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Metal Gear Rising: 'Being able to cut anything made level design a nightmare'

Yuji Korekado on the difficulties of katana slicing and why Metal Gear has to be made in Japan

This article originally appeared in PSM3 magazine.

Yuji Korekado started his career on Hideo Kojima's Policenauts as a programmer. 15 years on, he's the man Kojima trusts with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. We talk to him about Japan's relationship with action games and how it feels to hand development over to Platinum.

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Hideo Kojima handed development of Metal Gear Rising to Platinum Games. How involved is he now?

Well, for this game Mr Kojima has taken one step behind - his role here is executive producer, so he isn't getting too much into the game. As far as game design and the story goes we have full responsibility on that.
That said, he does check the product we're creating is along the lines of something that would be in the Metal Gear series and he's giving some direction in that regard.

How are Platinum and Kojima Productions collaborating on Metal Gear Rising?

Kojima productions are in games, and we were really confident in their abilities. The director for this game for Platinum is Kenji Saito - early on he told us he was a huge fan of the series and when we see his game designs we charge of the direction of the overall worldview. The story and the cutscenes - that's our role. Platinum Games is handling the game design and the actual development of the game.

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That said, we aren't creating these elements separately. If the game design goes in a new direction then we need to make adjustments in the story. If the story changes then the development itself is affected.

In this way we're working as one team together. That said, we [at Kojima Productions] have an idea of what Metal Gear has to be, and we're quite rigid about it. But Platinum games aren't tied to this and sometimes they'll come with ideas and say, "Hey, for Rising this will be more fun," and we stop and say, "Actually you're right, this will be more fun!" They've suggested some ideas that we couldn't think of as Kojima Productions members, and they've made Metal Gear Rising a better action game.

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Does Rising's cutting system change the way you approach game design?

Oh, the level design and the game balance was impossible to achieve for us! The level design was completely destroyed by the concept. When we started working with Platinum we had to begin thinking of how to adjust the concept of being able to cut anything, to putting it down to a game - that was a huge difficulty that we went through.

What was it about Platinum's games that convinced you they could handle a job as important as Metal Gear for Kojima Productions?

This was a title that we were originally creating, but at some point the decision to hand this to an outside developer came about, and we already knew the katana had to be the game's defining element. We decided it would be a Japanese developer because they would understand the feeling of the katana, but among Japanese developers, who do we have that's a good action game developer? The only answer we had was Platinum.

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They've been creating these great action games, and we were really confident in their abilities. The director for this game for Platinum is Kenji Saito - early on he told us he was a huge fan of the series and when we see his game designs we can tell how much he loves Metal Gear. In that regard we have been very confident trusting him, because we liked all the game designs and things he has given to us.

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