Hideo Kojima Reflects on 25 Years of Metal Gear

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Hideo Kojima Reflects on 25 Years of Metal Gear

Gray Fox

One of the worst ways to realize you’re getting old is when something you hold dear reaches a certain age. That being said, Metal Gear celebrates its 25th anniversary this month.

The Metal Gear series, although not originally created for PlayStation consoles, began to reach its current level of popularity in 1998 when Metal Gear Solid was released on the original PlayStation.

We met with Hideo Kojima to talk about his thoughts on the series’ landmark games, and to discuss what’s in store for the future’s franchise.

Metal Gear 25th Anniversary

Metal Gear — 1987 (MSX2)

Hideo Kojima: This is the year I began working in the video game industry, as a game designer and planner. I was very young — among the first generation in the industry in Japan. I had already built up a certain reputation when I started as an employee, but the first game on which I worked for half a year was cancelled. We didn’t know when we were going to finish it, and one day my superiors called me to inform me they we cancelling it.

I thought about leaving the company and looking for other work, but they offered me the chance to develop a combat game for the MSX. The result of this offer was the first Metal Gear. It was launched exactly 25 years ago. It is well known that the MSX had many technical limitations, and I didn’t want to make war games. So I decided to create something similar to The Great Escape — something involving an escape — and in the end I made an espionage game.

Metal Gear received good reviews, and as the planner I had to create some drawings for the game. I didn’t have many tools, so I had to go to the programmers and tell them exactly what I had in mind and what I wanted them to do.

Back then, programmers made the final decisions, rather than the planners, which bothered me a lot. I wanted to have the final say on the games I was creating, so I asked for a script system to be made so I could input sounds and animations whenever I liked. This is how Snatcher was born.

Metal Gear Solid — 1998 (PlayStation)

Metal Gear 25th AnniversaryHideo Kojima: I was making games like Policenauts, and I heard rumors about a console on which polygons could be created in real time. This really grabbed my attention, since one of the major attractions of games is the sensation of action, and I was intrigued to see what I could achieve with those polygons. Metal Gear is a hide-and-seek game, and the thought of doing this while adding a camera that could change position really excited me. So I stopped making script-based games and went back to asking for favors from programmers for this 3D world.

I was a designer for Metal Gear Solid, but I was not a producer, so I had no say in the budget, release date, or promotion of the game. I remember when they told me what the release date would be and I had no say in the matter… these are bitter memories for me.

At Kojima Productions I’m a director, producer, and designer of video games; I have control over the budget, and more say in what to do or what not to do, especially regarding hiring. In fact, the people who worked on the first Metal Gear Solid are still the core of Kojima Productions.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty — 2001 (PlayStation 2)

Hideo Kojima: Metal Gear Solid sold well throughout the world; it was a great success. When I heard about the hardware for the PlayStation 2, I wanted to try something new. Up to that point, all cutscenes had focused more on details like facial expressions, but I wanted to pay more attention to the surroundings, to see how much I could change them in real time. Current games like Call of Duty have followed this trend of making your surroundings more realistic.

Since Metal Gear Solid sold very well, I had a bigger budget for MGS2, so I was able to work with people like Harry Gregson-Williams, with whom I had wanted to work for some time, but had always been told the funds weren’t available. We were under a lot of pressure, but at the same time I enjoyed the creative freedom I had in making the game.

We were also able to promote the game in parallel to its production. I remember at E3 2000 we received a standing ovation, which I really enjoyed. Looking back, I have fond memories of the development of Metal Gear Solid 2.

Metal Gear 25th AnniversaryMetal Gear 25th Anniversary

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater — 2004 (PlayStation 2)

Hideo Kojima: While MGS2 sold well, many fans of Snake were upset that Raiden was the main protagonist; we received a lot of complaints about that. There were also comments about the story unfolding too quickly; it created quite a stir. With this in mind, we created Snake Eater.

At the time, I was not just a designer but also a manager, in charge of the studio. We were therefore able to develop several projects at once, such as Boktai, Zone of the Enders, and The Twin Snakes. I thought it would be very hard for me to develop Snake Eater as the lead creator, so I tried to delegate responsibilities to younger employees in the studio. In the end it couldn’t be done, but it was my first attempt in doing it.

After MGS3 was finished, in order to make it clear that the next Metal Gear would not be directed by me, while on tour in Europe we announced that the next director would be Alan Smith, an alias.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots — 2008 (PlayStation 3)

Hideo Kojima: The PlayStation 3 was quite a complex system; games had to be developed in three levels. By the end of the Metal Gear Solid 4 project we had nearly 200 people working on it, with three directors (although often they were directors in name only, and I ended up doing a lot). This is why the game was delayed.

We made MGS4 according to a very Japanese method. At the time, the trend was for open-world games, but we decided to pay no attention to this and take another path. I already felt the need to create something similar to what we are doing with the Fox Engine.

In order to develop the Fox Engine, I had to understand how things worked elsewhere, so for a year and a half I visited studios around the world, and since we are Japanese people we were able to see the way others worked and recognize that in many respects their methods were better than ours.

Since the Fox Engine was going to take a lot of time to create, at the same time we began working on Peace Walker.

Metal Gear 25th Anniversary

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker — 2010 (PlayStation Portable)

Hideo Kojima: We did not only develop Peace Walker for the PSP because it was a popular console in Japan, but also because we had the concept of Transfarring in mind, so as a test we developed it on the PSP. Transfarring is now up and running, but it was something we had planned since the very beginning.

I think Peace Walker was a success. We were able to accomplish much of what I wanted, for example the whole social aspect which we had not achieved on the PS3. With simpler hardware, we were able to focus on doing things we had been wanting to try.

Fox Engine

Hideo Kojima: The Fox Engine is nearly finished, but the only way to be sure it works is to create a game at the same time and improve the engine with our tools as we go along. Originally we were going to do this for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, but a lot happened along the way and instead it is being made with the engine they have at Platinum Games.

Production studios in Japan are nearly extinct, a fact that we have recognized for nearly 10 years, and although the Fox Engine is not finished we are ready to show what it can do… on August 30th in Japan to be more specific.

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  • Why didn’t he mention Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake? That’s his best work next to Sons of Liberty.

  • Its honestly such an honor for me to see Hideo Kojima-san come onto the PS blog. I cannot express with words how much Metal Gear has influenced my life. For me, his games go beyond gaming and offer such amazing experiences that stay with me even after all these years!
    I am so looking forward to hear what Kojima Productions has in store for us.

    I want to second what #33 said earlier.
    Its amazing how I have yet to find anything as special in gaming as Metal Gear. I’ve searched and played almost every single release these last three generations of consoles and nothing comes close still. Mr. Kojima, please stay true to your vision. Its why you still have legions of fans like myself still around. Don’t succumb to the mindlessness of Call of Duty where EVERYTHING is automated. I love all the options that the Metal Gear series provides.

    To finish, I just have to give a BIG thank you! Your games have enriched my life in wonderful, wonderful ways. Currently playing the HD collections on both my VITA & PS3 and I LOVE TRANSFARRING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks again <3

  • Wait, when is the trophies for MGS4 coming? Thats awesome if its true!

  • Also!
    I seen something on the ‘net about a new MGS. It being MGS5:OGRE. Is that THE Project OGRE that Mr. Kojima is hinting at? The OGRE part could be an acronym for OPEN GROUND RECONNAISANCE ENDEAVOR. If so, color me intrigued!
    Can’t wait until the 30th of August, and also…..

    …. THANK YOU FOR MGS 4 Trophies!!!!!!!! That will by far be my most Proud of Trophy I’ll ever have!!!!

  • @DanakoM0712 that only works on PAL PSN the US version of portable ops does not work for some reason. I found this out after I purchased it and now cannot play it. Great use of $10 :-\

  • Metal gear is one of my fav series ever! i really wonder if they do a 5 what it is gonna be about!

  • Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake on MSX 2 is arguably the best episode in the entire series, followed by MGS3. The SCC soundtrack is a masterpiece and adds a lot to the atmosphere of the game.

  • I like to say that Mr. Kojima is a greatest creator of the metal gear solid games. I wonder if he will remake the other metal gear solid games, the ones before the sons of liberty was made, can be reengineered with todays great graphics to the ps3?

  • I’m excited! Thank you! :D I love the MGS Series including the card based MGS AC!D! :D

  • I hope that peace walker will come to vita ,missing that game so much, i have it on my go but i got bord of that slider seens i had my vita. pls bring mgpw n the vita!!!!

  • Looking forward to the presentation at the end of August. MGS has been through a long and epic ride, and hopefully it’ll still be going.

    Also looking forward to the MGS4 TROPHY PATCH Aawwwwwwwwhhhhhhh YeeeeaaaHHHH!!!!!

  • I read that in Otacon’s voice

  • HIDEO!!! Thank you for all of the great games over the years! You’re the best!!!!

  • When will I be able to purchase Metal Gear Peace Walker and play it on my vita?

  • Goddess_Katheryn

    I love how the 3rd comment said: “First!” when he wasn’t and the best part about it: You can’t delete it. Bear the shame!

    Seriously, I’m glad ambitious people like Hideo Kojima are in the gaming industry creating games and we are able to enjoy games created by him come to fruition! Keep up the good work, Kojima; now, to play some Metal Gear Solid 4…

  • I like konami and kojima for what they did to MGS and especially MGO2 i cant wait for the trophies on MGS4 and cant wait til 30th august. :D

    hope they bring up MGO3 :D:D:D thats what i wait for and hope to be produced!
    cant imagine if theres extra skills and new maps and look like MGO2 :D
    would be friggin AWESOME!

    R.i.p Cod & Bf …. MGO is my game! :)

  • @micturator Peace Walker is already supported if you transfer it via your PS3 to your Vita.

    Portable Ops however is not supported in North America on Vita.

  • @Fusion13 #62 Haha, that made me laugh out loud.

    But more seriously, this post was full of interesting details about software development, and sometimes what is more important *is* that inspiration, that motivation. Thanks Mr. Kojima.

  • i still have my NES MGS , Happy Bday Snake !_!

  • you know what sucks?wanting to play MGS collection HD but can´t because theres no MGS HD collection on PS store. just WTF sony!! if theres a HD collection that should be on the store its the MGS one, we have ratchet clank collection ,sly collection ,jak and dater collection , uncharted 1n2 bundle but no MGS Collection ?! WHAT?!!

  • thank you for making Metal Gear Solid i play all and i love all

  • PLEASE bring Portable Ops to Vita for North American PSN accounts

  • Kojima? Kojima!? KOJIIIIMAAAAAAAA!!!!

  • can’t wait to see the fox engine in action… off topic sony can you please bring back mag servers please or at least bring back the guys from zipper to make a sequel. mag 2 would be frank’n amazing!!!

  • Happy 25th Anniversary to my favorite game series MGS! I haven’t been a fan of the series very long. It’s been 4 years, my very first MGS game was MGS4, I had read up on the game in magazines and sites and it sounded very interesting so I took a chance and bought it on the day 1. Needless to say I loved it and it became my favorite game of all time. I didn’t even understand the full story since I hadn’t played any of the previous games, but the characters captivated me and made me care what happened to them, it was such an awesome and emotional journey.
    After that I stumbled upon MGS Collection for ps2, I played them in order and after finishing them all I loved the MGS series, great games with great stories and characters. MGS3 is my second favorite of the series, such a fantastic story between Snake and The Boss. Since then I’ve bought MGS Portable Ops, Peace Walker, Big Boss Camo psp bundle and MGS HD Collection which I gotta say the games look great in HD and really hold up well. The art book is fantastic.
    It’s weird that I’ve only been a fan for 4 years yet, I feel like I’ve been a fan for much longer, I gotta say it has impacted me greatly and I can’t wait to play MGS5. Thank you Kojima for such a great series.

  • 25 years of Snake! My favorites are MGS3 , Peacewalker and MGA2.

  • I’ve been looking for a reason to re-play through MGS4 for a long time. With the new trophy patch; I plan to do just that. Can’t believe how MGS4 was release 4 years ago; and it’s still one of the best looking games out there.

  • This my favorite video game/interactive media series. Immersing Story and amazing technology they created along the way. I can’t wait see what The Fox Engine can do on August 30th!

  • Mr.Kojima made Video Games turn into an art form. Make MGS5 a PS3 exclusive.

  • Kojima Rules!! MG4 Trophies

  • Congratulations to Kojima-san on creating a franchise that has hit the heart of many gamers! I look forward to what he will be doing next and hopefully he can continue creating projects that spark his interest.

  • “If you want to experience the series in chronological order, play them like this.
    “Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater” (PS2/PS3)
    “Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops” (PSP)
    “Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker” (PSP/PS3)
    “Metal Gear” (MSX2/PS2/PS3)
    “Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake” (MSX2/PS2/PS3)
    “Metal Gear Solid” (PS1)
    “Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty” (PS2/PS3)
    “Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots” (PS3)”

    Lets not forget Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel for Gameboy Color. There are some continuity troubles, but I’d say it should be played before or after Metal Gear Solid. Probably after?

  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is my favorite, one of the Top 3 most super awesome experiences in my awesome book of super awesome games ever played. Would LOVE to see the Metal Gear AC!D series released on PSN with trophies and HD remastered. Make it happen Kojima! I’ll wire transfer the funds to your secret locating in Outer Haven pronto!

  • Happy 25th MGS!! Keep the great stuff coming Mr Kojima!! Woot! I can’t wait for August 30th!!! (Back to my PSVita and MGS HD!! :P)

  • High hopes that Kojima shows something of Metal Gear Solid 5 and/or Project Ogre!!!! Can’t wait!!!!!!!!!! Love this series so much, is my personal favourite, the reason because I bought a PS3 (MGS4) and a PSP (MGSPO and MGSPW).

  • Happy Bitrhday METAL GEAR! I still got the signature on a Metal Gear Solid 4 “Poster” from Hideo Kojima himself (2008)! I´ve shaken his hand! It was a awesome day! Thank you Kojima!

  • I will buy all Kojima’s games anyway, just bring it on!

  • Kojima is awesome. Happy 25th anniversary. I’m excited about the MGS4 trophy patch.

  • Hideo Kojima watches Escape from New York (Snake Plissken) and boom Metal Gear is born. Just a beautiful series. Much respect to Hideo Kojima.

  • @gilgamesh21

    SInce Ghost Babel is just a spin-off and is not related to the main series (except, of course, for MG1, hence the continuity issues), you shouldn’t have any problems playing it in whatever order you like :)

  • Hideo Kojima is the Zeus of video game devs. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY METAL GEAR SOLID! For the 25th anniversary of the MGS Franchise Sony should make Peace Walker available to the Vita users cus the MGS HD Collection isnt a true collection without it. Also Sony needs to remove all the cross compatibility restrictions set to psp games to prevent them from being used on the Vita. I want my Tenkaichi Tag Team back as well as my MGS games and Coded Arms.

  • JGspecial-tdrivr

    i am a metal ear junky! i have such a vast collection of metal gear memorabiia. mostly the figures, i have ALL of them from EVERY collection.i havent bought a ps vita yet because i cant use any of my MG psp games on it. hopefully itll happen soon. well see. anyone else order a REX from ashley wood? this jawnski is fn ill. cant wait til sept/oct to get mine from sideshow!!!!!! on a side not if anyone has a play arts snake version zero hit me up on psn jgspecial-tdrivr $$$$$$$$$$$$$$

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