During this week’s all online Tokyo Game Show we were lucky enough to talk to Chris King, the founder of Batterystaple Games, about the developer’s upcoming game 30XX. And all without even having to go to Tokyo! We spoke about what is new for 30XX, the company’s overall design philosophy for the game, and what pie-in-the-sky dreams it has for the project and the characters.
When asked about what is new for 30XX, the first thing King pointed out was the slick, new 2D sprite-based art style. The game features high-quality pixel artwork, differentiating itself from its more modern-looking predecessor 20XX. King mentioned how the team looked to see how many games pivoted their art style so drastically in a sequel. Not surprisingly, there isn’t that many. The team agreed, however, that the decision was a good one. I’m going along with that sentiment as well. The change keeps it much more in line with the classic games the series draws its inspiration: Mega Man X. And it looks fantastic.
The previous game, 20XX, featured four unique stages, each with their own pair of bosses. This was mostly done because of time and budget. However, 30XX has given the team much more freedom to expand on the original concept. Now there are eight stages in the main campaign, each with their own singular boss. Every level features its own varied platforming challenges, enemies, and music. In fact, every boss will have its own theme song outside of the stage music. Brandon Ellis is returning from 20XX to compose the music, and the new game already sounds just as good as before.
Updated and evolved
The biggest change players will notice is with the two main characters of the game, Nina and Ace. Nina is a more traditional character for the genre, clearly based on Mega Man — or X — himself. She focuses mostly on ranged combat, while Ace, our stand-in for Zero, is much more about close-ranged melee combat. King pointed out how, in 20XX, by the end of the game that both characters played too similarly and felt homogenized. That will definitely not be the case with 30XX, with the new abilities each character wields.
Nina is not only able to use powers from the main bosses like a traditional Mega Man-style game, but can now combine two abilities together to make a whole new power. Each specific combination is unique as well, meaning combining powers A + B will be different from combining B + A. This means that there are 64 different combinations of powers for Nina to utilize. Ace, on the other hand, will have each ability mapped to a specific button, and will focus less on resource management. His abilities allow players to get fancier and more stylish.
The most recent announcement to the game is Mega Mode. This will be the core 30XX experience for most players, adding a twist to the roguelike elements explored in the first game. At the beginning of a Mega Mode run, all the levels will be generated upfront, and you can choose what path to go down. If you die, you’re sent back to a hub world where you can purchase power-ups and items with the resources acquired throughout your run. You can then decide whether to try the same level again, or go down a completely different path.
Putting the Mega in Mega Mode
Mega Mode should be great for newer players, as well as oldschool Mega Man fans who may not like the more roguelike elements of the main game mode. The game will cater to many different types of fans among varying skill levels. King says that the overall design goal for the team is to let players engage with the game in their own way as they see fit. They don’t want players to hit a moment that says “the fun stops here”. The Revenant characters in 20XX, which acted as “easy mode characters,” were a very basic example of this design philosophy. Mega Mode allows the team to expand on this idea, fleshing it out to make it better for more types of players.
I asked King what the team has done to implement the community. My focus was especially with speedrunners, who have formed around 20XX since the game lends itself so naturally to that kind of play. As soon as this was mentioned, it was very clear in King’s voice — and his response — just how important the community is to the team and the development of 30XX. He said the team plans on implementing a “speed run” mode for Mega Mode specifically catered to that crowd. The developer boasts how well it works with its community.
20XX was in Early Access for almost two and a half years, allowing the developer to work on the game and add features that it would not have been able to if it moved straight on to a version 1.0. The community let the team know what worked and what didn’t. King and his team were more than happy to hear them out. Their suggestions often found its way into the game, in how different elements were balanced and changed to improve the project. Batterystaple plans to stay the course with 30XX.
Future ambitions and electric dreams
When asked about what the team would like to add to the game down the line, King said new characters are in the plan — as more of a when rather than an if. However, due to the huge gameplay differences between both games, developing an entirely new character could become a big challenge. Entering Early Access and later releasing the 1.0 version are ‘lines in the sand’ for the team. The time will allow Batterystaple to decide what to do moving forward. But it’s certain the team wants to support 30XX for a long time. The developer also wants to new add new challenges and modes to the game when able. Indeed, don’t expect a 40XX anytime soon, but based on how much work is going into 30XX, I think that’s just fine.
For fun, I asked King if he knew if anyone from Capcom — in an official or unofficial capacity — has ever mentioned either of the games. Unfortunately, he said that no, but considering how well the first game did, it’s hard to believe there isn’t somebody at Capcom who hasn’t heard of Batterystaple’s work. King mentioned that the team’s ultimate dream would be to work on a full-fledged Mega Man X sequel. Although, just having alternate Nina and Ace costumes in a future Mega Man game would be pretty cool as well.
When asked how open the developer was to collaboration with other teams on other projects, he said the answer was “very.” King wouldn’t go into details, but he said that he had been approached by teams about involvement in other products. Whether those proposals went anywhere is anyone’s guess. Nina and Ace would be perfect additions to a game like Rivals of Aether or Brawlhalla, so I personally hope that does happen one day.
Extra love in the heart tank
Finally, King said that the team is planning to have a closed alpha at the end of this year. With luck and time on Batterystaple’s side, it hopes to move into Early Access starting next year. But it plans to stay there for a while. With the way the world is now, it is impossible to say for sure how long.. King explained that the team wants to be as upfront with the community as possible. The developer would rather overdeliver on promises, than overpromise and underdeliver.
We ended the interview with King saying that the team has put a lot of love and work into the game so far, and it has even more love and work to put into it. That much is definitely clear based on what we have seen of the game so far, and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for 30XX. Thanks again to Chris King for taking the time to speak with us. You can wishlist the game on Steam right now to keep up to date on future announcements.