Metal Gear Mondays — Tactical Podcast Action

MGM:R #016 - Portable Ops Pt. 7 - Ryan Payton Talks Portable Ops

May 10, 2021 Metal Gear Mondays Season 2
MGM:R #016 - Portable Ops Pt. 7 - Ryan Payton Talks Portable Ops
Metal Gear Mondays — Tactical Podcast Action
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Metal Gear Mondays — Tactical Podcast Action
MGM:R #016 - Portable Ops Pt. 7 - Ryan Payton Talks Portable Ops
May 10, 2021 Season 2
Metal Gear Mondays

Dear listeners, this week we bring you another lovely conversation with good friend of the show, Ryan Payton. Huge thanks to Ryan for giving us more of his time and insights on this game, which we're not ashamed to say, has been slept on.

Support the Show.

Psst... did you know that you could converse with fellow listeners on our Discord? Yes, even now. Right this very moment.

Find more cool links and goodies on our Linktree. And, we have to mention the amazing Metal Gear Mondays Interactive Database that "Dragonhide" put together for us. You can search for anything across every episode. Super cool!

And, if you need to contact the show, feel free to do so using this link.

Show Notes Transcript

Dear listeners, this week we bring you another lovely conversation with good friend of the show, Ryan Payton. Huge thanks to Ryan for giving us more of his time and insights on this game, which we're not ashamed to say, has been slept on.

Support the Show.

Psst... did you know that you could converse with fellow listeners on our Discord? Yes, even now. Right this very moment.

Find more cool links and goodies on our Linktree. And, we have to mention the amazing Metal Gear Mondays Interactive Database that "Dragonhide" put together for us. You can search for anything across every episode. Super cool!

And, if you need to contact the show, feel free to do so using this link.

Hello, hello, hello again, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls and everyone in between.

We have arrived at another episode of Middle Gear Monday's Revengeance.

This week we are featuring Ryan Peyton once again who has so graciously come back to talk

to me about all things portable ops.

He has some behind the scenes scoops to give us and just in general a very nice conversation

is in store for you.

So we hope you enjoy it and without further ado, Ryan Peyton.

So Ryan, how have you been since we last spoke?

Well, I've been busy as always working on stuff that we do over at Camouflage.

I had a good holiday settling into the new normal that we're all living through right

now with the pandemic.


Just really excited to be here, Tori, to be able to talk to you more about my history

working on portable ops and all things Metal Gear.


Yeah, we've had a great fun time recording these episodes so far and it sounds like our

listeners are really responding well to it.

So that leads me to believe that this conversation we're about to have is going to be a pretty

fun one.

Not to mention all of the fun teasers you had from the last time you talked with us

on the show.

That's right.

So I guess I'm just going to open it up to you about one of the things you mentioned

last time and specifically regarding the story of portable ops, the name, if you want to

start there.

Yeah, that's right.

So I don't know if I've ever talked about this publicly, so that's what's kind of fun

about it is I think I last episode I talked about some of the internal thinking on the

name and one thing that is funny about the way that Hideo works is you could tell with

a lot of the different aspects of Metal Gear that there's different influences that are

behind different naming and designs and all that and with MPO or Metal Gear portable

ops, like that was no different.

And we had some ideas and I also want to be respectful of him and not reveal everything.

So I won't go into some of the creative inspirations behind the name, but I will say that there

was actually something of an issue with naming the game portable ops because there were some

complications behind naming a PSP or a PlayStation portable title with portable in the name.

Now there are other examples of it like Monster Hunter portable, but it kind of results in

like market confusion and there are different policies about it per territory.

But that was one area where Hideo was able to use his muscle working with executives

to push that thing through and I would love to get into more details, but I guess I'll

stop at that.

But that was something of a controversy is that we didn't really internal controversy.

We didn't know what the name of the game was going to be for a while.

And in fact, I was looking through my notes because I was asked to come up with alternative

titles in the event that we weren't able to use the name portable ops.

And I can't remember what the names were off the top of my head, but a lot of had to do

with the origins of Foxhound and things like that.

And but yeah, it was it was I remember that was being a that was a very stressful time

because we didn't know what the name of the game was going to be.

And we needed to announce the game at E3 and I think a 2000 what a put year that have

been in 2005 or no 2006 E3 2006.

So yeah, that was yeah, sorry, I didn't be able to go into too much more detail about

it. But yeah, that was just like a very fun slash stressful memory from the from the games

development. Sure.

Yeah, I was going to ask what kind of what kind of pressure that must have been for the

team to know that you're you're probably days, weeks away from from E3 and not completely

sure what you're going to call this thing was that I mean, did that kind of roll over

into any other aspects of producing the game or was it kind of just isolated to that one

problem up in the air?

I think that this was the was the biggest external threat to the titles development,

if you will, that most of them, most of the other challenges we face were mainly production

related, just lack of time, resources, those types of things.

And so we as we talked about last episode, I'm still just absolutely floored that the team

built this game in under a year.

And what that means is that we just moved so fast.

And any sort of problem at the time really felt achieved like that we could overcome almost

any challenge that was thrown at us because we just had so little time to figure it out.

Whereas in like, for example, the game that I'm working on right now, we've got a healthy

timeline for it. And we're doing lots of tests, we're doing lots of discussions, make sure that

the path forward is the right path.

And yeah, it's really good as we're doing some very healthy pre production.

But that's we had pre production on portable ops, but which literally lasted, I think, for

about two or three months. And that was it.

So yeah, we blew past a lot of a lot of things.

And if for your listeners who are curious about game development, you can really see the

benefits of having proper pre production and having a much larger team and having even

like much more senior people on the team.

What they would do with a Metal Gear game, which you can see obviously with with Peace

Walker, same hardware, but drastically different quality of visual, you know, visual

quality, not to say that portable ops doesn't look good, it actually compared to most titles

that were released in 2006 on PSP.

It's definitely one of the best better looking games.

But it's incredible what the team achieved when they had proper pre production like you saw on

Peace Walker.

Right. Yeah. And that's you mentioned some some game mechanics, which I'd love to touch on

later. So one last question about just a portable ops story in general and and fine

again, if your answer is the same way I can, I can just move on.

But how much did you know about the story of portable ops while you were working on it?

Did you have specific details about any of these characters or their plot lines or was it more

just kind of the technical end of things for you?

Well, for better or for worse, I was intimately familiar with the story quite early on because

I had a lot of work involved with the story, not that I was writing anything about it, although

I would give feedback on various elements.

But I was in charge of ensuring that we did all the voiceover recording for the game.

And so I had to get access early access to the script and work with the actors, Chris

and Raman Saltor, who directed the voiceovers and did a great job with that over at Salami

Studio. It was my first experience doing that. So that was wonderful.

And then also working with Ashley Wood, that was one of my jobs was to

Oh, excellent.

Yeah, help like to navigate and help lead the charge on a timeline that was extremely short.

And he was such a champ.

And one of the things about that's great about his art style is that it's very abstract and

very stylistic, right?

And so it actually fit perfectly into a game that had absurdly short development cycle.

And so he had a lot of questions about the story and what the intent was and who the motivation

between these characters.

And so as much as I could, I was I was trying to help guide him in that process, which was

really fun for me. I mean, for context, I wasn't even at Quidra Productions for a year by the

time I was doing a lot of this work. So yeah, dream come true. That's for sure.

Oh, I bet. Yeah. And you just kind of dove in headfirst, it seems like which

in my mind, there's really no other way of doing things that are new.

So it sounds like you you made the best of the situation you had.

And I got to say, we're going to touch on this a little bit later, but I

I ended up being quite impressed by the end of my play through of this game,

knowing that it was about a year of a timeline to get this made.

It just you could see the effort from the team to pull something

like that together for a new system for the team, right?

It just I I'm quite pleased to be here talking with you about it,

because I personally had a really great experience with it.

Well, it's great. And I think the and I appreciate that.

And the poorlops is going through something of a small maybe small R,

like lowercase R renaissance and the level of appreciation,

because I think it's well deserved for the team and what they did.

And yeah, like you said, given given the short amount of development time

they had and the expectations and that I think they did

an unbelievably good job with it.

And in fact, I was in preparation for this episode.

I was just scouring YouTube to watch some videos about the game

to familiarize myself with it.

And it was a couple of things I noticed.

One is that, wow, it's amazing what 15 years will do to your memory.

I forgot a lot of stuff.

So that was that was somewhat concerning.

But the second thing was I watched a video produced by a gentleman named

Jay's review. And if you haven't seen that, if you're a listener,

you haven't seen that video, it's it's really wonderful.

I think he takes a very as much as he can, an objective view on on portable ops.

And he posted a number of years back, but I just finally had a chance to watch it.

It's about a 40 minute video.

And he really goes in depth about some of the really great successes of portable

ops and also some of its shortcomings. I thought it was very fair.

But but also like very well researched and really, really enjoyed that.

So again, it's like, I think if you just search YouTube for MGS,

portable ops, critical defense, you could you could find it.

Excellent. Well, that's the kind of content that at least the the crew of MGMR.

And I think it's safe to say a handful of the audience is a fan of,

you know, real objective and critical analysis.

At least I hope to say that because otherwise what we're putting out

is is not for some. Right.

So that's that's great to know that other people are giving this game

attention because I think all three of us between Warren, Chris and myself

agreed that this game has been slept on a little bit.

And it's nice to hear that there's a even if it is a lower case,

our Renaissance coming forth for this game. That's really great.

Yeah. And it's it's it's got its work cut out for it, right?

Because I think as we as we all know, it's it has never been

re-released unlike a lot of unlike the majority of the Metal Gear catalog.

Right. And that doesn't help its legacy, right?

If you can only play it on on the PlayStation portable,

and sometimes you can play it on the Vita. That's about it.

And so I hope one day that the game will be made more available

out wider on other on other platforms. That would be that would be awesome.

Oh, that'd be so great, especially if we could get a second joystick.

That would be phenomenal.

It would just change the whole dynamic of the game

and the for all for the for the best, right? Right.

Well, OK, if you're comfortable moving on, I think it seems like it's time

to talk about the Canon question.

Is Portable Ops Canon to or according to Canon,

a viable contribution to the story?

Well, I'm going to try I'll preface this by I'm going to try my best to

explain my thinking on it and my opinion on it. OK.

Even though it's it's I think it's understandably complex for most of your listeners.

So I guess maybe for a little bit of for a little bit of context

before I go into my opinion about it and tell me, Torey,

if I'm if I'm misunderstanding this, because I actually didn't know

this was a controversy until relatively recently. OK. That.

I think we can all we all understand that early on when the game was marketed,

it was marketed as a canonical entry into the Metal Gear solid solid saga.

That sounds right. Yeah.

And in fact, like I'm almost positive because that was a big part of the messaging

and the work that I did. In fact, I as part of our show notes,

I took a copy and paste at a photo I took out of my old notebook from 2006

in which I was charged with trying to think about how we're going to message

this out to the to the world through marketing and PR and other avenues.

And my my four bullet points about the title was

finally Metal Gear solid on PlayStation Portable.

Not it's not acid. No offense to that awesome franchise, right?

But it's Metal Gear solid on PSP.

And then there's these bullet points.

And then the second big thing about the game is to you can recruit comrades.

And then another big point about the game is that it's online.

You can play multiplayer, which was really cool.

Oh, yeah. The fourth big point was that it was the missing link in the Metal Gear

can it. So if this was not a canonical game, then why would we talk all at like

at nauseam about how the game is actually a missing link in that Metal Gear saga story?

Right. Sure.

So that being said, though, from again, what from what I understand,

because I when I left Konami and Kojima Productions back in 2008, I'd really

I just moved forward.

I tried not to look back too much.

Sure. But I tried to, you know, I heard certain things and and I was obvious

and I played piece walk. I really loved it.

I played Metal Gear solid five and I really loved it.

But one thing I I saw this kind of brewing controversy was about how

some things were conflicting, some story from from other titles of the future

titles were conflicting with some of the things that were depicted in Portable Ops.

And then there was this interview that I was linked to where Hideo was interviewed

and talked about who's asked specifically whether or not I think it was from Jeff

Kealy, whether or not Portable Ops was actually a canonical entry in the franchise.

And I think he gave an answer from what I understand in Japanese was

it's it's canon in some regards.

But it's when I get involved with a title

and and I get involved in like a part of the canon.

And I caught and by I mean he like Hideo Kojima, like if I if I start to.

Change things around or suggest different things that happen.

That's OK, because that's part of this process.

And that's that that's me putting my Hideo Kojima directed by Kida Kojima,

like brand on this.

So and I think that from what I can tell, that's exactly what happened is that

he was involved in the initial planning of Portable Ops.

In fact, I think he even has a story credit on the game.

And we sent him the scripts and he was aware of what was going on.

And a lot of the ideas came from him.

But he didn't direct the game.

And so when he gets it and when he directs the game like he did with with with Peace Walker,

I would be I would be doing the same thing that he did, which is

when he's writing the story for Peace Walker, he's writing the story for

Metal Gear Solid 5 and something comes up that contradicts Portable Ops.

I think what I'm assuming this is where my I'm just assuming my assumptions are

is that he's like, well, that's Portable Ops, but this is a Hideo Kojima game.

And if I need to change things or if I need to contradict things,

I will for the sake of the game that I want to direct.

And so and so be it.

So that's I think what he's trying to say is like there are aspects of Portable Ops

that are canon and that there's aspects that contradict and and when it contradicts,

look to the games that are directed by me to have my name on the front of the

package. And I think that's more or less what he was trying to say when I

when I when I read that interview and it makes sense to me.

Yes, it's what a wonderfully Kojima answer to that question.

It seems to fit.

Right. I think it does.

But it's I understand that this is a very controversial topic and

and important for many.

In fact, I'll tell you a funny story, Tori, is that many years ago, when this was

like when this was more of a fresh topic,

I was watching the Twitch stream of a really well known

player and streamer of Metal Gear games.

I believe his name is Outer Heaven and he was playing Portable Ops.

And there's this question of canon.

And he was I think he had said at one point he's like, well, it's not canon,

I think I think he had that perspective.

And I was like in the Twitch chat and I was like, well, actually, you know,

somebody worked on it like it was canon or in some regards is canon,

but it's such a nuanced thing.

The thing I just described is very nuanced.

And so I was like in the Twitch chat and he was like, who is this guy?

And I'm like, I don't even want to get involved in his.

It just it was so hard to to you to have like a discussion with me in the Twitch chat.

And I'm thinking like, what am I even doing in here?

Like, sure.

And so it was it was kind of a sad moment when I don't think I did a very good job

of explaining, like again, like the nuance.

So I'm I'm I'm I feel I feel happy that we have this opportunity to be able to

speak about in the show and and and and and for the record, I understand where

where where he was coming from too, because it's a very confusing and seemingly

like definitive answer in some regards from what he offered, right, about the canon.

And it's a fun it's a fun topic, but one that maybe best left at that.

Sure. Yeah.

I it's one of those that I'm sure will continue to to go down.

In the middle ground, I'm sure you'll have just as many people pulling for.

Yes, it's canon as as there will people be people who are naysayers.

So such is the experience of Metal Gear fandom, I believe.

Well, yeah, it's sorry.

I know that we already probably belabored this this topic too much.

But I guess one thing I'd like to add or one thing that I think is really tricky

and I and my team will struggle from it from time to time is this this idea of

nuance, right, is somewhere where it lies in the middle.

And I'm always I'm often joking with my staff that I'm like the chief

nuance officer of the title of the company, because it's I think humans

in general really really strive to have a very clear answer to something.

But I think oftentimes where life falls somewhere in the middle.

And you'd like to think that something as simple as is this game

canon or not could be a very simple question.

Yes or no. But yeah, like you said, sometimes when you work with

the Hido Kojima product, it's not that simple.

All right. Yeah.

I think as a fan up to the point of Metal Gear Solid 2 even, you're like,

OK, well, the rules aren't what I thought they were.

And I guess if I'm going to continue to be a fan of this, I'm going to have

to let go of my notion of what definitely is and what definitely isn't.

You reminded me of a fun exercise that I was able to participate in

in my final year at Kojima Productions.

And that was to work on the digital graphic novel of Metal Gear Solid 2.

Oh, excellent.

And that was based on the IDW or IDW published

Metal Gear Solid comic book series that was with with with art from

Ashley Wood and really, really fun, fun project.

And that was a really tricky project for the for the writing team,

for Chris in particular, because he had to tell retell the story of Metal

Gear Solid 2, which is extremely convoluted over the course of how many

comics, right, maybe 12 comics or something.

And as we all know, as fans of that game, it is extremely convoluted

and can contradict itself and contradict things from the past.

So he did his best to interpret it in a way that made sense, right?

But that is not necessarily what like the art of the Metal Gear Solid 2 is all about.

In fact, like part of its its charm is that some of the elements just don't make sense.

So I think what Chris and Ashley ended up doing.

And then we we we realized a full animated form via the digital graphic

novel on PSP was is a an interpretation of it.

If you like it all kind of quote unquote made sense, right, which was pretty fun to do.

Sure. Yeah. Well, that's really cool.

I suppose you could probably with enough time and evidence, bring that question

to almost any of the games, except, you know, except for maybe Snake Eater,

which is kind of the launching off point.

Yeah, maybe the most cohesive.

Yeah, absolutely the most cohesive, sure.

In any case, I do think not that anybody is asking for my opinion,

but I would love to pause it that I would like for it to be canon.

I really can't have an opinion on this because I don't know how it aligns

or how it relates to Metal Gear Solid 5.

I can really only see the progression from portable ops to peace walker

because these are the two that I've played at this point.

Or at least played enough of I've just kind of dipped my toes into Metal Gear Solid 5.

So I don't, you know, I can't say at this point.

But I know that I'd like it to be canon because I enjoyed the story enough.

And I think it's a story that's ought to be experienced by more players.

Yeah, I agree.

But obviously, I'm like the most biased person that you've talked about the subject.

So, yeah, I think, you know, at the end of the day,

the truth of the matter is it's if you don't want it to be canon, that's totally cool.

You're not going to offend me.

And it's just it's just a it's a franchise that we all know and love

and we all have different opinions about.

And that's part of the fun of the fact that like there's a canon controversy

about a metal.

I agree.

It's very it's very indicative of the audience of the Metal Gear franchise.

Yeah, absolutely.

Which is fun.

So the next topic on my notes again, after listening to kind of what we hoped

to talk about from last time, Portable Ops Plus subsistence, if this got to be a thing.

I'd love to know what your thoughts are on this, Ryan.

Well, I wish it was a thing.

I wish there was a that's supposed to what we got, obviously, with with Metal Gear Solid

Portable Ops Plus, right?

If we had got a subsistence version, that would have been just so so fun to work on.

But that team, much of that team was absorbed into the Metal Gear Solid 4

production, which desperately needed it.

And if your listeners remember Metal Gear Solid 4, even though we got a jolt of production

help from that original Portable Ops team still missed its street date.

By about seven months.

So even though I think the intentions were good, is that instead of continue to build

more of these PSP titles, let's let's let's focus on Metal Gear Solid 4.

So anyway, but that puts answer question about what a subsistence would look like.

Again, I went back through my old notebook, which was pretty fun to see just, oh, wow,

all this different work I was doing.

And I took a picture of it and I included in the show notes.

And one of the things that I I saw that I was tasked with was what would we do for

a something of a subsistence version, but more specifically, some of your audience

members, I would remember this as that Portable Ops released later in Europe.

It released, I want to say three or four months late.

OK, so it gave us an opportunity to update the game, maybe not to the level of

like a subsistence or a substance director's cut type of version.

But we did do we made some enhancements to the game.

If I if I recall, I can't remember what specific enhancement there was.

But I do have my notes about some of those ideas.

And so stuff that you would just like any dumb dumb could come up with.

So none of this is none of this is brilliant, but additional and more

interesting codec messages, because I do remember the codec being somewhat lacking.

We just ran out of time and some of the codec was pretty dry.

Having more submissions, more multiplayer maps.

The thing I could tell that I was really passionate about just looking at my notes

was can we add a lot more classes to the game of the recruits?

For example, espionage class or the medic class.

Like if you have the medic in your squad, then your max HP would be increased

across the board, for example.

Or a trying to think of some of my other.

You have I have like some stupid idea about having like a librarian class

that gives you unlimited magazines that you can use to distract guards.

I like that.

You know, some silly stuff like that.

I also had a note that because one of the most common critique of the game,

which I know that you had as well as the is just how laborious it is to drag

these fallen soldiers to back to your truck or to call up the codec.

And so one of the ideas I had written down was, can we have a specific

type of stun grenade that would just summon the people to basically do kind

of a full type of system, which obviously never made into the game.

I had an idea for a jukebox and like you can go into like subsistence.

You can go into like the cinematics theater and then watch all the previous cinematics.

We didn't have that in the original game and I was suggesting that as well.

And then finally, we didn't have to the best of my memory,

we didn't have like a knock feature where you can like, you know,

like knock on the wall.

And so I had a note for like, why don't we add that?

So again, nothing super

relevant, Tory, but those are some of the ideas I had about if we did like

an upgraded version of the game.

I like those a lot.

And I think I don't know whether you when you talk about an upgraded version,

I'm not sure whether you mean for PSP release or not.

Or I guess would it be Vita at this point?

Well, no, it would have been it would have been PSP.

OK, because the PSP still had quite a life left in it before Vita came out.

In fact, you know, I had.

So just in terms of my own personal timeline, when I left in 2008

after MGS four, the team was just starting to dust off their PSP dev kits

to start working on Peace Walker.

So it'd be a number of years before before Vita, whatever, whatever release.

Yeah, that makes sense.

Yeah. So just for a bit of context.

Again, that nobody asked for, but.

No, go for it.

I I had played Peace Walker first and it wasn't until it was released

or I guess ported for the PlayStation three, if that's fair to say.

So so I was coming back to portable ops and and viewing it as OK.

So this was this is what got us to Peace Walker.

And a lot of these cool game mechanics are being introduced here.

And I understand they're not perfection.

You know, there's a shorter timeline.

It's the first it's the first game of its type in the series.

One thing I was curious about specifically,

if this was to transcend transcend the portable system.

And I don't know if this is even worth talking about at this point,

because who knows whether this could happen.

But would the Kodak calls be similarly?

Would their function be the same?

For example, would you be reading text or would you opt for voice acting?

Would you opt for being able to hear this message while you're sneaking?

Like you were able to in, I believe it's four.

Or is that five? That must be five.

I think in five, yeah, they finally they finally did that.

I mean, I if I if you're if you're asking Tori, like if we if I had the opportunity

to, I don't know, dust off portable ops and do like a proper remaster of it

with a bunch of additional content.

I mean, that would be one thing I would definitely want to do is to do real,

more fully fleshed out Kodak with these classic characters

with fully voiced that you can listen to while you're on the run

in doing different missions.

We'd also want to do like a full ton type of system.

That's a lot more user friendly than what we had in portable ops.

You know, I think that there's a lack of environment variety.

You know, we did the best we could.

And Peace Walker did a great job with it.

But, you know, adding more environments,

it would be just so much fun to work on that because you can see the

they did a great job of laying the groundwork, which I think Hideo took

in in his own direction with Peace Walker, which I really, really loved.

However, if in this theoretical world, I could I could go return to that franchise.

I'd probably go a little bit further back and kind of reach into like the snake

eater world and align the game more with that, is it making it feel

more like a proper sequel to snake eater, which was part of its myth, though.

It's part of its like creative DNA from the very beginning.

Yeah. But we obviously didn't fully execute on that, given the time constraints

and the PSP and all and the lack of resources and all the other things we've already covered.

Sure. But it was good to see that it was it was a goal.

And, you know, it's understandable that you can't for a PSP game,

you can't make it just like snake eater.

You know, a lot of that functionality will go away.

But it was great to see that the design was at least the visual aesthetics

were at least kind of modeled after snake eater.

So that was that was a pleasant surprise for me.

Yeah. Yeah.

The DNA is a snake eater is in that game, given that the engine was was based on subsistence.

Right. OK, Ryan.

So we do have one listener question to bring up for this interview or conversation.

And the question was, have you been in talks with either Kojima Productions

or Konami about any future work with the series?

Or if you haven't been in talks, would that be something you'd be interested in?

Well, without getting again, back into the spirit of like not getting too much in the details,

I I did receive a very cryptic phone call many years ago about whether or not

myself and the team at Camouflage be willing to work on a something related to to Metal Gear Solid.

And I expressed like some tentative interest in it, even though we were very busy on another project.

And I also left with this, which was and I still believe it to this day is that

when it comes to remasters and remakes of previous Metal Gear games,

I think those are are fairly viable products and like worth worthy endeavors for the most part

because you are kind of doing the criterion collection of something

that's like a piece of art that's already been created.

And those are a little safer.

And I think that the fans would respond to those more positively, as opposed to

being asked to create like a new entry in the Metal Gear franchise without Hideo's involvement,

which I believe is something of a fool's errand because more so than most franchises out there in the world,

especially the AAA ones, the Metal Gear Solid franchise to me is so interwoven

to who Hideo Kojima is and his passions and his interests and his disinterest

that in order to create a game that feels genuine to Metal Gear Solid,

you kind of have to fake being Hideo and thinking like him.

And I don't think that's what fans would necessarily want.

So sure, it's that's a roundabout way of like me saying like how I responded that question.

So never heard anything of it after that.

I thought it was interesting and I was I was flattered to be even be called up for it.

But the exact details of it, I guess, will have to be saved for maybe another decade

or two. I have to imagine that that would have been flattering on the one hand on the other.

It seems like it would have been a momentous task and the pressure would have been on.

So I totally understand where you're coming from with that.

And especially if you are a fan of the work you've done and the work that has come before it,

I suppose I would feel nervous about wrecking it going forward.

So yeah, I get that.

Yeah, and there's some products that I think like like a portable ops

that I think fans would really enjoy a remastering of that and an expansion of that,

especially given the fact that it wasn't directed by Hideo, right?

And another thing I think we talked about last last episode was

I mean, I just really would love somebody to, you know, to finish the work

on Metal Gear Solid 5 and have that proper ending and just look at and just do what,

you know, some some films have done where the director had passed away,

but they had to look at all the notes and they try to make it as authentic as possible like that.

Sure. I think could be a really great and worthwhile

endeavor, but outside of that, yeah, I think it's going to be really tough

to do something without his involvement.

Sure. Yeah. Well, we can keep our fingers crossed that

one of the future projects he's got in mind is something related to that.

It would be fun.

I mean, I know he has got other things on his horizon, which is very exciting.

But as I understand it, Metal Gear Solid 5 remains a very

contentious piece of the puzzle.

So I can't I can't really say too much more on it, given that I haven't finished the game.

But well, you're for a treat in a way.

It's a brilliant game.

But yeah, it's it's also very weird.

It is very dissatisfying, I guess, in a way, when you finish it.

And you know that it wasn't it wasn't given the amount of time

that was required to properly finish it.

Sure, that's always a disappointing realization.

Yeah, yeah.

Well, I suppose now would be the time to move into the last part

that I have slated here anyway, which is to return the favor to you

and give you some of the thoughts from at least from me since I am

the host with you here tonight.

I think I could somewhat in general speak on behalf of my cohorts.

But we've also gotten some, I guess, positive feedback from our listeners.

So was there anything you were curious about specifically regarding

how how the game was perceived or just in general?

Any and all opinions and feedback about the game is entirely welcome.

You know, for any kind of creative endeavor, at least in my opinion,

it's quite strange if you don't have like a vested interest in it.

It doesn't hurt a little bit when somebody gives critical feedback

on something you work so hard on, right?

But as a good friend likes to remind me from time to time that time heals all wounds.

And I think enough time has gone by that there's really nothing anybody

could say to me that would like hurt my feelings about the game.

And it's something I'm very proud of.

And I can look at it a lot more objectively than I could back in 2006.

So anything large or small that you and your audience, your cohorts

want to offer up, I would be very curious to hear.

And I'm sure your listeners would be curious to hear it as well.

Well, excellent.

Yeah, that's that's a great that's a great place to be regarding

something you've worked on creatively.

And boy, do I know that it's easier said than done.

So good work.

Good work on getting there.

No, thank you. It's OK.

It only took 15 years.

Right. 15 years. So good.

Well, I'll know just about how long to give the next creative endeavor that I work on.

So I guess I'll just, you know, I'll read them in order of how I've got them here.

I'll start with the progression of mechanics.

So going from a PlayStation two game to a PSP game

was something that I personally I didn't get that transition

when I had first played Snake Eater.

So I didn't really have opinions on it until playing this game for the show.

The way I read it kind of retroactively

was that I understood this was a leap to a new system

and that certain things were just not going to be the same.

So, you know, having that in mind before I played it did a lot to

I don't want to say lower my expectations because, you know, I didn't I didn't have any

really to start. I just I tried to go in as open minded as possible.

One of the things I enjoyed and was also perplexed by

was the the slight improvement of the Sonar monitor from Snake Eater.

And this one is it operates quite a bit differently.

Just a little bit of background.

I didn't use the Sonar and Snake Eater once, you know,

once you get to thermal goggles and night vision goggles,

there's almost no point in using that anymore.

So I got by just fine, which made me rely

on my tendency to ignore it in this game, which was a mistake.

The the Sonar radar, if that's what if that is what is indeed called

in portable ops, once I understood how to use it and and the function

that it was serving as I was navigating multiple planes of these maps

really became a reliable tool for me.

And I was very appreciative of it.

So I don't know.

I don't know if you remember very much how that worked, but.

Yeah, I remember. Yeah.

And it was a it was a mechanic of if memory serves me correctly,

is to help players get situational awareness and get a sense for where the enemies are,

given the fact that we're not handing them too many other tools

to be able to determine where the where the enemies are.

So, for example, in MGS five, you can ping the enemies through your

binoculars and then those pings kind of staying on top of the enemies

throughout the game.

And that's all very clever and more modern, right?

But and then with MGS four, in fact, we had I forgot the name of the mechanic now,

which is irritating, but we had this kind of sonar ring around

around Snake that had like this kind of it was a three dimensional ring

around Snake that gave the players that kind of such again,

that kind of positional feedback about where where different sounds were happening.

And it was quite clever.

And and so, yeah, we had that feature for portable ops and it's essential.

It's there's a reason why it stuck to the to the screen is because we really

are trying to provide a great tool for the for the player.

So they're not surprised and not frustrated too much,

but they're also not given exact feedback in terms of the positions of the different

enemies because we wanted to still be somewhat nuanced and somewhat suggestive.

So there is some still some challenge in the game.

Right. It was something I learned to appreciate.

Like I said, I wholly ignored it starting out and and very quickly realized

no, this is useful.

I am bad at sneaking without this.


I will say like one final note about that that feature, Tori,

is that it was a feature that was there early on in the game.

Visually, it didn't change at all.

I think until the up until ship.

And it was an area of the game that I if we had more time,

I would love to have look a little more visually interesting.

And I always looked at that as a placeholder thing that we just never got around to updating.

Sure. Well, you know, and I think even for what it was, it was

it was more what's the word I'm looking for?

It was more useful than I would have thought, given that it showed two different colors.

And with enough experience using it, you could you could parse out

what you were experiencing based off of which color was showing up

and the position of that.

And, you know, whether you were on a lower level and there was nobody there,

it must have been at a higher level or, you know, what have you?

It like the dragging of the soldiers to the truck.

I found that with time and experience, it made sense for this game.

Again, it seemed to me, it read to me, whether this was the intent or not,

that portable ops was in another way, very much the missing link.

It introduces the recruiting soldiers mechanic and perfect as it is.

It's an introduction of it and a chance for it to be improved upon in Peace Walker.

And I feel the same about that that's so in our radar.

Well, I agree.

And I think one additional element that you reminded me of is that

and I don't know if you notice this, because if you if you had a chance

to put the acid games that predate portable ops is that the acid games

have a much more of a poppy look to them, like more bold colors,

primary colors and things like that.

It's very flashy.

In fact, like a lot of the animations, I think we're done in flash.

Funny enough, Adobe flash.

But I bring this up because one of the things is like a distinguishing

element of the visual design of portable ops is that it does have these big,

bold, 2D, flat 2D designs.

And those came from two two designers, Saito-san and Hashiguchi-san,

that were both really, really talented guys who worked on who worked on who

worked on acid, who then transitioned to portable ops.

And I think they brought that kind of creative DNA to the game.

So if you if you remember, if you look up your inventory and have those four slots,

they're big, bold icons.

And and also the way that the the chameleon shows up on the on the game

in the main menu or sorry, in the main screen on the top left.

Those are just exactly what those guys like to do in the asset games.

And they brought it that kind of creative DNA into into Portable Ops,

which is one of the fun things about games is that it's a creative endeavor.

And each person brings their own taste to the game, no matter how hard

you try to unify it all.

And sure. And so yeah, you just reminded me of that with what you mentioned about the radar.

Right. Well, that's the fun thing about collaborating, isn't it?

You know, you get a much more dynamic thing than if it's just coming

from one or two people's brains. Totally. Totally.

So it's very funny that you mentioned how how nice and bold those

those slots are for your loadout, because I'm not going to lie to you, Ryan.

It took me probably three quarters of the game to figure out how to change my loadout.

Whether it was something I was just not interested in doing or or I just didn't try hard enough.

Yeah, that was in some of the final moments of the game where I went,

oh, I can and should change out my weapons here.

Well, you would have been you would have been good, a good playtester,

because with the development time timeline that short,

it gives you very little time to be able to identify key UX issues.

And I did my best. I did my best.

But it was a very scrappy endeavor.

In fact, true story, like all the UX work that I'm aware of that went into the game

was me calling friends living in Japan and asking the sign NDAs and having them

come into the Konami office and having them play the game over the course of a weekend.

Most of the guys didn't finish the game, but I was sitting there with like a notepad

writing down all the different things that people were saying about the game,

but they were confused by like asking me questions.

And then it's just in the very short amount of time we had trying to come up

with solutions, very simple UX solutions to those problems.

And I don't remember the inventory topic coming up.

I'm not surprised to hear it because again, we got very little coverage to do that.

And I think part of the reason why we even allow players to use their codec

to send recruits back to the base is because of the amount of complaints

that we received from those play tests.

And I was able to use that as data to back up a lot of my my asks to the team.

So, yeah, I definitely didn't do a good enough job because we probably should have

changed and made the loadout system a little bit more user friendly.

Well, hey, I mean, no judgments here.

That it was something that at the end of the day, I chalked up more to my oblivion,

not oblivion. What am I? What's the word?

Oblivious or?

Yeah, just I don't I don't always see details that that many others catch.

So, you know, that one was probably more on me than anything.

But yeah, that was just that was just my struggle with with coming from

snake eater, which was I mean, you could carry a thousand and one things almost.

Obviously, that's an exaggeration.

But going from I don't know what was it, but maybe about just under a dozen things

items, so items to like tools to use and weaponry down to just four things total.

That was a bit of a jump.

But again, I understand, you know, this is a portable game.

You you're very limited in in in the actual game play as well.

The the the missions that you can play one at a time really change the dynamic

of the game. And and at the end of the day, I thought it added a fun new challenge

for me to put together the correct puzzle pieces in order to complete the mission.

If that makes sense.

Yeah, no, it's in fact, I think it's one of the smarter design decisions that was

that was done on the game.

The UX issues aside about how you change your loadout, but limiting the each

character to have four inventory slots.

I was a big fan of that decision because those limitations result in interesting

gameplay choices. The classic example of that is if you go back to 2001, you if you

go back and watch video reviews from GameSpot for Halo or you read some of the

reviews, a lot of people are talking about how ingenious it was that Bungie

limited the the number of weapon slots for the for the player down to two.

Because most of the first person shooters up until that point, let you cycle

through eight, 10, 12 different weapons.

And so you weren't given a lot of interesting design challenges or questions

to answer, which like what should I use in the situation?

Should I pick up the shotgun and should I also have like a

rocket launcher in my back backpack or should I have the sniper rifle?

These are interesting challenges for the player to solve, but like lead up to

that point with Half-Life, Goldeneye, Doom, like the list goes on.

Originally, all those weapons were all tied to your, to all the numbers you

had on the keyboard.

And so that was a really ingenious thing that Bungie did.

And so I think we took some inspiration from that for portable ops to not

allow the player to be able to carry around everything because then you have

incentive to, to switch off and not be snake all the time.

Was a big challenge for me.

And I suppose this, this isn't too off topic.

One of the things I did leave a little subsection here for the story.

And I know it's, it's been a while.

So that's not going to be the clearest thing at the top of your brain.

But in terms of playing as, as people other than snake, as characters

other than snake, I don't know how much you remember about Jonathan, but

Ryan, Jonathan was my little treasure.

I, I adored Jonathan and everything he represented.

And if I wasn't playing as snake, I was, I was sure to be playing as him.

What about Jonathan really?

Like, why did you gravitate so much to Jonathan?

So Jonathan's story was that he had been stationed at the space and promised a

lot of things by Gene and by, I think the government in general, if I'm not mistaken,

some of those details are a little fuzzy for me, but he was so loyal and so

resolute about obtaining his, or achieving his mission that it really took

knowing that he was speaking to big boss and, and, oh my God, you are the legendary

soldier, you probably aren't lying to me about what Gene is up to.

And then just like that, his, all of his loyalty is with big boss.

And he, you know, not to, not to give any incredible spoilers here, but

he, he makes a very big sacrifice for big boss.

And I just, I don't know.

He just, I think he stuck with me more than, more than most of, I don't want to

call them sidekicks, but supporting characters in maybe the entire series.

I think, I just think his, his resolve and, and duty to the mission as the boss would say.


Yeah, that's, that's cool.

It's interesting, like for a character like him that had, you know, a relatively small

presence in the story, really resonated with a lot of folks, including you, Tori.

So that's, and Robert Atkins Downs, I think he did a great job with Jonathan.

And, oh, yes.

I remember the staff talking about him quite a lot.

I heard a lot of like, Jonathan, Jonathan, which is like the name of Japanese and

to help him bring back some fun memories about, I think a lot of the, the staff had a,

definitely a, you know, a love for that character as well.

Oh, that's good to know.

I'm not the only one, you know, it comes across, it comes across in the story.

His is, is not one that I would have really thought of if it weren't for the whole

role of big boss, I guess, is, as being that leader who, whose main priority is the

mission and fighting for what he believes in versus somebody else's agenda.

And I just thought Jonathan's, Jonathan's position within that larger story was very


Yeah, I agree.

Well, I could mention a lot of this other stuff, but I'm not, I'm not sure, I'm not

sure whether it's worth mentioning if we're recovering it throughout the rest of the


And certainly if, you know, if you get a chance to listen to our coverage before the

next time you come on and you want to bring up any of these story related things, I'd

love to chat with you about them.

But other than that, is there anything else that you'd like to address before we

start signing off?

Well, one thing that we talked a little bit, even offline with you and your, and

your co-hosts is that, you know, how fun it is to have people who worked on the game

join the show.

And so I, I thought, like, you know, I really want to bring to help, help, you

know, the show and, and be able to document some of these fun stories that, that

developers of the Meldinger franchise had.

And I talked to a friend of mine and also like a co-worker now is his name is

Kazuma Jinochi.

He was the composer for Portable Ops, Metal Gear Solid 4, for Metal Gear Rising,

I believe, and a handful of other things.

And who would go on to join me at Microsoft to work on Halo and is now working

with me at Camouflage in addition to other things that he does.

He's the main composer on Iron Man VR and is doing a lot of great, great work on

our new project.

So anyway, long story short, he and I chatted and I

asked him if he'd be willing to come on to your show to talk about his

experiences working on the Metal Gear franchise, including Portable Ops,

because we, we spent a lot of late nights together on that project.

And he said he would, he would be honored to do so.

So that sounds okay to you, Tori.

I'd love to be able to do one more, one more episode with you and then bring

my, my good friend Kazuma around.

And on top of that, I should mention that he's, he's quite fluent in English.

So that's going to make things a lot easier on me.

And I think on you all as well.

So I think that that could be a lot of fun if that sounds good to you.

Ryan, forgive my familiarity, but you beautiful bastard, you.

You have been so generous with your time and with your contributions to the show


I thank you from the bottom of my heart for, for showing up so much for us.

And, and absolutely I would love, love, love, love to have that conversation.

So that will be something excellent to look forward to listeners.

You heard it here.

So yeah, you're going to get a, you're going to have a lot more fun.

And I'll, I'll do my best to, Kazuma's pretty quiet.

So I'm going to do, it's going to be good that I'm going on the show too, Tori,

so I can kind of poke and prod a little bit and we'll get some, hopefully some good stories out of



That sounds amazing.

I am greatly looking forward to that.

Good, good deal.

Well, I'm looking forward to, to, to that as well.

And just wishing you the best and to your listeners taking care of during this crazy

time and appreciate your interest in this, in this game that we work so hard on and,

and also to your listeners for, for all that, no matter where you, where you fall on the,

on the canonical timeline debate.

You know, I, I love and appreciate all the passion that, that your, that your listeners

have for this franchise.


Well, we do too.

It's, it's been a surreal year or so since I joined the show and getting to speak with you

for the second and looking forward to speaking with you for a third time has really just been

the cherry on top of this whole thing.

So yes, once again, thank you so much for your time and we look forward to speaking with you

again, Ryan.

All right, look me too.

Talk soon.