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Lead creator of the Metal Gear series opens up about its 25-year history

Few games are lucky enough to be remembered for more than a couple of years after release, let alone have the chance to turn 25. This month marks the 25th anniversary for developer Kojima Production’s Metal Gear series, known for its blend of action-adventure espionage gameplay and long, complicated narratives.

Over at the official PlayStation Blog, Hideo Kojima — the creative mind behind almost every Metal Gear game since its inception in 1987 on the MSX2 and the Nintendo Entertainment System — offered a few comments about his time working on the franchise within the last two decades and a half. When the series hit its mainstream stride with the 1998 release of Metal Gear Solid (MGS) for the original PlayStation, Kojima’s own popularity rose astronomically: He is regarded as one of the most renowned game designers in the industry today.

In his interview, Kojima says he had “bitter memories” while working as a designer on the first MGS, due to his lack of control over production issues for the game, such as its budget and release date. After the critical and commercial success of MGS, however, Kojima’s role (and studio budget) expanded. He has “fond memories” of working on MGS2 for the PlayStation 2, where he was able to enjoy more creative freedom, such as in hiring noted film composer Harry Gregson-Williams to score the soundtrack to the game.

When it came time to develop MGS3 (also for the PS2), Kojima had the added responsibility of being in charge of the studio as its manager and found it difficult to maintain his role as the creative lead. In MGS4 for the PlayStation 3, the staff ballooned to more than 200 people, and Kojima attributed the game’s multiple delays to the logistics associated with having that many employees on a project. Three directors were also in charge of the game, but Kojima laments that the other two were directors “in name only,” leaving him to pick up much of the work.

Nowadays, Kojima is exactly where he wants to be: director, producer, and designer as the head of Kojima Productions. The studio is working on a brand-new multiplatform game engine, dubbed the Fox Engine, for its next release — presumably MGS5. The last time the public saw it was during the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo at Konami’s press conference. This year, he’s promising to reveal more information on what it can do next month in Japan.


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