Last month, Hideo Kojima was named development legend at this year’s Develop Awards. In an interview with Develop Online, he talked about his career and about building his new team.
Kojima worked on the Metal Gear franchise for nearly thirty years before leaving Konami in December. One thing that kept the series interesting for all this time is the fact that it was constantly evolving.
“Even when working with the same IP, every time I made a new game I tried to bring in new elements, new ideas. Despite the Metal Gear games all being in the same series, I was always trying new things and to deliver something new. So our approach hasn’t changed that much.”
The past half year Kojima has been building his new team, and as he has said earlier, he wants to keep it somewhat small.
“The teams I originally worked with for Metal Gear Solid 1 and 2 were very small. For MGS3 we tried to implement a somewhat ‘Westernised’ line of production and we had mixed results. Maybe the Metal Gear Solid V team got a little too big. This time, I wanted to create something that felt a little more hand-crafted. In that regard, it was a conscious choice I made to go back to smaller teams.”
“Some studios and companies can feel rather military. You have a big building, you go to the higher command in their big meeting rooms and they give you orders on how things are going to work. Media Molecule felt less vertical, almost horizontal. People get together to discuss things in the lunch area. They mentioned they had this family concept and that’s how they make games – that definitely had an impact on me.”
That said, Kojima does want to keep Kojima Productions ‘distinctly Japanese’.
“I don’t think the way we are building our team is necessarily Westernised. One thing that we were definitely inspired by, especially when it comes to Media Molecule, is how original and unique their team and their ideas were. That was inspiring.”
Kojima is often seen as one of the few ‘auteurs’ in gaming, at least when it comes to the kind of high budget AAA games he is known for. However, putting a creator’s name on the product is not something marketing is fond of, according to Kojima.
“In the old days, you had an Alfred Hitchcock movie, a Carpenter movie, because there was a very strong sense of authorship. You knew that director, and because of that you would go see his film. I don’t think that applies now as much as it used to. Of course you still have Spielberg, Cameron and people like that, but those guys are a league of their own.”
“Getting author names in front is not in line with the marketing mentality – it’s almost something that gets in the way. It’s the same situation for games: you don’t see many names on games because it gets in the way of marketing. If you put the Spielberg name or my name on a product, only fans of that author will watch or play it – and that’s not what marketing wants.”
“Hopefully we’ll see a time where indies make a name for themselves and find success, causing a big publisher to seek them out. In movies, new talent is scouted and chosen to make the next Star Wars or Aliens. In future, I hope we’ll have a parallel for that in games.”
However, since Kojima is a well known name in the gaming industry, with the new studio they want to let everyone know that Kojima Productions is still alive, and having his name attached is helpful when having to start from scratch.
“The situation we’re in is a little different. We’re kind of taking the approach where we want people that know us and like our games to enjoy and play them. That’s the focus.”
To read the full interview, head on over to Develop-Online.