The lights are on
Last November, Capcom invited dedicated Mega Man fans to lend a hand in the development of Mega Man Legends 3. The company is in no short supply of hardcore fans, and many eager community members rose to the task. After suffering several delays, missing the launch of Prototype Version with the launch of the 3DS' eShop, and general uncertainty, Mega Man Legends 3 was canceled earlier this week. Fans are disappointed enough when games are kicked to the curb, so needless to say there are strong feelings from community members particularly close to the project. We spoke with one dedicated fan about his contributions to the game, his reaction to the cancellation, and discussed the repercussions that could be in story for Capcom.
Brian Austrin, who goes by Protodude in Capcom's Devroom (where you can read Capcom's discontinuation post), worked on publicizing and creating content for Mega Man Legends 3 from the very beginning. "I caught wind of a leak that Mega Man Legends 3 was going to happen from a close source," says Austrin. "But I gave everyone the heads up that this was something that’s very possible, and everyone got really excited."
A Mega Man champion from the beginning, Austrin made it his duty to spread the word about the game via his blog, Rockman Corner, so fans everywhere could participate in the game-making process. He reported to Joveth Gonzalez, the project's former community manager, who has since left his position and the company in search of new work, according to Austrin. "We were pretty close," he explains. "I would give him feedback like 'the guys are really digging the Devroom, keep this up, you’re doing a good job.' But as soon as he left to pursue other job opportunities that communication cut off."
Many fans saw Mega Man Legends 3's delays and missed eShop demo as bad omens. Austrin was no exception, adding that "In the last few months everything became very sporadic, and that’s when I figured that something wasn’t right. As soon as they started dangling 'oh, this might be canceled,' that’s when I knew something was going on." Talking about the Prototype Version's missed eShop launch, Austrin explains that Capcom "Delayed it for quality, which is understandable. But I think they should have taken a leap of faith and released Prototype Version regardless to gauge interest, like it was intended to."
Austrin put in 15 hour work weeks, passed on some family functions, and even turned down a visit from an old friend to work on the project. He's most disappointed that the NPC he created for the game won't be seen. "Capcom had this great contest where you design a townsperson, someone that lives in one of the villages," Austrin explains. "They had an assortment of characters like a construction worker, a policeman, and what we had to do was in 300 words or less, describe their personality, give them a name, and a little bit of backstory. I made this great character named Osono. She’s like this feisty, very strong woman, and the director of Legends 3 [Miasakazu Eguchi] really loved the character." Capcom has told the contest winners that they'll be compensated for their work, and that the creators own the rights to their contributions.
"I really think that their trust bank has been shattered," says Austrin regarding Capcom pulling the plug on the community-driven project. "This isn’t the first thing that they’ve done, not just with Mega Man, this is the second Mega Man cancellation within four months," he says. "Then we have the other stuff like the Mercenaries 3D DRM, and it just keeps going and going, and they’re establishing this track record." Austrin even warns that he's heard reports that a group of anonymous community members is planning a denial of service attack, similar to the hacker attack Sony and many other companies endured.
Austing thinks that if Capcom is attacked, that "Other companies will sit up, take notice, and say 'we can’t just appeal to a mainstream audience, we have to pander to our fans because these people can take action.' As a consumer you are very powerful. Companies both fear and worship you, and all developers need to realize that we lay the foundation for everything that happens to their product."