Project Mugen dropped our collective jaws when it was announced prior to Gamescom earlier this year. The upcoming NetEase effort, developed by Thunder Fire subsidiary Naked Rain, appears to have everything: a compelling anime art style, an enormous open world, impressive combat, and even a multitude of traversal options, including Spider-Man inspired web-slinging. We caught up with Lead Producer Ashley Qi to find out how close to release the promising PS5 and PS4 title is – and whether it’s simply looking too good to be true.
Push Square: So, genuine question: is Project Mugen real?
So I guess the natural follow-up to that question is, what kind of release timeframe can we expect?
We are still focusing on the development of the content. When the time comes, we will definitely tell you as soon as possible. But we cannot now tell the public when the time will be for the actual launch and other timeframes. But we will let the public know as soon as the date is decided.
You talked about in your new video about the procedurally generated city. So, how do you stop that from feeling repetitive and bland because sometimes a hand-crafted world can make a difference in a game?
Actually, the procedural generation is a kind of technology that can reduce the meaningless, repeating manual workload of our artists. For example, we have a very large city, and in the city we have a lot of traffic lights. It's a huge number of traffic lights. But if you have to manually draw each traffic light one by one, it's meaningless, and it's a very huge workload. So this technology, while reducing the meaningless manual workload for the artists, it can make them become more creative, because they can have more energy and time to be focused upon the creative things.
There's so many different types of traversal in the game; you've shown swinging and you've shown cars. Most developers would just focus on one of these. So how do you make them all feel polished and fun to play?
We are an open world game, so the essence of such kind of game is to provide gamers possibilities. And one of the key words of our game is freedom. And so whether in the battling mode, or in the movement mode, it's important for us to provide various options for the gamers to choose, to feel that they really have the freedom to explore the world. We have accumulated quite a lot of experience during our development process for the movement and for the vehicles. So it saves us time and gives us more time to polish when we combine all of these elements together.
We don't know if you can talk about this yet, but like what kind of monetization can we expect from this game? Is it going to be another gacha? And if it is, how generous will it be?
Okay, so currently we are focusing on developing the game itself. So, the commercial model is not a priority for the time being. We have some internal research and discussion about the commercial model of the game, but the most important thing right now is to provide gamers the experience to make them feel worthwhile to play it and to really enjoy what they are experiencing. So, about the returns for us and about the profit, we will consider it later.
In the trailer, the latest one, there's a little glimpse of a retro sort of shoot-em-up style game. Can we expect lots of mini-games like that in the final release?
There will be. In the process of designing this game, we will divide it into two parts. The first part is that the protagonist, as an investigator, has to face all kinds of evil. He will face a lot of adventures, a lot of stories. The second part is that when you get off work, you will become an ordinary person. So, when we are thinking about the game, we are considering two perspectives.
In your real life, you want to go to another city. You want to go to some places but you are trapped in your world or your daily life, and you cannot go there. So, for gamers, you can go to places that you cannot go to in your daily life. You can have such kind of experience.
I think we are all learning from each other. I think we are now at a stage where everyone is moving more and more towards internationalization. I think in this development atmosphere, every manufacturer, especially from Chinese companies, can learn from each other, and make progress together. I think this is a situation that will continue to occur in the development process in the next five years. For a game developer, it must be a good thing, because we are also game players. As a game player, we actually want to play games that can touch people's hearts. I think this is the most important thing.
Very good answer.
For every game developer, what they want to do the most is to have the opportunity to participate in the production of a game that can have an impact on more players. I think we have a great opportunity to learn from others. I think everyone's goal is the same.
As a content creator, I say this actually from the bottom of my heart, because I grew up under the great influence of many very excellent game products and animation products. They influenced my world view and my value system. So I think every developer, what they want the most is to participate in the development of more games and products that can bring passion and fun to more gamers. So it is really good for us that in recent years we have more opportunities such as TGS that we can learn and share experience with each other, with other gamers, other developers from other companies. We have common goals, and that is to bring more creative games to more gamers.
Thanks to Ashley Qi for taking time out from his busy TGS schedule to talk to us. Please note, this interview was lightly edited for readability. We’ll of course update you with more Project Mugen news and information as and when it breaks.