In a documentary series called Diggin’ in the Carts, Red Bull takes a look at Japanese video game music and its composers. A good part of Episode 6 is dedicated to the music in the Metal Gear series, and Hideo Kojima, Akihiro Teruta and Ludvig Forssell talk about the music and sounds of the series in general and MGSV: The Phantom Pain in particular. Below are transcripts of the interviews, and you can see the video at the bottom of this post.
“I’m Hideo Kojima. I’m a game designer, and I make games like Metal Gear Solid at Konami.”
“I originally wanted to make movies, and I wrote novels and such, but I couldn’t get a budget, so when making a movie started seeming difficult, the NES came out, and I learnt about the world of games. I realized that you could tell a lot of different stories through games too, so I ended up entering the game industry.”
“Back then, you couldn’t play many sounds or voices, but there was a challenge within that simplicity. It was really fun. From about Metal Gear Solid 2, the sound became beautiful and real, so-called CD quality. And then I went to Harry Gregson-Williams from Hollywood, and got him to do real sounds, and broke it down digitally to play it like that, so from around that time I felt like we were making sound that was close to that of movies.”
“Games aren’t movies. But like movies, I think sound is 80% of it.”
Kojima discusses the difficulties of creating music for a non-linear game.
“The Phantom Pain has an open world, so linear games, like movies, have the camera go a certain way in a scene, so the right type of music is easily added along with that. So, it’s mostly about the sounds of the environment, but when the player becomes emotional, discovers something, or feels puzzled, sad or angry, adding the all-important melody or rhythm for these situations is a new challenge.”
Akihiro Teruta (Lead sound editor Kojima Productions, Konami Digital Entertainment Co.Ltd.)
“Kojima Productions adopted movie production methods from early on, and Foley is one example of that.”
“There are free archives of sound effects out there, but the main advantage of using Foley is that you can’t record the same thing twice. The same sound wave will never be reproduced.”
Teruta shows the objects that were used to create the sounds in the E3 2013 trailer, when Snake infiltrates the enemy camp.
“The type of sounds were, firstly, this broken air gun. Like gun movements. And also soldiers’ equipment.”
He also shows the different types of surfaces used to create sounds of footsteps.
“This is wood. This is helicopter floor. And this is catwalk. Snowy area. Salt and a little water.”
Ludvig Forssell (Lead composer Kojima Productions, Konami Digital Entertainment Co.Ltd.)
“We’re using a lot of just sound-scapes, sound effects, to make the player feel like they’re in the right area, in the right environment, and focus on their task at hand, which is, usually, it’s sneaking, you know.”
Forssell provides some insight into what we can expect from the MGSV soundtrack.
“We’re definitely still doing a lot of orchestral stuff, and it’s always important to know what Kojima-san is into and what he wants. He’s really into rock as well, so, like, we’re definitely trying to find some kind of a hybrid.”
“The greatest development in the whole game music industry is that it’s finally being recognized by all these people in Hollywood. I’d love to see John Williams do something. Hans Zimmer has being doing it, Harry has been doing it for us, and more and more people are getting involved, and don’t look down upon it.”
Kojima concludes by expressing his surprise seeing how quickly games have evolved in terms of possibilities for expression.
“I don’t think you’ll believe me when I say this now, but since I wanted to film a movie, my dream didn’t come true being in the game industry. Back then there was pixel art, 16 colours and beeping sounds, so the characters had no faces, and there was no story. But I believed this medium would become like movies one day, which is why I carried on, but I never thought the level of expression would catch up with movies this quickly, so I think that was a happy kind of miscalculation from me.”
You can watch the video below. The part about Metal Gear starts at 8:39, and goes on until around 13:56.