I was fortunate enough to take part in a roundtable interview with Platinum Games' Atsushi Inaba and Kojima Productions’ Yuji Korekado. An on the spot translation was provided by Kojima Productions' Sean Eyestone. Being a roundtable, the questions asked by the other two writers are marked with an asterisk. Additionally, the raw audio file of this interview can be found in the last twenty minutes of Flap Jaw Space E3 Day 4, the final E3 installment of DigitalChumps’ E3 podcast. It should be available at DigitalChumps and through iTunes on June 11th.
Q: Can I ask how it is working between Platinum Games and Kojima Productions? More specifically what the back and forth is like - I assume Platinum has most of the authority.
A: As far as how things are divided it's kind of per role. Right now Kojima Productions has authority and is basically in charge of the story, the setting, and those narrative elements, and Platinum is heading up the game design side of things. The back and forth workflow, as far as gameplay is concerned, most of that is being driven by the director of the Platinum side, and he basically comes up with requests for characters, plot elements, and things that he needs to be in the game for the gameplay. He sends that request over to Kojima Productions, and our writer comes up with the specifics for the character and fills in the story details. That's the back and forth process as far as the narrative is concerned.
As far as gameplay is concerned, most of that is being left to Platinum. They just kind of work within their group until they come up with something they think works, and then they come to use at the end just for a final confirmation. They see if we like it, see if it feels right, and see if it fits within the Metal Gear universe.
*Q: Was it easy for Platinum to come in and take over the gameplay? Did they have to scrap it and almost start from scratch?
A: Right now the game is running on Platinum Games' engine. From that perspective, in a way, yes, everything had to be started from scratch. There are game elements, core gameplay elements that were on the original concept that are being carried over to the new game, such as the cutting mechanics.
*Q: Platinum Games has a lot of really high action games which are very different from stealth, story driven Metal Gear Solid games that we're used to...where are they taking inspiration?
A: As far as where inspiration came for Platinum, Kojima Productions did release the first teaser for the original concept of the game and it featured that free cutting mechanic that showed Raiden cutting through enemies. That really made a strong impression on the Platinum team, and that's something that they prioritized and took inspiration from. They feel that it's their job to create a great, fun action game builds upon that base, something that's pretty shocking and surprising in a good way. They want to keep that spirit in the final game.
Q: How hard has it been to maintain sixty frames-per-second with your goals for the combat?
A: [laughs] It's really very hard, especially since we don't want to sacrifice visual quality while maintaining a lot of the detail and over the top effects and action. It is very hard and challenging to maintain sixty frames-per-second. Platinum has lot of experience in that area. That's where they excel. From the beginning keeping that sixty frames per action and maintaining that good pace and feel of an action game was a priority. They're not going to compromise on that. Thirty frames and sixty frames are completely different types of games. They're staying at sixty frames
*Q: Regarding the story, how much will a player need to know about Metal Gear Solid 2 or Metal Gear Solid 4 to really understand the story of Rising?
A: We are creating Rising in such a way that even users who are new to the series can jump in and enjoy it without knowing the story from the past. They said players who do know the story will be able to appreciate the story on a deeper level. There are certain characters and items and storylines that will be really familiar to fans who have played the game up to this point, and they should be able to enjoy those elements even though new users can play it without knowing them.
*Q: There's a great history with this. Fans are really into the characters and into the story. I was wondering if we'll be getting any insight or perspective on [Raiden] that we didn't know about before?
A: Raiden's history plays a very integral part in the story for Rising. We revisit his past as a child soldier, and that's very influential on the story of Rising. What that story really focuses on is how that past influences his present, how he's going to grow as a character and mature as a human character
Q: Most of the combat I saw in the demo was very ground-based. Is there going to be any aerial aspect to the combat?
A: Are you referring to aerial combos?
Q: More like knocking a guy into the air and going on from there.
A: Yes, that will be added. More combo variations will be added and there will be aerial combos.
*Q: Silly question, how much of Snake are we going to see?
A: [laughs] This is a story about Raiden. Snake will not be in this game. With that said, this is more about Raiden and how he has developed as a character. Raiden's always been kind of the apprentice to snake, he's been a secondary character, and we want to show how he's evolved over the course of these past games. In Rising he's really a mature character, he's no longer the angst ridden youth he was. He's a very resolution character. Fans who have played previous games in the series will be able to appreciate how he's evolved, and they'll probably remember what he was like when he was with Snake. They'll realize that contrast and evolution, but Snake himself will not directly make an appearance in the game.
*Q: I'm curious about [Raiden's] weaponry and how he's going to evolve over the course of the game. In the game is he going to have his full arsenal, or just starting off with handful of moves and combos? How do those systems work, is he going to gain moves over time?
A: There will be a [unintelligible] system in the game. You'll start off with a fair amount of basic moves, and then as you progress through the game you'll add to your repertoire as you build your character. As far as the details, as you fight, as you do battle, you earn points depending on how you fight, and then you spend those points on upgrades and new skills.
Q: Regarding the art, what I've seen of Rising so far looks very desaturared, very muted and Vanquish looked that way as well. I was curious if the art team on Rising was an overlap, or if the art director was the same.
A: There was no conscious desire to really to Vanquish's art style and apply it to this game. Actually the staff working on the game is actually different from the Vanquish team. It's a different art director. The reason why it looks the way it does now is because the team at Platinum looked at the Metal Gear universe and the style of Metal Gear and just tried to create that within the game. It's not a conscious effort at all to make it look like Vanquish.
*Q: A fair amount of Platinum's games are full of action but they're also a bit on the short side. What can gamers expect regarding the length of the game? Even though it's filled with action and story, are they going to get a longer experience?
A: We can't say right now, as far as play time, how many hours it will end up being. We can say that it will be long enough for you to feel satisfied by the time you finish the game. One other thing I wanted to point out is that there are many styles and many different ways that you can play the game, and there's a lot of replay value to replay it in different ways. We think there's a lot of value there that should add to your enjoyment and play time of the game.