on my mac laptop. People talk bad about it sometimes, but in my experience it works just fine.
So this next one goes to MaxRock about programming. What’s the hardest part about programming such a large and in depth game like this using GameMaker? Is it the animations? The Battle System? Triggering Cut-Scenes at the right moment? Or something else?
MaxRock: The hardest thing…hmm. Well, I wouldn’t call it hard, but rather annoying to work with. Long story short (and skipping the headaches GameMaker caused me with a few specific AMD graphic cards), GameMaker has horrible methods of handling resources and produces software which use massive amounts of RAM. I have to spend a lot of time optimizing the resources and trimming our own ideas to the max to make sure the game will use as little memory as possible. Believe me or not, but there are still people who use PCs with less than 1GB of RAM. The latest version of GameMaker seems to have changed that, but it is still in a WIP stage, making few things not fully working yet, so we will see how that will go.
Killer, you’re up to bat – it’s been said that this story is going to be a bit darker and mature than the first ones since Lan and the gang aren’t “just kids anymore”. Should we expect any changes in personality from our beloved characters? Perhaps Lan goes rebellious or the idea of growing up becomes a theme?
Killer336: Well, if there will be changes, it ought to be a natural progression inside the work. I think that by the start of Chrono X, Lan is established to be pretty much the same, but with slight improvements. One of them is that Lan’s grades are getting better, this was shown by the end of the sixth game.
Yes, Lan growing up is part of it. Even the end of the fourth demo shows a bit of that. But Lan won’t be the only one. Mayl, Dex (I personally can’t wait until we see where he goes). None of them will really become rebellious, however. Overall, most of the characters should be established as being largely the same, but over the course of the story, they’ll change in small ways. Hopefully, this results in believable and intriguing character development.
Thanks. I have a second question for you. So far the demos have had little references and jokes and other things that speak directly to fans who have played other BN games – including long lost characters. Should the fans be expecting more of these small fan-service moments, references, and inside jokes as the story continues?
Killer336: Oh, yes. Definitely. The more knowledgeable you are about the series, the more you’ll get out of it. References to past events, old things being used in new ways, etc. There’s lots of it in demo 4, and there will be even more. That’s partly what gives Chrono X its meaning. And I really think that helps to validate Chrono X as a seventh installment. It feels right.
Midnite: We are huge fans of the series and MegaMan after all. I’m the one that actually put in the little visual easter eggs in the game. Like the Ciel doll, Legends 3 Aero and X on guitar.
Has Capcom ever contacted you guys or mentioned you at all in any way or form (good or bad)?
MaxRock: There was that one user who posted on Capcom of America’s official forums about us. He posted a link to one of our old sites and asked what is their stance on fangames. CoA’s vice President responded that they can’t legally sanction fangames and such. You know, legal stuff. It’s been a couple of years since then…and then there was the case of MMxSF.
SoulRed12: Legally, they have to defend their IP or they risk losing it. But if they act as if they don’t really know about the fangame, it’s sort of like “plausible deniability”. So, we haven’t really pushed it.
Now, back to the project; Chrono X is one of the most developed current BN7 fan games out there today. Do you see other BN sequels as competition?
Killer336: Well, in some way, yes. A team member might disagree with me, but in my opinion, as projects, we’re competing for the same resources and attention. See, in order to make your game, you’re going to need resources, graphics (as Mid mentioned, there aren’t a lot of Pixel Artists for our style left), music, programming writing, etc. And what do you need in order to create those resources? Talented individuals. How many people do you think are willing to commit their time, talent and energy for a fan-game with no pay? The answer is not many.
So, to make sure you get those people, you need to show them that your game is excellent and that it will get done. No one likes to work for a project that will die, right? So, it’s a bit of a conundrum. You need talented people to attract talented people.
The truth is, we’re all vying for the same valuable manpower. In addition, seeing other Battle Network projects get credit for stuff that we did, or attention that you feel you should be getting is discouraging. Battle Network’s community isn’t as big as it once was, so we really need to work for what’s left. Since we aren’t getting paid, the only thing we have to keep us going is a lot of people enjoying our game. Gotta have a really determined attitude in this community, haha.
On the subject of dying fan-games, we’ve counted over 43 failed projects from 2010 to 2013. The first documented one started in 2004. Needless to say, we DON’T want to be another. That’s why we require fan support. The more, the better. We encourage our fan-base to spread the word and get others into it.
Being as you guys are located in different parts of the world, how tough is it to make a fan project of this level without stepping on each other or getting left out?
Killer336: Good one. The reality is that sometimes decisions are made without others being around. Our schedules don’t always line up. It can get quite tough, even annoying when we have to consider new input after the fact and redo it. With all the things that happened in the team, new sprites were made and now some old ideas are getting reinvented, or remade. Happens all the time.
Killer336: Like, for example, the Me.M.E.N.T.O. system. We generally have a sit down meeting and discuss each form’s abilities. Luckily, we were all there for it, but if we weren’t, we’d have to consider what other people thought about the abilities for each form.
SoulRed12: The time difference, I think, is the hardest to deal with, but we all tend to be night owls so it’s not always so bad, lol.
Wonderful. I just have one last question on my list if you don’t mind. What can fans do to help make this project successful and go as smoothly as possible?
Midnite: We need talented or willing-to-learn pixel artists. Once again, the community is low of their kind nowadays. We will always need pixel artists considering how large of a game an RPG like MMBN is.
Killer336: There’s quite a few things, really. You can spread the word about us on your favorite forum, page, or whatever you got. Visiting the site and following our Facebook/Twitter pages is another way. If you do that, you can keep on top of current events. You could subscribe to our YouTube, as well. Chatting with us on our chatbox is another way. My personal desire is that I hope people accept it as a seventh entry, but we’ll see. Posting on the forums, and the list goes on to 120. Just involve yourself. Take in what we do and support us. Play the demos, get other people to and keep other people knowledgeable. Discuss it with your friends. The works. Let me just put out there that this interview is a good way of supporting the project.
And Now The Big Reveal!
I again want to thank the MegaDudes team for the interview and especially for the information. Check out a special conversation about a modern robot master recreated as a Net Navi.
Is there anything else you wanna add? Perhaps I could get an exclusive or some inside information *wink wink*?
Midnite: Okay, we got something we can show…
Killer336: How about we reveal a new character?
Killer336: This one is one of my favorites. He’s loud, cool and likes to blow things up! He’ll first appear in Chapter 3 and he’s from a very recent Mega Man game. He was green, big and used missiles. I’d say he’ll be a nice ally. Can you guess who it is?