During a panel at RTX Sydney called ‘From Indie to Icon’, Hideo Kojima and Joshua Boggs (designer of award winning mobile game Framed) talked about their careers and what methods they use for creating games. One of the questions was about story, and what comes first during development, the design or the narrative.
“I do story, the narrative, and the game design myself, so I’m doing them at the same time actually.”
Kojima explained that these two elements are inextricably intertwined during his design process: “So I have the game design and the story at the same time and I choose key words that are fundamental to both of these. I basically kind of connect the dots between both of them, back and forth, back and forth, and doing these two jobs in parallel. So I have the characters, the world, many important things for the game design and the story, and do them in parallel.”
“Of course, sometimes there are peaks in your story, where the story takes the lead, so in those instances we test how to design the game around that, what is the best way to make it so that the game works with that story peak. And conversely we’ll also tweak the story along with that to make sure that they kind of tie together very tightly.”
Another subject of the conversation was release dates, and how the designers go about deciding one for their project, and sticking to it.
“I’m always thinking of the sales date in my head.”
“So I have the idea in my head, like I just said, and I have the date in my head alongside with it. And then when I first tell someone about it, when I tell the team about it, that’s when we decide basically the development schedule, the development process. That is actually the time we decide the release date, right away.”
As an example Kojima compared this process to the movie industry: “When production of a movie starts out they plan the shooting and everything to tie in with the release date. They know when the release date is so then they secure the movie theaters for that time, they can secure the numbers of seats that they need to fill. The schedule and the promotion, all the planning revolves around meeting that same date, like everything running up to that point. I feel that I myself am actually very good at this process.”
One of the final questions of the interview was about success, and how the game designers deal with it.
“I don’t think I’ve reached success yet. It’s my plan to reach it with Death Stranding.”
“For me success is like the sun.” Kojima explained. “If you go to close to the sun you’ll get burned. So I try to keep just the right distance, get close enough but stay far enough away so that I can be safe and be successful. So for me that’s the kind of success I want to have.”
To watch the entire interview, follow this link to a recording of the Twitch stream (Kojima’s and Joshua Boggs’ talk starts at 5:31:47).