The public unveiling of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty (MGS2) at this year's E3 tradeshow sent ripples throughout the game industry. Probably no other single game at E3 managed to generate as much excitement, and as a result, all eyes were focused on one man, Hideo Kojima. The main creative force behind the Metal Gear series was once again the man of the hour—a position that he is all too familiar with. I missed my opportunity to talk with Kojima-san at E3. Amidst all the frantic appointments and meetings, we couldn't work something out. Thankfully for us, I was able to catch up to him after E3 and have some of my questions answered.
In previous interviews, you've mentioned that you have a deep love of films and anime. What brought on that love and, if you had to name one film or anime that influenced your work the most, what would that be?
I grew up in a family that enjoyed movies. I cannot name a single film that influenced my work. All films I see influence me one way or the other.
The Academy Awards have recently begun to recognize videogame industry and have given Oscars to developers for their musical scores in games. Do you feel the Academy should expand those categories, and would you like to be awarded an Oscar for your work on games? If you did win, what would you say during your acceptance speech?
I didn't know that. Evaluation criteria are different between films and games, but as a film lover, I am very happy that games are now getting recognized. Of all awards in the world, the one I want the most (I've dreamed of getting) is an Oscar. I hope some day a time comes when game designers do become nominees. Just like people from Hollywood say, I'll probably start out by saying, "I'd like to thank my family for supporting me."
Let's talk about Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty. What is the estimated budget for MGS 2, and how many developers are working on it?
I cannot give you information on the budget. There are 35 people on my team.
In terms of percentage, how much power of the PlayStation 2 does MGS 2 utilize?
It is hard to say how much power my game utilizes. I've worked on PS2 for only a year, so let me say 50 percent as of now. What is key is how much more of the power I can use. I know for sure that I can do much more with it.
Let's talk about the movie clips of MGS 2 that were shown at this year's E3. Since the earliest announcements of the PlayStation 2, much has been said of the "Emotion Chip." In MGS 2, what kind of effort was put into the computer AI, and does the game take full advantage of the "Emotion Chip?"
The enemy AI has been made much more intelligent when compared to that of MGS 1. Enemy soldiers will work in teams and will fight Solid Snake differently depending on where the fight is taking place, what weapon Solid Snake is equipping, etc. Expression of light and shadows (shadows bending along staircases, etc.), heavy rain blown in strong winds, rain splashing against the raincoat, etc.—the Emotional Engine calculation powers are used to realize such effects to enable the player to feel the air, temperature, and moisture in the game environment.
One of the things I noticed during the showing of the clip was the camera work. While the previous MGS took most of its cues from Hollywood action movies, the camera work in MGS 2 seemed more reality-based like it was filmed on a steady cam. Why the switch in cinematography, and will that reality-based style be consistent throughout the entire game, or will it be more of a blend of different types of shots?
I've spent extra time working on the camera since MGS 1. I strive for camera work as if someone is actually filming what's going on with a real camera instead of camera work done in CG. As for the game portion, the camera work is done so that the game play is not obstructed in any way. In the video, the camera not only shows actual camera work in the game but also special camera angles set for the filming of the video. In the final product, the priority will be camera work that allows smooth game play. And wherever possible, cinematic camera work will be implemented.
The most riveting part of the movie clip was during the shootout between Snake and some soldiers. During the shootout, boxes, cans and fruit are being blown to bits and pieces in the crossfire. What inspired the scene and how hard was it to pull off?
Shootout scenes in the kitchen are something you see in many Hollywood films. I had this created because I wanted to play the game in such a situation. If you keep on shooting the potatoes, you can blow them up in bits. What was difficult was that since none of the kitchen shootout is a demo, and not always would the enemies shoot the potatoes and pumpkins as I want them to. Just like in Jackie Chan movies, we recorded the kitchen shootout over and over again and edited the best-looking portions from each take.
Special thanks to Hideo Kojima and Alex Josef over at Bender/Helper Impact for helping us setup the interview.
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