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Kojima focusing on player choice in new  Metal Gear Solid
Kojima focusing on player choice in new Metal Gear Solid
September 6, 2013 | By Kris Ligman

September 6, 2013 | By Kris Ligman
More: Console/PC, Production

Hideo Kojima, best known as the creative lead behind the Metal Gear franchise, is perhaps second-best known for his overtly cinematic style of storytelling.

However, when Gamasutra paid a visit to the opening of Kojima Productions' new Los Angeles studio yesterday evening, it felt like the developer was eager to turn over a new leaf. Perhaps not completely -- the live demo of Metal Gear Solid 5 on display is still weighed down by overwritten exposition and the nigh-incomprehensible amounts of in-universe mythology the franchise has accumulated over the past 25 years -- but enough so to almost feel risky.

Gone are the codec conversations and pre-rendered cutscenes. The new Metal Gear resembles nothing so much as Assassin's Creed spliced with Splinter Cell. Open-world gameplay reigns supreme, even within the tiny sandbox of MGS5's tutorial chapter, and even during story moments, Kojima says, the camera is inclined to stay with the player.

"In the past, the games of the Metal Gear franchise have all been saying 'here is the story,'" Kojima said during the presentation's Q&A. In MGS5, however, "It's their decision to carry the game."

It's an interesting proposition because Kojima wasn't exactly saying the game's story will have branching paths -- or if he was, that has yet to be emphasized in any of the preview materials. Rather, going off what was shown in the demo and Kojima's own descriptions of MGS5's open-world gameplay ("It's more like a TV show, with each mission like an episode"), he appeared more interested in having the player enact the game's narrative at their own pace and discretion.

It's not entirely revolutionary -- but it's a step in a different direction for the core franchise.

"I want to minimize the experience of playing a game," Kojima said later on in the presentation. He referred specifically to the absence of most of the series' traditional HUD elements, but to dispensing with its narrative interjections as well -- the other 'gamey' bits.

"Here, player choice is number one."

More to come.

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Keith Burgun
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How are the "narrative interjections" the "gamey bits" ? Seems like usually narrative interjections are the opposite of the gamey bits?

I have no idea what Kojima is trying to say here, but I can tell you that any time I've tried to play a MGS game in my life, all I could see was big red text that said the quote, "I want to minimize the experience of playing a game".

Kris Ligman
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I mean they are 'gamey' in the sense that narrative interjections literally remind the player they are playing something constructed, as opposed to just letting the game flow naturally.

Unfortunately, words like "immersion" or "experience" are a little too loose and overused to be very applicable here, so I avoided putting what Kojima was saying in those terms.

Alfa Etizado
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MGS gets a lot of flack for its super long cutscenes but still makes better of use of being a video game than most games out there. And regardless of how long the cutscenes are, MGS games also merge gameplay and story better than most other titles.

Michael Stevens
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It will always confuse me when people complain about Play/watch ratios. The only thing you can ever reasonably demand from any creative thing is a density of ideas. Anything beyond that is the fault of your attention span.

Dane MacMahon
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I honestly could never get into this series at all because the narrative completely outweighs the gameplay. A big part of that might also be that I didn't like the narrative in the first place.

Michael Stevens
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I don't really think there's "nigh-incomprehensible amounts of in-universe mythology" in play here. This is the third game in the series. Snake Eater is '64, PeaceWalker is '74, and this is '84, with everything else coming after. PW is the only one I've played more than a demo, and I think the trailer made as much sense to me as it could. That's probably why they spent time porting PW to consoles instead of doing a 360 version of MGS4, and also why it was Snake Eater that got the 3DS release.

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Jonathan Murphy
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No one can surpass the ultimate player choice. Shaven or unshaven? Deadly Premonition!