Kojima explains why Metal Gear Solid story is so...complicated

Hideo Kojima admits he did not have the entire story put together when he made the first game.

The Metal Gear Solid franchise is well-known for its complicated story that many say is as complex or even moreso than the twist-heavy TV show Lost. But series creator Hideo Kojima did not intend for it to be this way; in fact, he told Game Informer in a new interview that ideally a story should be simple, at least on the surface.

"Having a complex story is not my intention at all," Kojima said. "It's nothing I ever shoot for or try to do. Ideally what I want to do is, for example, make a story that’s seems very simple, it's very easy to understand on the surface, and once you zoom in there's a lot of details and a lot of things that you can see there. But overall, ideally I try to stay within a story that once you zoom out the main story is rather simple."

Part of the reason the overarching series narrative might be so complicated is because Kojima did not have the entire plot assembled when he made the first game, he said. This can lead to story inconsistencies, like the ones Kojima previously warned Metal Gear Solid V players to expect.

"When you do that sometimes the veins [of stories] get lost, change, or get stuck. From there I need to create new bloodlines so the story can keep going," he said. "One thing that I try not to do is sacrifice certain things just so I can keep the original story intact. Sometimes I need to accept these inconsistencies in order to be able to achieve what I want for the story."

Game Informer's wide-ranging interview with Kojima also reveals that the industry veteran is good friends with Pan's Labyrinth and Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro. In fact, the last time Kojima saw del Toro, the pair went out to sing karaoke. Kojima said del Toro was very interested in singing Japanese anime songs.

"That's what we were singing," Kojima said.

Asked if Kojima would like to work with del Toro in a professional--and presumably non-singing capacity--someday Kojima said, "Yeah, that would be great." del Toro is currently shopping around his game project InSane, after it was canceled in the THQ bankruptcy fallout.

Finally, Kojima, who is nearly 50, said the Metal Gear Franchise sometimes feels "a bit heavy to carry" and "difficult to handle." As such, he said would like to pass the reins on the franchise to a new director, but so far he has had no luck in this regard, he explained.

"Ideally I would like to step out from the Metal Gear franchise as a producer and dedicate myself to other games," Kojima said. "So far that has proven to be a bit difficult."

If he were able to leave the Metal Gear Solid franchise behind, Kojima said he would like to make games with an "indie game taste" to them, or really anything that's different than a big-budget game.

Next up for Kojima is Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, which launches on March 18 for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4. The game is a prequel to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, which Kojima said features a game world that is 200 times larger than that of Ground Zeroes.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

463 comments
grove12345
grove12345

having several different characters all  named snake and who look the same but are in different time periods and are different people and dead people either coming back to life or the dead character you are playing is from 30 years ago doesnt sound confusing at all.


Not to mention the storyline expanding over 80 years and through like 18 different important characters who are 2/3 dead...or not dead.


And are you working for a govt agency or arent you? Are you trying to save the world through conventional means or save it by destroying it? Im confused

fadersdream
fadersdream

If your goal is to make a simple story then you have failed.

Worse, the way you have failed is by adding things that don't make the story better.

sam-jay
sam-jay

i think metal gear solid 5 will be the beginning of the end of the series. 

sensei_hEnRY
sensei_hEnRY

i would really like to see Hideo Kojima work on other game but that would be the end of Metal Gear series because i don't think anyone could make it like Kojima did. You simply can't separate Metal Gear from Hideo Kojima.

daikkenaurora12
daikkenaurora12

Too bad we have to wait almost 2 more years to get Phantom Pain.

DeanoFantasy
DeanoFantasy

I personally think the stories are great in all the MGS games, all the games have been different compared to 'some games of today' they have always been fresh, mature, and intelligent. compared to 'stories' in in most games today, the games industry need more scriptwriting talent, all the masses seam to want to do is pick up a gun and play endless brain dead hours shooting each other, I'm glad I wasn't playing online shooters growing up. In fact I'm pretty convinced Final Fantasy 7 helped me to read a lot better when I was 10.


Currently playing: Dark Souls

DeanoFantasy
DeanoFantasy

So I can imagine it will be like what Polyphony digital did wit their 5th title game


GT5 Prologue (Ground Zeros)

GT5 (Phantom Pain)


Not comparing the racing sim with the stealth action game at all lol but in terms of the marketing approach for these games they are similar.

Ensabuhnur
Ensabuhnur

The story is complicated because they have no idea how to write a proper story.  Nonetheless the craziness of it all is what makes the Metal Gear series such a classic.  Cannot wait for release.

BattleSpectre
BattleSpectre

I still don't get the story. Still buying though :3

N-bellic
N-bellic

This must the most over rated game series ever.

001011000101101
001011000101101

It's not complicated but rather typical video game drivel. 

Skrillbak
Skrillbak

I was surprised that the answer wasn't, "Wait, people are following the story. Oh shiiiiiii...."

Pseehaw
Pseehaw

Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro together singing anime songs on karaoke...i would love to see that. Great 2 artists.


bleedgreen2-1-5
bleedgreen2-1-5

I was really excited for this but when I heard that the story is beatable in 2 hours I kind of lost interest and I plan on waiting, I know that's if you rush and I'm sure there is some other stuff to do on the sides but I don't think that is enough to justify the price. I am a huge MGS fan and it's my favorite franchise in games, but $30 for a prequel is a little much, I recently bought Left Behind for Last of Us which was 3 hours and $15, and I have bought games like Dead Rising 2: Case 0 which was a 5 hour prequel to DR2 for $5 and Undead Nightmare for $20 which was well worth it. As for story, I love the Metal Gear story, I love seeing the characters like Ocelot, and Big Boss who were established in the 1960's timeline and how they are still main characters in the games that take place in more recent times, it does get confusing at times but that's what happens when you keep adding prequels, ideas get limited and things then have to fit into a timeline. They pretty much wrapped up Solid Snake's story in 4 so if they were to keep going into the future and expanding the story through sequels it would have to be as Raiden or a new character. Also, I think people look too much into these things, trying to find any inconsistencies they can and pick things apart, in the end of the day, it's a video game.

GIF
GIF

Yeah, the last Metal Gear game i tried playing had cutscenes every 5 minutes interrupting gameplay which killed immersion and my interest in the crappy story. I do not understand nor care what all the hype is about in his games.

sherberttcat
sherberttcat

He's a piss poor storyteller, that's why!

Bunch of disjointed anime garbage.

This goes all the way back to Snatcher though, which he somehow fooled people into thinking was a game.

SpLiTMaN
SpLiTMaN

So do i need to get a ps 4 or what?????? Pc release or no this is getting tiresome....and wtf since when is MGS concidered a complex story....its nothing simpler...granted when you actually get into it the shades of greys make it confusing but complex?? im not so sure...doesn't help that most gamers don't even understand the ingredient section of there cereal box but hey fuck the peasants...Kojima you may kill of snake and big boss i have no more intresst in them to be honest it dragged on for too long...maybe freash blood same universe cuz i found MGR to be quite refreshing for the MG universe...and if you really need something familiar give the characters from metal gear acid an actual stealth action spin off...in any case PC RELEASE PLZ!

Dieknochenblume
Dieknochenblume

A lot of producers, writers, and developers just figure something along the way depending on how much the first installment sold. Once it becomes secure profit (franchise) they milk it to no end: prequels, divide single stories into trilogies, yearly installments, etc. until they run dry. Sadly, dried out franchises are more likely to outsell the average new IPs, as shitty as they may be (Lightning Returns).

Skakruk
Skakruk

How the f*** some "genius" can even compare the message Kojima is trying to deliver through his games to some f***ed up stupid and boring TV show for braindead. With it's stupidity, and what is fuelling my anger even more - unprofessional acting - how in the world you can even dare to compare MGS to  an idiotic tv show ? Gamespot,  are you braindead ? Because it seems so. I would suggest reading some classic literature to learn a moral principles that are being presented with each Kojima game. And if you are unable to see its depth - well it is too bad because it gives us a clue for understanding that even amoeba has more brains and intelligence than you do. Moreover, it seems that playing 24/7 brainless CoD series definitely dried your brains. Please seek immediate help from neurosurgeon - maybe he'll stick an implant or two so you can resemble human being when opening a mouth to speak a word or two.

toyo75
toyo75

A "complicated" storyline is okay as long as it's presented well within the game and doesn't require the gamer to go to a wiki page just to read the game's entire plot summary.

I hope the developers also quicken the pacing of the cut scenes.There are times that the dialogues tend to be too long.

GunEye
GunEye

I love you Kojima........


Now bring David Hayter back you son of a...!

KiriharaZro
KiriharaZro

Its simple: "I have nothing else to tell about Big Boss/snake saga, so I´m going to mix every f*cking thing I see or hear around and voilá! a "complicated" "new" MGS story"
.- Kojima "F*ck you gamer" san

Bowser05
Bowser05

Kojima and del Toro...now there's an interesting thought...

donmega1
donmega1

screen shot looks cool...

NTM23
NTM23

The complexities are what brings discussion to the game, and I like it. I love the story of the Metal Gear series, even when it can be at times goofy.

ConanTheStoner
ConanTheStoner

@grove12345  


Not trying to defend the series flaws, it's a convoluted mess.... but there are only two characters named Snake that look the same that you are controlling in different time periods.  Big Boss and Solid Snake.  It's really not that difficult.  The entire series revolves around these two guys so if you're playing the games it's impossible to get them confused.


There is also Liquid and Solidus of course, but they serve as the antagonists in two of games and it would be impossible to mistake either of them for the aforementioned characters.  Liquid is a blonde with a British accent that dresses like an 80's b-movie villain.  Solidus walks around in a high tech comic book villain looking suit.  

X-Eli-X
X-Eli-X

@Ensabuhnur A "proper story" doesn't translate well at all into video game. Well known and famous authors that have penned video game stories before have said the same thing. Unless you're in the industry, you don't have a clue how difficult it is.

Zombie8814
Zombie8814

@N-bellic I agree. The only good Metal Gear Solid game was Metal Gear Solid 3. All the rest suck, especially Metal Gear Solid 4. 

Dredcrumb9
Dredcrumb9

@GIF  play MGS1, MGS3,and MGS2. MGS4 is for those who have already played the rest. If gears and COD are your thing, stay away from MGS. MGS is not for idiots.

monstachruck
monstachruck

@Skakruk  I'm sorry dude, but I have to disagree.  English major here, so I know my literature and have read some classics.  I enjoy the MSG franchise for the gameplay and visual appeal, but its story is pretty disjointed, cryptic, and at times, pretty lame.  I get that Kojima is trying to present a lot of deep, philosophical messages in the narrative for each game, but they are buried under a lot of bad dialogue and uninspired melodrama.  That said, I could understand a fan of anime and Japanese pop-culture finding some sort of cathartic meaning in Kojima's story telling, since anime embraces melodrama, sensationalism, and cryptic moral philosophy whole-heartedly.  But for a westerner who enjoys western literature and character development based off of believable characters, the MSG story comes off pretty campy and poorly written.

Dredcrumb9
Dredcrumb9

@Skakruk  you are 100 percent right. The guy who wrote this article sounds like a sheep who is entertained by super bowl commercials. The MGS story line is too amazing for the average joe to comprehend.

bleedgreen2-1-5
bleedgreen2-1-5

@toyo75  agreed, though I think you'd have to have some knowledge of MGS to play MGS4 because that game is pretty much a shot of nostalgia. I do hope they shorten the cutscenes as well, Rising's cutscenes were the perfect length in my opinion though Platinum Games made that.

My one gripe with this series is the length of the codec and cutscenes because they are so long at times that it kills an immersion I had at times. Seriously sometimes you play for around 10 minutes, then a 20 minute cutscene. In MGS4 there was always a cutscene to end each chapter which was lengthy, then the enxt chapter begins, we have a mission briefing, takes another 20 minutes, then after that they bring you to the mission, Otacon calls you on the codec, explains exactly what we just heard in the mission briefing. I mean ?i just wish they'd let you play the dam game sometimes! I hope they pace this out better.

Dredcrumb9
Dredcrumb9

@KiriharaZro  The MGS story has been coherent to me, so far. Most gamers have very limited mental capacity, which is why MGS confuses them.

N-bellic
N-bellic

@Zombie8814  Yea mgs 3 was cool i guess, but mgs 4 was horrid. The metal gear peeing in the beginning really set the tone for that game.

grove12345
grove12345

@Dredcrumb9 @GIF  I think MGS 2 and 3 had the most cut scenes. Stop talking on the freaking radio! 

MGS4 i was fine with

GIF
GIF

@Dredcrumb9 @GIF Well the game clearly is for idiots because you are a fan. And who mentioned Call of Duty or Gears of War? Are you so numb in your mind that you would inject your childish dislike for franchises? I never claimed my opinion as being a fact numbskull child.

KiriharaZro
KiriharaZro

@Dredcrumb9  

Maybe a limited mental capacity implies you dont know how to read, I never say the previous story of MGS was incoherent, I mocked about this "new" story of MGS where theres nothing else to say about this saga, you get it now or I need to explain it to you with sesame street characters

BlazingSpeed
BlazingSpeed

@Dredcrumb9 regardless there are many examples of inconsistency in the Metal Gear Solid world (Grey Fox being in MPO which was canon until Kojima "surprise" rectonned it Plus, MG2's story with Oilix is completely destroyed now...) and most of it is Kojima's fault (replacing the main script writer from Metal Gear Solid because he wouldn't translate the game word for word...).


And this is from a person that likes MGS2 somewhat better than MGS3...


That said after peace walker (even MGS4 was better imo...) I will be renting MGS games first.


btw, thanks for the lesson Mr Kojima this is what happens when you don't plan your series story out recton city and also what happens when you hang on to you "baby" for to long Namco, Capcom, and many other Japanese game developers are doing the same thing.

bleedgreen2-1-5
bleedgreen2-1-5

@Dredcrumb9  Yeah I understand whats going on in all of these games, it's not that hard if you pay attention.

Bowser05
Bowser05

@Redsyrup @Bowser05  That would be a cool team too, but I think del Toro would be more able to make it work. He has a very high interest in Japanese style movies and anime so he's well versed in it. To top it off, he has a knack for having a similar directing style as far as delivering themes goes (to Kojima I mean). Scott is more about suspense, and development through personilzation and interactions, rather than bigger...overarching themes and stories. They are both awesome (del Toro AND Scott), but I think del Toro would be the better choice.

grove12345
grove12345

@DeanoFantasy  really? MGS1 and MGS4 were all i can bear to finish. The rest felt like "oh here we go again"

DeanoFantasy
DeanoFantasy

@N-bellic @Zombie8814I think they have all offered great and interesting new gameplay features over the years, I have had some great memories from all the games, MGS1 will always be the 'best' one if I have to name one.