It's over. Kojima's whirlwind tour of all Sony's key studios scouting for tech and ideas has come to a close. But what did he get out of it?
Here's Koj's thoughts:
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" by Arthur C Clark Here's my feeling after the intensive studio visit.January 28, 2016
Hideo then tweeted a series of images containing a lengthy breakdown of what he's learned. I've edited it here for a bit more clarity:
"So I may conclude that game creation is to use the magic to this real world with the use of the latest technology. Or to say, to make the dream of the people in this real world come true by magic. But just having technology doesn't mean you can make magic. Human resources who can manoeuvre technology and the environment to pull out their talent is necessary. And the most importantly the vision of the studio have to be accurate in order to embrace technology, human resources and environment.
With all of these facts make the latest technology magic. And what I've learned the most in this trip: start up the news studio, hire the staff to work with, find the office, construct organisation, work on the latest technology, and step into the challenge of creating the new magic. This might sound as if I'm starting over from scratch but I got fans supporting me, friends who share my dream with, all over in this world. So it's not starting from scratch. I continue creating the cutting edge game that I've been doing for 30 years, as always done."
It's worth considering that all the studios he visited, from Naughty Dog to Quantic Dream all have very specific strengths and ideals. He also also turned the trip into a bit of a buddy movie, tagging along with Mark Cerny - both the chief architect behind the PS4 and one of Sony's top level consultants and trouble shooters. In one way or another Mark's had a hand in almost every Sony project ever so he really, really knows each studio's strengths and weaknesses.
Kojima started with Naughty Dog and Sony's Visual Arts Service Group. It's pretty clear what he was checking out there:
HK checking out the performance capture process used on TLOU and The Order @HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN pic.twitter.com/1CakROOou2January 19, 2016
As well as Naughty Dog's work with Uncharted and The Last Of Us, Sony's Visual Arts Service Group (VASG) serviced the mo-cap for The Order: 1886, which despite its gameplay issues was still a beautifully acted and visualised game. Given Kojima's love of cinema and cutscenes it's no surprise he's looking closely at how best to capture an actors performance.
Did some facial scans just because reasons. HK, meet Cyber-HK! pic.twitter.com/5hgEO7ugm9January 19, 2016
Next up Hideo headed out to visit Sucker Punch, the Sony studio best known for the inFamous and Sly Raccoon series.
With people at SUCKER PUNCH. Thank you very much! pic.twitter.com/fsMfhjuLU4January 21, 2016
Now, it might not seem immediately obvious what Kojima could be getting from here but Sucker Punch is one of the only Sony studios with real open world experience, thanks to three inFamous titles and a scattering of expansions. Considering Kojima's huge strides in free-roaming gameplay for MGS 5 it makes sense he could be swapping notes with the team here.
Visited BEND STUDIO with Mark-san (@cerny ) pic.twitter.com/gXN9T1BnKuJanuary 22, 2016
Kojima's next location is a little less obvious: Sony Bend. The former Syphon Filter studio hasn't had much of a high profile of late, mainly working on PSP and Vita spin offs. Its last game was the Uncharted card game, Fight for Fortune, which came out in 2012. Since then it's been working on an unannounced PS4 project. And there's been a lot of speculation that whatever it's got, it must be big if Ol' Koj is having a nose.
Along the way there was Schnitzel.
Schnitzel pic.twitter.com/m2Tx0p0yQEJanuary 22, 2016
Next up Kojima dropped in to Sony Computer Entertainment America.
Visiting SCEA today. pic.twitter.com/zf1C5PeGxcJanuary 22, 2016
It's less clear what he could getting out of this. As the headquarters for Sony's entire American operation he could have been involved in all sorts of high level talks. This definitely feels like more of an admin and business stop off than cool tech and toys. Especially as Koj and Cerny stopped of for a chat with Shawn Layden, the president and CEO of SCEA. We also know he visited the SCEA music team and tried out some of the recording facilities.
Hideo Kojima yesterday at SCEA PDSG Music. pic.twitter.com/OK2uTAq8bOJanuary 23, 2016
After rinsing America of all the Sony it had to offer, Kojima headed off for London. Here he got to play around with whatever the PlayStation VR team are currently working on. While he only tweeted out pictures of himself playing The London Heist demo, as you can see from this tweet there was secret stuff there that hasn't been announced yet.
Visiting London VR team. Blurred out part of photo is the plan for their next VR experience -- sorry! pic.twitter.com/PKnjzoLhVBJanuary 25, 2016
He also dropped by Media Molecule to see Dreams. Admittedly that's a creative tool set rather than a more traditional game but there's some exceptional tech involved with rendering and lighting. Media Molecule also probably has the most robust understanding of online infrastructure and communities with all the play and share ethos from LittleBigPlanet.
Thank you for a brilliant and inspiring day @HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN and @cerny! Such a pleasure showing you #DreamsPS4 :) pic.twitter.com/hu7x5UosAiJanuary 25, 2016
He also specifically mentioned meetings while in London, and spent some time with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe boss Jim Ryan.
Mark-san (@cerny ) and Jim Ryan-san, the president of SCEE. pic.twitter.com/yoLzi7t8AvJanuary 25, 2016
After London he headed out to see Guerrilla Games, the studio behind Killzone and the upcoming Horizon: Zero Dawn. Whatever you think of the developer it's one of Sony's powerhouse studios, pushing the PS3 and PS4 to its visual limits. If Kojima wanted to look at development with sheer grunt, this is the place to be.
Arrived in GUERRILLA. pic.twitter.com/IMEwwKuXTOJanuary 26, 2016
Finally, there's a nice symmetry to Hideo Kojima's final destination. After starting off at Naughty Dog and a studio known for its mo-cap prowess, he finished at Quantic Dream, Sony's best developer for facial capture. He even tweeted a picture of one of the moulds they used to mark performer's faces.
Visiting pic.twitter.com/6vWk37ciN4January 27, 2016
Currently, Kojima's tweeted a 'next destination' tease but it's most like he's heading home. He seems to have concluded his trip and rounded up his philosophical thoughts on the future (which I posted up there). Obviously what tech he's seen and the ideas he's got as a result aren't going to be appearing on twitter anytime soon, but you can be sure he's taken away ideas from all the studios' strengths.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this whole deal is this: when was the last time a publisher signed a dev and then took them on a world tour to show off all its shiny stuff? Never is the answer. It's clear Sony are banking big on Kojima and are sparing no expense in giving him everything he needs to make his next game.
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