"In the summer of 2010, the team made a presentation for me," he recounted through a translator, "and I realized the game design still wasn't there yet." The team's vision was split between stealth and action, the idea of "cut everything" worked technically but made for gameplay that was too open-ended, and the game just wasn't fun, says Kojima. "As the young staff said to me, they wanted a good game that just felt good moving around, and we would never get that, so I decided to cancel the project."
"But still, we had a lot of things" that could still be used, says Kojima. "Motion capture, a lot of good story, the view of the world inside the game, and I wanted to use that somehow. I wanted Rising to be born again, so that's when I decided to contact Platinum Games." Rising originally started development in 2008, and it was near the end of 2010 that Kojima finally decided to pull the plug on the project. But he contacted Platinum Games earlier this year (after having known both Platinum's Inaba and Hideki Kamiya for years, seeing them at various parties and events in Japan) with the idea to restart development. "Platinum gladly accepted," he says, and the two companies are now remaking the game as Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, using the original concepts from Kojima Productions, and a new game design plan created by Platinum's team.
In short, Platinum has done what Kojima Production's staff couldn't, in half the time. "We have a very, very tight schedule," says Kojima. "We're working like game companies used to work ten years ago." Platinum is rising to the challenge so far. "The game is high speed action, but the development is high speed development," Kojima promises. "So if we're successful with this, we're going to make some huge changes in the industry."
What exactly went so wrong? "I wasn't aware of the content -- I was really working on Peace Walker, so there wasn't time for that," says Kojima. He purposely stayed off the Rising project, hoping to generate some leaders on the younger team. "I probably should have stepped in and collaborated for the game design. But I've done that in many games, and when I do that, the young staff never develops." He's now learned his lesson, though. "Game designer leaders are very hard to cultivate, and I don't think that will happen [in this way]. So we will probably have to hire these kinds of persons, or work with outside productions from now on."
Platinum Games seems like an excellent choice -- the company's Bayonetta did very well this past year, and of the developer's previous titles at Capcom under the banner of Clover Entertainment, even Kojima says he was impressed. "Especially Okami had a huge impact on me," he remembers. "The action was so good and it made so much sense with the artwork that I played some levels and then I just had to stop. I couldn't play any more, I was so jealous about it. ... When you think of action in Japan and Japanese games, they're by far the best, so I had no doubts in my mind when I approached them."
Inaba says his team's goal isn't to remake the Metal Gear franchise in their own image -- instead, they're there to polish up and put a shine on the work Kojima's team has already done. "My job is not to change the original concept," he explains. "It's to take the concept and make it something fun. So for Metal Gear Rising, I'm working on the same concept, just trying to make it something that you can, from the screens, see is fun."
Kojima says he did consider some Western developers for the job, but declined to name names, and ended up coming back to Japan to find Platinum. "The katana is one of our main concepts here for this game, and that is something very difficult to explain, so I thought I would need a Japanese company for that," says Kojima. "There are a lot of very good production teams in North America. But I thought that if I would take this to them, one year I would come back and it wouldn't be a katana, it would be a gun with a chainsaw or something."
And as for that title? Part of it is the actual vengeance of Raiden -- the game was originally set between Metal Gear Solid 2 and 4, but Platinum has instead moved the story to after 4, so the ending can write a new chapter in the series (instead of being pre-written by existing lore). "So my team came up with this vengeance concept," says Kojima, "but that wasn't enough for me. I wanted it to have a double meaning."
Revenge is the other part of the title. "Part of the meaning is that our project once failed, but with Platinum Games' strength, we are getting revenge," says Kojima, and Inaba laughs.
"So that means we are just tools for your revengeance, right?" asks Inaba. Kojima nods, and the two developers laugh together.