Greetings adventurers! Today, the Blue Protocol Database brings an exclusive interview with Amazon Games’ Franchise Lead Mike Zadorojony. In addition to the interview segment, we also had the opportunity to participate in the first western hands-on demo experience available for Blue Protocol. Both the interview and the playtest were conducted on June 26, 2023 at an onsite venue in Munich, Germany.
With the Blue Protocol Database, we understand the importance of actively listening and valuing the input of our community. As a result, we made a sincere promise to ourselves to address and deliver the questions along with concerns expressed by the community during our interview. We believe that open and transparent communication is an essential key for fostering both good trust and collaboration between two parties. By fulfilling this promise, we aim to strengthen our relationship with Amazon Games and work towards creating an inclusive environment where the community can bring back the necessary feedback to create a polished version of the game. We hear you loud and clear.
We genuinely hope that this interview can shed light on the current background process at Amazon Games and their work along with Bandai Namco to publish Blue Protocol. Our journey to Regnas may be long, but the result is certainly worth the wait.
BPDB: I’m Perciculum, one of the Blue Protocol Database Administrators. We have been operating our Blue Protocol website since 2019, which is dedicated to delivering the latest Blue Protocol news to fans all over the world. Thank you very much for giving us this opportunity to have an interview with you. Our team has been looking forward to meeting with Amazon Games to ask some of the hottest questions and concerns within the community. Before we begin our deep dive, would you like to introduce yourself, as that is more important?
Mike Zadorojny: Arguably! (Laughter) My name is Mike Zadorojny, and I am the franchise leader from Blue Protocol for Amazon Games.
BPDB: I already mentioned this previously, but we are going to start with the hard hitting questions because I want to get those difficult questions out there. I know that you might not be able to answer all the questions in detail, but any information you can provide will certainly help the community.
Mike Zadorojny: Oh yeah, absolutely.
BPDB: Let’s start with the first question. Censorship is a huge topic in the west. Can you confirm if elements of the game will be changed in Blue Protocol to fit the western scene? If yes, may you please expand on this subject?
Mike Zadorojny: So, I’ll talk at a high level in terms of the goals of what we are trying to accomplish in this and then we’ll go back down into the specifics. I think censorship comes in different ways and the level of censorship is usually where we find disagreements within the community.
Generally speaking, when we are talking about censorship for Blue Protocol, we want to bring Shimooka-san’s vision for the game and for the western players. However, there are layers we have to think about from a cultural, legal, and a regulatory perspective. We want the content and the events to be the same one-to-one. When we talk about changes, we are looking at a perspective from bringing the game to as many people as possible. We are targeting a T-Rating since it as an Anime game, and generally speaking, Anime is much more approachable for the Teen market unless you start going towards certain extremes. This game does not really play to those extremes.
The general changes that we are looking at is: “how do we make that approach to this game?”. A change for us in the west, specifically in the character creation menu, the female characters will no longer have the physic shake button available. These are the types of changes that are culturally accepted in Japan and which they do in their titles. However, in the west it can be uncomfortable for our players and that’s where we will step in to say hey, can we make a slight change for this?
One of the other changes that we have talked about, which players have already seen, is about making some changes to the outfits of the children characters to make some outfits less revealing. These things are not necessarily going to detract from the gameplay experience or from the story that is going on. But generally speaking we’ll make it so when parents or friends are playing with other Teens, that they’re not necessarily going to be pulled out of the environment or the game’s perspective.
So from a censorship point of view, again we’re looking at what do we need to hit from the requirements of all the entities, the country legal requirements and the regulatory ones. We’re trying to stay away from particularly censoring what the game is or the story is because we want the vision to be the same from the Japanese version to the west.
BPDB: Awesome, that helps out a lot to understand the reasons behind censorship. It is very difficult to publish the game while focusing on the regional restrictions.
BPDB: What were the factors on deciding to delay the Global release of Blue Protocol from 2023, to now 2024? We already have received information that other versions of the game such as Taiwan and Korea respectively will be releasing this year. Can you comment on the reasons behind the delay?
Mike Zadorojny: Yes, so everyone kind of got delayed a little bit based on what the developer team was focused on in terms of the Japanese development work with a lot of the balance changes, and the feedback which came back from the FNT (Final Network Test).
I’m sure that your community group has seen all the specific changes that came out of that, such as changes to the Adventure Boards and everything else. Things that really helped to show that the value of player time was important. We were also super excited about that because this was also feedback that we were providing from the western perspective to the development team as well. So that kind of had a knock on effect in terms of everyone’s schedule.
Some of the additional things that we have to take into consideration is that we are trying to bring this game into the Amazon ecosystem. Which means if you have a problem and you need customer support, we need to be able to support you. There are things that we need to be able to integrate to.
There’s also another layer which we work with Amazon security. We want to make sure that not just the server, but also the client, has those certain levels of protection. Therefore, that when we release the game with the western version, it is a robust system where players feel like they have some sense of safety and security. The game should be secure enough to play so that the players don’t feel the negative impact of people trying to take down the servers.
BPDB: So you’re referring to the anti-cheat system of the game?
Mike Zadorojny: That is a part of it. And obviously, Amazon security takes things very seriously. But then there is also a thing about localization as well.
It’s a multi-faceted answer. We are looking at the fact we announced English and Japanese voice-overs for the west with technical support for Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, German, and French. But we are also looking at potentially other languages that we can support as well in the west, which factors into the schedule.
We’ve got what we announced, and we are looking at additional things as well because we want this game to be really accepted and welcomed by as many people as possible. It’s an MMO which is a large online environment and those games need communities. This is where groups like the Blue Protocol Database are super important to us because you guys are a community and you are a direct line to player feedback. This is the kind of stuff that will help make the game better. That’s our general thought process.
BPDB: There has been a strong demand for the SEA service to be added to the list of already unannounced countries under the umbrella of the global version. May you expand on why specific regions are not included, and is there a possibility to add those later on?
Mike Zadorojny: So, it’s not necessarily about leaving out regions. The regions that we are publishing in are the regions that we have worked with Bandai Namco on. I can’t talk to you too much about what is going on right now, but we are working with Bandai Namco on some infrastructure things that will allow it.
Our goal is that so everybody regardless of where you are playing in the Western version; has access to quality ping, the right number of players to make the game feel alive, and can interact in a larger global community. We’ll have a lot more to talk about this, hopefully around the CBT (Closed Beta Test) time.
We do understand that countries like Australia and New Zealand generally get left out in the global space. We are thinking about them just as much as we are thinking about how South America and the Brazilian market work. We are thinking about that from our perspective and providing that level of feedback to Bandai Namco.
BPDB: Will players from different regions, such as NA and EU, be able to play with each other on the same server? For instance, MMORPG’s usually have multiple servers and Blue Protocol in Japan has one mega server where the entire region plays on. Can you go into any detail regarding the server structure?
Mike Zadorojny: Kind of looking back at the previous answer tells you what our goals are, I can’t give you a definite answer on this one. But we’ll have a lot more to talk about this when we get closer to the CBT.
BPDB: Can you confirm a date on when players can expect the CBT? Will there be more than one testing phase before the official global release?
Mike Zadorojny: Unfortunately not at the moment. Where we are right now is we actually have an internal playtest coming up to test the scale of the servers and to make sure we have data running through the pipes.
Once we pass the internal playtest, the CBT is right around the corner and that’s our next big step. So we’re not far off, but I just cannot commit to a date yet because we basically need to make sure we got the build locked down. Once that is complete, we’ll be going public and start to make sure people know when the CBT is. We will also be picking up those last minute stragglers who did not yet sign up on our official website. (Laughter)
BPDB: We’ll put the link for you there, don’t worry. (Laughter)
BPDB: Can you still tell us how many testing phases we should expect? Or does it depend on the feedback you receive after the CBT?
Mike Zadorojny: Everything is going to come down to feedback, to be perfectly honest. Or, if we did not successfully prove something from a technical perspective. All the tests we are doing are generally driven by a technical need, but also because we know we want to get player feedback so that there is kind of a community need as well.
If we’re able to hit the technical perspective of it, then it allows us to advance to the next tier. But also, we need to make sure that we are listening to the player’s feedback just as much as Bandai Namco was listening to the Japanese feedback during the FNT (Final Network Test).
We want to make sure that Bandai Namco is hearing the voices of the western players in terms of if there is something really off. Or, if there is something we are really worried about, to make sure that we are taking things under consideration as we head towards launch.
BPDB: I absolutely agree with that standpoint. It’s better to take some time to push that perfect game out there rather than releasing the game in a state that the community is not happy with.
BPDB: Can you give the world any specifics or hints on which quarter of 2024 the western release will happen? Perhaps Early, Summer, or Holiday of 2024? Of course, we know that this can change depending on player feedback, as you mentioned previously.
Mike Zadorojny: Honestly—the only reason why we didn’t think we could do 2023 is because we are looking at the timeline between CBT, OBT and going towards launch.
Ultimately, it’s going to come down to what the reaction looks like in CBT, what the technical reaction looks like, and what the data really looks like. It is going to come down to quality first. We want to make sure that players are going to have that awesome experience. Again, any of the changes that we are talking about for the western version even on the monetization side are making sure that players are going to have the best possible experience starting from Day 1.
We’re in it for the long haul. Shimooka-san has got the vision for what he wants to do with the story years in the making, and so we want to be able to support that vision. We want to make sure we are reaching out to the players, fostering that community, working together with that community, listening to the community, and then providing all that feedback back to developers at Bandai Namco.
BPDB: I know for instance in Lost Ark that Amazon Games made specific changes that differed from the Korean version and made it less pay-to-win. How will the monetization system differ from Japan in the western version of Blue Protocol?
Mike Zadorojny: There are some things that we are talking to Bandai Namco about. The one thing that I’ll mention right now, since a lot of it is visible with the Japanese version.
We are bringing the Battle Pass system over, also known as the season pass, that is going to be very similar. We are also doing Founders Packs for the Western release, similar to what we have done for Lost Ark. There will be some cosmetics for the players.
Also, we are still bringing over the Gacha box which we are calling The Capsulator and that will include the cosmetic items. However, the one thing that we are adding specifically for the Western version is that there will be a cap. So after x number of purchases, you are guaranteed a box with the top rank item in there. It’s not going to be like you’re completely betting on random odds to get the item that you want. There will be a hard cap at some point.
We still are keeping the BPP system from Japan, so you can either convert duplicates or cosmetics from the Gacha boxes into secondary currency, which then you can purchase specific items you want from the BPP shop.
BPDB: That sounds like a two layer system where we can exchange for things that we want through the BPP shop on top of having a pity system.
Mike Zadorojny: So the one thing that I do need to caution about, and we’ll have a lot more to talk about as we get closer, is that the price points are not necessarily going to be one-to-one crossing over from Japan.
Our core values are that we want the monetization system to be fun and fair. Fun meaning that if you want to look a certain way by purchasing cosmetics, you totally can; but also fair that if you make a purchase and I don’t, that it doesn’t negatively impact the player experience.
We want to make sure that you can play the game from the beginning to the end (without having the pressure to purchase), you can do all the raid and end game content. If you’re not buying in, you can still have a fair chance against somebody who is buying into things. We want to make sure that the playing field is as level as possible.
BPDB: That’s great to hear. I know that the Gacha costumes do not have stats on them, so that’s a relief.
Mike Zadorojny: There are some convenience items that I’ll say that can come out of there. That’s where the line gets a little blurred. Generally speaking, we’re trying to make it so that it feels as fair as possible and that it does not detract from the gameplay experience.
BPDB: Once Blue Protocol is released into the Western market in 2024, what will the patch parity be between the Western and Japanese service? How far will the gap be between the two regions?
Mike Zadorojny: Ideally, we are as close as possible so that when they launch something in Japan that we are a fast follow, if not, even on the exact same time. There is a logistical challenge with that, and so there are still unanswered questions as we are working through this. Localization being one of them, cultural sensitivity things and regional challenges as well.
The goal is to be as close as possible. What that’s going to look like in practice, we still don’t know yet.
BPDB: This is the final question in our chapter. What are your long term goals and wishes that you have for Blue Protocol in the West?
Mike Zadorojny: The launch of Blue Protocol in the West is an opportunity to really bring a new world and a new IP to a fanbase that is excited about anime.
Shimooka-san is super looking forward to this. He’s looking at this as a global brand, not something necessarily that is Japan only. I mean that from not just a game perspective, but an IP perspective. Amazon Games is just as invested in this project, and we are super excited about it. The characters, the world, and the art style is so engrossing. So we’re looking for other ways for fans to just connect and attach to this IP.
The game is just the beginning. Day 1 is going to be multiple chapters of content. For the Blue Protocol Database fans who have been paying attention to all the Japanese livestreams, we already know they have 4 months of content coming up. A new class is coming in, a new chapter that is coming in, and all of that stuff is going to be coming to us as well.
We’re super invested in terms of making sure that we are continuing the vision and legacy of this game, and then extending it beyond just the game. So we’re leaving you with that little nugget for the future.
BPDB: I am very happy to hear that. Once again, thank you very much. Those were amazing answers to our difficult and somewhat tricky questions.
Mike Zadorojny: It’s not tricky, these are questions that players want to know and it’s hard to provide answers or clarity to everything when we are still working on it. We also want to make sure that certain things are buttoned up on our side before we announce it. Or, there is a roadmap that we are trying to accomplish.
There is a plan, and we are working as hard as we can. We do understand that asking players to be patient now that the game is out in Japan is pretty hard to do. Just know that the Amazon Games team is super excited about this project.
We’re really glad that you came to hang out and be able to play, essentially one of the first to see the Western version of the game. We’re still working hard on the localization, and we’re still working hard on the Westernization themes just to make it more approachable. Furthermore, we want everyone in the West to be able to play this game and love it just as much as the Japanese players.
BPDB: Again, thank you very much. I understand you’re trying to make the best decisions for the game. We love Blue Protocol and I also see that you have such a strong passion behind it too.
Mike Zadorojny: Oh yeah. (Laughs) And keep us honest. I don’t expect you guys to always agree with the things that we are doing and I don’t expect you guys to always like the things we are doing. But, give us the feedback. We need to hear it. This game is for the fans. It’s made by people who are fans of the game so we want to make sure we keep that as close as possible.
BPDB: The final thanks that we have goes out to the community. Those questions that we got were directly from the BPDB community Discord. We are very fortunate to have the largest Western Blue Protocol community.
Mike Zadorojny: A big thanks to the community. You guys are awesome. The reputation of Blue Protocol Database even proceeded before you showing up today. Again, this all goes back to the level engagement that we’ve seen on the Discord servers and everything else.
We’re excited to be able to share this game with all of them. We are stewards of this franchise for the Western players so that means we need to be listening to the Western players as well. So thank you for helping us hear their voice.
We were allowed about 1 hour to playtest a client seemingly made for Summer Games Fest, judging from the automated character names. In this test client, we were able to access the following content:
- Character Customization
- “Asterliese” City Map
- “Rietz Tradeway” Map
- “Dragon’s Rive” Dungeon
Watch the full un-edited gameplay of the demo experience here:
Conclusion & Thanks
If you enjoyed this type of collaboration with Amazon Games, we highly encourage all the players in our Blue Protocol community to leave feedback. This information will greatly assist us in planning and organizing future collaboration events with Amazon Games. Your input and suggestions are a crucial crux in creating a more inclusive and enjoyable experience for the entire community. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and helping us shape the future of Blue Protocol!
The Blue Protocol Database would also like to extend a special shoutout and thank you to Amazon Games for making this adventure possible by inviting us to the local event in Munich, Germany. The passion, dedication and detail that they put in were nothing short of an extraordinary feat to make this event happen. Thank you once again.
Lastly, we also would like to personally extend a big thank you to both our Blue Protocol community for providing us with questions and our Patreon supporters. Without your unwavering support, we would not be here providing you with the latest information. Thank you for loving the game, and sharing such a strong passion for Blue Protocol.
Written By: Fragments & Niko
Incorporated By: Perciculum
Graphic Designs By: Sugi