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GDC 2012: New approaches to developing 3DS Resident Evil

Capcom's Masachika Kawata explained some of the fresh production techniques used to develop the Resident Evil 3DS title Mercenaries at a GDC presentation Thursday.
Rising development costs forced Capcom to reassess its production techniques and find new approaches to make 3DS game development workable over the past two years. Masachika Kawata, producer of the recent 3DS title Resident Evil Mercenaries, pointed to some of the ways in which the developer changed its working practices in order to produce both Mercenaries and Resident Evil Revelations at a GDC presentation Thursday. "One of the core techniques at the heart of the production was the very Japanese concept of 'Nimousaku' or 'double cropping,'" he explained. "This is a farming term that refers to cultivating two different types of crops on the same piece of land at different times in one year. In 2012 we started off with R&D creating the same base tech for both games. Then the team split in two, with half moving on to create Mercenaries while other people began work on the scenario for Revelations." The double cropping spread the risk of development costs across two projects, lowering the risks involved. Meanwhile, the team worked to ensure that the two games were distinctive at a base design level. "We decided to make Resident Evil Revelations horror-focused, built around closed in spaces and with a slow-paced," Kawata explained. "Mercenaries, meanwhile, was positioned as an action focused experience, with wide open spaces and a fast pace. This way not only were we hedging our development costs but also our design focus." As well as simultaneous development of the two games using shared tech, Capcom took the new step of outsourcing much of the work on both 3DS projects. "This was very unique for us, using as many out-sourcers as we did," he said. "Rather than taking a 100 percent outsourced approach, internal staff were responsible for the core components of the game. We developed a hybrid approach to game creation. Personally I feel that taking this hybrid approach was very effective for us from both a cost and a quality approach. We had a lot of the same outsourced staff-working Mercenaries and Revelations." Perhaps in response to his former boss Keiji Inafune's harsh words about the Japanese games industry delivered at GDC yesterday evening, Kawata was eager to point out some other distinctive Japanese techniques that aided the development process for Mercenaries in addition to Nimousaku. "We are working really hard to make titles that people can enjoy if nothing else," he said. "I believe that these games both embody the Japanese art of Makunouchi Bentou, or boxed lunch. You would typically see this kind of boxed lunch sold at a train station in Japan. There’s a lot of variety in the lunch and it’s all packed into a tight space. "We tend to take pride in the fact that we have skill in being able to pack a variety of enjoyable elements within a very small package. The same goes for the 3DS. We Japanese have taken pride in our ability to pack things into a tight space."

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