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Interviews

Interview: An audience with Hideo Kojima

Metal Gear creator talks to press on the day of Rising's release

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance made its debut in Europe today. Developed by the third-person action game maestros Platinum Game, it sees divisive hero Raiden break away from the core Metal Gear series for his own action-packed spin-off.

Although not directly involved with its development, series creator Hideo Kojima is still very much tied to the title, touring around the world to promote the game and championing it in the absence of Platinum Games.

Today, Konami hosted a roundtable discussion with the mind behind Metal Gear. Over the course of an hour Kojima recounted the failures of his internal studios to realise the original vision for Rising, the decision to seek out the help from Platinum Games, as well as the studios various successes and potential inadequacies.

The legendary dev also offered his insight into how the games industry has matured, teased his bold new direction for Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, and speculated on the future of Metal Gear Rising.

[Additional reading: Metal Gear Rising review | Yuji Korekado on the difficulties of cutting]

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It's no secret that Kojima Productions looks to your vision of where to go next in Metal Gear. With that in mind, how well does Platinum Games' completed Metal Gear Rising capture your original vision and would you change anything?

As far as hitting our original marks, this is a game with Raiden featuring as the main character, our goal from the get go was to have a very speedy, fast action game. In that sense the final product very much reflects what we had in mind.

As far as the free cutting mechanic is concerned, our internal team originally developed this and wrote the code for it. But they had a very hard time getting the balance right and incorporating the mechanic into the action. When we handed it off to Platinum Games they did an excellent job of incorporating it into the action, cutting out needless other features and focusing on what makes it feel good.

The end result is that we have a very satisfying experience where players can play through and feel good.

"Upper-management was more worried about this than I was...I always believed that it would go well"

That said, this isn't a game by me, it's a game by Platinum, there are certain things about the story that maybe I would have done differently, but the end result is a game that neither studio could have made on its own. It's a synergy of the best parts of each studio.

One thing from the beginning I was a little nervous about is Platinum is very good at making games, but they're not very good at honouring schedules. They tend to take their time with games, so I was a little worried at the start but I made it clear that in order to succeed on a worldwide scale you not only have to make a good product but also honour the schedule.

This time they came through and delivered the product. So, I think they learned something. Especially Kamiya, he was surprised they actually did it.

How did it feel to hand over your most valued IP to an external studio? Were there times when you felt protective?

Because this is a spin-off, not a numbered game in the series that features Snake as a character, I wanted the team to be able to relax, I didn't want to become to overbearing. I told Platinum to go ahead and make what you want to make and have fun with it.

In the beginning upper-management was more worried about this than I was. They were very protective of the IP and asking 'why are you taking our valuable IP and offloading it to Platinum' but I said not to worry about it, even if Platinum messes up, I'm working on Ground Zeroes so we'll have a great Metal Gear.

Of course, I always believed that it would go well, but I had to say that to convince management.

Metal Gear Rising moved outside of Kojima Productions to Platinum, and you had a role on Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow - would you like to continue collaborating with other studios like this in the future?

It really depends on the project; it has to be something that matches. You have to match the studio to the project. In the past we did Twin Snakes with Silicon Knights and it didn't do that well, I think part of the reason was that we were trying to control it too much. Really I think if you're going to use an outside studio it has to be in order to take advantage of their abilities. If they have a specialty and you're working on a project that has features that they're best at, then that's fine. But I don't want to have to force myself to put something to an outside studio just because I want to offload something.

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What compromises did you and Platinum Games have to make while working with each other on Metal Gear Rising?

My role as a producer on the project was really just to support it and make sure it took advantage of the best of Platinum's skills as possible. That said some of the ideas they proposed, I was originally opposed to them, for example there's a scene where Raiden throws Metal Gear Ray up into the air and I thought 'there's no way, this is ridiculous'.

But when they put it in the game and I had a chance to play it, it actually felt very good within that context. My job became not necessarily fighting with them, occasionally we did have disagreements, but I just had to move that line a little bit and make sure we took advantage of Platinum in the best way possible and work on something together that takes advantage of both studios.

Peace Walker broke away from many of Metal Gear's stealth conventions - how far is Rising moving further away from that template set in the early Metal Gear games?

I think we're talking about two different things here. The Metal Gear Solid series is one thing, the Solid series has been evolving towards my vision of what I think the stealth genre should be and Ground Zeroes is the next step in that evolution.

Rising is a different beast. In the Solid series you're controlling Solid Snake and it's very much a slow paced, very tense experience. The player feels a little bit of stress when playing through the game, in a good way.

The problem with Rising is that you're playing as Raiden, a cyborg, he's superhuman, so the direction had to change. I didn't want to focus on the stealth experience, instead I wanted to focus on the power fulfilment fantasy where you're this powerful cyborg ninja and can do amazing things. It's sort of a stress relief as a player.

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