UPDATE: As promised, the video of Hideo Kojima's keynote is now available.
Hideo Kojima is here at GDC for the first time ever and he's going to deliver a keynote! Kojima will discuss game development challenges using the lessons learned from the making of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Maybe he'll even announce something!
The keynote begins at 10:30AM PST so get ready to follow along with our live blog coverage.
Brian Leahy: Billy and I are in the third row here at GDC 2009 to see Hideo Kojima's keynote address. He used his magical ninja skills to get us up front.
Full disclosure: Both of us are giant Metal Gear nerds.
They are playing Daft Punk. The perfect music for a sneaking mission...
Billy Berghammer: Morning folks. Brian deserves the super awesome trooper awards since he's about to die of sickness. Mad props Brian for sticking it out :)
Brian Leahy: This might be my final mission.
Billy Berghammer: Nice to see Goichi Suda sitting two rows in front of Brian
Brian Leahy: This music is not helping my sinus infection.
HERE HE IS!
Kojima is so close to me!
He's welcoming everyone. He was also given the Lifetime Achievement Award from the GDC last night. Congrats!
This is his first time at GDC. Usually, Kojima was too busy with E3. Now, "E3 lost its punch over the years. Also, the guys at GDC called me and said If I come they'll give me this award."
The title of his speech: "Solid Game Design: Making the 'Impossible' Possible." Unfortunately, he isn't going to give out any presents like games...
Kojima jokes that no one is allowed to leave.
What is Revolutionary Creation: "Something that no one has done before."
His presentation slides are animated with Snake :) It's the same style as the Flash game that came out before MGS4.
The path to game creation isn't always easy. Sometimes, there are obstacles (that Snake climbs over). Mario can jump over it, too!
Sometimes, the wall gets too big. Now Snake cannot pass it. Mario can jump over it, though. "Luigi could jump higher, though."
This is a "Barrier of Impossibility" - Snake thinks "he's not Mario and he can't jump over." You can go two ways here. Go with something you've done before and experienced already. These are possible. Or, you could do something impossible, which is something that has never been done before. To do this, you must discard preconceived notions.
Snake cannot pass the wall in the same way as Mario. Snake must think of new ideas. He could pole vault. He could break the wall with his gun. He could fly over with a balloon. He could also set a box and climb up. He could put a door into the wall. He could fill the area with water and swim up.
I'm so confused, but I don't care!
There are different ways to think about these obstacles (to game design). What if you look at it in a different way and notice that there is a way around the wall. What obstacles do developers run into during game development: "Video games are a technology-dependent media."
Certain obstacles cannot be passed until the hardware and technology reach a certain point.
On top of the hardware, there are software technologies. Finally, at the top, is game design. "Game design that made the impossible possible in the Metal Gear series." We're jumping all the way back to 1985 to talk about the first Metal Gear.
The MSX2 was popular back then because you could change carts to play different games. Kojima joined the industry in 1986 and given this "mission" by his company: "Create a combat game for the MSX2." The reason: coin-op games were popular and Rambo: First Blood was a big hit.
Games back then were 2D and simple. You basically needed the player, enemies, and bullets. "That was a combat game."
What kind of hardware technology was available at that time? Kojima is showing "Nemesis," a Konami coin-op port from 1986. (Think Gradius)
Most games were created with a background and sprites. However, you could only display 32 sprites at one time. Horizontally, if you displayed 8 sprites, the 9th sprite wouldn't appear.
This is why old games like that sometimes having blinking sprites. It's a hardware restriction. Since the 9th sprite would always disappear, they programmed it to cycle the sprites so it would blink instead of hide a single sprite, which would be an enemy or bullet.
In Metal Gear, Kojima would layer the sprites so that each "character" would use 2 sprites. The second would be color.
Due to this, Kojima didn't think that he could make a combat game for the MSX2. The hardware was too limited. It was "mission impossible." "A change in expression was necessary."
Kojima's first idea: a combat game without fighting. "You can't fight. It's almost like a hold-up game."
Second idea: a combat game about escaping. "You're just escaping, you can't fight." This was "totally uncool."
Third idea: a combat game about hiding. "This could work. This could be revolutionary."
Kojima was worried that it might not sell. Hiding was not heroic. The solution: An infiltration game. Still not enough, Kojima added story and world to the game. The Stealth game was born.
Now, the mission is to "Create a Stealth Game for the MSX2" This became Metal Gear.
What type of game design did Kojima use in Metal Gear? The enemy guards had a simple rule: They had sight and simple pathways. The player had to avoid that sight. What happens when they spot you?
This had to change the algorithm of the enemy. They needed to chase down Snake. The rule to teach the player was that if they get spotted, a lot of enemies will chase them. Metal Gear was never released in the US.
'You may recall the NES version, but that was a crap game because I didn't work on it.' "It wasn't a stealth game. It was almost like a puzzle game."
Infiltration: Enemies with range of sight, dynamic enemy AI, and '!' I love that a bullet point in Kojima's presentation is just a '!"
Metal Gear was quite simple, but a success. Mission Complete. Now, it was sequel time. This time, Kojima could set his own mission: Create a deeper stealth game on the next platform.
Unfortunately, there was no advancement in hardware. The mission changed to: Create a deeper stealth game that surpasses the previous creation using the same MSX2 hardware.
Since the hardware was the same, Kojima changed the game design. He changed the enemy's sight to a cone, not a straight line. He also added a radar screen that showed enemies on screens that the player hadn't reached yet.
In Metal Gear 2, Kojima added an evasion phase after the alert phase. This way, the player had to "really hide and keep still."
Enemies also received hearing. The player had to be careful about making noise, as well. This was Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, that was only released in Japan. You might remember Snake's Revenge for the NES. 'That was a little crap game because I didn't work on that one either.'
What did Kojima add to Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake? Vision & hearing, radar, 3 alert phases, as well as thinking about it as infiltrating an "area" and not just a single screen.
What is your favorite Metal Gear Game?
The next mission: Create a 3D stealth game for the MSX2.
In 1994, the PSX was released. This was what Kojima needed to make his 3D stealth game.
The new mission: create a 3D stealth game for the PS1.
Now, Snake could hide things like air ducts. It changed the game entirely.
With the addition of first-person sight at certain times (in ducts, sniping), this was truly a 3D game. This was also the first game in the series with voiceover. He's going to share the 6 versions of the voiceover! HAYTER!
The German version: This is totally trippy.
"It sounds like I want to eat some sausages." - Hideo Kojima Now, the Italian version - "I feel like I want to eat some pasta."
Spanish version = paella
French version = "It's a little romantic, isn't it?"
Showing footage from MGS now. Calling attention to the new 3D camera and first-person scope view. Mission Complete.
The game design added for Metal Gear Solid - Infiltration in a "3D World"
- 3D Stealth Action
- Dynamic changes in perspective controlled by the player
- Realtime cutscenes / voice
"I added cutscenes for the first time, but I guess these weren't popular at the time."
Metal Gear Solid became a huge worldwide hit and it was time for a sequel. New mission: Create a more realistic-looking stealth game on the PS1.
This was a real high wall of impossibility for the PS1. Thankfully, the PS2 was released in the year 2000.
The boost in graphics and change to DVD as a storage medium would make MGS2 possible.
However, the boost given by the PS2 wasn't as high as Kojima thought it would be.
New mission: Create a more realistic-looking stealth game on the PS2. 'Realistic-looking' might have been too difficult at this point. So now it was to make something "more immersive" on the PS2.
With MGS2, Kojima wanted to create a whole environment with weather, better textures, and new gameplay elements.
They hit 60fps and did motion-capture for the first time. That's why there were more cutscenes. 'I believe some of you were annoyed by these long cutscenes.'
Kojima added things like new movements, first-person shooting, shadows, and locational damage. Mission complete!
However, he moved on without creating the realistic-looking stealth game.
MGS2 was a world-wide hit and it was time to set another mission.
New mission: Create a stealth game that surpasses the previous one on the next game platform.
Unfortunately, the PS3 wasn't out yet and they had to make a stealth game that surpassed the previous one on the same game platform, the PS2.
Looking at the previous games in the series, Kojima noticed that they were always set in man-made, artificial environments.
Man-made locations were easier.
Kojima used a new 3D engine, which was a software solution, allowed them to create jungles and natural environments.
The new engine would make up for the lack of new hardware.
Because of the open spaces, Kojima added the camouflage and the survival elements.
This was MGS3: Snake Eater. In MGS3, he made the cutscenes shorter. (no one laughs) "You're supposed to laugh here, guys. We're talking about my cutscenes." Now, everyone laughs.
He added CQC because 'in the jungle you can't always fire your rifle all the time.'
Time to watch a 1-minute long Japanese MGS3 commercial.
MGS3 was a worldwide hit, but Kojima had said that the Metal Gear Solid saga was over.
The world said, "We want a sequel." "What if I make an ultimate stealth game? Then I don't have to work on Metal Gear anymore." It is now 2005 and Kojima heard a rumor: "There is a 'monster machine' coming out."
He heard that it could do anything... you didn't even need game design! New mission: Use the rumored "amazing power" of the monster gaming platform to create the ultimate stealth game. A year later, in 2006, the PlayStation 3 came to the market.
Kojima, based on the rumors of the PS3, had limitless dreams.
Of course, nothing could live up to that. The new mission: "Use the actual power of the PS3 to create the ultimate stealth game."
The original goal of the "ultimate stealth game" was too difficult. A new mission was needed again: "Use the actual power of the PS3 to create a new infiltration experience." This would become MGS4. Now, we would be infiltrating a warzone.
In a warzone, the environment is always changing so the player was given options to help them change their situation.
"It's a monster machine so the cutscenes are monstrous as well."
Concept - Infiltration into a "situation"
- Dynamic battlefield alliances.
- Octo-camo / Disguise / Hero Level
Hero Level - Ally with militias to make your mission easier. Now, time to review...
Video games are a technology driven product. The ground is the available hardware. Then, you can use software technology to help. On top, you add game-design to get past the obstacle.
"Simply put, Metal Gear was born out of hardware limitations, advancing together with hardware to reach new heights."
If Kojima had stopped at the first barrier of making a combat game on the MSX2, there would be any Metal Gear series... or Splinter Cell series. BURN KOJIMA! Nice.
After getting as high as possible with hardware technology, Kojima adds his game design, which is "designer-driven." You need to create new rules.
Japanese games tend to be "designer driven," like Kojima's. The current trend is different. The next trend that is coming and that is software technology based.
This is used in US and European studios to attack obstacles. They overcome hurdles with technology itself. Examples: You can run anywhere you want without loading screens. You can destroy anything you see. You can ride in any vehicle.
In the future, Kojima wants to use both the design-driven ideas and software technology. This could lead to the "Next MGS"
Oh look, it's Raiden, standing up there on next to "Next MGS"
Come on, Kojima. Announce it!
Kojima productions is recruiting new developers. I don't think he's going to announce anything :( "By overcoming the 'barriers of impossibility,' yesterday's 'impossibilities' become 'possible'."
"90 percent of what is considered "impossible" is, in fact, possible. The other 10 percent will become possible with the passage of time & technology." - Hideo Kojima. That's the image of Raiden, shown when referring to the next MGS if design-driven development meets technology-based development.
It's over! Really amazing talk by Hideo Kojima.
And we're out! Thanks for following along. Please move comments to the regular comments section.