Art alone isn't enough to make a game's world really come alive, says Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima.
The next Kojima game will take a few pointers from Western development techniques, at least when it comes to building its world. In Kojima's opinion, Western games have the edge when it comes to their environments, and that's something that he wants to try and bring to his next title.
Writing on his Twitter feed, Kojima said that Western developers approached world design differently to their Japanese counterparts, using a combination of technical tools like shaders, effects and programming to achieve the desired effect. By comparison, he said, Japanese developers relied almost entirely on artwork to create a game's environment. He wanted his team to throw out the processes and techniques it was comfortable with, and instead try and better integrate what the artists were doing with what the programmers were doing.
"Do not create pretty images," he said. "Create a beautiful world. Designers shouldn't focus only on their part, but also borrow the programmer's strength to maximize the quality. We shouldn't measure quality by parts, we will measure by the quality and completion of the entire world."
Kojima adds his voice to the growing contingent of Japanese developers who feel that the country could take a few lessons from the West. Capcom's Keiji Inafune has not been shy about voicing his opinion that Japan is lagging behind, and hiring Western developers to work on big Capcom titles is now part of the company's development strategy. Konami has also reached out to western developers, most recently with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, which was developed by Spanish developer MecurySteam with assistance from Kojima Productions.
It will be interesting to see how Kojima's next game differs from his previous works. His team may do its best to replicate the techniques that Western developers use, but it's still going to be a Japanese take on a Western idea, and so will be subtly - or not so subtly - different from what we're used to.