Hideo Kojima speaks, gamers listen.
Gaming guru Hideo Kojima, the mastermind of the Metal Gear series, recently went on record in a discussion geared towards several upcoming projects, namely Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Zone of Enders (Z.O.E.). Kojima commented on his involvement with Z.O.E., saying, "We're getting close to the [completed] version of Z.O.E., so that's what I've been involved with lately. I took a supervisory role in its development, and helped write some storyline scenarios. Simultaneously I've been producing Metal Gear Solid 2, so I keep going back and forth. We had an outline of what we wanted to do [for Z.O.E.] before we received the finished PlayStation 2 TOOL kits, and not much has changed. We've had to make slight adjustments here and there, nothing major."
The discussion then turned to the MGS2 demo disc. Kojima said, "You can't really understand the Metal Gear series until you play it, and I know the kind of enjoyment that brings to players when they first experience it. There was a period where fans of the series were hoping for a sequel on the PlayStation 2, but nobody knew for sure if we'd do it. During this period, many people gave us suggestions like 'You could do this, or change that,' and based on that, we decided to make a sequel. The demo disc represents about five percent of the finished version. Then again, the whole game seems to be only five percent done! [laughs]. It includes about an hour of gameplay and selectable difficulty levels so it will have considerable replay value."
Elaborating, Kojima-san described what we can actually expect from the finished version of MGS2: "We're aiming for 15 hours of gameplay in the finished version, though I can't give you a definitive estimate yet. Personally though, I don't like long games. The staff has increased considerably since the original MGS and that's because of necessary changes. For example, in MGS2 we've been asked to incorporate realistic visual effects such as rain and fog. By adding new programmers we've even devised ways to enhance Snake's breathing through increased sprite use and fogging techniques. We've incorporated other interesting effects too, such as the need to hide dead bodies. Unlike the original, when you kill someone in MGS2 their body will stay there, and enemies will notice it and become alarmed. Therefore, sometimes you'll need to kill your enemies and then hide their corpses quickly. At one point in the game, you can put people to sleep and then throw their bodies over the side of a ship into the water.
Those poor guys [laughs]. So there's an emphasis on programming, and while artists work alongside scenario writers, everyone has to trust programmers to make it work."
Additionally, Kojima-san commented on PlayStation 2's potential: "Onimusha, Gran Turismo 3, Zone of Enders, there's so many games coming out [laughs]. I think PlayStation 2 owners will shift from saying 'I want to watch DVD movies' to 'I want to play games.' The future of game development is out there, now it all depends on creativity and time. The expectations of players are much higher as well, and I think that's because they're comparing games with other forms of entertainment. Developers are trying to cope with it."
Finally, Kojima-san shed some light on his personal plans for the future: "I'm interested in robots, more in a sense of entertainment than games. Being so wrapped up in the development of MGS2, I don't have ambitions to explore other projects now. I'd like to go back to school and study literature I guess [laughs]. In creating games like Metal Gear you tend to limit yourself to a specialized category of books. I think I could strengthen my spirit by exploring other subjects as well."
1/12/2001 Bryan Keers