The latest issue of Famitsu includes an interview with Daemon X Machina producer Tsukuda Kenichirou and mecha designer Kawamori Shouji.
— ファミ通.com (@famitsu) June 19, 2018
The interview begins with an inquiry into how the project started. Tsukuda says that when thinking of how interesting the Nintendo Switch’s portable and table modes were, and of a project that would be able to make use of these, he got an idea for a mecha game. If he wanted to do a mecha game he would want Kawamori to do the mecha designs, and when he asked Kawamori accepted, which resulted in the project starting.
When asked about what sort of game it is, Tsukuda says that the player assumes the role of a mercenary known as an Outer, who uses a powered suit type mecha called an Arsenal to fight enemy AIs. The player can take weapons from defeated enemies and equip them immediately, and can go freely between the ground and air. Due to this, choosing the right equipment loadout for where you fight is important.
Tsukuda says that the title is derived from the Greek mechanical gods that were used in theatre known as “deus ex machina”. As the player advances in the game and becomes an ace pilot, they become “something like a god or demon” to the enemy, and that is what resulted in him changing “deus” to “daemon”. He purposely went with “daemon” instead of “demon” due to its use in computing, but cannot go into details due to its role in the story.
The interviewer asks about the story, and Tsukuda says that it takes place in a world where half of the moon fell to the earth on a day known as “the day of awakening”. A new particle and energy source known as “femto” was found in the shards of the moon, and humans fight over it. The place where the shard of the moon fell also becomes a dangerous area, and humans build a wall around it so as to keep something inside from getting out. The inside of the wall is filled with crazed AIs, but people in power want femto, and hire mercenaries to fight over it, in a proxy war. The Arsenals also run on femto, and Outers are actually people who have gotten powers due to the influence of femto, most of whom work as mercenaries.
Kawamori is asked about the designs, and says that the order from Tsukuda was for them to be “large humanoids like suits of armour, but closer to powered suits than giant robots, around 5 metres tall”. Making them fully armoured would make them too close to giant robots, and so some parts like the thighs and waist are designed to look like muscles, to help with the “powered suit” motif. Lighter versions of the Arsenals have more of these muscle-like portions, while heavier versions have less.
There are many weapons in the game ranging from realistic ones to more sci-fi designs. It is also possible to do things like throw cars as projectiles, or use street lights as temporary weapons.
Kawamori also designed the soles of the feet to be able to leave an impression, as the player sees them a lot when moving between the ground and the air.
Kawamori says that differentiating mecha designs is difficult, especially with the head and legs, and Tsukuda adds that the test concept design he first saw was comprised entirely of parts from other mecha, with the only difference being glowing parts, which Kawamori says he put in because he thinks it is an interesting property. He also wanted to make use of the slit-type nozzles on the test design’s rear boosters.
As for the head, the Arsenals in-game are seen from behind, carry weapons on the back, and fly bending forwards, making it hard for the player to see them. He thus decided to add crests with holes extending backwards, to not just differentiate the design, but also make the head identifiable from behind. Tsukuda says that after being told that “if they absorbed energy through the glowing parts, that would give those parts meaning”, he decided that the holes in the crests would be how the Arsenals absorb their power source, femtos.
The pylons extending and parts on the shoulders and arms opening up were also Kawamori’s ideas. Tsukuda says that the arms open up when weapons are used while the legs open up while the player is dashing, so that the player can easily tell what the Arsenal is doing, and Kawamori says that this also helps to give the player the impression that they are controlling the Arsenal, and that the gimmicks were designed with this in mind.
The interviewer asks about the comic book style graphics, and Tsukuda says that while photorealism is the mainstream in games, there is no need to follow in that vein, and that he made it comic/anime-style because he didn’t want the game to not have its own identity. He was unsure about the compatibility of this with mecha action at first, but Kawamori encouraged him. The interviewer then asks about how the graphics influenced the mecha design, and Kawamori says that while mecha in photorealistic graphics work better with more mechanical movements, comic-style designs are better when it feels like the player is in direct control.
Tsukuda says that when they first began development, many of the staff were not used to the comic-style graphics, and things like shadows ended up still looking realistic. It was only after he told the person in charge not to be afraid of doing things differently and to make something to match the style that the solid black shadows were made. Similarly, projectiles were originally realistically small, and the staff member who made them, while test playing the game, complained about how he could not dodge them because he could not see them. Tsukuda gave that staff member advice on how the anime Macross has scenes where projectiles right in front of the camera are shown bigger than they should be, and several days later the projectiles in the game were not just bigger but also had different coloured outlines. A similar exchange happened in the case of the missiles, which resulted in the hexagonal effects seen in the trailer. Tsukuda says that his ideal is Macross-style missiles, but he’s spent years unable to reach that, and because they are currently unable to achieve that ideal, they decided to throw away the idea of Macross-style trails and take a step in a new direction. He also mentions that while powered suits are controlled directly by the people inside, the games uses more exaggerated motion; For example, the Arsenals do not just fly, but spin around in the air.
The interview concludes with Tsukuda saying that Daemon X Machina tries out many new things, and Kawamori saying that it will be a game worth playing, and both hope that people will look forward to it.
Daemon X Machina will be released on the Nintendo Switch. No release date has as of yet been announced.