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Hideo Kojima Discusses Death Stranding’s Development Taking Three Years

Jan 11, 2019
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In a new interview, Hideo Kojima discusses Death Stranding's three-year development cycle.

In a new interview with GameSpot, Hideo Kojima discusses Death Stranding‘s development and how it took three years to make. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m always quick. It’s like, three years? I can’t really say anything about Sony right now… maybe it’ll take 8 years, or maybe 10 years for first-party titles, like Nintendo as well,” says Kojima. “Cyberpunk has probably been worked on for more than 8 years, I’ve created in three years. When I was creating Metal Gear Solid 5, I needed more time because I had to produce the engine, as well as produce other titles.”
“So, if you looked back at the interviews three or four years ago, I’m as consistent as I said about game design… I’m kind of very efficient in the way I make games in a short time,” Kojima continues. “Every day, every hour, I decide left or right. I won’t say, ‘I’ll think about it’ or ‘let’s think about it,’ I make a decision on the spot. So, that’s one reason I don’t outsource so much because you have to answer emails and wait for answers, that’s why I do it in house as much as possible.”
Also in the interview, Kojima discusses the possibility of making Death Stranding sequels where he said he isn’t sure if he’ll do that. Additionally, he says that while it doesn’t matter to him about if people will not understand the game’s story, he hopes people will understand the themes of connection and disconnection present in the game’s story.

“One of the reasons it’s fast is because I do all of the planning, design, and produce and that kind of forces me to make quick decisions. There’s no time lag. Like other developers might have different people doing boss battles, and different people doing the cutscenes–it’s a bit chaotic when they have to pull everything together,” Kojima continues. “But our team is about 80 people, usually other big teams are 300 or 600. So that’s what–with the short amount of time and [fewer] amount of people, and the direct feedback I give–allows me to make this game in this time.”
Death Stranding launches on November 8 on PlayStation 4.
 

KOMANI

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The last line of the game was originally "Snake, Brother Hal, it's cooked!" But very late into production I changed the line into "Everyone, hurry up! It's cooked!" This way it becomes up to the users' imagination who she' is referring to. It could be Snake, or it could be Raiden, or it could be completely new friends. It's now all up to the users' imagination, and that is my purpose.
It caused a lot of problems changing dialogue this late in the production though. At this point, all the programming is already set, and going back and switching dialogue like that caused all kinds of programming problems, and we were really running out of time at that point.
Quick decisions like this?
 
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Psykodad

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For an open world game 3 years is way to short a development cycle, it leaves me to think that some aspect of the game wlll be lacking or padded it out by repetitive activities.
Why?
Doesn't it reduce development time a lot by using an already existing engine (Decima), as a large part typically can be attributed to creating the engine?

Sincere question, as I'm not a game dev, so what do I know?
 
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plasmawave

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For an open world game 3 years is way to short a development cycle, it leaves me to think that some aspect of the game wlll be lacking or padded it out by repetitive activities.
Kojima originally said the game will be out the same year the movie Akira takes place and it looks like he's delivered on that promise.
Him not doing playable/on stage demo (except for the most recent TGS) at any events probably also helped a lot.
 
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Jan 29, 2019
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Doesn't it reduce development time a lot by using an already existing engine (Decima), as a large part typically can be attributed to creating the engine?
Pretty much all games use an existing engine these days - it does save time (assuming your project fits the engine's scope).
 

Bathtub Fart

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Honestly, the best games, movies, and music were a result of this quick decision approach in production work. It's a good thing I think despite my disinterest in playing Death Stranding. I like things designed by a singular person or small group because it creates a more consistent experience, love it it hate it.
 

EDMIX

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For an open world game 3 years is way too short a development cycle, it leaves me to think that some aspect of the game wlll be lacking or padded it out by repetitive activities.

Ok...did you just forget that its also because they didn't need to build an engine from scratch, you know....the thing that can literally be half of a development cycle?
 
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vkbest

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Like I suspected the most budget was for actors and not the game. 80 person on 3 years is even less than 100 over 5 years on Days Gone
 

EDMIX

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Like I suspected the most budget was for actors and not the game. 80 person on 3 years is even less than 100 over 5 years on Days Gone

? You don't know what the budget is to make that statement. They have highly known actors and voice actors, that doesn't mean MOST of the money was spent on actors vs the game. By the logic Uncharted and Last Of Us or even Metal Gear Solid shouldn't be consider games and not move millions and not win many Game Of The Year award etc.

Having many actors doesn't mean having LESS game, might not be an either or for them.

80 Person team is also a team regarded as one of the best in all of gaming with millions of units sold under their belts and many GOTY awards under their belts, they can create something like this in 3 years, Sony Bend NEEDS those 7 years even using Unreal Engine 4 vs making their own. They are not a bad team, but they are NO WHERE NEAR a team like Kojimas to assume they can create something like that in such a short time, they need the time to make a game of the size of Days Gone.

Needing more time doesn't mean you are making something better, it means its hard for you to create that in which in less then half the time a more talented team can do better. IT would be like saying someone is making you scrambled eggs and they are talking HOURS to create it, that doesn't sound like they are better bud, I don't know why anyone hasn't realized that. I like Days Gone and its one of my favorite games this year, but with all the issues that they are patching, them taking 7 years has MORE to do with them clearly not being such a AAA team next to Kojima or Sony Santa Monica or GG etc.
 

blackjon24

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Ok...did you just forget that its also because they didn't need to build an engine from scratch, you know....the thing that can literally be half of a development cycle?

Look at other open world games that used pre existing engines... horizon zero dawn, red dead 2, days gone and even spiderman which was considered a relatively fast dev cycle took 4 years. Just doesn't make any sense to me and it probably won't until i get my hands on the game
 

EDMIX

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Look at other open world games that used pre existing engines... horizon zero dawn

Fast dev time? 4 years? Ummm


and

"the game has been in development since 2011"


So that isn't 4 years, a lot of that was because they were creating a new engine.


Kojima didn't need to do that, thus faster dev time.

Sony Bend needing 7 years to make Days Gone using Unreal Engine 4 and having it launch with lots of issues and still being patched to this day isn't a great example of that bud, it not the standard and not normal.


So as much as I like Days Gone, 7 years development doesn't mean that team just made GOTY, they have their own issues and lets not start pretending thats normal or standard or anything like that.
 

Tesseract

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sounds like a living hell, kojima standing over you drooling like wojak while you do all the grunt work
 

rofif

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He should start using more "WE". There are close to 100 people working with him directly.
Oh -and no game should take more than 3 years to develop. If it takes longer, it's a crysis of planning ana management. It's just stupidly long
 
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Tesseract

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He should start using more "WE". There are close to 100 people working with him directly.
Oh -and no game should take more than 3 years to develop. If it takes longer, it's a crysis of planning ana management. It's just stupidly long

ja, that sorta thing has always irked me
 

EDMIX

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me, me. me.
He should start using more "WE". There are close to 100 people working with him directly.
Oh -and no game should take more than 3 years to develop. If it takes longer, it's a crysis of planning ana management. It's just stupidly long

Moot point, he knows folks are working with him just as much as you do. When talking about game development or any project that size, its not unusual for the person to describe the project as theirs. Also keep in mind, lots of what he is saying is based on himself as he is the one that is leading the team, so him talking about "I decide left or right" is because HE ALONE is doing that, not 80 folks, when he states "I make a decision on the spot" he alone is doing that, NOT 80 people. Keep in mind, why did you state this yet ignore this? "Kojima continues. “But our team is about 80 people" ???

So you made a post saying this yet ignored him directly addressing the majority of the team helping him? So this is an exaggeration. He is talking about things a producer, director, project lead etc would oversee and him saying "I"is moot as no where is he pretending he ALONE is making the game, as why would he then literally cite 80 people from the team? So he is pretending he alone is making the game, but also directly mentions a 80 person team? Did you forget about that part or?
 

rofif

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Moot point, he knows folks are working with him just as much as you do. When talking about game development or any project that size, its not unusual for the person to describe the project as theirs. Also keep in mind, lots of what he is saying is based on himself as he is the one that is leading the team, so him talking about "I decide left or right" is because HE ALONE is doing that, not 80 folks, when he states "I make a decision on the spot" he alone is doing that, NOT 80 people. Keep in mind, why did you state this yet ignore this? "Kojima continues. “But our team is about 80 people" ???

So you made a post saying this yet ignored him directly addressing the majority of the team helping him? So this is an exaggeration. He is talking about things a producer, director, project lead etc would oversee and him saying "I"is moot as no where is he pretending he ALONE is making the game, as why would he then literally cite 80 people from the team? So he is pretending he alone is making the game, but also directly mentions a 80 person team? Did you forget about that part or?
I know, I know.... There is always someone leading the whole team but You know what I mean. Nobody brags about it as much as Kojima and everyone needs an editor. All of his games felt distinctly within his style and all of those should have some crap edited out but nobody can tell him "NO" during production. Well - now we will have a chance to see if it was him or his old team making those mgs games special
 

EDMIX

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I know, I know.... There is always someone leading the whole team but You know what I mean. Nobody brags about it as much as Kojima and everyone needs an editor. All of his games felt distinctly within his style and all of those should have some crap edited out but nobody can tell him "NO" during production. Well - now we will have a chance to see if it was him or his old team making those mgs games special

Its his design and direction though, I think the industry needs this as this is what we see from other mediums anyway. He created a concept that he is proud of, its his right to want to show off what he spent his energy on, many publishers in this industry try to keep that from happening as they want a body of developers to support vs 1 person that lets it be known they are leading the concept, design of something as to know where to send your bids when they leave said publisher. Its easier for publishers to make it seem as if 1 person didn't have massive influence as to keep selling an IP. The IP can be owned by the publisher, the actual person that created the concept, story, design etc can't be.

now we will have a chance to see if it was him or his old team making those mgs games special

We already did....its called MGS Survive. Keep in mind, most of his old team is still with him and left Konami...
 

KOMANI

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We already did....its called MGS Survive. Keep in mind, most of his old team is still with him and left Konami...
That’s a lot of bullshit right there. There’s no proof of that. Especially since 2/3 of old KojiPro worked on Survive. And yeah, we did see what his team could do on their own: Ghost Babel, Portable Ops, and the cancelled Solid Rising.
 

EDMIX

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That’s a lot of bullshit right there. There’s no proof of that. Especially since 2/3 of old KojiPro worked on Survive. And yeah, we did see what his team could do on their own: Ghost Babel, Portable Ops, and the cancelled Solid Rising.

Yet Kojima and his team are doing Death Stranding and whos left at Konami did MGS Survive....

Sooooo those are facts, I get it doesn't fit your narrative, but those are the facts regarding what they "could do". The fact that some of the titles you listed are of many designers NOW working with Kojima doesn't help either. Oh...a cancelled game you never played doesn't help either The fact that another team had to actually do that game (Platinum Games) proves the point pretty well that clearly the rest left can't really do a MGS title without the main staff. So I'll trust the facts of what Survive is instead of trying to dismiss it cause it doesn't fit some agenda or something. All we have to go on with POST Kojima of the MGS series is Survive...

Kojima post Konami has Death Stranding. Pretty massive difference. I'm sure the rest left are very talented, but under that publisher they will be limited, so I expect Battle Royal, Free to Play, FPS type games from Konami with that IP milking it for all its worth. There is a good reason why the original MGS, Silent Hill, Castlevania staff left that publisher and went on else where. So it matters not what the staff left even want at Konami, if the publisher wants a FREE TO PLAY GAME, that is what they'll make.

Did you guys legit forget why so many left that publisher in the first place?

The original director of Portable Ops works at Nippon Ichi Software now btw He has left Konami and has been with other publishers since. (fyi Kojima produced that game too so.....yea)


Ghost Babel's director is also MIA as the last project he's worked on Neverdead flopped, we've yet to hear much from him. (fyi Kojima produced that game too so.....yea)

 
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Lionel Richie

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The fact that another team had to actually do that game (Platinum Games) proves the point pretty well that clearly the rest left can't really do a MGS title without the main staff.

Where is Etsu Tamari working right now? Is he still at Konami? Rising is a fantastically written Metal Gear game and features the best main villain in the series. It touches on some really heavy themes in a quite elegant way, it's different from Kojima but it could work. I don't think that Konami COULDN'T do a respectable Metal Gear game without the Kojimen, it's just that they WON'T. Because they're Konami.
 
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KOMANI

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Yet Kojima and his team are doing Death Stranding and whos left at Konami did MGS Survive....

Sooooo those are facts, I get it doesn't fit your narrative, but those are the facts regarding what they "could do". The fact that some of the titles you listed are of many designers NOW working with Kojima doesn't help either. Oh...a cancelled game you never played doesn't help either The fact that another team had to actually do that game (Platinum Games) proves the point pretty well that clearly the rest left can't really do a MGS title without the main staff. So I'll trust the facts of what Survive is instead of trying to dismiss it cause it doesn't fit some agenda or something. All we have to go on with POST Kojima of the MGS series is Survive...

Kojima post Konami has Death Stranding. Pretty massive difference. I'm sure the rest left are very talented, but under that publisher they will be limited, so I expect Battle Royal, Free to Play, FPS type games from Konami with that IP milking it for all its worth. There is a good reason why the original MGS, Silent Hill, Castlevania staff left that publisher and went on else where. So it matters not what the staff left even want at Konami, if the publisher wants a FREE TO PLAY GAME, that is what they'll make.

Did you guys legit forget why so many left that publisher in the first place?

The original director of Portable Ops works at Nippon Ichi Software now btw He has left Konami and has been with other publishers since. (fyi Kojima produced that game too so.....yea)


Ghost Babel's director is also MIA as the last project he's worked on Neverdead flopped, we've yet to hear much from him. (fyi Kojima produced that game too so.....yea)

The only one with an agenda is you. Shinta Nojiri has been working at NTT Docomo https://japan.cnet.com/article/35078761/
This is the director for Ghost Babel and the Acid Series that left Kojipro because he didn’t want to make Metal Gear anymore.
Why did you decide you wanted to go outside of Kojima Productions and do something else?

SN: I jumped to make my own new IP because I think Konami needs new IP, but it's complicated. In Kojima Productions, we have some obligations to make a franchise. My ex-boss (laughs) wanted me to make games in the franchise, but I didn't think so.


I’m sorry that doesn’t fit YOUR narrative.
And Masahiro Yamamoto doesn’t work at KojiPro, so thanks for not proving anything. And I know what Kojima produced, thanks. Do you know who contributes to the website you linked? Me. Do you know who looks at the staff credits? I do. That’s how I know that “ALL of Kojipro followed Kojima and left Konami” is a lie. One you couldn’t prove obviously, so you made it seem I’m anti-Kojima to gain some approval. You know what I’m against? People that just spew bullshit to fit their narrative.

Oh no, but let’s look as Survive as some sort of measurement that the current team (that’s 2/3 of old KojiPro https://www.polygon.com/features/2018/2/26/17052684/metal-gear-survive-development-team-konami
https://www.mobygames.com/game/playstation-4/metal-gear-survive/credits) can’t cut it. Cause that’s fair. Looking at a product from a studio by a team that was being forcefully pushed out by their Publisher. Yeah, but whatever fits your narrative though, right? Projection is a hard pill to swallow, try not to choke.
 
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EDMIX

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Shinta Nojiri has been working at NTT Docomo

Yea I read that off of Reddit but no one gave a link so didn't bother if it was just a rumor or something, either way the point is simply that even the titles brought up are by folks no longer there.

That alone is reason enough to ignore most of the MGS titles coming out of Konami. If they did a solid remake of some of the older ones, I might be down, but thus far a lot of talent has left that publisher.

ALL of Kojipro followed Kojima and left Konami” is a lie.

Sure is, cause I never said that....not sure what you are talking about as you are arguing with yourself with that point bud.

night.

Lionel Richie Lionel Richie Good points, I'm not sure where he is tbh its hard to keep track of some developers as even to reply I had to search around to see what everyone was really up to.

He might be still at Konami, maybe. Agreed with the Konami point, I think the team can make some remakes and even use the FOX engine to create a new entry like MG1 remake etc, but......Konami. So I think its moot, sure they can get some folks together, but if Konami is doing Konami things....doesn't even matter, they only want that pachinko and Free to play and Battle Royal and Micro Transaction money. So all we have are what ifs.
 
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