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Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes and KP's 10-year pipeline

The Metal Gear 25th anniversary panel at PAX may have given the world its first glimpse at MGS: Ground Zeroes, but read between the lines, says Johnny Cullen, and you'll see a Kojima Productions at its busiest.

Kojima Productions fans you should be thrilled: we have Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes; Metal Gear Rising in February; the incredible possibilities of FOX Engine within KP; Project Ogre; a ZoE sequel in the form of Enders Project; Metal Gear Solid 5; and the possibility of a Metal Gear Solid with The Boss as protagonist. This is a pipeline that's set to keep the studio going for at least a decade.

May 2000. It's E3 week in Los Angeles. Behind closed doors at Universal Studios, Hideo Kojima shows the infamous debut trailer of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty to press. Days later, as the showfloor opens, the trailer makes its public debut to a rapturous reception.

The announcement of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes this past weekend has invoked memories of that announce, and shows Kojima Productions at a time where its best work is about to come into view.

Snake and Awe

Ground Zeroes' announce last week at a Japanese 25th anniversary event for the Metal Gear franchise had many attendees calling it a wow-worthy presentation. It was the first time Fox Engine had been properly shown since its debut at E3 2011.

Two days later, those who never got to see the demo in Tokyo finally saw it either at a PAX MGS panel or a shortened version online through Konami's YouTube channel. The reaction online following the demo was amazing.

While the announcement of a new Metal Gear is always big news, the announcement of Ground Zeroes was similar of that to MGS2's. MGS2's debut trailer wowed partly because of the tech running at the time on PS2, which was still to launch in the US and Europe back then. With Ground Zeroes, we were seeing what appeared to be a next-gen Metal Gear. The shocker? While the demo was running on a PC, it'll launch on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Not PS4 or 720.

But even with the announcement still fresh in everyone's minds, Kojima is already thinking ahead to Metal Gear Solid 5. No, Ground Zeroes isn't MGS5: it's what Kojima called a "prequel" to the next numbered installment in the series, according to impressions from IGN at PAX.

Considering Ground Zeroes is a Peace Walker sequel of sorts, it's likely we're sticking with the Big Boss timeline for the next main game. A nugget was also dropped in regards to the wider future of the series. When asked about making more spin-offs in the series - à la Rising - Kojima said he'd like to make a game based on The Boss from MGS3.

He's mentioned this before as a possible idea before developing Metal Gear Solid: Rising, but at PAX he noted any game that stars The Boss would be part of the main canon, not as a spin off. The reception to this idea from the crowd at the PAX panel, according to Eurogamer, was very positive. That could be seen as a signal of intent that Kojima, a man who kept saying each main game in the series would be his last for many years, has multiple routes forward for the property.

Beyonds the Bounds?

But what does this mean for Project Ogre, something Kojima has been teasing for the best part of a year on Twitter? The assumption was, following the Tokyo event last week, that Ogre was Project Zeroes. CVG's reporting that it's actually something else entirely at KP.

Watch on YouTube

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes.

Has Kojima handed Ogre to another team with one of his main MGS stalwarts in charge? This seems probable. Of the three key men who drove development on Metal Gear Solid 4, Kojima will be writing, directing and handling game design duties on Ground Zeroes, while his right-hand man Yoji Shinkawa will be art director plus character and mechanical designer.

The last of those "top men" is Shuyo Murata. Having been involved with the writing of Metal Gear Solid 2, GBA spin-off Ghost Babel, creating a mini-game in MGS3 and directing Zone of the Enders 2, Murata became a big-time KP player when he co-directed and co-wrote MGS4. Since the release of Guns of the Patriots, he also co-wrote Peace Walker. If you spot the credits in the Ground Zeroes video, Murata isn't mentioned once next to Kojima and Shinkawa.

It's possible Murata has gone onto Project Ogre as its director, or some other project in a senior role if not.

That aside, what happened on Saturday was exciting for any normal Metal Gear fan. But as a fan of Kojima Productions as a whole, you should be thrilled: we have the announcement of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes; the release of Metal Gear Rising in February from Platinum, plus possible sequels; the incredible possibilities of FOX Engine within KP (and, seemingly, Konami too); Project Ogre; a ZoE sequel in the form of Enders Project; Metal Gear Solid 5; and the possibility of a Metal Gear Solid with The Boss as the main character. This is a pipeline that's set to keep the studio going for at least a decade.

We're about to see Hideo Kojima and his team truly hit their stride as we head towards a new console cycle. And it's going to be awesome.

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