When the Internet decides to collectively believe something that’s just not true, we have to cry out… Just Stop! This is what’s making a Warp Zoned editor rip his computer from the wall in frustration today…
It’s not the Internet-at-large that’s bugging me today, but instead it’s one man: Hideo Kojima. Actually, it’s two men, as Joakim Mogren, the CEO of Swedish game developer Moby Dick Studio, is most definitely not Hideo Kojima. But who is he, really? Some say it’s Cliff Bleszinski in disguise. Is the man formerly known as CliffyB really behind Moby Dick’s first game, The Phantom Pain? Or is it just some actor keeping the world in suspense until Kojima reveals his connection to the game at this year’s Game Developers Conference? Whoever’s behind The Phantom Pain, they think they’re being clever.
No! Just Stop! YOU. ARE. WRONG.
The Phantom Pain was first revealed as one of the “World Premieres” at the 2012 Spike TV Video Game Awards. The trailer was an instant smash, and the Internet-at-large (specifically NeoGAF) began dissecting it within hours of host Samuel L. Jackson closing out the ceremony.
The evidence they discovered points pretty clearly towards a Metal Gear Solid 5 connection, including the Phantom Pain protagonist’s similarity to Solid Snake, the hidden message in the game’s logo, and the overall Kojima-y look of the whole trailer. Further evidence began piling up when the majority of “Moby Dick Studio” representatives at the show were identified as Konami employees. And none of them were Swedish! Most damning of all, people figured out that “Joakim” is an anagram of “Kojima” and “Mogren” contains the word “ogre,” which is said to be Kojima’s next project after Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes.
Obviously, something more is at work here. And that “something more” entered phase two last night when Geoff Keighley of GameTrailers TV interviewed “Joakim Mogren.” Mogren was evasive during the interview, ducking questions about whether The Phantom Pain is a next-generation game (“I cannot confirm that”) or if Moby Dick even has access to a development kit for the PS4 and/or Xbox 720. He also showed Keighley some new screenshots from the game, two of which were tagged with the logo for Hideo Kojima’s Fox Engine. So even though he was “disguised” during his interview with Keighley, Joakim and Kojima are now officially linked, putting the kibosh on Kojima’s earlier claim that all he had done was “inspire” the look of The Phantom Pain.
But I guess we at least have to entertain the option that Moby Dick Studio and The Phantom Pain are for real. If Mogren is a real person, the bandages in his first major interview and the minimal Internet presence of his company point to a very fly-by-night operation (notwithstanding the overall impressiveness of the trailer). Do we really want these kinds of antics coming from a supposedly “AAA” developer?
Of course, even if we do accept the fact that The Phantom Pain is an original game, we have to recognize that Konami is definitely the publisher (the Fox Engine has yet to be used by non-Kojima teams within Konami, let alone an independent developer). From there, we have to speculate that the game was likely created with the direct involvement of Hideo Kojima, even if it has nothing to do with the Metal Gear series. And if it is just another entry in the Metal Gear saga, then all this Phantom Pain stuff does is get gamers excited for a brand new property that doesn’t exist.
So all of this nonsense needs to stop. Whoever cooked up the Moby Dick Studio/Phantom Pain ruse really dropped the ball. A little game-playing when it comes to announcing a new game is often fun (just ask everyone that poured countless hours into “I Love Bees”), but it’s typically not pulled off with that kind of finesse. Especially since there’s nothing subtle about the clues planted in The Phantom Pain’s trailer. I mean, anagrams, come on! Just announce it already! Don’t pull a Sony and release a short video clip starring a Greek woman and intimate that it’s something other than a teaser for a new God of War: Ascension trailer. Or don’t do like David Jaffe and spew two years of denials after slipping a hidden message (that he publicly confirmed as real) for Twisted Metal‘s PS3 debut into his previous game. This goes double when Konami employees are being photographed in public wearing Phantom Pain t-shirts. Shrugging your shoulders and saying “it’s not us” just makes you look ridiculous.
Personally, I’d love it if The Phantom Pain didn’t have anything at all to do with the Metal Gear Solid series. Hideo Kojima is one of the most unique voices in game development and I’d love to see him branch out in a new direction. Even a partnership with Cliff Bleszinski would be interesting in a “Really?” sort of way. But just admit you’re the man behind the curtain already, Kojima; the subterfuge has gotten old.