Inafune And Armature Talk ReCore, Mega Man Legends 3, And Iga's Bloodstained
At Microsoft's press conference, the brand-new original IP, ReCore was revealed for the first time. The Xbox One exclusive teams Keiji Inafune and his studio, Comcept, with Armature, and Microsoft Studios. We spoke with Inafune and Armature's Mark Pacini to learn more about the project, the canceled Mega Man Legends 3, and the team's connection to Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.
How did ReCore come about?
Inafune: So this is going back actually to my Capcom days. We had been working on a project together. I was at Capcom. Armature was the developer. We were discussing projects. So this is on the first time we're meeting and trying something new together. We had a good thing going on the previous project so we were very saddened by the fact that we were not going to be able to pursue what we had in mind as our goal.
I've always wanted to return to that moment where I could one day work again with Armature. I, as you know, have worked with a couple of different Western developers but I consider Armature on a completely different level for me. They're very special in a way that we get to pull out the best in both of us. I would toss out an idea. They would pitch back an idea and it's just a constant back and forth. The synergy and the relationship was very strong.
When it came time to talk about my big idea that I had next and "I want to work with you guys," the reception on Armature's side was very positive. And then pretty much at the same time too we went and pitched an idea to Microsoft and they were all very excited as well. That's really how it all started.
How did you decide on Microsoft as a partner?
Pacini: We were looking for a way work with Microsoft and they had reached out to us. I had worked with Ken Lobb in the past on Metroid (now a creative director at Microsoft) and we knew many people internal to Microsoft. We were like, "Is this a way we can work together? Is there anything that either they're working on or we're working on and when we started having this idea with Comcept we were like, "Maybe this is what we should really go all in on and be like this is what we want to do."
We did not shop ReCore around to different publishers. We just took our idea and went to Microsoft and said "This is what we would like to do. How can we work together?"
They were extremely receptive and excited and they wanted to be a part of it. And there was as much of them in this as there is Comcept and Armature. So it was really a true collaboration and it was right from the get-go. They knew this isn't really the type of game we normally do. At the same time that was what was scary but appealing. It just kind of went from there.
What can you tell us about Joule and the world that she lives in?
Inafune: In a nutshell, Joule, the main character as far as she is concerned and as far as she knows she is the last human survivor in this world. And at the same time she is greeted by this dog robot companion named Mack. There are a lot of mysteries in the story that we can't talk about in detail right now that exploration, survival are things and then also her trying to figure out what happened and how is this world going to continue on. Where is humanity? Is it going to continue beyond me? Those are things that hopefully throughout the progression of the game she will be able to uncover and discover as she goes along. That's probably as much as I can say at this moment.
What can you tell us about the cores?
Pacini: Obviously, the cores are the theme of the game. All of the mechanics, story, settings all revolve around this technology. This game has its own fictional grounding. This isn't a magic-based game. It's a technology-based game with robotic lifeforms. But the idea behind these cores is that they do bleed the line between this is the soul of these robots, basically. They're not just machines that are battery powered and walk around with you and help you fight things. They have distinct personalities.
These distinct personalities as well as their abilities and how they become more powerful all contain this core. Like in the trailer, even if the body is destroyed this soul could continue on and possibly be put into something else. No matter how this core is used that personality and soul and powers will be transferred to the next thing. In this case it was a large humanoid-type robotic frame. That's just the very basic beginning of the idea.
So Mack is really the core, but you can relate to him more because he's a dog frame and kind of as a human understand what a dog is and how a dog behaves but Mack can then be put into this large beast-like frame and it's still Mack and he takes along all of the basic personalities and things but he also kind of inherits traits of the thing that he's being put into. So he's not going to bark like a dog. Now he's going to be more primal or ape-like and stronger and use that. There are some things that they like being put into and others that they don't like being put into. They prefer not to be, but they'll begrudgingly do it because because you guys are friends and you're asking him to do it nicely. The whole game is about that base idea.
There were several robots show together at the end of the trailer. Will you have several with you all at once?
Inafune: If that's what those players want to do in the game, it would be hard for us to say that's not what you can do. In other words, I won't deny the fact that you will be able to have multiple friends or companions along the way, but I think the important thing for me is that now that we've revealed this title and you've seen the trailer that the more imagination that people can have in this in their own minds about, "What is it that I can really do in this game?", we're hoping that we can not only answer those expectations, but hopefully go beyond your expectations.
What kind of game is this? Open world? Linear?
Pacini: I can talk about it on a high level. It's not a linear game, but the idea is that the world of ReCore is very large. Not to say it's necessarily an open world structure, but one of the main thrusts of the game is that the world changes over time. So you see a large sandstorm roll in in the video, that's something we're doing in the game. Your landscape is set in one way and at certain points in the game, whether it's randomly or part of the story, the [environment] will change, uncovering certain areas and covering up other areas.
Joule finds this cave in the video. The idea is that it's unlocking all these other things that are hidden under the sand from an exploration standpoint. That's one of the main loops in our game. We're really trying to utilize our game world as a shifting, unstable landscape that players can look forward to exploring and at any time could get shifted underneath them. It's a lot about that two-layer exploration down on the surface and below the surface.
Who do you control?
Pacini: We're going to hopefully share something real soon about that. But right now, based on things that we've done in the past, it's an action adventure third person game. Combat is very fast-paced. There's a lot of exploration. So in those things there are already tiers of... that we just can't share right now. But we hope to share very soon.
How does working with Inafune-san and Comcept compare to working with Nintendo in the Metroid Prime days?
Pacini: There's a lot of parallels between the two. There's a really good reason there's not a lot of studios that can have a relationship like that. There are some studios that do it quite well. What I'm referring to is a Western studio that's having a lot of thier creative thrust come from an Eastern creative studio. And because the founders and more senior level people at Armature have been through this process many many times they understand what that collaboration entails. And a lot of it is just being open-minded.
In this case, how it's different, our relationship, it mirrors it. Inafune-san's group definitely has a different working relationship than Nintendo in a good way. But now we have our partnership with Microsoft who's equally invested in this and has extremely fantastic developers that are working on our project. So we have this triangle of creatives that are working on this project and somehow it's all working. No one from any side is throwing their weight around. We trust in Inafune-san's overall direction and understanding where we're trying to go in this project.
Armature's in the middle of it. We work directly with Compcept. We work directly with Microsoft. We handle the throughway. And it all just seems to work. By no means is any relationship completely perfect, but it's probably one of the best working relationships we've ever had at Armature.
Were any ideas from the canceled Mega Man Legends 3 project implemented in ReCore?
Inafune: Maybe not at the level of calling out specific gameplay features that would have gone into Legends 3. To be completely honest, if I had the chance, I would still say, "Yes, I want to still make that game." In that regard, there's something probably emotional or spiritual that I feel like on a very high level that I don't completely lose everything, all my ideas, that I had at that time. They may have been transferred or carried over or been reflected in some way, shape, or form in ReCore. That's something that is part of me, so it's going into ReCore. One thing that I feel is very different though is that if I went down the Legends 3 path and I was continuing on that path I feel like maybe it's a bit of more of a throwback to when it was made. Going back into time, but giving it a new skin and fresh look. With ReCore though, I'm not looking back. I'm looking into the future. I'm looking beyond what I can do today. This has given me the opportunity to retain some of what was in my soul, but then transfer that into a future outlook and direction. That's a big difference in the path that, to me, is different between those two titles.
Did I see that Armature is working with Koji Igarashi on Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night?
Pacini: We're doing the Wii U and Vita ports. We have a port team at Armature. We did the Borderlands collection a couple months back. We're helping out. We share the same agent. So he called us up and said "Would you be interested in doing this?" And we said of course. We're going to be starting to do that fairly shortly.
What has you most excited about that project?
Pacini: Well, I've purposely kind of stayed away. I just want to see what he does next. I'm more focused on ReCore right now, but I'm always excited. I'm meeting [Igarashi] later today, which is cool. I've never met him before. I love his games and obviously they're an inspiration to everyone. We're excited to just be part of it.