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Hideo Kojima on his future and breaking up with Konami, Metal Gear and Silent Hill

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"I'd be the kind of person everyone hates in Hollywood"

There is much Hideo Kojima can't say about the past year of his life: how an apparently strong 30-year relationship with Konami crumbled to dust seemingly overnight, why an ambitious reboot of Silent Hill was publicly killed amid overwhelming hype, how things ended on that day in December when he ceased being an employee of Konami.

But it's clear, in the thoughtful moments as he ponders whether he can address those reasonable questions, that Kojima is both happy and a little sad about where he is now and how he got here.

When he does talk about P.T., the playable demo so overwhelmingly enjoyed by gamers on the PlayStation 4, and its connection to Silent Hills, he relies on metaphor to get his point across.

"Let's say you're thinking of climbing Mount Everest, but you start with Mount Fuji first," he says through a translator, sitting across from me at a boardroom table at the 2016 DICE Summit. "That goes well and it feels good. Then you're preparing to climb Mount Everest and you're not allowed to.

"That doesn't feel good."

"you're preparing to climb Mount Everest and you're not allowed to"

Guillermo del Toro and Norman Reedus were looking forward to climbing Mount Everest too, he tells me, but they weren't allowed to, and Kojima feels bad about that.

Kojima described learning P.T.'s final fate as making him feel "depressed," considering the positive reaction it had received. It's clear that his departure and the time leading up to it was difficult.

"Guillermo del Toro and Norman Reedus, who I just saw a couple of days ago, they really gave me a lot of support through my toughest times," he said. "We always talk about doing something down the line.

"I'd like to do something with them before I die."

Late last year, Kojima confirmed his departure from Konami and announced the creation of a new independent studio named Kojima Productions. The studio's first title will be a new franchise and a PlayStation 4 console exclusive.

The public breakup of Kojima and Konami came to a head last spring when the publisher announced the cancellation of Silent Hills. The reboot of the horror franchise, which was teased with the playable demo P.T., was to be the result of a collaboration between Kojima and del Toro with voice acting by Reedus (The Walking Dead).

News of the cancellation came as Konami began refocusing its efforts away from AAA titles and toward mobile and free-to-play games.

Del Toro and Kojima took to the stage today to discuss their mutual creative visions. Del Toro is also presenting Kojima for entry in the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.

A recent picture of Kojima and Reedus together and today's talk ignited discussion that perhaps the three would be teaming up sooner rather than later. But Kojima says he currently has no plans to collaborate with them.

"Both of them are great people, they're interesting people ... I'm good friends with them and I'd love to work with them in the future," Kojima said. "But I have no idea when that will be."

"If the first project fails, we won't have any future to speak of"

Currently, Kojima is focusing all of his efforts on both starting work on his first game through his new studio and building the team up as they go.

"I'm putting together a team, working on facilities, figuring out what kind of engines we're going to have, establishing an environment for the studio, technology testing," he said. "I'm doing all of this in parallel."

While he has other plans for the future, all of his energy is focused on this first new game because, he fears, if it doesn't do well, it will kill Kojima Productions.

"If the first project fails, we won't have any future to speak of," he said. "So we are very focused on that. It's a big-scale game, so we're being really careful.

"Ideally, once things are on track and we get some leeway, I'd like to do movies, anime, VR and other things."

When he first left Konami, Kojima said that he wasn't sure what he was going to do, though going to Kickstarter never crossed his mind.

"I was thinking in my first year out I would make something indie, something small, maybe a game or a movie," he said. "But after talking with friends, acquaintances and seeing what fans were saying, I was convinced I should work on a big game, so that possibility was gone.

"I was fortunate to have offers from many people, studios and publishers from all over the world, but I've known Sony for quite a long time now. They respect what I do, respect me. It was just a matter of trust."

We don't know much about the new game Kojima Productions is working on, and Kojima declined to tell me much more than that it would be big and not a virtual reality game. He did say that once it is done, he would be free to once more look around and see what he wants to do next.

Among his ideas is taking a stab at making a movie.

"When I make a movie, I want to do everything," he said. "I want to do the planning, the directing, the writing. I'd be the kind of person everyone hates in Hollywood."

Kojima added that he has several movie concepts he's kicking around already.

Another thing that currently fascinates Kojima is virtual reality, though he worries that naysayers could hinder the rollout of the technology. He said that people seem to worry about wearing the headgear, not being able to play for extended periods of time, but he believes all of that is nonsense.

"We should be focusing on thinking that if this is the current technology, what will we be able to achieve in 10 years?" he said. "It's obvious that head-mounted gear will be more compact, that prices will go down. We should be thinking about this technology now."

For now, though, Kojima and his team work away on their new project with a newfound sense of perhaps deliberate obscurity.

He won't say how many people are on his team, where his office is or what the game is about. The business cards for Kojima Productions have no address or phone number, just an email.

There is a sense of starting over with Kojima Productions, and Kojima himself seems happy with that.

He doesn't miss Metal Gear Solid, he tells me. For him it is over. The chance to start on something new, to create a new backstory, new characters, new environments, is almost more enticing than returning to an old friend.

He's not feeling better or worse that his next game isn't Metal Gear, he tells me.

"Now I'm making something new," he says. "I'm making a new game."

You can listen to our full interview with Kojima in the bonus second episode of Polygon Newsworthy below. Links to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, your podcast player of choice or to download an MP3 are all a click away, just beneath this episode.