NEWS - Wednesday, July 7, 2010

(RUMOR) - Hideo Kojima Discusses Future Projects

It’s always a bit of an enigma, what Hideo Kojima has up his sleeve next. We know that he’d like to make something new, and that it might be a PS3 exclusive, but otherwise? Your guess is as good as mine, really -- we do know he’s a busy man, though, what with his involvement in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Metal Gear Solid Rising, and the Nintendo 3DS game shown off at E3, to say nothing of whatever hasn’t been announced yet.
Luckily, Kojima gave a longform interview to Hirokazu Hamamura of Famitsu magazine in this week’s issue where he gave updates on pretty much everything he’s working on. Here are the highlights:

- As Konami creative producer Shigenobu Matsuyama discussed elsewhere, Kojima isn’t directly involved with development on Rising. "I’m serving as executive producer and leaving the game to the younger staff -- although they really aren’t that young," he said. "Do you remember the technical research outfit we used to have in Kobe? Matsuyama, the producer on Rising, joined the company around the time I moved to that studio in 1991. He sat in the cube next to mine, though he wound up moving to the arcade division later. Mineshi [director Mineshi Kimura], meanwhile, joined on during the second half of the original Metal Gear Solid project and worked on that for me."

Kojima is so hands-off with Rising, in fact, that he isn’t ordering the staff to give it any of the sort of messages he usually throws into MGS titles. "We developed technology for Rising that lets you slice through practically anything, so for the designers, it’s a question of how to serve up that technology to gamers," he commented. "It’s the sort of game that’s popular over in the West right now. I’m not preoccupied with it having the sort of messages I put into MGS games."

- How is Kojima’s involvement with the Castlevania project proceeding? "People from Kojima Productions have traveled to Spain several times to offer technical advice" to development studio MercurySteam, he said. "We’re more removed from that project than with Rising. I’m involved with Castlevania not as a director, but as an executive manager -- which I am for Konami, after all. There was a motion within the company to put Castlevania in this direction, the president gave the OK for it, and that’s how it happened."

When describing his Castlevania duties, Kojima brought up his Capcom colleague Keiji Inafune, who’s similarly working with an overseas staff to produce Dead Rising 2 at the moment. "Given that this is an overseas developer, I am keeping a close eye on things," he noted. "I don’t know how Inafune does it, but my basic stance is to give whatever advice I can, but leave the final decision-making up to Dave [producer Dave Cox] and MercurySteam. I want them to enjoy their work."

- How did the MGS3-inspired "NAKED Sample" 3DS demo at E3 come to fruition? "It was a top-secret project -- I had a non-disclosure agreement signed with Nintendo, so I couldn’t even tell you [Hamamura] about it," Kojima revealed. "The demo was produced by the Peace Walker team, but outside of the group that developed it, nobody at Kojima Productions even knew about it. I got that group together and said ’Okay, we have to build this thing for E3’ -- they work on a different floor from the rest of the studio, so most people thought they were on vacation after shipping off Peace Walker, I suppose."

Overall, Kojima was pleased with the response the demo received at the press event and on the show floor, but he did have some reservations. "The thing is that it’s hard to get a lot of feedback from players, because only so many of them could physically play the title at the event," he said. "I was hoping to shape our future direction for the game based on more of their opinions. Also, the maps and character models were all remade with a higher polygon count than before. The models are about the same quality as what we made for the PlayStation 3, but you really can’t tell within the game. We could’ve made it look better if we had a little more time."

- Now that E3 is over, where is the 3DS MGS project headed? "I did handle direction work on the E3 demo, but where I go from here hasn’t been decided yet," Kojima said. "For now, what we wanted to do was advertise the fact that we are producing a 3DS game in the MGS franchise. Largely it was just a demonstration of what we’re capable of with the 3DS. For a full-size game, just having things pop out at the player all the time will get old fast, so I think the emphasis will be on visual depth instead. We haven’t settled on the details yet, but I’d like to get CO-OPS and some of the other things we did in Peace Walker into this game as well. We can’t change MGS3’s story, but we are thinking about CO-OPS and other things we can use the 3D technology for."

- So when’ll it come out? "Nothing’s been decided at all yet. I don’t think we’ll be able to make it a launch title, but if we don’t at least stick close to launch, we’ll lose a lot of product value." So within a year or so of launch, then? "Yeah, I think we need to get it out by then. That’s why I want to get more people to try it out. Showing a trailer really just isn’t enough -- it’d be nice if Nintendo organizes some kind of public demo event."

- Moving on to future projects, Hamamura brought up that Kojima has been pretty freely talking about his next big thing throughout the past few months. It’d appear that the director is starting to rethink his gameplan, though. "The project plan is pretty much set in stone, but there’s been some shaking up since," he commented. "Once I got back from E3, I started changing my mind about things -- I can’t really explain why, but I wanted to do something different from what I was originally considering. Either way, the next game’s going to be a console release, so don’t worry about that!"

What’s the issue at hand? "I only have two choices for what to make: MGS5, or an original game," Kojima said. "As for ZOE and the rest, I’m sorry, but that kind of got pushed to the back burner. It’s not that I’m at a loss for what to do -- it’ll definitely be a console game, and it’ll be the sort of big-budget project where I’m dead if we screw it up. No matter which way we go, we’ve got the engine all set for it; the technical side is going along smoothly."

It’s a serious project for Kojima, and he’ll apparently take whatever time he’s allowed for it. "We’re going slowly and carefully with my console game, but at the same time, we don’t have three years to give to the project," he said. "Japanese companies spend that sort of time on projects, but you don’t see that with overseas studios. They just put out an Assassin’s Creed game, but they already announced another one at E3, right? I really don’t see any way we can spend more than two years or so on this."

- So we can expect to see it by the end of 2011 at the earliest, perhaps? "Once I start moving, I’m pretty fast." Hmm.

- Although he spent little time talking about it otherwise, Kojima wrapped up the interview by mentioning a "follow-up" to Peace Walker that’s in the works. "The follow-up to Peace Walker is really something," he said. "It’s a revolution, game system-wise. We’re able to do what we couldn’t do with Peace Walker." Like what? "You’ll find out."


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