The other day, Ripten brought you some, “Colossal” new footage from Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Well today we are going to answer a question that many of you have been asking over and over again … “Exactly how did Hideo Kojima influence this game!?” Luckily for you, in an excerpt from our upcoming interview with executive producer David Cox, he tells us just that.
You can read the full interview within my upcoming preview, but for now, let’s get right into what you want to know . . .
DO: Was there any point where they loved what they saw but wanted to call it something else because they weren’t sure that this was the next Castlevania game?
DC: Absolutely. It was greenlit as a Castlevania title, but then we were told it was going to be an original IP. We said, “Ok we can work around that, we’ve got a great game here either way.” Then we showed it as Lords Of Shadow at a senior managers meeting in Japan. Kojima-san was in the room, all the senior managers were in the room. When they saw the game . . . you could tell there was a change in the room, you could feel it. There had been some resistance up until this point, but once they saw what we’d been doing, they were finally on board.
It was after that meeting that Kojima-san came up to me and said, “I really like what you’ve shown today, I want to help in some way.” Now, I thought it would end there, I thought he was just being nice. So I went back to England and then I got a call from him saying he wanted to come to Mercury Steam and visit the team. He got on board at that point, about two and a half years ago. I was surprised when Kojima-san came on board. He’s a bit of a geek like me. He could see us struggling a bit and just wanted to lend a hand.
DO: What does his involvement mean for the title? What does it mean having his validation on a game like this?
DC: It was reassuring, but at times a bit scary. It was reassuring because it opened doors and gave us freedom to do what we wanted to do. Also, it’s my first big title so having his advice and mentoring on the project was invaluable. At the same time it’s a double edged sword because of the fact that we’re a bit nervous when it comes to pleasing him. We’d ask ourselves, “Is it good enough?” Sometimes he’d say, “Well no you need to fix this or work on that“, and having his feedback was great. Other times he’d say to me, “It’s your call, you’re the producer who fought long and hard to get it off the ground, i’m going to let you run with it.”
DO: Gabriel was a totally different character before Kojima got involved, what was he like, was he like Kratos?
DC: No, not like Kratos . . . Do you remember Schneider from the N64 game?
DO: Sort of . . . really bad ass, kid of brash, a bit suicidal?
DC: Yeah he was a bit like that, kind of this furry big armor, very brash, very one dimensional . . .
DO: Gabriel seems very vulnerable, like a lost soul . . . but a man to be feared and respected just the same
DC: Exactly, exactly, and that’s what Kojima-san said was missing from our character design. He said Gabriel himself needed to be worked on more. He said, “you’ve got this deep and emotional and tragic story, but yet you’ve got this very barbaric character.” So he thought we should redesign Gabriel. At that point we thought Gabriel was great, but he said, “No no no, you have to change him.” So we went back and turned Gabriel into much more of an everyman. He’s not a one dimensional action hero anymore. He’s much more of a real person now. I think Kojima’s input on that really helped us, and you can see it in the character.
DO: Other than redesign Gabriel, what else did Kojima-san do to help you along the way?
DC: Well other than that, a lot of small things. For instance, we were having problems with mocap. We didn’t capture the faces properly, and we had a lot problems with lip sync, so he sent out the team from Kojima productions with all the Metal Gear Solid rigs. They showed us how they did facials and it helped us tremendously. In fact, one of the more interesting bits . . . you know how in videogames all the characters have very white teeth?
DO: Yeah . . .
DC: Well, Kojima-san said, “When you get the textures lay them out, and then shade the back teeth blacker, and shade the tongue, so when they are actually in the mouth they look much more realistic.” It sounds kind of basic . . .
DO: Well yeah, but it’s not something you’d normally think to do, and it makes the characters look more realistic.
DC: Exactly, it’s the kind of thing where we all sat around thinking, “Why didn’t we think of that?”
DO: Well that’s why he is who he is, and why he’s regarded in such a way.
DC: Exactly, it’s simply experience, so he helped us with a ton of little things like that. He really oversaw the entire project nearly from beginning to end, and his input and experience were invaluable.
So there you have it. Not only did Hideo Kojima have Mercury Steam completely change the main character of Lords of Shadow, but he helped with even the smallest details.
At this point, anyone who still thinks that Kojima-san only had a passing influence on this game and simply stamped his name on it is lying to themselves.
If you ask me, this game screams, “Kojima!” in every scene. But it also screams of passion and love for the Castlevania series and fans from people like producer David Cox and the team at Mercury Steam.
Look for the full interview as well as my complete hands on preview and new footage very soon right here at Ripten.com!!
What did Mr. Cox and I do after this interview you ask? Well, being true Englishmen … we went to the pub!!