During a conference held at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris, that DualShockers attended, Bandai Namco Worldwide Technology Director Julien Merceron, who previously worked as Technology Director at Konami, talked about his experience working with Hideo Kojima.
The two met for the first time in 2001 at GDC (Game Developers Conference), and Kojima-san told Merceron about the fact that he had problems with programmers. Merceron, that was working at Ubisoft at that time, explained to the father of Metal Gear Solid that at the French company they tried to be as flexible as possible to allow creatives to work comfortably.
Kojima-san then asked Merceron to work together, but it was not the right time, as Merceron had his hands full at Ubisoft. Yet, he invited Kojima-san to visit the studios in Montreal. Kojima-san fell in love with Assassin’s Creed, so much that he wanted to put Altair’s costume in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
Kojima-san asked Merceron to join him again afterwards, but he had just been hired by Eidos, so the idea was scrapped.
At GDC 2013 they met again, and Kojima-san was having problems with Ground Zeroes. On the other hand Merceron was already working on PS4 with Eidos and on the Luminous Engine. He told Kojima-san that he could help in October, since by then he would have almost completed his work.
Merceron went to Yoichi Wada, who was Square Enix’s CEO at that time, and asked him to work with other companies. After much discussion, Wada-san agreed. As a result, Merceron joined Kojima’s team in October 2013. Producer Ken-Ichiro Imaizumi told him that Wada-san wanted to dine with them, and Merceron panicked, thinking that he had misunderstood Wada-san’s permission. It would have been disastrous.
Yet, that wasn’t the case. During the Dinner, Wada-san told Kojima-san “Please take good care of Julien.” They even took a picture together, It was a moving moment.
Merceron didn’t really know what to expect from Hideo Kojima, as he knew him just as a friend. Since he did a lot of public relations and marketing, Merceron thought that maybe he was like a figurehead, with a lot of underlings doing everything from him, like game design and narrative design.
When they started to work together, Merceron was absolutely amazed. Kojima-san takes care of everything himself. He does marketing, Creativity on P.T “from A to Z,” the same with Metal Gear, he worked on the game design and on the story. Something not many know is that after Metal Gear Solid 4 was finished and work on Fox Engine started Kojima-san was among those who designed the technology. He’s a true technology enthusiast, and he wanted an engine that could represent him and that allowed him to deliver the experiences he aspired to create.
At first Merceron thought he would have to talk to Kojima-san in very simple terms, but that wasn’t the case at all. Kojima-san was beyond his expectations in everything: in the ideas he had, in his passion for his work, in his knowledge of technology, and even more so in his mastery of his vision. According to Merceron, he has never met anyone else who knows exactly how his game is going to look like before even seeing it.
The Video Game masterclass event in Paris was organized by Jeux Vidéo Magazine and Cité des Sciences.
[On-Location Reporting and Translation: Morgane Bouvais]