The way Hideo Kojima puts it in this week's issue of Famitsu magazine, it sounds like he had all but resigned himself to canceling the game that became Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
"To be honest, I didn't think we'd have it go this well," he said. "When I first asked Platinum Games for help, it was a pretty forced request, in that I felt if I couldn't get them to take it then the project would be canceled."
As Revengeance producer Yuji Korekado detailed last week, MGR began as a Kojima Productions project, but nearly got canned as development floundered in late 2010. Kojima himself asked Platinum president Tatsuya Minami for help, the result being the revamped Revengeance that was first shown off at the 2011 Video Game Awards.
"The schedule was really tight," Minami recalled. "Kojima was really worried about that schedule, and he'd ask me, time and again, 'You sure you can do this?' Like, if we couldn't, then there was some stuff we'd have to figure out about the future, so tell me as soon as possible if you can't."
"I've worked on collaborative efforts in the past," added Kojima, "but they didn't go well, and that became a sort of trauma for me. Getting real results from this one was a really good case study, I think. MGR wouldn't have been born if it were us alone, and I don't think Platinum could have made it by themselves, either. In that way, the word 'collaboration' doesn't seem like enough. My impression is that it really was a new style of development. Now we just have to start selling this project, and that's our role."
KojiPro retained all control over MGR's story and cutscenes, but otherwise left most of the game itself in Platinum's hands. Did the two outfits learn much from each other's development styles? "We've moved toward a pretty Western approach," Kojima explained, "working on creating things like game engines and tools. That has its good and bad points. With an action game, though, you really have to work hard with the programmers as you build it, or else it'll never turn out well. That's always been a concern for me, but doing that kind of puts you back in the boat of how they used to make games in Japan. In terms of efficiency, it's a real drawback."
It's a drawback, but the way Kojima sees it, that's what created MGR. "Platinum leans toward the old way of doing things," he said, "but if it wasn't for that, you wouldn't have characters like Monsoon. Something crazy like that; no way you could build that with tools. You can't have just a level designer. The programmers, the effects guys, the motion guys, and the designers all have to be horizontally oriented, arguing with each other from dawn till dusk, constantly building stuff and breaking it down, for it to happen. I'm not completely happy with that approach, but that's what it is."
"As a way of creating," Minami admitted, "it's not really well suited for the future. That's one problem we have to deal with; what to do about that."
Despite the unpredictable turns the project took over the years, both Minami and Kojima can't deny that their unlikely alliance produced some excellent (and, so far, heavily praised) results. "It's got the Metal Gear name on it, but I think it's a completely new game," said Kojima. "The Metal Gear brand is part of the game, but if you actually play it, I think you'll find this unprecedented kind of thrilling fun. If you ask me whether we could've produced this kind of quality with an original, unbranded game, that I don't know, but I do think MGR turned out really well."