One of Japan’s biggest gaming media outlets, Dengeki, had an interview with Hideo Kojima sometime after he had shown a new trailer for Death Stranding at The Game Awards 2017, which has been published at the last Dengeki PlayStation magazine issue in 2017 this week. In this interview, Kojima explains how he established the new Kojima Productions and started working on Death Stranding, as well as explaining why the studio went silent for most of 2017.
We have made a full translation of this interview, which you can read below.
Dengeki: Please tell us how you looked back at your work and activities in 2017.
Kojima: Kojima Productions was established on December 16, 2015, but this was just registering the company, and there were only 4 members including myself. The next year from January I traveled around the world, beginning to search for technologies starting from game engines, and at the same time, I also started constructing the company organization. Interviewing [people] to gather members, finding an office, designing the institution, and more are all done at the same time in parallel.
Of course, while we’re doing that we also made the game design and scenario for Death Stranding, as well as doing various experiments. In June 2016 we showed the very first teaser at E3, and in December 2016 we released the second teaser. And we also decided to pick DECIMA as the game engine, so we also worked to improve it among others.
We ran through 2016 like that, but 2017 was a year filled with more density than 2016. We moved to the current office, and while creating the game we filled the interior with facilities like a meeting room and kitchen; those were finally finished in January 2017. I renewed my feeling and determination to start Kojima Productions in 2017.
The staff list is gradually getting completed, but we had interviews occasionally as we continue to level up and polish the team. We continued the game production process, from developing and improving engines and tools to game designs and presentations without taking a rest. The fact that everything goes in parallel doesn’t change ever since the company was established.
I also went overseas multiple times, but of course all of those – including getting invited to events like game shows – are related to work. I don’t remember at all [going overseas] just to play or rest. I also wrote recommendation comments for books and movies, made serialized manuscripts (for Rolling Stones and Bunshun Online websites), and had interviews myself. I’m not sure though if reading books and watching movies are considered as a hobby or work for me. However, all of these are being converted to energy for the new game. In that sense, you can say that I dedicated all 365 days in a year to create games.
Ever since December 2016 we had not published new information, and there ought to be many fans who were getting worried or even imagining many things, but please rest assured. Currently, we have surpassed the experiment phase, and by entering the next step, we’re feeling the response to the new gameplay.
In the schedule of the overall gaming industry, normally it would take about 3 to 5 years to develop a game with everything already prepared beforehand: organization, human resources, game system, engine, tools, etc. But we prepared them while producing the game in parallel. While doing that, we’re proceeding smoothly towards the schedule we have decided on. Everyone at our partner [company] SIE also said: “We’ve never seen [someone] making [a game] with a pace as fast as this.”
The only irregular incident was the SAG-AFTRA strike that started from late October 2016. Due to this, we had to inevitably change the plans to perform 3D scanning, performance capturing, voice recording, and more with the actors. But that has also been resolved in November this year, so we’ve been able to start various works.
We’re able to unveil parts of these accomplishments in 2017 with a new video at The Game Awards in December. In 2018, I’m going to make announcements that will surprise everyone even further. Please look forward to it.
Dengeki: Please tell us a game released/announced in 2017 that pertains to your own work, and also the reason why.
Kojima: Inside (for PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, iOS) and Framed 2 (mobile game). Although Inside was a 2016 title, I’m feeling the possibility of indie titles developed by small-scale teams, as represented by these two games. I was also appointed as a judge for the Best Independent Game award at The Game Awards, so that feeling of mine has grown stronger.
We have prepared an environment where it is possible to create a game where everything from modeling to presentation is worked on by a few people, or even just one person (although it’s a different matter when it comes to distribution and more). This is an era where even indies can make games that make the world gaze in wonderment. My thought has strengthened to make Kojima Productions as the forerunner of such an era.
Dengeki: Two years have passed since Kojima Productions was first established, but please tell us what has changed/evolved the most in the studio within this one year.
Kojima: Death Stranding is a title with gameplay and world setting unlike anything before. So, at the beginning, the staff had to focus on understanding what I’m saying and getting a grasp on that newness. As we entered this year, the game has started taking a shape, and we become able to catch the essence of that newness. This is the number one “evolution.”
We’ve also started producing Kojima Productions original goods. We’ve started selling them at domestic FamilyMart stores, as well as overseas and online store. Also, a Ludens statue has been placed at the entrance of the building that has our office, and people from all over the world are coming here to see it. I think that’s a manifestation of how everyone has been supporting us. It also becomes a driving force for us to proceed with the production. Thank you.
Dengeki: The future (era settings) depicted in old movies and novels continue to become things of the past, and the year 2019 – which is used in the settings for Blade Runner, Akira, and others – will soon come. In such present era, if director Kojima wants to depict “future” in your games, what kind of era and story will it be like? Or if you are on the viewer’s side, what kind of future story would you like to see?
Kojima: To me, future is not something that you show, but rather something that you create by yourself. Please look forward to the “future” where I can unveil that to everyone.
We hope that in 2018, Kojima Productions will be able to publish more information on Death Stranding, the PlayStation 4 game that will be published by Sony Interactive Entertainment.
[Source: Dengeki PlayStation magazine]