Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rebooting the series: Megaman

Hey TSG! While this blog seems pretty quiet, I figured I'd drop in since I finally found some free time. I plan on documenting my experiences at Blizzard (for those who don't know, I got an internship with them this summer) when I find the time. For now, I just wanted to share with you a mini-article I wrote for a challenge.

Specifically, gamecareerguide has issued a challenging question for anyone wanting to take it: How would you reboot a series of your choice? Check out the link for the details. I figured I would share my idea - let me know what you think!

Series that needs a reboot: Megaman

Why? - Let's face it - the Megaman series has dilluded through the years into basic iterations on itself with little to no innovation. The series needs something new and fresh to attract more people than just die-hard Megaman fans.

How? - Take the basic mechanics of Megaman and apply modern game design ideas to it, with some innovations as well.

Proposal - The new Megaman is same as the old at face value - you still play as the Blue Bomber and he platforms through 2D levels with his Mega-Buster and gets upgrades along the way. Everything else is evolution from there:

-Megaman is extremely modular. In the beginning he can only move, jump and shoot. EVERYTHING else is an upgrade. His dashes, double jumps, weapons, health expansions, and so forth are all found as upgrades throughout the game. Similar to the mechanics of the Battle Network series, he collects upgrade chips to install onto his armor. Some will be story-based, some randomly dropped by enemies, some hidden away in alcoves. His armor systems have a memory limit which constrins how many upgrades he can have, though his armor will expand its memory at several points in the story. Players switch in and out abilities at specified upgrade stations.

-New abilities. The upgrade system allows for some cool new abilities as well. Hover boots, jetpacks, invisibility - there is tons of room for imagination here.

-Weapons and abilities all share a common energy supply, which replaces the concept of an energy bar per weapon. This can also be expanded, like health.

-Open world. Think Super Metroid. Lots of room for exploration, hiding upgrades, and having multiple paths to choose in the game. Combine with the upgrade system to have an intriguing "Maybe I can get to there with these abilities" approach that increases replay value. This allows there to be harder levels (to satisfy the Megaman hardcores) and more casual levels.

-Varied missions - It's not just a level with a boss in a garage at the end anymore. While some areas will have bosses, others will have objectives like searching for an object, defending a point, and running through an area fast. Not everything will be required, so again the developer can make tough challenges optional but with enticing rewards.

-Co-op - Why hasn't this been in a Megaman game yet? At any time outside of a mission a second player can join. His Megaman will have all maneuverability upgrades so he can keep up with the other player, but will have limited weapon selection. With a second player the game will automatically scale up enemies and bosses and unlock co-op based missions. Co-op will focus more on enemy blasting than platforming; as LittleBigPlanet has shown, extreme platforming and co-op can cause camera issues.

I think these changes will appeal to both new and old. Hope you like it! I encourage you to enter it as well if you have a cool idea.