Hideo Kojima

Exerpted In It's Entirety From Electronic Gaming Monthly, October 2001, Issue# 147 by: Mark Macdonald of EGM Magazine

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EGM: How do you think the playable demo of MGS2 was received?

Hideo Kojima: Better than expected. If people trashed that demo, we'd have to redo the whole thing. People basically liked the direction we're headed in with MGS2, so we didn't have to redo that portion, allowing us to move forward and finish the game.

EGM: Was there any feedback from the demo that's been incorporated into the game?
HK: We can't really speak of any specific things, but yes, we are making a lot of little adjustments. For instance, when you're in first-person view mode, normally you look up by pressing up, but now we've also inverted it - like how an airplane would control. We're still experimenting with some stuff. For instance, maybe you'll be able to push down on the Dual Shock stick button to look around faster. We don't know right now. Something you can't do in the demo but you can do in the final game is move the camera during the cutscenes, like pan around and and zoom. You can do this because it's all in real time. You don't just have to watch it, you can move the camera around. If you had to, you can zoom up to Olga's armpits [smiles].
EGM: How much of that demo is how the actual game will play out in terms of the intro sequence and the first 15 minutes of the game?

HK: We've made some changes, but it's not going to be drastic.

EGM: So we'll meet Olga-and "kill" her- in the very beginning of the game?

HK: Yes. But since it's a demo, we also threw in a few items you wouldn't normally obtain at that point. That demo is around 7 percent of the entire game.

EGM: You've gone on record as saying MGS2 won't include VR Missions. Are there any extra features- mini-games, an internet ranking-mode, making-of video, the trailers, practice mode of some kind, multiple endings-that will be included in the final game?
HK: As for visual bonuses-trailers, etc.- I would love to include them if there is any room left. As of now, there isn't that much room. Since there is so much dialogue in MGS2, even a DVD will be filled up easily.

EGM: Whose idea was it to alert the guards when you touch the girly poster in the locker room?

HK: Mine [smiles and makes knocking gesture and 'boing' sound]. Whenever you see something jokey or silly in the game, it's always my idea. I always include all these little details in the game plan.
And my staff, when they read this they say, "Ah, this isn't going to happen." I tell my staff, "You've got to do that poster thing, so when you hit the breast you hear 'boing.'" I go back to them in a week and I ask, "Well? Why isn't it here?" and they say, "What, you weren't joking?"

EGM: It seems like parts of the demo and the two trailers are intended to get people speculating about the plot.

HK: We're just providing you with hints. It'll be fun when you pick up the game and play it and say to yourself, "Ah, I knew it." Or the other way around, where you say, "Oh my God, I never expected this." That's how you're given all these hints.

EGM: Will this game wrap up all the unanswered questions? Or are you saving more mysteries for another sequel?

HK: Since MGS2 is gong to end the MGS1-MGS2 saga, many questions will be answered. But I believe it would be a disservice to the customer if I started revealing all my secrets now. There will always be more mysteries...

EGM: Are there any more hints or clues you can give our readers about any part of the story in MGS2?
HK: I created the E3 trailer to give everyone an opportunity to imagine what the final game will be like. All rumors could be correct. All rumors could be wrong. One thing is for sure: I think I'll be able to fool and betray all of you in a pleasant way.

EGM: What do you think it is about MGS2 that has everyone so excited?

HK: I really have no answer for that. I don't know why it's being received so well. If I did have an answer, it would make it so much easier to develop a game [laughs]. Take [the second trailer]- I had no idea whether or not it'd be received well, so I was worried.
EGM: Can you talk a bit about the research that went into MGS2?

HK: We visited an actual tanker, we've been to a bunch of museums for information, and we visited a nuclear fuel plant. When we went there, they placed these pelleter, whatever they are, in our palm. We were like, "Oh my God, these are radioactive." And the radiation was really weak, like it couldn't penetrate a piece of paper. Myself and [artist} Yoji Shinkawa held these in our hands, but the rest of the guys ran away. They refused. We were like, "If you can't do this, then you can't be on the team!" [laughs]

EGM: How has your military advisor been helping development?

HK: Our military advisor is Mr. Motosada Mori. Mr. Mori has been our advisor since MGS1. He has been a part of various special-force units around the world. He now writes novels and serves as a military/action advisor for Japanese TV dramas and movies. He taught us how to hold weapons, how certain weapons work, and how soldiers sweep an area. He came to our office months ago to show how to walk around in an area when there are terrorists in the building. We first start out in a room where he uses the blackboard to give us a case. He says, "Here are the terrorists. Show me the correct way to approach that room and arrest them." Then we leave the room, walk around in the halls of our office, and try to approach the room where the terrorist are.
After our performance, we go back into the room with the blackboard and Mr. Mori shows us on the board the correct route in which should have approached the terrorists. These precious hours of questions and answers gave us the knowledge to create AI for the soldiers to sweep the area and come after Snake.

EGM: We know you're a movie lover. Would you like to direct a movie?

HK: I would have no problem with Hollywood doing a Metal Gear movie in the Hollywood way. But to me, Metal Gear is a game. To me, I create Metal Gear as a game and not in any other media. For me to do a Metal Gear movie, I'd be a hypocrite, since I feel the best medium for Metal Gear is a game.
EGM: Who would you like to see direct such a Metal Gear movie?

HK: Ah, the Wachowski brothers [The Matrix].

EGM: What do you think of the upcoming hardware wars?

HK: There definately shouldn't be a monopoly. Even when it comes to genetics in nature, you always need competition; it's what makes things better. Konami is a software publisher, we really don't care who wins, we just care about our own software. The reason why MGS2 is for PS2 is very simple: MGS1 was for the PS1 and it was very successful. Metal Gear fans and PS fans get along very well, it's a perfect match. It's not because we think PS2 is a better machine. When I pick hardware to do a game on, I don't look at the specs of the machine. I don't care about that stuff. I look at the audience that it has.
THE ART OF WAR with Yoji Shinkawa

You think it's easy being Yoji Shinkawa? OK, you try designing a cool character with only a goofy name like Psycho Mantis or Marionette Owl to work with. But Yoji hasn't just succeeded at challenges like these, he's thrived. Not yet even 30 years old, his rough, almost impressionist, shaded style has come to symbolize Metal Gear Solid to the world and made his art some of the most recognizable in video games today. For MGS2 his job title is the same as it was for the original MGS: Character and Mechanical Designer and Graphics Supervisor. Basically, he handles everything from storyboards, to deciding what the new Metal Gear should look like, to art for the instruction manual. We sat down with the man who curled Ocelot's moustache and talked about his influences, including our cover, and of course, Snake's mullet.

EGM: With your work on MGS2, how much freedom do you have with character and mechanical designs?

Yoji Shinkawa: I get directions regarding the character's age, ethnic origin and the weapon used. As for the machines, I have total control.

EGM: What are some of your influences (art, music movies, anime) when it comes to your artwork and designs?

YS: The artists that influence me are Aubray Beardsley, Yoshitoshi Tukoka and [Final Fantasy artist responsible for our limited edition cover last month] Yoshitaka Amano. It is hard to say which movie is my favorite. Trainspotting is quite exhilirating. Nemuri Kyoshiro with actor Raizo Ichikawa is my favorite Japanese film. As for games, Nintendo's [early 80's LCD screen-equipped portable] Game & Watches were great. They were simple with very clever gameplay. The designs of the Game & Watch units themselves were so cool that I enjoy simply owning them. I wish the Game Boy had a cooler design.

EGM: Can you describe the process you went through in creating our cover image?

YS: First, I do a few rough sketches. I knew I wanted to show Manhattan- trying to come up with a design combing Snake and Manhattan was not easy. I ended up drawing Manhattan, the moon, and Snake seperately and did a collage. I wanted the colors to be of a light touch, so I used Photoshop to apply the colors, and then scanned a brush pen-drawn Snake as a texture and applied it onto the illustration to give that sense of volume. I listened to Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Brain Salad Surgery to massage my brain when doing the illustration.

EGM: What nationality do you imagine Solid Snake as?

YS: I consider him being Japanese-British. Maybe I don't think much about it.

EGM: Who is your favorite character or thing to draw from MGS2?

YS: I love [railgun-sporting boss from the second trailer] Fortune. I try to make her refreshing and sexy at the same time.

EGM: We have to ask: Snake's haircut, in America, is called a mullet (short in the front and long in the back), and it's a look popular among pro wrestler, hockey players and country-music singers. Why was this distinct hairstyle chosen for Snake in MGS2?

YS: I gave him long hair along with a scruffy beard to give Snake a wild touch.

with David Hayter

David Hayter's more than just a pretty voice. Since providing Solid Snake's raspy growl as part of the universally acclaimed Metal Gear Solid voice cast, he's become a major Hollywood screenwriter, penning the script for last summer's blockbuster X-Men, plus The Incredible Hulk and Pitch Black 2, both currently in development. Despite his current X-Men 2 writing duties and a slight hangover, we found Mr. Hayter in great spirits when we talked to him about his return to the studio for MGS2. As he says, "It's good to be Dave."

EGM: You're a big Hollywood script writer now. What brought you back for MGS2?

David Hayter: I just love this game; I think it's really cool. And with all the same people- the same actors and the same director and everything- I just wanted to do it again.

EGM: How did the recording process go?

DH: It was awesome. While we were doing it I got very nostalgic and I played the first [Metal Gear Solid] again. And, as great a game as that was, [MGS2] is a hundred times better. Just the script and the actors...last time we were sort of feeling our way though, but this time we knew what we were doing before we started it. And it was cool too- I think we had a little more fun with it as well. Like with the relationships between Snake and Otacon- there's some really funny stuff, as well as just straight action.

EGM: Is it hard to do that deep Snake voice?

DH: Yeah. When I start off, I'm just sorta faking my way through it, and then by the middle of the day (switches into Snake's voice) it all comes together. And then, by the end of the day, I'm just in horrible, horrible pain [laughs].

EGM: Do you do anything to protect our throat? Gargle honey or salt-water or something?

DH: No, actually, to get that voice you want to be drinking and smoking as much as possible [laughs].

EGM: What do you think of Snake's flowing mullet?

DH: I was trying not to admit to myself that it was a mullet.

EGM: As a script writer yourself, what did you think of the MGS2 script?

DH: I think it's so far beyond what we had in the first one. I thought the first one was great, but it was still...the language was very sort of Japanese-based, whereas this one is full-on [smooth]. Plus I had more confidence as a writer and as an actor, so we played with it a little bit and really made the conversations feel as real as possible. There's a lot of great stuff in it.
Releasing a Metal Gear game on a Nintendo console would be ridiculous; I don't know about GameCube, but their machines that exist right now [N64, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance] are for younger kids. I don't care about how good the sytem itself is, because all consoles right now are at about the same level of power.

EGM: Speaking of the GameCube, what do you think of Nintendo's next machine?

HK: I'm not too satisfied with Smash Bros. 2 or Wave Race 2- they're basically N64 games. But Pikmin looked different, it looked very unique. I'd like to try it out.

EGM: Why did you choose to "submerge" after E3?

HK: There are several reasons for being submerged. One is certainly so that I can devote the remaining time to creating the game. The other would be to let speculation about the game expand. Think of it as the anticipation to Christmas. You can see the presents under the tree, see the size and number, but you never know what is really in there. That's what we want to do. Build the anticipation without giving away too much.

EGM: We heard one reason might be because you were working yourself ragged. Has development been tough? How do you handle it with your wife and son? Will you be able to take a vacation soon?

HK: Honestly speaking, I am very tired. I do get sick occasionally. But I am working very hard with my team to complete my game. I try to spend as much time with my son as possible. It is not easy. sometimes bring my son to my office on the weekend so that I can work and spend time with him. I'll make up for all of it after this project is completed. As vice-president of Konami Japan, I cannot take a long vacation until after the game is done.

EGM: What do you plan on doing once MGS2 for the PS2 is complete?

HK: The theme will be "parent and child." And I would like to work with GameCube.

EGM: There was an announcement recently that MGS2 would come to the U.S. first, before Japan. That's incredibly rare for such a huge title- why was that decision made?

HK: MGS was very well received in the U.S.- even better than in Japan- so we wanted to reward that dedication by bringing the game out in the U.S. first, since we couldn't work it out in our schedule to do a simultaneous launch. I have to say that the Japanese fans are not too happy about this. But we're glad that the American fans are happy.