The RetroBeat: How Dotemu makes retro gaming magic

While you’re a retro gaming fan like me, then Dotemu would possibly maybe perhaps be one of your accepted smartly-liked studios. The company has made its name as a developer and creator by reviving classic franchises with stunning video games like Shock Boy : The Dragon’s Lure and Streets of Rage 4. It’s additionally publishing a remake of the classic city-builder Pharaoh and extending a sequel to the arcade hit Windjammers. Final month, Dotemu happy nostalgic avid gamers by asserting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.

The company is a frontrunner within the retro-revival motion. It’s not factual exploiting mature gaming franchises nonetheless additionally reviving them with ardour and care.

I currently interviewed Dotemu’s CEO, Cyrille Imbert. I requested him about the new TMNT project and how it came to be, and we additionally talked about his company’s build as a premier retro gaming studio. I additionally clumsily tried to rep him to lift motivate one of my accepted Genesis franchises. (You miss 100% of the total photos you don’t make a choice and all that.)

Right here’s an edited transcript of the interview.

Turtle vitality

GamesBeat: Used to be the TMNT deal arduous to lock down?

Cyrille Imbert: It didn’t feel that varied than classic video sport licenses by formula of potential and talks we had with Nickelodeon. It’s factual that it’s a big company. We’ve labored with big companies for some IP, in the end, nonetheless this one is rather big. A form of licenses there. That’s a big allotment of their work, to affect sure their licenses are in basically the most gripping fingers. That’s one thing they attain loads. They’ve hundreds varied licenses in varied media. It used to be a little varied. But correct from the initiate, we had a factual reference to the Nickelodeon crew.

For me, ensuing from our DNA, it used to be foremost that we labored with the ’87 build. That used to be a internal most dream. However it factual made sense. Also, ensuing from — not handiest as partial to the mature TMNT video games, nonetheless additionally ensuing from we wished to look at that coming motivate, that’s our childhood. We knew that we’re not the handiest ones around who desire that. We pushed for that, nonetheless with a complete opinion of learn how to achieve it and what it is some distance going to aloof search like. We were already working on Streets of Rage 4 motivate within the day. All of it made sense, and I deem it made sense for Nickelodeon as effectively.

However it took some time. It’s factual ensuing from random recommendations that I will’t keep in touch. Nothing out of the long-established. It’s factual that some occasions on the loads of facet intended we couldn’t signal the relaxation correct away after first discussing it. It took quite some time, almost two years, to rep that completed. However it wasn’t ensuing from both social gathering wasn’t into it. We factual the biggest to rep each person on board and that takes time, in particular when there are changes within the loads of groups over time. At Dotemu we’ve learned to be patient and to by no means stop. That’s what we did. It will definitely took build.

The silly factor of all this is that rather early in pattern, maybe after six or eight months, after our first contact with Nickelodeon, we met at GDC, and I learned from the blokes at Restricted Glide Video games, from the blokes at Nickelodeon, I learned that there used to be another studio that used to be proposing squawk material for a sport, corresponding to what we were proposing. I was like, OK, that’s by no means factual records. But that’s lifestyles. That’s how it goes. Nickelodeon, it used to be completely normal for them to achieve that, to receive varied ideas and recommendations. But I managed to know on the the same day who used to be on the loads of company doing the pitch. It used to be Tribute Video games. I knew that through Restricted Glide Video games, ensuing from they heard about it. They’re factual friends with them. And on the total I obtained their electronic mail. I knew about the corporate, nonetheless by no means met them in particular person. I requested if they were available for a gathering within the afternoon. We met and talked. We had almost the the same opinion. It used to be completely in-line. I believed it used to be full, ensuing from motivate within the day we were questioning who would be basically the most gripping studio. It used to be correct there. We stated, OK, let’s walk collectively as an quite quite loads of of doing two separate proposals. Let’s join forces and point out one thing indubitably cold that’s in line with Nickelodeon’s expectations, that will perhaps maybe please the fans, and that would be made by fans, ensuing from that’s one of many biggest recommendations of all our projects. The groups are exact fans and know every thing about those projects. That’s how it came to be.

It used to be a lengthy anecdote, nonetheless it ended rather effectively, and now now we should lift an unprecedented sport. It’s not over yet, nonetheless it’s a factual step. We now know that we’re not the handiest ones delighted about this.

GamesBeat: Used to be there any pushback about going for that common cold entertaining movie stunning?

Imbert: I don’t know precisely the internal discussions at Nickelodeon, nonetheless from my facet, it wasn’t a topic. From the initiate, I stated that’s how we wished to achieve it. We didn’t are attempting to achieve it in an incredible formula. We crossed our fingers that they would accumulate. However it used to be by no means a topic like, no, that’s not that it is doubtless you’ll perhaps maybe maybe deem, or it’s going to be full-refined. I don’t know about those internal discussions. It’d need taken some time to validate that. But for me it by no means gave the look to be a big teach.

GamesBeat: By formula of the classic TMNT video games, Turtles in Time is the one folk deem about. Are you taking inspiration from about a of the loads of video games?

Imbert: Shredder’s Revenge is a beat-’em-up, so most of the muse comes from the mature Turtles beat-’em-ups, in particular Turtles in Time, which used to be doubtlessly the handiest of them, the arcade version. But Tribute Video games labored on varied TMNT video games within the past, some time within the past. They’ve already been impressed by varied video games, and that’s what they’re attempting to achieve another time. Taking inspiration from varied video games, cold recommendations from varied video games.

But within the end it’s a beat-’em-up. It’ll be mainly impressed by beat-’em-united statesfrom that era, not handiest Turtles. Inspiration is going to be taken from all these abundant beat-’em-up video games that came out motivate within the day. We have got some freedom around that.

GamesBeat: Attain it is some distance foremost to talk to Konami at all? Does it have any rights involvement in this?

Imbert: Now not on our facet, on the least.

GamesBeat: The classic TMNT arcade video games are extra gracious than Streets of Rage 4. Are you going to affect this new TMNT sport’s combat extra advanced?

Imbert: The premise is going to be rather identical in Tribute’s recommendations. That’s why we obtained alongside on the project. They’ve this opinion of taking most of the feel, the factual recommendations of the video games motivate within the day, nonetheless including smartly-liked gameplay. Feeling and mashing those collectively, attempting to search out a steadiness between what made those video games full, what made the total journey full, and translating it to a glossy era with smartly-liked gameplay mechanics, further mechanics which would possibly perhaps maybe be not too invasive. Same for Streets of Rage. We’re not going to achieve an RPG with a pair of paths and one thing full-advanced and smartly-liked. We’re going to follow the classic formula of a beat-’em-up, nonetheless including mechanics that can strengthen the core mechanics, the basics of what makes a factual beat-’em-up, nonetheless expanding it, discovering nice touches and mechanics that can strengthen the total recommendations. Those little particulars that can affect a big dissimilarity.

Above: Streets of Rage 4 with the classic personality sprites.

Image Credit: Dotemu

GamesBeat: With Streets of Rage and TMNT, there’s been a revival in beat-’em-ups. It wasn’t formula motivate that it sounded like a tiring style. How attain you deem the total beat-’em-up scene had this form of big revival currently?

Imbert: For me it used to be irregular that we weren’t aloof playing beat-’em-up. It used to be the loads of formula around. For me it used to be like, why? Right here’s so factual. Why aren’t we playing that? I don’t indubitably know. It factual makes sense to me. It’s a full style. It’s chill. They don’t have full-lengthy sessions. You are going to be ready to play with your friends. You don’t should deem too powerful. It’s so nice, nice moments that you’re going to have with beat-’em-ups, whether or not they’re on the RPG facet or extra on the arcade facet. It doesn’t indubitably matter. If it’s effectively-made, it’s continuously factual. I’m full-delighted that it’s coming motivate and that we’re contributing to that.

Unnecessary to recount I be aware when I was talking with varied companions about Streets of Rage when it wasn’t announced. They stated, yeah, nonetheless a beat-’em-ups? Are you sure? No person performs those on the present time. It’ll factual be a exiguous crowd playing that. They weren’t sure it used to be basically the most gripping opinion. Once in a while I had doubts. I checked out the loads of numbers, basically the most up-to-date releases, and there weren’t many of them. I wasn’t sure folk would favor it. But within the end, folk were searching at for that. I’m satisfied we contributed to that, and with any luck it’s going to quit there now.

GamesBeat: With Shock Boy and Streets of Rage, you took the unique pixel search and tailored it into one thing extra hand-drawn. With TMNT you’re sticking with pixels. Why did you affect that choice?

Imbert: It’s largely about discovering basically the most gripping crew for basically the most gripping project. For Shock Boy and Streets of Rage, the crew with Lizard Dice and the talented Ben Fiquet, who took care of both of those projects, it factual made sense. He’s so factual at animation and personality build. Everything about it makes sense. We thought it used to be a factual opinion, in particular for Shock Boy, ensuing from it’s an 8-bit sport. It didn’t age effectively. It’s aloof very charming, nonetheless it’s harder than playing Streets of Rage 2 for the time being, for example. It the biggest to have one thing varied, and Ben is extremely talented. The first time we saw the art work, it used to be most gripping. He managed to translate the 8-bit art work into one thing completely HD with a residing universe. It used to be so cold. Streets of Rage, the unique video games are nice. Shock Boy III is de facto nice. But the Streets of Rage video games are younger than Shock Boy. They aloof search indubitably nice.

If we wished to walk for one thing pixelated first, then we wouldn’t have completed it with Lizard Dice, ensuing from it’s not basically their most foremost ingredient. On the loads of, we stated, now we should attain one thing varied, ensuing from otherwise the adaptation wouldn’t be that giant. It factual made sense. Because of the we were working with Lizard Dice, the issues they had in recommendations, even forward of we started to work on the project, were indubitably in-line. If we had those graphics motivate within the day, we would have stated, yes, that’s it, that’s how it should be, ensuing from it’s extra about the opportunity within the moment. It factual clicks. It feels correct. For TMNT, in the end, when I obtained the first untrue screenshots from Tribute Video games — I do know their password. I do know how pleasing they are able to work on pixel art work. That factual made sense as effectively. Streets of Rage will not be basically linked to arcades. It’s a console sport. It doesn’t have that hyperlink with the arcade. It makes sense to have pixel art work TMNT, ensuing from it’s been a truly lengthy time, initially. Streets of Rage, there used to be nothing after the third one. TMNT, there were some tries, many video games for the past 20 years. Nearly none of them were pixel art work. It factual made sense. It clicked.

It the biggest to be pixel art work, nonetheless with the abundant art work we know Tribute can present, that indubitably shined within the trailer we released. After we saw those first artworks, it used to be full. We knew folk would favor it, ensuing from we preferred it, as avid gamers and as fans. We knew it used to be going to work. However it’s not one thing we indubitably thought through loads, prefer it the biggest to be this kind. We factual thought we would strive it, in particular with their skills. Let’s watch what they are able to attain with their hold skills. While Lizard Dice is extra about HD hand-drawn animation, Tribute Video games is extra about very nice dapper pixel art work. It labored out.

Working retro

GamesBeat: How attain you walk about picking the projects for Dotemu? Is it extra about hunting for franchises that were tiring for a whereas, or is it extra about groups impending you?

Imbert: It’s a little of both. Once in a while groups potential us. As an illustration, for Pharaoh, the remake we’re doing, the crew came to us to achieve another sport first, a city-builder. But then we stated, you’re factual at doing city builders and as well you love that, what’s your accepted sport? They stated it’s Pharaoh, the handiest city builder ever made. Would you love to achieve a remake of Pharaoh? Certain, in the end. Then I needed to look at if it used to be that it is doubtless you’ll perhaps maybe maybe deem and talk to Activision. This time it came from all facets. Once in a while it’s on our facet. It will doubtless be full to work on that license, each person would be delighted to look at it coming motivate! First we talk about with the IP holder and watch if it’s that it is doubtless you’ll perhaps maybe maybe deem, beneath what prerequisites. If it indubitably works out effectively, forward of proposing the relaxation, we glance for basically the most gripping studio to achieve that. It will also be our internal studio that’s working on Windjammers 2 correct now. Or it is some distance going to also be an external studio as effectively.

We strive and search out basically the most gripping match. It will’t be another formula. It should be a most gripping match between a studio that knows the license by coronary heart and the license. Over the years I’ve had some proposals from studios ensuing from they know what we attain and they also know now we have ways of getting licenses, even supposing it appears most not doubtless. But at any time as soon as we’ve felt there’s a exiguous chance the studio doesn’t indubitably know the sport, we refuse those projects. It will’t be any varied formula. It’s so refined. The fans put a question to so powerful. We like those licenses as effectively. We don’t are attempting to point out one thing that would be immoral to the license. We’re attempting to walk further. We have got to work with basically the most gripping folk, folk that know every thing about those video games. It will’t be any varied formula. For Windjammers, for example, not each person on the crew, within the studio, knew about the sport or performed most of the sport forward of. That’s why we started to achieve a remaster of the unique version, so we were sure we would know every factor about the first one forward of initiating manufacturing on the 2nd one.

GamesBeat: Attain you are going to have many pitches became down? Or would you roar extra pitches are authorized than rejected?

Imbert: We have got extra pitches which would possibly perhaps maybe be rejected, for sure. Doubtless 1-out-of-10 is authorized, and it takes some time.

GamesBeat: Working with these established franchises, how powerful inventive freedom attain you are going to have with every particular person?

Imbert: It’s about the the same for every project, ensuing from the diagram we potential the IP holders is we contain a opinion. We contain a proposal, elephantine proposal with the total particulars. That’s how we are attempting to achieve issues. If the IP holder doesn’t agree with that, OK, why not, nonetheless what attain they’re attempting to trade, and is it aloof in line with what now we have in recommendations? If it differs too powerful and we feel it’s not basically the most gripping formula to achieve issues, we factual don’t attain it. Till now, on the least, at any time as soon as we came with a opinion, it clicked as effectively on the IP holder facet. They saw the speculation held collectively. It made sense. Because of the every thing is location correct from the initiating, almost every thing, or on the least the big opinion is there, then now we have freedom, ensuing from we’re initiating the ingredient. We didn’t should trade issues in a while. We factual should follow the opinion.

GamesBeat: Going motivate to those pitches, after about a of the successes you’ve had, in particular with Streets of Rage, attain it is doubtless you’ll perhaps maybe be feeling like those pitches are better obtained now than they were about a years within the past?

Imbert: Oh, yes, indubitably. It helps, for sure. It’s arduous to earn the have confidence of an IP owner. We’re continuously ready to come to a decision out the total anxiety on our facet, in repeat to persuade them that we’re confident in our potential to achieve the project effectively. We have got to preserve what now we have in recommendations and effect it our formula.

GamesBeat: Are you by doing any sequels to your revivals? Or is it extra gripping to transfer on to a different IP?

Imbert: It’s extra gripping to transfer on to a different IP, from my personal level of search. However it depends, above all, on the studio and what they’re attempting to achieve, what motivates them. It’s arduous to work on a sequel or a remake of an existing license. While you’re an real fan, you don’t are attempting to mess that up. It’s quite quite loads of stress. It’s quite quite loads of questioning. It’s arduous. You have motivate-and=forth with the IP owner, with us. You have hundreds issues to take care of, learn how to achieve this or that allotment, will folk be delighted about this? It’s bright work. Must you’re a fan you don’t are attempting to mess that up, so it’s further stress. While you’re doing all of your hold IP, there are no expectations from folk. You factual should lift one thing full. In the case of a sequel or remake, it’s good to lift one thing full that’s in line with folk’s expectations, even supposing those aren’t completely in line with your expectations. It be foremost to attain that and lift one thing that’s shut to that. That’s why every so continuously they’re like, OK, that used to be full, that used to be abundant, nonetheless I don’t are attempting to achieve that another time for about a years. That’s completely understandable. But when at some level someone stated, hiya, let’s attain another one, I should talk about with the IP owners in the end, nonetheless if it’s that it is doubtless you’ll perhaps maybe maybe deem, we’ll attain it.

GamesBeat: It’s gripping how studios like yours are targeted factual on retro gaming. Attain you deem that this is a pattern that’s going to develop within the cease? Attain you even watch yourselves as a retro gaming studio?

Imbert: Fully. Dotemu used to be founded in 2007, and the DNA hasn’t changed since then. It’s been a truly lengthy time now that Dotemu has been working on that roughly phenomenon, of bringing motivate those mature IP. It’s completely pure, with the diagram the market is evolving. It’s like every varied art work originate. The tune industry, they started to achieve remasters, remakes, discovering mature tracks from accepted artists, bringing them motivate. Utilizing mature lyrics. Same ingredient goes for movies, discovering the first version of a movie, the director’s lower, remastering it, making it a 3D movie, all that roughly ingredient. It factual makes sense. That’s the diagram you revisit art work. There’s a necessity from the creators to battle through that technique of working on one thing that’s a ardour for them, and there’s a necessity from the avid gamers or the viewers or the listeners to revive that ingredient that had an affect on their lifestyles. There’s an emotional reference to that. It makes sense that it’s coming motivate. It’s additionally foremost. I’m satisfied that this is a pure process. Notably in video video games, which evolve so hasty, formula faster than any varied form of art work. While you lose be aware of what’s been made within the past, you lose your soul, roughly.

All those creators from the ’80s, ’90s that did video games with almost nothing, in a market the build their fogeys thought it used to be disastrous to look at their childhood attempting to affect a profession out of video video games. They made the market. Thanks to them and their efforts and their craziness, on the present time now we have those abundant video games, even up to basically the most up-to-date triple-As. It’s thanks to them. We should at all times not forget the build video video games come from. That’s allotment of our role as effectively. The creators of the following day, the folk that can became designers which would possibly perhaps maybe be young on the present time, which would possibly perhaps maybe be initiating their careers, they should know what used to be up motivate within the day. They should know how video games were made, how they’re made like this, and why those video games are aloof factual on the present time, to rep inspiration for future video games and not ignore this legacy, the diagram video games were made. It’s not handiest pure, ensuing from our art work originate is extremely young. It’s handiest been maybe 50 years. Doubtless not up to that. The historical past is factual initiating. We didn’t have any historical past 20 years within the past, almost. It used to be the total present. Now there is a past, and that past must dwell on, to not be forgotten. That’s a necessity for creators and a necessity for avid gamers. That’s a factual ingredient, I deem.

Shock studio

GamesBeat: Who attain you deem is your most foremost viewers? Is it folk of their 30s and 40s, who are nostalgic for that length in gaming, or attain you are going to have a appreciable amount of younger avid gamers playing these projects, even supposing they didn’t develop up with the titles they’re impressed by?

Imbert: Unnecessary to recount our most foremost aim would be folk like us. The reasonable age at Dotemu is around 30 years mature. That’s why we like working on these projects. We’re the aim. We know what we desire. But our aim is past that. I’d roar between 25 and 45 years mature, around that. But past that our aim, another time, is to walk past those lines and affect younger folk search that, thanks to the success we can lift to these licenses. Shock Boy, Streets of Rage, Windjammers, they’re being talked about throughout the gaming industry, the gaming world on the total. Those who by no means heard about those video games are hearing about them, even supposing they by no means performed it when it came out, or they were too young. They’re discovering that, and we’re aiming for that. That’s the level of modernizing the gameplay, to take care of the folk that by no means heard about those video games and affect them search it. You have a sport sequence and as well it’s good to present it to your friends, even supposing they don’t know, and talk about those video games. It’s a formula of sharing that ardour for every sport with varied avid gamers that we know will prefer it. Must you search a sport and as well you indubitably prefer it, and as well you are going to have a chum who’s by no means heard of this sport nonetheless you realize they’ll prefer it, it’s good to present it to them and affect them rep pleasure from it, then it’s the the same spirit. We’re attempting to piece that love for those video games to as many folk as we can.

GamesBeat: Used to be Shock Boy a big turning level for the corporate? Used to be that the title that put you a little extra on the design?

Imbert: Fully. It used to be a anxiety for us as effectively. It used to be doubtlessly basically the costliest project we ever labored on. It used to be our first remake. It used to be indubitably a turning level. Finally, we developed our knowledge of learn how to keep in touch about these video games, learn how to potential the fan unsuitable, learn how to location up expectations, and additionally learn how to attain what a factual studio is and what quality is, ensuing from that’s what Lizard Dice delivered with Shock Boy, a extremely high level of quality and attention to factor — we grew up from that have. It used to be indubitably a turning level. It used to be the confirmation of our strategy. We had that in recommendations for about a years. We were going for that, nonetheless we weren’t sure it will work. We had another journey that used to be not full a hit forward of Shock Boy with Pang Adventures. But we stated, let’s continue and watch if we can rep basically the most gripping formula of doing this. Shock Boy used to be the confirmation of that opinion. That’s as soon as we stated, we’re on basically the most gripping direction. Let’s continue and make a choice a search at varied issues.

Above: Shock Boy: The Dragon’s Lure came out in 2017 for consoles and PC.

Image Credit: Dotemu

GamesBeat: Attain you deem Shock Boy benefited from factual timing? It came out a little after the Change released, and it appears like folk that were hungry for Change video games, it used to be one of many first digital titles that quite quite loads of folk flocked to.

Imbert: Yeah, we were full-lucky with the timing. But for success you largely want a little of most gripping fortune. A form of most gripping fortune, I’d even roar, in particular within the leisure trade. Whether it’s movies, TV, tune, video video games, it’s good to have the celebs align at some level. That makes the adaptation between a sport that has factual success or full success. You factual should provoke that chance and that timing, doing the handiest it is doubtless you’ll perhaps maybe maybe attain. Have a factual sport, factual dialog, after which if the timing is correct, if the celebs are aligned, every thing is there for success. Although the celebs are aligned and your sport is handiest okay, or your dialog will not be indubitably factual, then it won’t work. It’s an advanced recipe.

GamesBeat: Is the Change aloof your strongest platform in your releases?

Imbert: It’s indubitably one of many strongest platforms, nonetheless it depends on the sport. As an illustration, Streets of Rage 4 is even between all platforms, which used to be quite surprising. We were pondering it will attain better on console than PC, nonetheless that’s not the case. It’s rather even in all places. For Shock Boy, if I be aware because it is some distance going to be, it’s evened out over time, nonetheless firstly the Change used to be indubitably stronger. Over time it evens out throughout all platforms. You would possibly maybe rep console avid gamers on PC and PC avid gamers on console now. The frontier is a little blurry for the time being when put next to what it dilapidated to be. But for loads of video games like Pharaoh, in the end that will almost definitely be powerful extra PC than console, if we ever attain a console version.

GamesBeat: Are there effective franchises that fans quiz you guys address loads?

Imbert: That’s the silly ingredient. After we announced and communicated and launched Streets of Rage, almost at any time when folk were talking about Turtles in Time. And we knew — we were like, yes! We weren’t the handiest ones with that opinion. It makes sense. But yeah, now we have hundreds recommendations from folk following our video games. We every so continuously attain surveys on Twitter. What sport would you love to look at come motivate? A form of Sega video games in the end. Shinobi. Golden Axe. Those are video games that come up continuously. Since we announced Pharaoh hundreds folk are asking about Caesar or Zeus. It depends on what sport we’re communicating, nonetheless continuously we’re rather powerful in line. When folk query us, attain you deem about this one? We’re like, yes, now we have!

GamesBeat: Has anybody else requested about Ecco the Dolphin, or is that factual me?

Imbert: No, I’ve personally requested about it myself! I requested the crew and we talked about it. We didn’t walk too some distance, ensuing from it’s an advanced project. It’s full emotional. We didn’t rep basically the most gripping opinion to this level on the least.

The RetroBeat is a weekly column that appears to be like at gaming’s past, diving into classics, new retro titles, or having a search at how mature favorites — and their build ways — encourage on the present time’s market and experiences. While you are going to have any retro-themed projects or scoops you’d like to send my formula, please contact me.


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