Interview with Hideo Kojima
Posted by Jay on Monday, April 2, 2007
This is an awesome interview with the man himself, Hideo Kojima. He talks about the Metal Gear series, the next gen consoles, and other stuff. Oh, and he confirms that MGS4 is staying on the PS3. Read on to find out more.
Feature: Talkin’ Metal Gear With Hideo Kojima
By: Luke Plunkett
So Kojima’s address at GO3 contained…not much, aside from a casual stroll down memory lane. Straight afterwards, though, I had a chance to sit down with Mr. Kojima (sadly, no tea OR biscuits) and talk Metal Gear, movies and “the rumble guy”.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Metal Gear. 20 years. It’s a long time to be making the same game. So I ask him if he’s surprised that he’s still churning out Metal Gear games this far down the line. “I’m very surprised”, he says. “Twenty years ago when I created my first one, I thought it’d just be over. To be more extreme, I didn’t think the fist one would sell at all!”.
Oh, but sell they did, and when games sell, you make more of them. “But I have kept making Metal Gear games”, he says. “When I look back, while it looks like the same game, I’ve been adding new features and using new technology each time, so it’s never felt like I’ve been making the same game.”
This focus on new tech was a big part of his address, as with each advance in console hardware he says he was able to make fundamental changes to the series, culminating in the crazy wartime escapades of MGS4. “I have to say, the evolution of technology, that has helped me to keep ‘creating’ Metal Gear”, he adds.
Since Metal Gear Solid 4 has come up, I do the polite thing and ask how it’s coming along. “Its almost at the ‘shooting stage’ of creating a movie”, Kojima says. “All the design and scenarios are finished, we’re just completing the actual game”.
It’s been a long time coming, so it can’t have been easy. Kojima agrees. “Nothing was easy”, he says. “Everything has been hard, because we’ve set not just a high bar for ourselves but a number of bars. So there’s nothing easy, everything is hard!”
With rumble having been a key aspect of the series thus far, I ask him his thoughts on the issue now that Sony and Immersion have made kissy-kissy. “I want to use rumble, yes”, he says, “but it’s a race against time. If it can make it in in time I’d like to use it, yes.”
“The part that’s troubling me, I cant really say…”. He pauses. Oh, do go on: “…but we always designed the game without rumble, and I had great ideas without rumble, so if rumble comes back we have a decision to make whether to leave that new feature in or to take it out and replace it with rumble”.
Could you patch it? A later update would at least give players the choice. “I want to implement it, rumble, yes”, he says. “I’m not thinking about a patch, though”. Oh. Well, early days, I guess. Maybe rumble and motion-sensing can’t get along after all?
He won’t say, but if he had to choose between the two, it looks like rumble would win out. His “other” idea doesn’t have a nickname and a long-term relationship with the company. “Ever since MGS1 there was a specific guy, nicknamed the ‘rumble creator’, who worked on it for us”, he says. “But he’s been on a long vacation since we didn’t think rumble was going to be in MGS4, so we’re calling him back right now”. Hmm. Long vacation sounds…ominous.
Moving on, I remind him of a comment he made last year comparing each of the three current consoles to “different kinds of dinner”. Did he still think that was the case, now that all three are on the market? Nope. “They’re more like a movie theatre metaphor”, he says.
“The PS3 is like the theatre, it’s a little bit high-priced but it has to be high quality as well. The 360 is a DVD, it still needs to be high quality but you need more variations, while the Wii is almost like a TV channel, because every game you have it with your family”.
I look for a funny/revealing insight into the comment, then realise he’s probably quite close to the mark. Still, by that admission, if the PS3 is Hollywood, is he feeling the heat of being the system’s first big, exclusive title? “Yes, there is pressure”, he admits, “but there is Final Fantasy XIII coming out as well, so it’s not all me!”.
Still on MGS4, I ask whether this really is the end. He’s said repeatedly he wants to walk away at the end of this game, and the trailers seem to show everyone from the series getting together for one final shootout. So when MGS4 hits, will you hang up your boots? “Well, atually its really up to the users, its up to them to decide”, he offers.
“If users want more Metal Gear, then I will probably step up as producer, like the James Bond series does”, he says. “That way I can have new, upcoming directors making MGS while I oversee the project, and then perhaps I can move onto something new”.
Something new, eh? Like your long, and oft-rumoured collaboration with Suda? “The collaboration with Suda is a little different”, Kojima says. “It’s something I’ve been thinking about for about 10 years now, but unfortunately can’t concentrate on right now because we’re so busy with MGS4”.
Pity. So, Devil May Cry 4, going multiplatform. Thoughts? Comments? “I think it’s up to each project, and the individual producer”, he says. “If they want to take it multiplatform, they will”. I’m going somewhere with this question, and he knows exactly where that is…
“But like I said, MGS4 is aimed for the movie theatre, it’s aimed for the PS3, so the game’s scenario and graphics need this theatre-type hardware. It’s when a producer has a game that can work on the ‘DVD level’ that a game will go multiplatform”, he says. Sorry kids. Your “OMGMGS4360” banners will have to come out another day.
Since we’ve opened up this can of worms, I may as well get his thoughts on it. Why, I ask, do you think this rumour simply refuses to go away? “Because 360 owners want it on 360, obviously”, he quips.
Righto. Moving right along, I ask about Kojima Productions. Does having your own company make it easier to focus on games, or are you finding yourself caught up in boring business stuff?
“That’s a very difficult question to answer, because I can’t really say”, he says. “It’s both. It’s now quicker, the speed of making games is faster. But at the same time, because of this speed you need to make tough business decisions quicker, so it’s had both its good and its bad points”.
Anyone who’s sat through a good, hearty MGS talk-fest knows Kojima loves his movies. So I ask, if you had your time again, would you have still gone into games? Or would you have rather made movies for a crust?
“Well, if I could go back in time to the point where I hadn’t created a game yet, and didn’t know how much fun they were, then I would probably choose to become a movie director”, Kojima says. “But, don’t get me wrong, it’s really fun to create games, and knowing how much fun games are I’d take the same path. I hope I can continue to create games for as long as I live”.
But what about media outside of movies? Do you draw inspiration from books, comics and music? “Well, yes, everything”, he says. “Novels, comics, it all effects me and inspires me. I only have 24 hours a day, so I listen to music while I work, I can read books when I get home and only after those, because they take so much time, do I watch movies. But they all inspire me”.
And that was that. Charming fellow. And rad MGS4 shirt to boot.