Following the first live demonstration of Metal Gear Solid 5 at the company's new Los Angeles-based studio, Kojima Productions studio head Hideo Kojima took the stage to graciously answer a few questions from the audience. Joining him were series artist Yoji Shinkawa and actress Stefanie Joosten, who is the face and motion actor behind the mute sniper Quiet in the game. The Q&A was varied, as these things tend to go, but we did glean a few interesting insights into MGS5's development, Shinkawa's artistic process and just what Kojima was thinking when he tweeted recently about making Quiet's character design more "erotic".
Q: Why did you initially reveal Ground Zeroes and Phantom Pain as two different properties?
Kojima: Ground Zeroes is only the prologue of Metal Gear Solid 5. It takes place in 1975, while Phantom Pain — the main section of the game — takes place 9 years after, in 1984... This is maintaining the 10-year interval of Snake's [Big Boss's] games — Metal Gear Solid 3 was set in 1964, Peace Walker was set in 1974, and this will be 1984. It's also a reference to George Orwell's novel, by the way.
Q: As the series has progressed you seem to be focusing more on Big Boss as a main character. Do you just prefer him over Solid Snake?
Kojima: You have to keep in mind that Solid Snake is not a real human. [As in, within the story universe, Solid Snake is a genetically modified clone.] On the other hand, Big Boss is a real human being with true emotions. He can be more expressive than Solid Snake. So yes, as a result I find him more compelling to write.
Q: What motivated the decision to go open-world?
Kojima: It's not about simply competing with other properties. It just made sense. In the past, the games of the Metal Gear franchise have all been saying 'here is the story.' In Metal Gear Solid 5, player choice is number one. It's their decision to carry the game.
Q: Is the forming of the Los Angeles studio reflected in the Westernisation of this instalment of the franchise?
Kojima: I don't feel Metal Gear Solid 5 is very Westernised. Not any more so than the first Metal Gear Solid, which I tried to make appeal to a global audience. And remember, the Los Angeles studio is handling MGS5's multiplayer mode, not the story campaign.
Q: But, then, did you choose to open a studio in Los Angeles to branch out in other ways? Say, in order to pursue a film or TV adaptation, as has been explored in the past?
Kojima: You could say that, yes. There is a possibility for either of those, and that was another reason for opening this studio.
Q: You tweeted recently about updating your characters' designs, especially Quiet's, to be more 'erotic' and thus appeal to cosplayers. Could you clarify what you meant by that? And, Stefanie and Shinkawa-san, could you share what your reactions were to the idea?
Kojima: Ah... [laughs] Perhaps 'erotic' was the wrong word. But definitely I was interested in making the designs sexier. Sexiness can take many forms. Sexiness is for male characters too!
Shinkawa: To me, sexiness is about more than people. Weapons and vehicles can be sexy too. I wanted to draw on that sexiness through the designs that I do.
Joosten: I was definitely surprised at first when I heard about it. But without giving anything away, Kojima-san has... Quiet has her reasons for wearing what she does.* [*Poor Ms. Joosten, despite being a special guest for the evening, did not get many questions from the audience. However she did remark at one point that Metal Gear Solid 5 was her first time working on a video game.]
Q: When creating illustrations with Shinkawa-san, like the character design for Quiet, is it a very easy process? Or do you argue back and forth?
Kojima: Our desks are right next to each other, so we are constantly discussing the designs.
Shinkawa: While I'm sketching I will show Kojima-san the in-progress versions and he will make suggestions. I don't always agree, but I'll go with it and when I look at the final product, I'll find that his suggestions improved the design.
Kojima: We don't really fight, no. I fight with everyone else, but not with Shin-chan.* [*Kojima's pet name for Shinkawa is likely a reference to the famous manga series Crayon Shin-chan, although who knows for sure!]
Q: With the main arc of Metal Gear Solid 5 — Phantom Pain — set very close to the time of the first Metal Gear, is this game about closing the circle?
Kojima: I wouldn't say that exactly. It's another adventure for Big Boss. After the Q&A, the studio held a mixer in the garden, where an open bar served "FOX on the rocks" cocktails (actually, sake with sangria) and Kojima et al participated in a traditional Japanese Kagami biraki ceremony, in which a cask of sake is broken open and served in wooden cups for good luck. During this time Shinkawa also reemerged to unveil a large, original canvas to hang in the new studio: a portrait of MGS1 Solid Snake and Meryl. Here, you can see both the painting and the sake cask that was broken open by Kojima's own mighty CQC technique (or, well, a hammer, per tradition).