Have you heard anything
about Army of Two? Because their game's also about PMCs.
RP: I've heard it's about the private military companies, but that's pretty much all I've heard. I've seen a trailer or two, but...
We have an interview on
the site with one of the developers,
and he's candid about the fact that he's genuinely disturbed by the
PMCs. Without going too much into the angle, and without spoiling the
story, what's the MGS attitude towards it?
RP: Yeah, it's definitely not a positive story. It's not any PR for the PMCs. But then again, the story of Metal Gear has never been about glorifying war. Even though it's been a military game, there has always been a villain; there's always been an issue of morality. Whether it's private military companies, or tyrannical governments like, for example, the old Soviet Union. Or it's sometimes also critical of the United States as well. So, in that sense: sure. Are we being critical of the PMCs? Yeah we are, but we've always been pretty critical of war.
There's certainly an uptake of political content in games. Not just these two, but BlackSite Area 51, and --
RP: David Jaffe's canceled Heartland.
Heartland, right. What do you think about that? I mean, obviously, politics are deeply contentious right now in the world, but previously no matter how contentious the politics were, they would never be picked up in games.
RP: I think it's because stories
are becoming more and more important to games. And what we have in our
Tokyo Game Show pamphlet is an interview with Mr. Kojima, where he talks
about how this whole idea of putting a story in an action game was a
really radical idea at the time, twenty years ago, when he was making
[the original] Metal Gear. But now it seems like, if you have
an action game, you need that. For example, Devil May Cry 4,
I saw a trailer for it, and it's surprising that they've got a lot of
story elements in it. It almost seems weird not to have an action game
with a story, so I think it's kind of a general progression of the action
genre. To build off of that foundation of why you're fighting, and to
help reinforce the goals that the player has to achieve.
But at the same time, the politics are becoming more sophisticated. Do you think it's because the audience is becoming more sophisticated?
RP: I think there's definitely
that. We look back at previous Metal Gear games, and it's kind
of like when you look back at your old writing and you're kind of embarrassed
by it. "Yeah, I was very young at that time, and very naive."
I think everybody on the team has grown up; I've grown up. I think we're
becoming more sophisticated over time. And it's funny, because this
is such a young industry, we don't really talk about game designers
retiring. This is like -- whereas, in the movie industry, there is definitely
that issue. But this is definitely a young group of guys that are getting
older, such as Mr. Kojima, and I think they're getting more affluent.
I want to ask about the pressure that the title's under. I don't think you can overstate it. In some sense it feels like it's the only thing on the show floor.
RP: [laughs] Yeah! I was just
walking the show floor for the first time today, and I had like 90 minutes
to check out everything, and... yeah, it seems like the industry is
moving more toward these private events, rather than the big game shows.
Where each publisher is holding their own event, and having private
showings where they can control the message. I can understand why they
do that. And I know it's not the answer to your question, but...
I kind of observed that as
well: that MGS4 has the biggest presence at Tokyo Game Show.
Maybe because we have almost fifty PlayStation 3s running the title,
with huge lines, so we can get as many people playing the game as possible.
But the game is definitely under a lot of pressure, because the way
things are turning out, this could be the first "must have"
PlayStation 3 title on store shelves. Or, if not the first, then the
second or the third. So, in that sense, there's a lot relying on it.
People at Sony know that, and we've got literally 200 guys working on
this title, day and night, making sure that it's perfect.
Does Kojima Productions have that many, or are you being lent staff?
RP: We have that many in our group right now. We have over 200.
So have people joined the team as the project got rolling?
RP: Yeah, we've been just beefing
up the team as we got deeper and deeper into development. And then maybe
after the game is finished, we'll get a little bit leaner and meaner,
but right now we've got over 200 people working on it.
So did the
Portable Ops guys come over after that?
RP: Yeah, we stole a lot of guys from Portable Ops. Mr. Okamura -- who was the producer of Portable Ops -- we stole his whole team. And the Lunar Knights team has been integrated into the Metal Gear team. Now, with that said, we have two major teams, and that's MGS4 and Metal Gear Online. Two teams within Kojima Productions, sharing the same technology but totally different products, and totally different SKUs, the way they're thinking about it.
the Metal Gear Online Starter
Pack will be included with MGS4, but the game will ship later?
RP: Yeah, that's the way things are working out with the release dates and schedules. From the get-go we were planning to have these titles as two different products. This is Metal Gear Online, and this is Metal Gear Solid 4. And just because of release dates, and how [gold] master-up dates have shifted, the games are going to be done around the same time. So it made sense to throw something into Metal Gear Solid 4, to at least give people a taste of what Metal Gear Online's going to be all about.