Whether you love or hate Metal Gear Solid, there's no denying that it's an exciting spectacle - in the game and on the internet, where more than a few people are properly crazy about it (2318 at the last count). But poor old Hideo Kojima just can't get shot of it. After so many last games, he's still at it, working directly on PSP title Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, overseeing development of Metal Gear Solid: Rising, and no doubt thinking hard about other ways to keep the wheels turning.
He just can't stop, so when we caught up with him at gamescom this week, we asked him why that was, and also a few questions about how he goes about the job. We didn't get much time with the man, but here's what he had to say.
Eurogamer: You've spoken in the past about leaving MGS behind, but you seem to keep coming back to it. I'm sure you get asked this question a lot, but could you explain why you're still making it after declaring it was the end so many times?
Hideo Kojima: First of all, I have to say with PSP Peace Walker, the concept itself was created probably right after we released Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. The concept was made and I thought I would pass it on to the younger staff in Kojima Productions.
A lot of things went on actually, but the setting of Peace Walker is Costa Rica in 1974 - the days and era of nuclear deterrence. The younger staff couldn't really understand that background, and since I made the concept and overall storyline, I thought that I would go more deeply in, because for me it was more understandable a setting. Of course there were other reasons, but that was one of the main reasons I decided to work on Peace Walker fully.
Eurogamer: Do you think perhaps then that for the younger members of Kojima Productions to make their own MGS game they will have to find their own contemporary story to tell?
Hideo Kojima: Well yes, actually you're right, Metal Gear Solid: Rising is quite that sort of approach. If I come up with the concept and the game design, a lot of people in the team say that I am the only person that fully understands what I thought of, so it's really difficult for other staff to carry on working.
Therefore the concept and the game design in Rising is actually based on the younger staff's ideas, and I kind of oversee and say, oh, maybe this way or that way. I think that makes it easier for my younger staff to work within the Metal Gear Solid world.
Eurogamer: Given the volume of games that you're involved in and the complexity of the subject matter, how do you go about organising your thoughts?
Hideo Kojima: Actually, strange you ask, because I personally get confused too about the whole timeline and saga of Metal Gear Solid. This is especially tricky when you create the future first and then go back in time to create something new. There are a lot of small aspects where sometimes it doesn't match completely.
What I do is, like with Metal Gear Solid 4, this person is born then, and maybe if you go back in time the father of that character comes up. Of course I implement the non-fiction side as well, in terms of what's actually happening in the world in that period. But I create a complete timeline of a character - when he was born, what he was doing when an incident happened, plus the non-fiction aspect as well about America/Soviet feeling. I also put in how old he or she was at that time, and carefully complete this timeline before creating a new title.
Eurogamer: When you look back over the entire MGS saga as it stands now, are there any particular areas you would like to branch off and explore more fully?
Hideo Kojima: There are so many places in the timeline that I really want to dig in deeply. Sometimes in the timeline the events are already set, but not in detail, so yes, there are so many places in the MGS timeline that I wish I could go into more deeply. Perhaps he met him there, or she met him here, and this made this consequence. I want to make those storylines even deeper.
But, again, if I do that, I will probably be tied up with that, and I can't do what I really want to do, so I'm trying to stay away from thinking about that.
Eurogamer: What do you think of the new PS3 Slim, and are you impressed by the PlayStation 3 price cut?
Hideo Kojima: I think it's good and I hope that it sells well, but if the software doesn't happen then it doesn't really move along together, so I'm a little bit worried about that aspect.
Hideo Kojima is founder of Kojima Productions and currently working on Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. He's also overseeing MGS: Rising and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.