Denis Dyack at E3 2003

by the NWR Staff - May 22, 2003, 9:53 pm PDT

Find out what happens when we send three of our elite after Denis Dyack for a "mafia style" interview, when he hasn't had sleep or time to prepare.

Denis Dyack, head of Silicon Knights, was able to take time to talk to Planet GameCube this past week at the Electronics Entertainment Expo. Denis always has interesting things to say, and this year was no different.

Denis: This morning we had tickets to go by and see “The Matrix” at five in the morning, and we went there at 4:30, got up, didn’t get hardly any sleep… and they cancelled the show.

Daniel Bloodworth: No!

Rick Powers: Are you kidding?!

Denis: No.

Jonathan Metts: Why?

Denis: I have no idea why, we couldn’t get in, some guy was cleaning the glass… He could tell we were tired, you know, 4:30 in the morning is pretty early to get up and go see a show. We just kind of looked at him, and he goes, “Aw man, sorry, it’s not me. Come back later.” Can you believe that?

Rick: I would be angry. *laughing*

Denis: With the night before too, you know, I could have used the sleep, so… but anyway, I don’t want to take up too much time, I just wanted to tell you guys that story.

Jonny: I guess… first we want to know, what’s the deal with Twin Snakes?

Denis: In which way?

Jonny: We know it’s a remake of the original, with the graphics and gameplay of Metal Gear Solid 2, right?

Denis: That’s correct.

Jonny: OK.

Denis: Well the graphics, actually, the graphics we’ve done a little bit more with… we’ve got a unified pipeline, we’ve got all different textures, bump-mapping, shine-mapping, all that stuff’s in there too. It’s not the “same” graphics as Metal Gear Solid 2 so much, but they’re upgraded graphics.

Jonny: So would you say they’re upgraded from the original Metal Gear Solid?

Denis: Oh yeah! Definitely, oh yeah.

Jonny: But not upgraded from Metal Gear Solid 2 graphics?

Denis: Uh, I guess it depends on what you mean by that question. It’s not… the engines are similar, but it’s obviously not the same technology, it’s running on the Cube. The Cube’s got some enhancements over the PlayStation 2, things that we can do that they can’t. That’s the best way to describe it. Does that answer your question?

Jonny: Yeah.

Denis: OK.

Jonny: What is the engine that it’s running on? Is this something that you guys made yourselves?

Denis: It’s a combination of some of our technology, and some of Konami’s technology.

Jonny: OK, so it’s not like a port of the PS2 engine, or something like that?

Denis: Uh, no… not really.

Rick: *jokingly* Is it running on a subset of the Too Human engine? *laughing*

Denis: No, no… No. *smiling*

Jonny: All right, well… What are the main things that you’re changing? I guess that’s what we’re most interested in.

Denis: Well, hopefully it was clear from the presentation that the cinematics are all being redone.

Jonny: Are they being redirected?

Rick: Yeah, because some of the storyline elements that we’ve seen look different from what I remember of Metal Gear Solid.

Denis: I think the story itself is going to stay true to itself. However, with the power of the GameCube and the advancements in the technology that we have… we’re going to be able to take it a lot further. That’s definitely a change. The gameplay itself, all the stuff that you can do (I don’t know if you guys have played Metal Gear Solid 2), you can definitely do in this. If you think about the first game and how it’s all setup, and then think about the dynamics of the second game, it should be a completely new experience.

Jonny: Would you say it changes the way you play the game, the strategies, the way you beat certain missions?

Denis: Yeah, I definitely think so. Certainly there’s a lot of things going on that I don’t want to talk about, but there’s going to be significant change beyond anything you’ve seen here. Obviously it’s a very short demo. There’ll be enhancements across the board. It’s exciting because with the collaboration that’s going on, we’ll really have a chance to take what I consider to be one of my favorite games of all time, and really bring it to the GameCube. A lot of GameCube fans have not played the Metal Gear Solid series, so it’ll be a great experience for them. And for those people who did play the first one, it’s going to be a new experience too, because we’ve changed so much of it.

Rick: If there’s one thing that I’d say Silicon Knights is most recognized for, it’s probably the “Insanity Effects” that were in Eternal Darkness. I know talking with you at one point, you had mentioned that one of the inspirations for those sort of effects was the Psycho Mantis battle from the original Metal Gear Solid, and some of the tricks it tries to play on the player. Is there any plan to expand on that in the new Metal Gear Solid game?

Denis: Well, I think it’s safe to say that all of the major boss fights and, you know, all those sorts of exciting things are all being looked at and are being improved as much as possible and enhanced, so… without giving away specifics… you guys know what I’m like, I don’t like to spill the beans on that stuff. Even from the video you can see that obviously some things have changes already. You have Psycho Mantis talking about Miyamoto-san, that definitely was not in the first one.

Rick: It seems like in the video that was shown there were definitely elements there that don’t look like they would necessarily make it into the final game.

Denis: Everything you’re looking at there is… probably going to be much improved by the time the final game is done.

Rick: Well, the reason why we’re asking is that when you were first showing Eternal Darkness a couple years ago, a lot of the elements you had in that game were things that never made it into the final version.

Denis: Right. But this development path and because it is a remake, what’s set is set. You’re probably not going to see a lot of that this time. Don’t forget, it’s coming out fairly shortly. One of the things that I’m really happy about with this project, amongst many, many things which I’ve already talked about… you know, last year there was Eternal Darkness, this year there’s going to be MGS, and in the future, next year, which I can’t talk about… hopefully there will be others. If things go well, and they seem to be.

Rick: Is Too Human hopefully going to be one of those others?

Denis: I can’t talk about those. I can’t talk about ‘em… so sorry! As soon as I started mentioning it, I was like, “Uh oh”…

Jonny: But you don’t “cancel” games, right?

Denis: Uh, no… we don’t like to. So… uh… No. *laughing*

Jonny: All right… well, what kind of input has Miyamoto had? We would expect Kojima to be working with you…

Denis: A tremendous amount with Kojima-san, all the time. We have a video-conference set up, and we pretty much talk to him every day. And there are people from Konami staying at Silicon Knights, actually, as well. Miyamoto-san is involved as well, and we speak often and it’s really, you know, around the same level that we had with Eternal Darkness, really. He’s pretty involved in just about everything. There’s been these crazy rumors that he doesn’t do development anymore, and that’s just not true.

Rick: One of the things I was going to mention was that he has a reputation for being a stickler, for having things just the way he wants them. Has he been difficult to work with in that regard, as far as giving you guys the freedom you need to create?

Denis: No, not at all… that’s like saying, “Is Aristotle difficult to work with?” *laughing* No, not at all. I guess a comment like that has too many negative ramifications… to say stickler.

Rick: Maybe “perfectionist” is a better word.

Denis: He’s driven to perfection in a way that’s best for everyone, and he’s never steered us wrong. And making a game with Nintendo, and Konami has the same standards, very high standards. At the end of the day you can’t just do something haphazardly, it’s gotta be quality, it’s gotta be polished, and Miyamoto-san is one of the gatekeepers. So, he’s going to look at something, and if he doesn’t think it’s up to par, he’s going to tell you… not in a stickler kind of way, in a way that’s going to help everyone. I really admire him tremendously and the way he does things is pretty awesome. He does a great job.

Jonny: What does “The Twin Snakes” mean? Is that entirely to do with the story?

Denis: Yeah, yeah.

Jonny: Entirely to do with the story?

Denis: That’s sort of a loaded question, because “The Twin Snakes” means so much. There’s a lot to that. Have you guys played the original Metal Gear (Solid)?

Rick: Yes.

Dan: Somewhat.

Jonny: Briefly.

Rick: I can’t say that I remember a whole lot about it, but I did play it and I remember key points.

Denis: It’s got key points to do with the story, there’s going to be other things as well, other enhancements… as Miyamoto-san mentioned during the press conference, there’s going to be “connectivity” things… so we’ve got a lot of stuff brewin’.

Rick: There have been rumor flying around that perhaps “The Twin Snakes” is alluding to some sort of a co-op multiplayer mode, or possibly a LAN connection between two Cubes…

Denis: We’re looking into “connectivity issues”… I really don’t want to comment on that particular rumor, but we definitely want to do something that takes advantage of the GameCube hardware.

Jonny: Can you say anything about the rumor that Metal Gear Solid 2 for GameCube will be included in this package?

Denis: Yes. That is not true.

Jonny: Not true.

Denis: That’s not true.

Jonny: Can you say if this is going to be a one-disc game, or two?

Denis: Oh! Uh… geez, I don’t know. I’m not sure actually.

Rick: Well, historically, Metal Gear Solid was fairly FMV intensive…

Denis: Oh yeah, there’s a lot… there’s probably more in this than in the original. So, my guess is… it’s got potential for two discs. Yeah, potential.

Rick: Will you be using your proprietary compression engine, or will you be using the DivX tools that Factor 5 developed?

Denis: We’re going to be using a whole bunch of stuff. DivX is only good for video, it’s basically FMV or FMA, and there’s not a whole lot of that in this.

Jonny: The demo’s great.

Denis: This is all real-time polygon demos. Like all the cinematics that you guys saw, those are all real-time, so you can actually move the camera around while that stuff’s happening too, in the game.

Jonny: You can control the camera?

Denis: Yeah.

Jonny: You can control the camera, or we can?

Denis: YOU can.

Jonny: Really?

Denis: Yes.

Jonny: That’s cool!

Denis: I think you can do that on the show floor here. Can you imagine if…

Jonny: I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.

Denis: Oh yeah. All the MGS stuff is all in game, it’s real-time. It’s amazing, it’s good stuff. I’ll tell ya, what a great experience, you know? And I said this in the press conference… having the opportunity to work with both Miyamoto-san and Kojima-san, it’s… it’s pretty amazing. Certainly for us, it’s a pretty big landmark, but also for the industry. I think what it says more than anything is that Nintendo really cares about video games, and so does Konami, and they’re looking to build relationships for the future of not only the relationship that we’re forming, but for the future of video games. It’s really important for us that games like Grand Theft Auto don’t become dominant, quite frankly. It’s a good game, you know? I’m not going to criticize it. I just don’t like the direction where everything is going in that way. And I think that games like Metal Gear Solid that have a message, you know, Eternal Darkness, those kinds of things. That’s where I want to see the future go. So we’re working hard towards it.

Jonny: You guys are really into story, and of course, Metal Gear is very famous for its story. Is it difficult for you to look at their story, and know that within certain boundaries, you can’t really change it?

Denis: Well…

Jonny: Because it’s part of an established myth, and you can’t really do much with that.

Denis: Well, at the end of the day, if it’s not broken, you shouldn’t fix it.

Jonny: Yeah.

Denis: The whole sort of idea of doing of doing a remake is not a re-write. It’d be the same kind of thing as changing things in Lord of the Rings. They’ve done some things with the movies, as an example, that they had to do for time and space, but generally they’ve kept pretty true. A few exceptions here and there, and even then, there’s always a big, you know, “What happened at the river? That wasn’t right!” The answer is not really at all. I think really, in this particular aspect our job is to bring it to the system, to introduce it to people who haven’t played the MGS series. For many reasons… to show that we’re forming relationships, to build other things up for the future, and that’s the goal… so not at all.

Jonny: What are you doing about the game’s pacing? Are you looking at things in the original, where you play through a certain amount and you stop and read through a conversation, or you stop and you have a movie? A lot of people, myself included actually, find it difficult to get into Metal Gear Solid because there are so many movies, there’s so much narration, that doesn’t happen while you play the game. It stops you from playing the game, and you sit through all this.

Rick: Particularly, Metal Gear Solid 2 was famous for there being a rather lengthy, on an order or two or three minutes long FMV sequence, you walk out of the room, around a corner, go into another room, and now you’re “treated” to an even longer FMV. And you had maybe a few seconds of gameplay in-between.

Jonny: Are you guys going to be doing anything about that? Is that something you’re looking at changing?

Denis: Well, there are several things we’re looking at changing to optimize the experience for the player. You know, at the same time, keeping true to the original. So I think that a lot of the things you guys are talking about… I don’t think there were (any) large complaints about the first one, not to me, anyway. But there are definitely changes with the CODEC and how we’re doing some things. I think you’ll be satisfied with that. You tell me when it comes out.

Jonny: The CODEC in the demo right now, is that what you think will be in the final game? Or are you planning on making any changes to that?

Denis: In which way? ‘Cause actually, nothing’s final, so it would depend on what you’re talking about.

Jonny: Well, from what I can tell, it looks pretty much like the original. You have these sprites…

Denis: Oh, you mean the 3D versus the faces?

Jonny: Yeah.

Denis: Yeah… obviously we could have done 3D with that, and the decision was made to go with more of a nostalgic approach, and stay with the 2D animated faces.

Rick: Some people around the floor have commented that the graphic quality of “The Twin Snakes” isn’t up to par with a lot of the other titles that are being shown on the floor.

Denis: Oh, really?

Rick: Any comments?

Denis: No, I haven’t heard that. Really, that’s the comment? Oh, wow. OK. Sorry to hear that. *laughing*

Jonny: I would say… I only played it for a few minutes, not very long. I would say it looked much different than the video that we saw at the press conference. Would you say that’s a difference between the gameplay and the cinema scenes, or maybe just a matter of the display technology?

Denis: No, it’s the same engine… what were the differences.

Rick: It seemed to look a lot “cleaner” in the video presentation, and maybe it’s the displays they’re using on the floor.

Denis: Nope, it’s the same, the same. It’s the same, so… everything there is the same, all the polygon demos, and all of the cinematics that were there are using the same engine, so…

Rick: You had an interview with IGN back in January at the DICE conference…

Denis: *laughs*

Rick: I believe IGN asked you something along the lines of, “If you could go back and do Eternal Darkness differently, what would you change?” And I’m paraphrasing your answer here, but I believe you said something to the effect of… that you didn’t think that Eternal Darkness had the flash or the flare of a game like a Metal Gear Solid, so that’s the direction you’re going to go in the future.

Denis: Yes.

Rick: Was that intentional?

Denis: Yes. *laughs*

Rick: Why did you do that?

Denis: I can’t help myself? I don’t know… I like dramatic foreshadowing? But… that actually was meant on several levels, it was kind of a little nice hint for the future, ‘cause obviously I knew what was going on, but beyond that, the statement in itself is true. I think if you look at say Eternal Darkness, and compare it to say, a game like Metal Gear Solid, the difference is between a Hollywood movie, and a foreign film. We’re very happy with Eternal Darkness and the way we did it. But certainly, one of our changes was not to put flash in it, and in some ways, I think that because we went in that direction, it didn’t get some of the attention it deserved. So, it was a multi-faceted comment.

Rick: I’ve always felt that the reason why Eternal Darkness didn’t do as well as it could’ve is the fact that the subject matter, the themes, the literary references…

Denis: Very difficult.

Rick: A lot of that would go over the mainstream gamer’s head.

Denis: Yes.

Rick: If you choose to do a sequel to Eternal Darkness, is that something that will be addressed at that time?

Denis: Uh… you know…

Rick: Or do you believe in the concept so much that you’d want to…

Denis: You know, I’m pretty happy with that stuff, and if we did another one, we’d probably stick to that. Maybe we would, I guess, raise the watermark. Make it maybe, some of the basic stuff a little easier to comprehend, but I think that the depth is still going to be there. It really wouldn’t be Eternal Darkness without it. That really defined Eternal Darkness. Now we would change certainly a lot of other things, but that’s something that we would really stick to.

Jonny: When is Twin Snakes coming out?

Denis: This Christmas.

Jonny: Do you expect that it will arrive on time?

Denis: I hope so. Yeah, I think so.

Rick: It looks like Nintendo has a large amount of titles all scheduled to come out around the winter season. Do you have any concerns about the timing with that, and that since Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes is much of a remake, that some gamers that maybe have played it on the PlayStation are going to pass on it, and pick up some of Nintendo’s other titles that are releasing at the same time?

Denis: Well, you know… I haven’t looked at the release schedule so much, but you know… generally things are usually planned out fairly well, and I think there’s lots of room. If there’s a lot of games coming out for the GameCube, that’s a good thing, so… we’re not concerned at all about it.

Jonny: Is Konami publishing this game?

Denis: Yes, yes they are.

Jonny: Being that Silicon Knights is a “second party” developer, does that mean that Nintendo is basically paying for the development of a game that Konami will publish?

Denis: Oh, I don’t want to go into those details. It’s definitely a relationship between Nintendo, Konami, and Silicon Knights. Going into the details of who’s paying for what, it’s not something I can go into. Make sense?

Rick: Sony announced that Metal Gear Solid 3 will be exclusive to PlayStation 2. Konami also seems to have a way with… I won’t say “getting around” exclusivity agreements, but basically managing to get exclusives on systems, and then releasing them later with changes, with enhancements, with a new title, maybe new gameplay additions added, and releasing them on other systems. Is there a possibility that you may collaborate with Konami again and bring a “version” of Metal Gear Solid 3 to the GameCube?

Denis: Well, getting into details like that is I think going too far at this point. But one of the things that I’m really happy about is that there is a strong chance that there will be further collaborations with Konami, you know, with us or with Nintendo, so things are looking very positive. That’s one of the main goals, not just this one title, but the relationship for the future.

Jonny: Go for Castlevania next. *laughs* “Dracula May Cry”.

Rick: Would you say that right now, Nintendo is basically making small changes… well, I won’t even say small changes, but is taking the steps now that they need to be a dominant force in the next generation?

Denis: There’s no question… that’s one of the things we’re trying to do. Iwata-san said it very, very well… is that we’re taking an aggressive stance now, immediately, for this current generation, and definitely for future generations. There’s big changes coming in our industry. You see it all the time, You see mergers, you see changes, companies that you’d expect to be around forever are gone, and they’re going to continue to go. And out of all the first-parties, they all have their different agendas, and I really think that Nintendo is the group that really cares about video games, and the future of video games. Where the other first parties have other agendas, where Microsoft… it’s not clear to me whether they’re really that interested in video games or not. They definitely want to dominate the market, but whether it’s about video games is not clear to me. Also with Sony, they have their ideas, they want to have their entertainment system station, they want to do more than video games. We want to do video games, we want to improve on video games. So we’re making relationships that will improve on that in the future. I think the steps that we’ve taken, even this year, have been tremendous.

Have you guys gone to the other press conferences, the Sony one and the Microsoft one?

Rick: I didn’t go to either of those, but I heard quite a bit about them…

Denis: What did you hear about them?

Rick: That “Grabbed by the Ghoulies” was the laughing stock of the show, and that Sony made the biggest splash with their PlayStation Portable announcement.

Denis: Oh, you mean the portable announcement where they didn’t show it? Yeah, right. Interesting. Well, one of the things I’ve heard and I’ve asked around… what we had first and foremost was the software. We put it up there and we said, “This is what we’re doing.” And we had games, we had developers, and the list of developers that were up on stage, was pretty overwhelming for me. Within a couple of days I’ve met everyone. We went out, Miyamoto-san, Will Wright, and myself went out for shabu-shabu the other night, and we just sort of talked about general stuff. These are all really great game makers, and it’s these kinds of alliances that make the difference.

You guys have probably heard me say this before, but as technology continues to escalate, maybe even at an exponential rate, we’re going to reach a perceptual threshold where the noticeable differences between each leap in technology become smaller and smaller and smaller, to the point where the hardware itself is going to be such a small factor as compared to the software. So whether you’re running 60fps or 120fps, or you’re running 32-bit or you’re running 48-bit, or whatever the difference is going to be, as far as graphics go. It’s going to become less and less noticeable to the player, when we reach this technical threshold where it won’t matter any more, it’s going to come down to the games. And that’s one thing that I know our group understands. And that’s what we’re focusing on, the software… that’s where we’re putting most of our effort.

Rick: I’m going to put you on the spot for a second. During the press conference, Iwata said that they aren’t going to let Sony have a head start this time around, they’re going to be there to compete wherever they have to. Some people would say that Nintendo has already given up the head start again by dismissing online as not being profitable. How do you feel about that?

Denis: Well I certainly feel… first of all, it’s not profitable. It’s a huge money sink, and to see the blood loss there, just go talk to some Microsoft shareholders when they talk about Xbox Live, and they won’t be very happy. Even if you look at the PlayStation 2 market, it’s the same thing, they had very aggressive plans in the beginning, which they later abandoned and said, “Here you guys, just do what you want.” That’s basically how I saw it anyway.

Clearly, Nintendo is not ignoring the online market, but I think what we’re saying is that we’re going to get in when the business model is right, and we still have a long way to go. At the end of the day, to keep quality up there, you have to have profitability. You can’t just continue to spend and spend money until you’re out of it, or you stop having, like, parties at E3 or something. (Editor’s note: Microsoft did not have a party at E3 this year.) I don’t know. *laughs* I’m just kidding. You can’t continue to do that, you’ve got to be responsible. I disagree that we’re missing anything, except missing out on losing lots of money right now. If you ask me, I think that’s pretty good.

When it comes to online stuff, let’s face it. There’s not a lot of rocket science in that, I don’t think. You know, connectivity and creating gameplay is not overly difficult and I think that when the time is right, we’ll be right in there, without any hesitation. It’s just that the time’s not right.

Jonny: Back to Metal Gear for a minute. The original Metal Gear Solid was followed by basically an expansion disc, that included… I don’t know how many, but a lot of VR missions, I think it was called Integral? Will those be included in Twin Snakes?

Denis: No, currently not, no.

Jonny: Would you like to?

Denis: Um, well, certainly depending on our schedule, we’re going to do all we can, and we want to enhance the experience as much as possible. But that’s where we’re at with that stuff today.

Jonny: One problem here is that none of us are really familiar with Metal Gear, and of course, a lot of our readers aren’t either. Give me an idea of what you think is the essence of Metal Gear. What makes it so interesting? What makes it so popular?

Rick: Why do you like it so much?

Denis: Why do I like Metal Gear?

All: Yeah.

Denis: Well, first of all, the story is amazing. It’s a very, very good story. Secondly, the gameplay itself is very original and dynamic. And it is the first game where you go around “stealthing”, and you do it in such a way, that… if you play it on the expert or difficult levels, you can really get into it. It’s very hard and very challenging.

But beyond that, it’s an experience like no other, I think. You know, the character development, the story itself, the way it interweaves… I think it’s all done very well. It’s very realistic, the weapons are all to spec. I think that the way in which the story develops as you play, also, is very, very interesting. I’ll just leave it at that, I don’t want to give the story away to you guys if you don’t know the story, but it’s very good. That’s what I would say. It really in some sense, defined its own genre.

*pause*

You guys are smiling.

Rick: Well, I know more about the game than Jonny’s giving me credit for.

Denis: Was that a good answer then?

Rick: *nods* I know one of Kojima’s main influences for the Metal Gear Solid games has been the Escape from New York and Escape from L.A. movies, with Snake Plissken and those characters and whatnot. Has (Kojima) tried to get you to put any more of that sort of thing, or take references from other movies and stuff that he likes, and put that in the game?

Denis: That’s a hard question to answer, because we’re all influenced by the media we watch.

Rick: And what we read…

Denis: Yeah, I’ll read a book, or I’ll watch a movie, and I’ll see some interesting camera work and I’ll be like “Geez, I’d really like to do something like that, or similar to that, for our next project”… which I can’t talk about now. You know, those kinds of things, so we all do it. However, for the game itself, it’s going to have its own look, and there’s going to be some new stuff with it. But I don’t think that anything in regards to Snake Plissken, that we’re going to see any more of that Escape from New York stuff. I don’t think so. I think that’s probably as far as it’s going to go. Time will tell.

Rick: The reason why I asked is because I know that the Metal Gear Solid series, well, Metal Gear in general actually, borrows from those movies… and those genres of movies, quite a bit. Eternal Darkness borrowed very heavily from literary references… Lovecraft and Poe and whatnot.

Denis: We stand on the shoulders of giants. *laughs*

Rick: So for the next project that you can’t talk about *smiles*, are you looking to borrow more form other sources of media, other forms of pop culture…

Denis: For future projects, uh…

Rick: Basically, is there something else you’ve seen that’s possibly influencing the way you’re going to approach your next project?

Denis: Well, yes… we’ve seen all kinds of things that we think are influential, but we’re really… with our future titles that I can’t go into detail with right now, we’re really going to try to break new ground in areas that hopefully no one has ever seen before.

Jonny: Do you expect to release another game next year? In 2004?

Denis: We hope so.

Jonny: Has your development on other projects basically been suspended while you work on Metal Gear? Or are you working on multiple…

Denis: We’re working on multiple projects right now.

Jonny: OK. I think I already know the answer to this question, but I think it’s something our readers think about and talk about. And it has to do with the level of control and interaction between Nintendo and its second-parties. A lot of people look at a project like this, and they think that Nintendo really wanted Metal Gear on GameCube, so they went to Konami and said, “Hey, we want this, we can get somebody to do it for you, etc., etc.” And Nintendo basically goes to you and says, “Hey, make this game,” and they pretty much order you to do it. Is it like that at all?

Denis: No, *laughs* Not at all.

Jonny: I think a lot of people assume that’s pretty much what happens.

Denis: No. Well, people are going to make assumptions. When you think about Silicon Knights and you think about Nintendo… if you’re gonna think about us as a separate entity or as a traditional second party, you’re probably going to be wrong on most accounts. We highly collaborate with EAD all the time. In many senses, we’re inseparable. I like to consider us basically a team that’s inside Nintendo, that isn’t located at NCL. That’s really it.

Did they order us to do MGS? Absolutely not. Did they ask us if we wanted to do it? Yes, of course. And it all happened very, very quickly. It’s something that was not forced. That kind of relationship doesn’t work out.

Rick: Do you know what sparked the conversation that ended up bringing the Metal Gear project into (Silicon Knights)?

Denis: The initial discussions I wasn’t there for, but I was there shortly after the release of Eternal Darkness. I actually was in Japan and we were talking about stuff, and we were working on long-term plans for future projects. I sat down with Miyamoto-san and Iwata-san, and they said, “So, would you like to do Metal Gear Solid?” And I said, “Pardon?!” I had no idea. And they said, “Well, you could do Metal Gear Solid if you want for the GameCube.” *laughs* And then they told me about the details, and they said, “Are you interested?”, and I said, “Sure!” The next day we had a meeting with Kojima-san, and we started. One day! So it was fast.

Rick: Wow.

Denis: Things happen. Real quick. It was good, it was good. It’s been very rewarding, we’re very, very happy about it. Hopefully you guys will be too.

Jonny: I’ll ask the obligatory finale, I guess. Have you played anything (on the show floor), and what’s your favorite. What are you looking forward to out here?

Denis: I haven’t played anything… at all. I’ve looked around… F-Zero looks pretty cool. *pauses* Besides our title, right? *laughs*

Rick: What do you think of “Geist”?

Denis: I haven’t played it yet, but I think the concept is very, very interesting. Beyond that, I haven’t played it, so I don’t know. What do you guys think of Geist?

Rick: I think it’s an incredibly fresh and new… and it’s something that I don’t think a lot of people have seen before, the concept…

Denis: It’s very interesting.

Rick: And it’s very, very outside of the Nintendo norm. I think the whole idea of having ghosts possessing… is something Nintendo would never approach on their own.

Denis: Well, I don’t know. We did Eternal Darkness, and you know… I think what is going to start to happen over the next few years, you guys are going to start to be surprised. Certainly I think as a group, we’re adapting and changing pretty rapidly. Quite frankly, our group, and Retro, we’re doing pretty mature products. One of the goals is to have a really well balanced portfolio of games that everyone can enjoy, and I think that Geist fits in that pretty nicely, actually. That’s really all, I haven’t played it so it’s really difficult for me to comment on it. That’s interesting though… so you like it then?

Jonny: We’re pretty interested in it.

Denis: Good.

Rick: It’s a really… it’s refreshing. It’s very, very different from things I’ve seen before.

Denis: Cool.

Rick: Is there any message you want to leave with our readers… besides “Buy Metal Gear Solid”? *laughs*

Denis: Well, uh… Hello? How are you guys? I’m sorry I haven’t posted that often (in the forums), but I do what I can. Not really, but I hope that people look at things that are happening now, and look at the long-term ramifications rather than even the short term. The short term is very important, and so you’re seeing games like Twin Snakes, or the new Pac-Man… which I also thought was very, very cool. And Four Swords. I want to play both of those. Very, very interesting stuff. And Soul Calibur 2, God.

But it’s the long-term stuff. The things that have been happening, and I think Iwata-san as President has done a fantastic job so far, and we’re going to continue to see aggressive change and positive change for the future from Nintendo. It’s good. So that would be the message, I guess.

Rick: Thank you, Denis.

Denis: Thank you.

Rick: It’s been a pleasure as always.

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