Hideo Kojima: The Kikizo Interview 2008

We sit down for a rare discussion with the idolised creator of the Metal Gear Solid series, to reflect on MGS4 and find out what happens next for Kojima Productions.

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Kikizo: [Scans remaining discussion points, as time is running out]... well I know you won't give an answer to the Xbox 360 question... [everyone laughs]... so, let's talk about the themes of MGS4 - terrorism, conspiracy theories, government corruption - do you hope that these themes will open up some players' eyes to certain things in the real world which they may otherwise be oblivious to? Or, do you exaggerate these themes for storytelling purposes?

Kojima: Well, since it's a game, the first priority was to provide fun to the users, but I also wanted to comment on the current world situation and for users to maybe realise more about it through the game. But I only wanted to make MGS4 a window to this; the next step - where you open the window and look at the real world - that's up to the users! I didn't want to exaggerate just to make my story glitter or get coverage on the news, that was not my intention.

Kikizo: Metal Gear Solid is famed for its cinematic qualities, though cut scenes that progress the story are rarely in an interactive form. Is this intentional, or is it perhaps an area for further development?

Kojima: Gameplay is always fundamental. Halo, BioShock - I see their approach and I think they are brilliant in some ways, but I still feel they still lack a kind of a deeper storyline or the expression of the feelings of the characters. I do have plans of how I should approach this and get around it. In MGS4, yes, I put everything in the cut sequences, which I kind of regret to some extent, because maybe there is a new approach which I should think about. I'm always thinking about it - making it interactive but at the same time telling the story part and the drama even more emotionally. I would like to take that approach, which I am still working on.

Kikizo: And do you think you will only be able to achieve this fusion of cinematic and interactive gameplay with future, more powerful hardware?

Kojima: Well, yes. The hardware plays an important factor, but I think the way of thinking is more important, from a creative point of view. Storytelling is very difficult. But adding the flavour helps to relay the storytelling, meaning in a cut scene, with a set camera and effects, you can make the users feel sorrow, or make them happy or laugh - this is an easy approach, which we have been doing. That is one point, the second point is that if I make multiple storylines and allow the users to select which story, this might really sacrifice the deep emotion the user might feel; when there's a concrete storyline, and you kind of go along that rail, you feel the destiny of the story, which at the end, makes you feel more moved. But when you make it interactive - if you want multiple stories where you go one way or another - will that make the player more moved when he or she finishes the game? These two points are really the key which I am thinking about, and if this works, I think I could probably introduce a more interactive storytelling method.

Kikizo: Thank you very much for your time.

As a foot note, we wish we had interviewed Mr Kojima after we had seen a stunning behind closed doors presentation of Heavy Rain, a first party PS3 title by French developer, Quantic Dream. We think it has the clear potential to achieve exactly the sort of fusion of cinematic storytelling and interactivity that we discussed with Mr Kojima. Interestingly, we later saw Kojima attending a presentation of Mirror's Edge, a game he said he was interested to check out. Who knows what ideas Mirror's Edge and Heavy Rain might give him?

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