Two years ago today we started the Ryu X Chun-Li Project Facebook page and promised we would produce the first Ryu/Chun-Li graphic novel for the English-speaking world. We’re thrilled to say we have kept our promise. And you will all get to enjoy our work along with the amazing art of over fifty different, extremely generous, and talented artists on Valentine’s Day, 2015.
We have read the main story in our graphic novel so many times now, hunting for errors, and the story never fails to excite us! Our book is the Ryu/Chun-Li story we’ve waited almost 30 years to read. It answers every big question we’ve had about the Street Fighter universe! But are we satisfied? No. Not yet. There is still the matter of taking a hard copy of our book to CAPCOM JAPAN and making our case for Ryu/Chun-Li. We think about our approach and discuss what we will say almost daily now.
But we cannot go to CAPCOM until we collect the world’s reaction to our book post-launch. And of course even more powerful than the public’s reaction are all the people who get their names in our book prior to launch. The public can be fickle, but every person who has their name in our book for a monetary, art, or mini-comic donation has made a more potent promise to CAPCOM that if CAPCOM were to produce a Ryu/Chun-Li product of quality, these people would buy it. Companies like CAPCOM make decisions based on risk vs. reward. Your name in our book lowers CAPCOM’s risk and helps them see the reward in investing in Ryu/Chun-Li.
And isn’t it great to finally have a Ryu/Chun-Li book to support? Isn’t it great to have a team of true hard-working Ryu/Chun-Li fans to get behind or even team up with? Yes, of course! And we hope it is in part because we have learned a lesson that so many people with ideas have yet to learn: a prototype is worth more than any amount of words.
Back when we were young and foolish, unwise in the ways of business, we used to think words–an e-mail to a company employee full of our ideas here, a post on the company social media page full of our ideas there–would be enough to get what we wished from a company, we just had to keep doing it and be patient.
The inconvenient truth is unless you have some hard work to show a company, work that is both mentally and visually stimulating–And hey, we’re not just talking pages of black and white digital text here–YAWN!, it is almost an absolute that the company you are trying to get to pay attention to your ideas or wants is not even going to give you consideration, save perhaps to send you a noncommittal “thanks for your feedback” e-mail. No, If you really want a big company’s attention, you need to be more than a text-typing fan who may or may not buy their products. You need to make a prototype and you need to get a meeting–face to face! And then…maybe you’ll succeed.
A great example of a prototype with a face to face meeting that led to fan success is the game Street Fighter X Megaman. The programmer, Seow Zong Hui, had an early build of the game ready to demo for CAPCOM before he even talked to them. When Seow Zong Hui was ready, he approached CAPCOM at EVO 2012. Seeing Seow Zong Hui’s work, CAPCOM welcomed him, paid to finish his game, and released the game for free on their website. Other factors came into play with Seow Zong Hui’s success, of course (e.g. both Street Fighter’s and Megaman’s anniversaries were back to back at the time and CAPCOM had nothing planned for the latter). But the fact remains if Seow Zong Hui had just sent CAPCOM an e-mail asking them to make a Street Fighter X Megaman game, or pages of text-only documents outlining his concept, we would definitely not have the game to play today. You want a company to make a game for you? Produce a prototype of the game yourself and demo it for them.
If you need even more proof presenting people with something tangible is more effective than digital words, check out this video! In it Ben Singer from screwattack.com’s show Death Battle receives a handwritten piece of fan mail from a boy who watches the Death Battle videos. Ben’s reaction to the handwritten letter proves our point beautifully:
This is nice. This is great! I mean we get comments on the internet all the time. But it’s always, you know, it’s different and charming to get something actually written from a fan. And, y’know, that means they actually put some effort into it, especially to figure out what our address was and, y’know, write this out to me…. Seriously, it’s always very nice and kind of our fans to write in to us, and it makes us feel like we’re actually doing something for other people rather than, y’know, for all the complainers and stuff, and that’s always wonderful, y’know, to read stuff like this. So, I’m going to keep it in this desk somewhere.
The handwritten fan letter clearly meant something not only to Ben, but to others at screwattack.com for them to go to the trouble of recording and posting Ben’s reaction to it. Plus, Ben really paid attention to the writer’s (and the writer’s friend’s) ideas for future Death Battle videos, reading them out one at a time! Sending a company something they can hold in their hands that is also attractive to read is a great way to get a company to notice you, especially now in a world where e-mail and internet comments are so prevalent and writing a letter is almost quaint. Putting a hard copy of our book in the hands of the CAPCOM JAPAN staff, a book bursting with an amazing story, pieces of art, and mini-comics from all over the globe, will very likely get a similar positive reaction like Ben’s. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned during our sixteen years in Japan, it is that the people here love thank you gifts. And that is how we will introduce a hard copy of our book to CAPCOM: as a thank you gift to them for everything they have made for us–which our book very much is! And then we’ll discuss the petition part of our book.
But as wonderful as the stories of Street Fighter X Megaman and screwattack.com’s fan letter are, sadly even if you have a prototype, and a company likes it, it is still very possible you are going to have to fight for what you want, with no guarantees of success, while the company watches. Even after the success of Street Fighter: Legacy, and face to face meetings with CAPCOM, producer and director Joey Ansah had to compete with other studios for the rights to make a full Street Fighter series. CAPCOM did not just see Street Fighter: Legacy‘s success and hand the rights over to him:
“I guess I hoped that after the success of Legacy, Capcom would have been like ‘You guys clearly love the brand and treat it with care and class and we’re going to give you the rights to go ahead and do it.’ But that wasn’t the case – my producer Jacqueline Quella and I had to fight against other studios to get the license.” –Joey Ansah in an interview with Nerdist.com
And, on a final note, remember the way CAPCOM disappointed R. Mika fans when they revealed Decapre for Ultra Street Fighter IV by having M. Bison blast R. Mika away? Lots of people wrote in to have R. Mika in the game. Even Yoshinori Ono himself tried to get R. Mika to be included:
Even back in the original Street Fighter IV, I really wanted Rainbow Mika. I tried to start a whisper campaign. Talk to some journalists about her to show the development team, ‘Hey look, people are talking about Rainbow Mika’. It didn’t work. —Yoshinori Ono in an interview with Shaknews.com
And, Ono, while 100% not responsible for the final decision, knew the fan reaction to Decapre’s reveal was going to be negative. He stated the fact on his Twitter account: “5th character will disappoint fans.” And still CAPCOM went ahead with adding Decapre to Ultra Street Fighter IV. Why? Well, CAPCOM can say what it likes, but it is a no-brainer that re-skinning Cammy to look like Decapre is a low risk, high reward (more profit for less work) decision. But we digress. The point is even Ono, someone who works for CAPCOM and is closely associated with the Street Fighter franchise, could not get CAPCOM to adopt his wish–R. Mika in SFIV–with just his words. Do you need any more proof how ineffective a words-only approach to a company like CAPCOM can be?
Bottom line: if you want a company like CAPCOM to take you seriously, it is wise to produce a high-quality prototype of your idea, support or team up with a group of people who are making one, or have something else really awesome up your sleeve, and, if you can, go talk to the company directly. Company employees–people–respond to the tangible, to a prototype, to face to face meetings–maybe. But it is almost a guarantee anything you type up for them in an e-mail or social media post is just exercise for your fingers. Social media has allowed companies to create a false sense of connection with their fans. The fact we fans can type messages to companies on social media or through e-mail addresses creates the illusion that the company is listening and we as individuals are having some impact on the decisions the companies make. But in truth, for most companies, writing an e-mail or posting a comment on a their social media page in hopes of them making a decision to adopt your ideas is like banging your head against a rubber wall: you feel like you’re getting through, but you really aren’t.
And yes, based on Joey Ansah’s experience, we realise, even with our globally-formed book in CAPCOM’s hands, CAPCOM may not accept the idea of Ryu/Chun-Li with open arms.
But walking over to CAPCOM JAPAN and having a complete near 300-page Ryu/Chun-Li graphic novel full of story, art, mini-comics, and fan feedback from fans from all over the world for the CAPCOM employees to read before deciding whether or not to pass on Ryu/Chun-Li definitely makes for a stronger approach. And even if we do not succeed, people all over the world will still get our book, and it will be even better than it is now thanks to people who donate to make it so.
And if after reading all this you’re thinking, “But a prototype costs money and time and needs skills I may or may not have!” Well, so does building a company. And if you want a company to respect you and listen to your ideas, you have to show them you are willing to work hard and sacrifice to build something as they have. Then maybe, just maybe, they’ll hear you out. And if you’re not willing to work hard and sacrifice then, reality check, you don’t really believe in your ideas enough for them to be worth anyone’s attention, even your own.
If you really believe in Ryu/Chun-Li and want to see it happen, support the Ryu X Chun-li Project with your cash, art, or mini-comics because, unless you are going to produce a prototype of a greater Ryu/Chun-Li experience in the next 43 days and walk it over to CAPCOM as we are going to, we are the best shot the pairing has.
Poison, if you would…
And that question is: if you are truly a Ryu/Chun-Li fan who wants to see CAPCOM produce something Ryu/Chun-Li in the future and you’re reading this, why isn’t your name already in our book? And if your name is in our book, why not do more to help Ryu/Chun-Li with us? Until Valentine’s Day 2015, our door is always open for more cash, art, and mini-comic donations. Or, beyond these, if you have an outside-the-box idea you’re willing to finance and execute in the name of Ryu/Chun-Li and would like to team up with us, we are willing to listen! A lone e-mail or social media comment of suggestions, wants or wishes to a company like CAPCOM, without a tangible mentally and visually stimulating prototype or something else awesome to show them, will accomplish nothing. But an e-mail with an offer of tangible support to us for our book– the first major Ryu/Chun-Li work of quality for the English-speaking world in decades, a book which has caused Ryu/Chun-Li fans from all over the world to unite, a book we are going to take to CAPCOM JAPAN directly and talk with the employees face to face about it, may very well do wonders.
A wise person knows when to lead and when to follow, when to stand alone and when to be part of a team.
And we are always looking for more help for the Ryu/Chun-Li cause!
And we hope that help will be you!