BS: It's kind of ironic to have to explain simple controls to people. It's kind of the opposite of the usual scenario.
RP: Well it's also maybe our
own fault, because this is a sequel of a sequel of a sequel, and people
come into the game with expectations. So, if this was a totally new
IP, I think they would go into it with a fresh slate, and I think they
would work with us. "OK, so this is how you press up against a
wall," or, "This is how you shoot," but here everybody
goes into the game expecting that you just run up against a wall to
latch onto it, whereas this time you have to push the triangle button.
Those little icons are reminiscent of Gears of War.
RP: Absolutely. I mean, we've played a lot of Gears.
BS: And they're useful.
RP: They're very useful.
Speaking of auto-aim -- before we started the demo, you said it was because Japanese gamers prefer auto-aim, but the Western play style is over-the-shoulder. Can you go into that? How did that develop?
RP: Yeah, it's a tough balance!
Obviously, we have about 99% Japanese men and women in our team, and
sometimes it feels like 99 against one -- since there are two control
schemes. The whole process has been about re-looking at the game, and
deciding what needs to stay, what needs to be revised. So, really there
were no "sacred cows" as far as the control scheme was concerned.
One thing that I did was put an Xbox 360 in an area of the studio where there's a lot of foot traffic, and I also have a PS3 there, and I'll bring in western-developed games. I'll be playing them, or I'll just have it on and running through the intro, to be repeating on the title menu. People will pick it up and play it, and so now we have a lot of Gears fans, and people are playing Bioshock. So people are checking out games that they wouldn't normally check out, and they're getting ideas and inspiration as far as, "OK, this is how things can work for us; this is what we like."
So, obviously, the first-person perspective is something that the Japanese have a hard time with, because they actually get a lot of motion sickness -- we obviously aren't making Metal Gear Solid a first-person shooter, but we're also moving the camera closer to the action by having it right above Snake's shoulder. What I've found is that my Japanese colleagues will play Gears of War every weekend for three months, but they'll play Halo for maybe a day or two and they'll get sick from motion sickness. So I think there's something about being able to see the character; something about that view that really works well for Japanese. And works well for Americans, too.
It's also been well-liked
in America. SOCOM -- which is really popular -- made the decision
to use a third-person perspective. And that's, to my understanding,
because it's better received by the PlayStation 2 user base.
RP: I keep referring to
Gears of War, but this is something that kind of originated with
Resident Evil 4, which was developed by Japanese. This over-the-shoulder
view. Obviously the Gears of War guys, they've refined it, and
I think we've got a pretty cool system here where you can actually swap
the camera between Snake's left and right shoulder by clicking in the
R3 button. And that's something really cool; depending on if you're
going around a corner, you can snap that and switch perspectives.