Dragon Marked for Death: 14 years in the making and out today on PS4
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With Dragon Marked for Death’s release on PlayStation 4, we here at Inti Creates thought it was about time to tell the story of this game’s storied development history. Dragon Marked for Death had been conceived many years before I ever stepped into my role at Inti Creates in 2014, so rather than take my word for it, I sat down the game’s director and producer, who have been in the fold with DMFD from the very beginning, to share their story with you. Enjoy!
Aizu: I’m Takuya Aizu, Dragon Marked for Death’s producer.
Ito: And I’m Ryota Ito, director on Dragon Marked for Death (which I’ll now refer to as “DMFD”).
Ito: Now, some of you may already be aware of this, but we actually began development on DMFD about 11 years ago.
Aizu: While it’s true that development did start 11 years ago, there was an even older design called “Dragon Contract” that was actually DMFD’s predecessor. After development ended on Mega Man Zero 4 (2005) and its sequel, Mega Man ZX (2006), those series’ main illustrator, Toru Nakayama, went to a new team inside the company. After that he worked together with Mega Man Zero creator Yoshihisa Tsuda and they wrote up a plan for a game called “Dragon Contract.”
Ito: When I was looking into DMFD’s development history, I discovered the design document for Dragon Contract and it was indeed written in 2006.
Aizu: To be honest, we actually released information about Dragon Contract one time. In 2007, we thought that releasing information on a real game as an April Fool’s joke might cause a stir, so we did exactly that with Dragon Contract.
Ito: The design for Dragon Contract had a lot in common with DMFD, but there were still some big differences.
Aizu: One main difference was that the game was designed as a fantasy-style Mega Man Zero with one main character that possessed a dragon arm that fired projectiles. He could enter a contract with eight different elder dragons and acquire new attacks by defeating enemy dragons.
Ito: Early designs for DMFD shared a system with Dragon Contract — “Sacrifice.” The protagonist could offer the souls of his allies to the elder dragons in exchange for power. Using the dragon’s power would cause these allies’ souls to slowly erode though, which eventually rendered them unable to talk.
Aizu: If you look at that first design document, the name “Dragon Contract” is written using the Japanese characters for “dragon” and “soul.” The fundamental idea for the game was forming a contract with a dragon in exchange for human souls.
Aizu: The original target platform in that first design document was the PSP, and we planned to use its ad hoc feature for local multiplayer. We took that document to many publishers, but only one expressed any interest. When all was said and done, we were thrilled to receive backing and monetary support from Yoshifumi Hashimoto of Marvelous and development got underway.
Ito: After talking it over with Marvelous, we decided to make the game multiplatform for PSP, PS3, and one other platform. We began development in earnest in 2009.
Aizu: Ryota Ito was appointed director, the setting design was entrusted to KOU (Makoto Yabe) of the Mega Man ZX series, and Mega Man Zero artist Hirokatsu Maeda took the lead on sprite design.
Ito: However, due to various circumstances at Marvelous, development was halted at the beginning of 2010 and that version of the game was unfortunately never released.
Aizu: Even then, Mr. Hashimoto was very fond of the project, and twice provided funds (in 2011 and 2012) to port the game to mobile platforms, allowing development to slowly continue. During this time, “Azure Striker Gunvolt” series illustrator Yoshitaka Hatakeyama contributed many illustrations for the game