EDGE: You praised Platinum for Metal Gear Rising, but described development as “leaning towards the old way of doing things”. What did you mean?
KOJIMA: It’s an endless cycle of reiterating and improving, but it’s hard to plan like that. For example, let’s say I’m a game modeller and have to make this object [picks up a bottle]. I think, ‘I can’t just make this; wouldn’t it be better if I also made something else?’ [He pretends to make another bottle.] It’s a detailed creative process and a great result, but the thinking is, ‘Oh well, it’s a day late.’ In the west, they approach a problem by calculating how much the cost is. The person who decides if that object is made isn’t the person making the object – it’s someone above you. How much time does this take? How much will it cost? Will making this object delay us?
EDGE: You visited a lot of western studios to learn from them after completing MGS4. What surprised you?
KOJIMA: They had a systematic approach to development, and their engine was not just their core engine, but also included all the tools and everything else. In the old days, a modeller would work on [a bottle] for a month, but wouldn’t show it to anyone, since it was incomplete. They’ve no idea how this object is going to be used, and obsess about making it high quality. In western studios, they’d use an incomplete model and slowly refine it until it looked proper in the scene… The level of transparency was another lesson: everybody in the team knows what everybody else is doing. Based on this research, we worked on the Fox Engine, and were doing this when we saw Platinum using the same ten-year-old outdated [methodology]! They managed to make a very good game, so we were surprised. [Laughs]