I have to say, I'm really impressed with what Platinum did. They were very gutsy - they took over a project that had fallen apart in the middle of production. Took it upon themselves to take this really insanely difficult thing to deal with (the 360-degree cutting mechanic), and complete the game.
Not only that, but they weren't just taking any game. They were taking on a Metal Gear
title. Itís the first time theyíve worked on such a big project and it had a lot of baggage with it - a lot of insanely critical fans too. If they did anything wrong, it would have reflected badly on them. So it took a lot of guts to take on that challenge and they pulled through.
I think theyíre really great, and they have nothing but respect from me. I love those guys.
Frame Rate Challenges:
When we were working on the game in-house using FOX engine, it was at 30 frames per second. But, as you know, Metal Gear Solid 2
was at 60 frames per second. At the time, there were some experimental tests using a technology called Showscan that proved that humans could feel the effect of having a higher framerate, even though they can perceive only around 24fps. So I wanted to up-res to 60fps for MGS2
Metal Gear Solid 3
was set in a jungle with very complicated environments, so at that point we couldnít achieve 60fps. Same thing happened with MGS4
- you have to make a trade off between framerate and detailed environments. When I spoke to Platinum about Rising
, they agreed that 60fps was important for an action game, however.
Of course, the artists on the team resisted this, as it meant scaling back their work. So maybe, as a result, the backgrounds arenít as pretty as some of the other games out there. But, weíre proud to say we maintain 60fps, and the experience is better as a result. Thatís really a credit to the designers and their ability to do whatís best for gameplay.
Rising: Training for the next Metal Gear:
The reason why Rising
came about was because the younger staff at Kojima Productions were set to make the next Metal Gear
title. But, tackling a numbered title in the main series was too much pressure for them. So instead they proposed doing a spinoff featuring Raiden as the main character.
On Frank Jaeger as the main character:
[When the team suggested making a game based on Raiden] Personally, I thought, why not just make a game with Frank Jaeger? I would have preferred it with Frank Jaeger. But the team preferred Raiden, and so I allowed them to proceed with that.
Gradually as development progressed, Raiden actually grew closer and closer to Cyborg Ninja [laughs]! So honestly, if we make a sequel to Rising
, it should feature Frank Jaeger as a main character... fighting zombies! Nano-machine powered zombies [laughs]. Thatís what Iím proposing to Platinum and the producer of the project... but I think they seem to be ignoring me.
I even told them that Iíd write the story for it... but our main story writer just said to me, ĎNo no, itís okay. Iíll write the story, donít worry about it.í
Bridging Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4:
The original Rising
project was intended to tell the story between MGS2
. I think thereís a lot of possibilities there - certainly a cool story that can be told. Itís a possibility [for a future title], but I personally wonít be making it.
[We dropped this story because] it would have been very difficult for Platinum to develop the game. The link between MGS2
... that story only exists in my head. So each step of the way, Platinum would have probably had to come and consult me over whatís going to happen.
Thatís why we changed it to a post-MGS4
setting in Rising
. It gave Platinum more freedom and they could move forward with Raidenís future without having to worry about how it all fit. I canít say whether the game idea - set between MGS2
- will actually happen now, but that was the background behind Rising
Why Raiden was created for Metal Gear Solid 2:
At the end of Metal Gear Solid 1
, Snake becomes this legendary hero. [For Metal Gear Solid 2
], it just didnít make sense to have this Ďlegendary heroí start from scratch, with players getting all these codec calls telling this hero how to perform basic actions! It just didnít sit well with me.
So I thought it would make more sense to have a new guy come in. A newbie, in the form of Raiden. He would just roll with the player and look at Snake from a third-person perspective, seeing him as this legendary hero. That was Raidenís role in MGS2
. Perhaps we didnít do a good enough job of conveying that to the user - people reacted negatively as a result, but that was his purpose.
Bringing Raiden back for MGS4 and Rising:
For Metal Gear Solid 4
, on the other hand, we brought Raiden back - but more as a cool character. This was partially in response to fan reaction, but it was also to establish a role reversal. Snake in MGS4
is an old man - he barely survives throughout the game. Raiden is here to help him, this time around.
Youíre now seeing Raiden through this third-person view as a kick-ass cool character. And from then on, users wanted to play as Raiden. It came full circle. So now we have Raiden as the main character in Metal Gear Rising
. In fact, you could say thatís the true meaning of the title Revengeance
. Itís Raidenís vengeance, one more time. Revengance
[laughs]! Heís coming back to take revenge on his unpopularity!
Raiden as a positive role model protagonist:
Thereís a fundamental difference between Snake and Raiden. Snake is this trained military specialist - he does his mission, focuses on his job. Raiden on the other hand... his story is one of tragedy. Heís born into warfare, he was a child soldier and then turned into a cyborg killing machine.
And even though he wants to be happy, he canít be. He tries to achieve a normal life by marrying Rose and trying to live happily ever after... but it doesnít really work out with him. He always gets dragged back to the battlefield. Heís a little twisted inside, from his past. So he goes back onto the battlefield with his sword and starts wrecking havoc.
Heís not a hero in the traditional sense. Heís someone who wants to find peace, but canít. And in that sense, heís similar to Rambo in First Blood
- someone whoís just so war torn that they canít live a normal life.
Tackling modern themes and issues in video games:
Video games as a medium really have not matured very much in the last 25 years. [The subject is] always about killing aliens and zombies! Not that I have anything against these kind of games - they're fun - but I think games have a long way to go before they mature.
Over the past 25 years, I have tried to work with the Metal Gear
series to try and introduce more mature themes. But really, it hasnít happened yet, compared to movies or books. There's still has a long way to go. Thatís precisely what I want to try and tackle with my next project, Ground Zeroes
. Iím going to be targeting a lot of taboos, a lot of mature themes, that really are quite risky. Honestly, Iím not even sure if iíll be able to release the game!
And even if I did release the game, maybe it wouldnít sell, because [the themes would be] just too much. But as a creator, I want to take that risk. As a producer, itís my job to try and sell the game. But Iím approaching this project from the point of view of a creator, where Iím prioritising creativity over sales.
Itís very possible that some time in the future after Ground Zeroes
is out, I may be called up by management who will say, 'Kojima! What are you doing? Ground Zeroes
isnít selling! What have you done?í And at that point Iíll [hopefully be able to] say, ĎDonít worry! [Metal Gear
is selling well!
On the potential for a new spinoff franchise:
Honestly, Iíve been making games for over 25 years and the state that this game was in when it went to Platinum... was really a mess! The fact that they were able to pull it off is very impressive.
Really, Platinumís team is great at creating action games. They do it better than anyone else. I love them personally, as individuals... and now theyíre able to do things to schedule as well! [Laughs] Thatís very important. Theyíve met these three requirements, so thatís great.
But the one thing I think they can still improve on is their technological level. Their technology is not quite up to par, so maybe for the next project, if we did something with them, maybe we would have them use the FOX engine, or maybe use their next generation engine. Iím not sure, but itís the only point I would improve. And if they did manage to get their technology up to par, then they would really be a world-class studio.
As far as Rising 2
is concerned, I really do have that in my mind, and I want to make it, and if we do make it it would definitely be with platinum. I donít think anyone else could do it. And of course, my ulterior motive is that if Rising 2
came out, then guaranteed it would sell! Which means that I wouldnít have to worry about that with Ground Zeroes
. I can just do whatever I want [Laughs]!
Continuing to surprise players in the next generation:
The simple answer is yes, I still think itís very much possible [to think outside the box and push the boundaries of gaming]. But I will reveal a funny fact. The Psycho Mantis battle [in Metal Gear Solid
] is very famous now for doing something out of the box, but back when the game was originally released, people thought it was a bug. They complained like hell about it!
I got a lot of flak for that [laughs]. Itís not until about ten years later, when people like you played the game, and came to an age where you were able to vocalise your thoughts about the game, where it became respected. So yeah, I think the next generation will offer opportunities to do new things, but it may well be met by resistance at first.
Many thanks to Hideo Kojima for his time.