How did Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance come to be? A new video interview with Kojima Productions and Platinum Games staff reveal the entire story: a game canceled, revived by Japan’s greatest action game developer. Discover the initial team’s struggles, the Platinum approach, and the evolution to today’s Metal Gear Rising.
We’ve taken the liberty of transcribing the entire interview (2600+ words!) in case you don’t have the 25 minutes it takes to watch the clip. Be sure to watch it if you do, though! It has new gameplay footage (10:32, 14:14, 15:55). Get everything below.
Interview: The Truth Behind Rising
Early planning of Metal Gear Solid 5
Kojima Productions boss Hideo Kojima enters.
“Metal Gear Solid 4 wrapped up in 2008, and the dev team took post-project time off right after that. But, of course, we were in a situation where we had to start planning for MGS5. So I started coming up with several ideas.
“I had several ideas for a game featuring The Boss and the Cobra Unit during the invasion of Normandy. I then handed these plans over to the team so they could take over and make the game.
“I presented my ideas to the team during the summer of 2008. However, simply dropping MGS5 on the younger staff was a bit heavy and there was resistance to doing it without my involvement. At the time, I was working on a new project.
“It was during the planning phase of that project and I wanted the staff to take charge of the new title. There was resistance to that idea, though. It was then that someone proposed the idea for what would become Rising.”
Metal Gear Solid: Rising’s Roots
“It was a game based on Raiden’s story, since MGS5 had too much weight to it. It would be a side story that the team felt more comfortable working with.
“The setting of the original story for Rising was between MGS2 and MGS4.
“You may recall there is a cinematic sequence in MGS4 where Raiden fights against a group of Gekko. The idea behind Rising was to let the player actually control Raiden in battles like that.”
Kojima Productions producer Yuji Korekado enters.
“At first, I was involved in the project as the lead programmer and project manager for the original Rising project.
“The concept was a game in which everything could be cut. This presented a great technical challenge. But even more than that, it was a chance for our new team to make a completely new game on our own with out direct help from Mr. Kojima. We were all very excited and motivated to make it happen.
Failure and Desperation
Kojima Productions lead writer Etsu Tamari enters.
“At first, I felt like our progress was really slow. There were difficulties. Regarding the game… I am a write, so I’m not directly involved with the more technical aspects of the game, but it seemed like the game had a hard time finding its identity. So it was hard to get the gameplay and the story in sync. I could feel there were difficulties, but honestly, I thought things were getting better and we were going to pull through. I guess I was a little naive in that respect.”
Kojima Productions 3DCG advisor Hideki Sasaki enters.
“We were lost when it came to the game design. We were struggling with the balance between stealth and action. We also had trouble maintaining balance between level design and the concept of being able to freely cut through anything and everything. We were at a point where these problems were causing major delays and we weren’t getting results.”
Kojima Productions character concept artist Yoji Shinkawa enters.
“I feel like it was still not full formed as a game. It had fun elements, but as a whole, it just didn’t come together properly.”
Yuji Korekado re-enters.
“One day I was busy pushing the team to meet our deadlines, I was called in to speak with Mr. Kojima at the end of the year. Mr. Kojima told me that the project would never be completed at this pace.
“Of course, I didn’t want the game to be canceled, so I told him about the good elements we had and tried to bargain for more time. There wasn’t a strong director in place who could pull all of us together in a single direction. I really had nothing to say against this argument.”
Hideo Kojima re-enters.
“At the time I was involved in other projects like Peace Walker and the FOX Engine. Since Rising was an alternate title, I was just operating as a Producer, and leaving everything else to the new team. I wasn’t involved in the story much, and I tried not to get too involved in the project itself.
“By April or May 2010, I finished Peace Walker, and after E3, I peeked in to see how the project was going. When I did, I found that the story, the characters, and the support elements were all fine. However, the game design itself wasn’t clear or well decided.
“The concept of being able to cut anything was clear, but this was generation problems with the game design. There was no clear or unified consensus among the team members about how to balance this concept with game design. This is especially true with regards to finding balance between the concept of being able to cut freely while still maintaining the original concept of creating a high-speed ninja action game. And making all of that work with classic Metal Gear elements like methodical stealth infiltration and espionage. it was getting really complicated.”
“At the end of 2010, I had already decided to cancel the game. However, I wanted the ideas behind the game to go on in some way. I started looking for places that could help improve the game design. At first, I considered several studios abroad. However, I realized since this was a ninja action game with swords, a Japanese studio would be the best fit.
“I thought about which action elements we wanted to include in the game. The only studio I felt could do this was Platinum games. if anybody could do it, it would be them.
Hideki Sasaki re-enters.
“In a single phrase, the collaboration with them is fast and energetic. Regarding the content and work of Platinum Games, their development style is very quick. I have had the chance to be in their studio, and I have seen they have a very lively environment and they make really quick decisions.
“Artistically, I think they have a unique style to create their art. The way they approach action and effects is very different from how we work, which is a great stimulus.”
Yoji Shinkawa re-enters.
“I definitely think this is not a game we could do on our own. They are implementing our worldview for the game with a brand of action that is uniquely their own. I think that the union of our respective strengths has the potential to yield something truly great. I have high expectations.
Hideo Kojima re-enters.
“Early this year I contacted them and explained the situation of the game and how it was stopped. I wasn’t expected for them to accept the project, but they did and within a week they showed me a work plan with elements that could be included to improve it and make it more interesting. It was a document with easily understood ideas and goals.
“This is when I knew we could work with them. We signed a contract and gave them what we had done. A few months later, they delivered an alpha version of the game with the improvements they implemented. The product they came up with was really good, since it had all of the elements we were looking for: cutting everything, a fast-paced action game, and Raiden looked great. It was at that point we thought and still think it was a good decision to work with them.
Inside Platinum Games
Platinum games president and CEo Tatsuya Minami enters.
“When did we start, I don’t know an exact date, it’s difficult to gauge. At first, I thought it was a joke. I went to a party, a reunion, and Mr. Kojima asked me, ‘How have you been? What do you think? I would like you to help me out with something.’ Of course, at first I thought it was a joke. Later, when he repeated the same question in a serious tone, I knew it was real.
“Then he told me the title. Of course, I had heard about the project at the time. I thought it had been going well. However, Mr. Kojima told me in truth that it wasn’t going too well and he wanted to restart the project with us.”
Platinum Games producer Atsushi Inaba enters.
“At first I thought that it was a game genre in which we can do something good and interesting. Just the fact that it is a Metal Gear game was exciting. Even if it’s not a numbered game in the series, it is well known and hugely successful. As a fan and as a developer, being involved directly with Metal Gear was something that I was really excited about. It’s something that caused a lot of excitement and anxiety; these emotions are everything to me, which is why I decided to accept the project.
“Timewise, it has been really difficult, since our schedule is really tight. Also, it’s the first time we’re working with Kojima Productions, and within that relationship there are a lot of new and interesting challenges.
“It can be difficult at times, but also very fresh. I think we now have a process in place that will let us make a truly great game.
Platinum Games lead cutscene artist Kunihiko Tsuda enters.
“Since we started working, and even before I worked with them, I noticed their attention to quality. The drawings, the graphics… I am in charge of the cut scenes, so I really focus on these things. Metal Gear is a game of international quality; it has a group of very talented and capable people working on it.
Hideo Kojima re-enters.
“At first the game was working on the FOX Engine. So I thought that preserving our settings, characters in the engine combined with Platinum Games design would be the best approach. However, as we kept talking with them, we noticed there were really good elements that were unique to Platinum Games which we wanted to include in the game. So we ended up changing almost everything.
“For example, the story is now set after MGS4, and here are many character ideas from the Platinum Games side. We really ended up remaking the game from the ground up.
“For that reason, we decided t stop using FOX Engine and shift to Platinum Games engine instead, to allow them to create with the tools they’re most comfortable with.”
Masaya Kobayashi re-enters.
“Up till now, with the Metal Gear series we’ve focused on realistic camera work and performances. However, Platinum Games focuses on visual style. As long as it looks cool, just about anything goes. This has been the greatest difference so far.
Etsu Tamari re-enters.
“Before, the story was set between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4. Now that we’re working with Platinum Games, we sat down and discussed what they wanted to make and achieve. After much thought, we decided to set the story at this point after MGS4 so they could be able to make what they wanted.
“Setting the story between 2 and 4 forced the story into already having a decided beginning and end. It was a bit tight and we were a bit restricted by that. If we made the story after 4, there is a lot more liberty for the ending, even if the beginning is already decided.
“We wanted to maximize the freedom for this game. It was a huge decision. I had to sit down and start from the very beginning with a clean slate.”
Yuji Korekado re-enters.
“As far as the new Rising is concerned, now just swinging the sword or running around feels great. It feels like a great Platinum Games action title.
“On the other hand, we are also achieving something that is really characteristic of Kojima Productions with elements such as the story and cut scenes. When working together, we are achieving something we couldn’t do on our own at Kojima Productions.
Platinum Games lead artist Takahito Washisaka enters.
“Style wise, I think the first of all the fights and battles need to look good. They have a very structured worldview, which is something we want to reflect in the game along with a sense of speed. These elements are something we want to achieve in the final product.
Tatsuya Minami re-enters.
“Well, right now we are still in the creation process. We’re releasing some new promotional videos, but this is not the old Rising, it’s a project that has been substantially rebooted. This is something I want to emphasize. I want there to be a notable change now that Platinum Games is involved.
“I want there to be great results for Konami and for Kojima Productions, and I want to leave our mark. I want everyone to be happy that Platinum Games got involved.
“We are still in the middle of the process, but little by little our participation is making its mark and we are helping create something that we know will succeed.
Atsushi Inaba re-enters.
“Give that action games are what we do best, I am confident to say we are one of the best studios in the world. This is something we are showing and expressing in Rising.
“The notion of cutting and how good it feels to cut everything up is something we have achieved well. That said, Kojima Productions isn’t the type of studio that cuts us any slack. They give us really ambitious schedules and set the bar impossibly high [laughs].
“We’re making the game by exploiting our strengths, but Kojima Productions never fails to demand more. Let’s just make that absolutely clear… we take a lot of heat from Kojima Productions! They really are a bunch of tough bastards!”
Platinum Games lead programmer Tetsuro Noda enters.
“It is a completely new system. Both the game and Raiden within the story are reborn. This is how we are making the system. We are two companies making a final product in a completely new way. I believe that if our project turns out as good as we hope, this collaboration could serve as a model that other companies can follow to fight their competition.”
Hideo Kojima re-enters.
“Tamari, who is from Kojima Productions, is making the story. He is writing it taking into account the opinions of the director at Platinum Games. The story is being done at Kojima Productions but it is very different from what we have done in the past.
“As you could see, Metal Gear Ray is in the trailer. In one of those scenes of the game it can be seen it’s arms turned into giant swords. Ray attacks Raiden with this giant blade, but Raiden counters and throws Ray high into the air. This kind of crazy action scene is very different from our own sense of design. When Yoji Shinkawa saw this, he was surprised. But, that is Platinum Games’ style. By being in constant contact and communication with them, we are creating something new through an exchange of ideas.
“This is how Rising is being made. It’s a true collaboration.
Tatsuya Minami and Hideo Kojima re-enter. Kojima speaks.
“Our companies are based in Osaka and Tokyo, and we endured the 3-11 disasters that struck Japan. We really are grateful to the people around the world for their support, and we want to show the world that the Japanese are still alive and kicking!
“We are making things for a global audience, while still preserving unique Japanese elements. These days, it’s hard to find others who share this type of vision.”
“I completely agree. Back in the day, “Made in Japan” meant that you were getting the best gaming experiences possible. I want to revive that feeling again!”