Former Kojima Productions dev: Japan isn’t adopting western game design

In an interview with Glixel, Jordan Amaro, a game designer currently working at Nintendo, talked about working on Metal Gear Solid V. Amaro joined Kojima Productions in 2013 to use his experience working on western shooters help make MGSV user-friendly for foreign experiences (as he puts it in the interview).

Jordan Amaro on an Episode of Kojima Station in 2013

However, Amaro doesn’t believe Japanese designers are necessarily looking at western game design to adapt certain elements into their games.

“I think, in three years on MGSV, I heard a Western game mentioned maybe once. That was on Ground Zeroes, and the discussion was about the circular enemy cone–when you get seen, how do you express that you’ve been seen by someone who is not displayed on the screen? If an enemy is watching you from the side and behind, how do we communicate this? At the time, Far Cry got mentioned.”

He continues:

“When a design discussion takes place, you usually don’t refer to other developers’ games. You talk about your game, and in very specific contexts and situations. In Japan, the pride about the craft is very high. You almost never hear another game being mentioned, whether it is a Japanese game or a Western game, during any design discussions. That’s contrary to the West. When I was in the West, I heard about other games on a weekly or daily basis.”

To read the interview, follow the link in the source section below. It’s an interesting piece that’s worth a read, with Jordan discussing the differences between western and Japanese game design, his early months at Kojima Productions and his favorite game designers and video games. He also believes there are still sharp people at Konami, and that we shouldn’t write them off.

“There are a ton of people you’ve never heard of who are just as sharp about the craft who are going to emerge in the coming years. Including at Konami. Don’t discount them. Don’t write them off. They’ve got some really good people there.”

Source: Glixel, still images from GamerSyde and Youtube, thanks NegaScott128!

  • Well, I really hope that Konami has an amazing staff over there. We need good games, especially when these guys have cool franchises but for now Konami does not announce much. Their game portfolio is so weak right now compared to previous years.

    Maybe MGS Survive is just a small test for a new team. Who knows…

    • Full Options

      Even if the zombies’s AI is rumored weak, I am sure we can have at least very entertaining stealth sequences in Survive, if no convincing story line. After all zombies are generally meant to be sneaked..
      Let’s hope that despite the backlash from the fanbase against Konami, the rest of the team keep the awesome efforts and motivation…
      Memes…

      http://www.metalgearinformer.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Kojima-Productions-2014.jpg

      • Btw, from the previews stealth element does not work in the game. In general Zombie shooter feels off. I mean the game was designed to be more of a tactical shooter. But these mechanics does not work well with pure shooting. I mean, MGSV was not built around just it. SurVive forces the player to shoot a lot.

        • Full Options

          I’d appreciate having the Skull’s behavior or some Skulls-like AI situation to sneak / trigger… Those sequences such as Traitor’s caravan were very entertaining…

          http://cdn1-www.playstationlifestyle.net/assets/uploads/gallery/metal-gear-solid-screenshots/metal-gear-survive-screenshot-10.jpg

        • NegaScott128

          Best case scenario, this is another MGS4 situation where the game was shown off on the easiest difficulty and on higher difficulties stealth is more important. Worst case scenario (and what seems more likely) is that the game is actually action-focused, and without significantly reworking the mechanics to accommodate this new focus, the game will play like crap. Heck, maybe these easier enemies are a direct result of the controls being a poor fit for an action-oriented game – it doesn’t matter if it’s hard to aim and move around if the enemies are dumb as bricks.

          I don’t mind the idea of making a spin-off with a different gameplay style than the mainline games, but if they’re gonna do that, they need to seriously shake-up the underlying gameplay systems to make that new style work. Rising was built from the ground up as an action game, not some weird MGS4 mod with janky melee “combat.” I mean, for fuck’s sakes, even Umbrella Corps. understood that it needed to play differently from mainline RE games in order to facilitate its gameplay style, and that game is dogshit. I don’t care if you add in a bunch of sub-systems and co-op, if you make a game about fighting zombies and the act of fighting zombies isn’t fun, then the game is going to suck.

    • Frederick Guese

      It reminds me of the situation post OG IW fallout. The design of those games went really downhill after the fact. I hope the game could get past the stigma it has, but who knows.

    • NegaScott128

      Survive has the unfortunate timing to come out after the Kojima/Konami debacle, but overall the project feels a lot like the KojiPro games that Kojima didn’t direct. Kojima had little involvement with Portable Ops, which led to a game that attempted to retrofit ideas like base building and recruiting soldiers onto MGS3’s engine, which not only didn’t work well with those mechanics, it didn’t even work well with the PSP hardware. When Kojima stepped up to make Peace Walker, which had many of the same ideas as Portable Ops, he decided to scrap MGS3’s gameplay in favor of a new style that was built around those ideas and the PSP hardware, resulting in a game that played much better than Portable Ops. Similarly, KojiPro failed to come up with a satisfying gameplay style for Rising, so Kojima scrapped it and hired Platinum to start from scratch, which resulted in one of the best action games of the last console generation.

      Now that Kojima’s gone and taken a lot of the former KojiPro’s creative team with him, that leaves behind the same people behind those earlier projects to pick up the pieces. And they are apparently making many of the same mistakes again with Survive: retrofitting zombie hordes, co-op, and melee combat onto MGSV’s engine, which was not designed to support those systems. It didn’t work out well the last time, and I don’t expect it to this time either.

    • Mr.Sixes

      The new team is a lot of the old guys.

  • MrVux007

    *Off-topic*

    This must be one of few times i got to admit, i may have been wrong about something, namely the whole Warner Bros fiasco (them profiting over dead-employee memorial-dlc for Shadow Of War). And unfortunately i’m one of many people who did the same probable mistake. People like Yong,Jimqusition and many more gaming journalist that didn’t do their research.
    I mean in the end of the day, if this whole thing ends up being false news, it will still influence a potentially great games success.

    Also keep in mind there are a LOT of grey areas in this video, and bit of hypocrisy, but the main point still stands.

  • Hey we might see something new soon :^)
    https://twitter.com/Kojima_Hideo/status/906111491182542848

    • MrVux007

      Played it and loved it!

      Took me around 11 hours to complete it and its definitely my second favorite Uncharted game (tho it’s just an standalone expansion).

      Have fun!

      • Thanks, that sounds promising!

        • I will be completely honest my expectations were quite low, considering this was the first game/expansion with the charismatic Drake and even tho i liked Chloe in UC2 and UC3 i didn’t see her and Nadine as the same fantastic duo as Nate and Sully, but boy was i wrong.

          I can totally see Chloe taking over as the main protagonist in Uncharted series (in actual games not expansions). Now the question is how late in the next generation we could expect the next Chloe adventure.

          • Hopefully Sam will appear in future installments as well.

          • Its plausible, heck it’s possible we could see Cutter and good ol Victor “Goddamn” Sullivan… all are IMO great characters and deserve to show up for game or two.

          • Yeah Cutter would be nice, and it would make sense since he’s an acquaintance of Chloe’s.

  • Greg

    It’s a shame they don’t learn from each other. Japan’s general obsession with flash over mechanical and narrative substance is as limiting as the West’s obsession with grounded realism and the color brown. Imagine the haphazard meshing of genres of FFVII married with the meaningful character development of an obsidian game, how great would that be?

    • radun

      Yet Japan makes the most mechanically advanced games. Genres like action RPGs, hack and slash, shmups and vs fighting have always been, are and most likely will forever be, massively dominated by japanese game development.

      • Greg

        Nothing particularly advanced about dodging bullets and dumbed down RPGs , at least not enough to declare Japan the best in the vague category of “mechanically advanced”.

        • radun

          If you think shmups like Battle Garegga, Ikaruga or any Cave developed shmup is just about “dodging bullets” then we can end the discussion right here.

  • Jav

    I’m watching the movie “the mist” for the first time. It’s a little sad for me because I thought the honey bee cutscene was something original.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d627110aa4f6b50b2c6107de9b7c20ac78c01ad99ace043fcc838fd19fd2f28f.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2c06ad1de51c6f4fb0f4b0b11719b118d5e756afd61cc30206eae8bade65b823.jpg

    • Lex Radu

      It’s a homage!

      PS: Find a way to watch it in Black and White, (The Director intended to make it that way, but the studio didn’t like it) it’s a much better experience that way.

    • radun

      Is the movie good? Heard of it but never saw it.

      • Jav

        The cgi is not good. I get bored sometimes. And it has a wtf ending.

      • MrVux007

        It’s IMO one of the most important and the most ballsiest movies of 21-st century, especially cuz of that ending.

        Very few movies had an emotional impact on me like that ending did.
        Watch it, there are a few cheesy or bad acting moments but they are so minor when you watch the entire thing. CGI is pretty fair given the time it was released.

        Also it’s based on Stephen King book, which is a big plus.

  • JohnnyP

    Why should they?

    • NegaScott128

      That’s the thing, right? The title makes it seem really negative, but when Amaro describes it, it makes a lot of sense. When you stop and think of it, a lot of Western games feel like the story was decided first and then the gameplay was latched onto it, rather than the gameplay dictating the story. And frequently, the gameplay ends up feeling really generic as a result.

      What the game is “about” from a story perspective and what the game is “about” from a gameplay perspective are sometimes wildly different. Uncharted is “about” an adventurer searching for ancient artifacts, but what the player is usually doing is shooting people in the face. It’s a fun game about shooting people in the face, and it’s a fun story about an adventurer searching for ancient artifacts, but those two sides never really come together. Whereas with, say, MGSV, the gameplay and story are more closely interlinked. Broadly, the story is about a supersoldier building a military force through recruiting enemy soldiers, and that’s pretty much what you do in the game. I think this approach is more interesting, but perhaps some Western games have stronger stories as a result of making those stories the primary focus of the developers. But in terms of making those stories that intertwine with the gameplay, and in terms of making more mechanically rich and complex games, Japanese developers still have an upper hand.

  • proceeder

    Great news! They shouldn’t

  • Lex Radu

    This might be old news, but apparently rpcs3 (the PS3 Emulator) has gone through some big changes, and some games are working, one of which is MGS3 HD…and the rest of the HD Collection, not in a fully playable, it does have a lot of slow motion ala early PCSX2, but it will get better, and soon will be able to run MGS4 as well.
    https://youtu.be/—ozLXpYc8

    Konami should just release the collection on Steam at this point, they will make a quick buck, and if Konami is notorious for something, is milking…NOW is your chance, Konami, and this way you will see who wants to pay you money to play MGS HD Collection on PC, and who just wants to play them.

    I for one would pay “FuckKonami” money to have the Collection on Steam, so Konami, take my money, before i…before we lose our interest, before rpcs3 becomes fully playable.

    • NegaScott128

      Since they bothered to port it to the Shield TV, of all things, I can’t imagine they haven’t at least looked at a PC release. It would do a lot to help build up some goodwill, and it doesn’t seem like it should be that hard. Knowing Konami, though, they won’t put the Collection as one package on PC, but rather release 2, 3, and PW separately and maybe have some sort of bundle on Steam or something.

    • They should just release the games on PC as well as PS4 and Xbox One.

    • radun

      Regarding MGS4 and a possible re-release on other platforms (PC), i think Konami has some kind of exclusivity deal with Sony, which was probably more complex and long term than your usual timed exclusive.

      • Mr.Pony

        There is a lot of Sony copyright within the game (products and brand placement) which would require an agreement with sony or removing those products/brand placements.

  • Mr.Sixes

    The inafune way of adopting western Dev techniques or giving the west IPs has failed.capcom is still feeling the effects with dead rising to their Vancouver team.

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