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How do you make a game at two different studios on opposite sides of the world, simultaneously?

The answer, according to the heads of both companies, is by drawing lines in the sand that might comfort the unnamed character in ReCore‘s first trailer.

“While it’s an extremely collaborative environment, we try to put stakeholders in certain areas,” Armature Studio’s game director Mark Pacini told Games4Life during E3.

ReCore made its debut during Microsoft’s E3 2015 press conference, taking pride of place after Halo 5: Guardians‘ multiplayer reveal.

There was much behind the trailer, designed to set the tone for the game. On one side, in Texas, they have a toolbox for game development. On the other, in Japan, there is a philosophy that shapes the game being made. Everybody knows their role, and their powers are combining right now to create the Xbox One exclusive.

A COLLABORATION IS BORN

Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune and Armature first worked together when the former was still at Capcom. That collaboration is reported to have been Maverick Hunter, the canceled first-person shooter take on Mega Man that died an unceremonious death in 2010, the same year Inafune left Capcom and founded Comcept, his independent studio. To date, it’s best known for the in-development spiritual successor to Mega Man, Mighty No. 9.

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And that’s a little bit more sound economics, too. The theory of comparative advantage says that, even if any one party could do everything it needed, trade is still a good idea. Why? Because, comparatively, each party is always going to be better at doing something — and comparatively worse, too. Each has advantages, as compared to their trade partners. So, the theory goes, let them specialize in what they do best, and everyone will do better.

What’s that have to do with video games? Well, with ReCore, Armature and Comcept are trading ideas.

“When it’s true collaboration, everyone, both sides, both parties, are on equal level,” Inafune said. “But that doesn’t mean that we have equal skills, equal technique. And that’s where I think the way it works, with us, is we understand each other’s strengths.”

There’s even humility in Inafune’s response — a tacit acknowledgment that Armature brings more to ReCore than Comcept would alone.

“There are definitely certain things that we know that Armature is going to have the better ideas, and it would be foolish for us to not go with what they just proposed,” he said. “Because you know what, we haven’t come up with those ideas to date and I don’t think we will in the future, so you know what? Let’s go with that.”

The division of labor wasn’t arbitrary, said Inafune, but drawn according to each studio’s best assets.

“Trust and respect is what I think is most important”

“As a result, alluding to what Mark was saying, I think that created that natural sort of divide, of where we can sort of lead or initiate some of the work, whereas Comcept sort of tends to own or initiate the topics or subjects of conversations. So, (a) being on an equal level, and (b) more than just being fellow game creators here, just as person-to-person. Team-to-team.”

Practicality is important. They’re spending money and time to make ReCore, so efficiency must be an important factor. But beyond practicality, it’s about human relationships, Inafune said. And if the relationship is good enough, both sides can be honest and direct without hurting feelings. If that’s true, then ReCore should be better for it.

“Trust and respect is what I think is most important, and I think we have both earned each other’s trust and respect. And so, I’m not exaggerating in any way, but the amount of respect that myself and my staff have for the folks at Armature is at a very, very high level. And knowing them, I think that we are able to say and exchange some of these opinions. Whether good or bad, we don’t have to feel like we’re saying something bad. If this is just a means of discussion, and to get the conversation moving. I think that’s really the true foundation of a partnership.”

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