Hideo Kojima appeared rather melancholy when we spoke to him at Games Convention this year - which is to be expected, we suppose, since he's just finished the game that will almost certainly be his magnum opus. We spoke to him about MGS4's development, the importance of exclusive titles, and gamers' obsession with hardware.
Eurogamer: How does it feel to be finished?
Hideo Kojima: Ehh... [Laughs] Actually, it took until after release; there was a little time, and it's strange to say but it's only gradually coming to me. I've been getting emails every day about how the game is, but the funny thing is that it's only now started kicking in, gradually, the thoughts and feelings. I'm at that stage right now.
Eurogamer: The characters in Metal Gear Solid express a lot of conflicting views on warfare and what it means to be a soldier. What are your feelings?
Hideo Kojima: For me, originally, looking at soldiers and things like that, my parents have experienced the war, so for me it's very naturally anti-war, anti-nuclear. It's actually very natural for me. In MGS4, there are many conflicts and battles and soldiers that are a part of the story. However, I'm not trying to push anything, any message with that. It's more that I just want MGS4 to maybe provide a starting point for the player. Maybe if he or she didn't know about this, it's just something to maybe start thinking about: what the world is, what war is and what battle is these days. So that's why I put in the companies and nations fighting wars, put in those factors, just to tell people it might be the reality out there.
Eurogamer: Would you say you had complete free reign with MGS4?
Hideo Kojima: It's funny when you say free reign, because if there were no limits and no restrictions to anything I think I could say I still wouldn't be finished today. I'd just have kept going on and on and on, and it wouldn't ever finish, it wouldn't be finished now. When I first saw the PS3 and the team saw the PS3, when we saw what it could do and what it could not do, I was glad of the restrictions, actually. These restrictions make us challenge what we can do, and we challenge up to that wall, and we strive for that, and then in time we finish the product and we release it. Without these restrictions I must say we'd probably never have finished.
Eurogamer: These days games are usually filtered through hundreds of creative minds rather than having so much input from one in particular. How personal would you say MGS4 was for you?
Hideo Kojima: Personally with MGS4, the theme and the world and also many of the gimmicks that I put in the game, these are really personal for me; they're my touches, actually. But I'm not doing the programming anymore, I'm not creating music for the game, no I'm not making the drawings of the characters; that's the team members' jobs, that's not actually a personal side for me. You know, the reason why I say that is that more personal titles have been there in the past, like Policenauts or Snatcher. With these I did many of the parts, that made them more personal to me. Don't get me wrong, the roots of MGS4 are personal because of the themes and story, but it's not as personal with all aspects.