Ragnar: Oh, I bet he was. But you know who was an even bigger drag? With Hideo Kojima finally being free from his decades long employer after his departure in October – or officially in December – 2015, people instantly started speculating and hoping that his newly founded studio’s first major title would be… a horror game! A spiritual successor for Silent Hills that realises the ideas planned for the project under a different name. Quiet Mountains, maybe? Fungo: Maybe! Ragnar: We don’t know. All parties involved have been highly secretive so far, but all things considered, the speculations do make a lot of sense as the events surrounding the cancellation of PT last year have generated and maintained such an enormous amount of media attention for months. Denying the community the eagerly anticipated conclusion to the potential horror masterpiece PT had so cleverly teased, ultimately just made everybody crave it even more. Fungo: As Kojima stated at the DICE summit this February, he is 100% aware of the enormous expectations by his fans and considers this to be the biggest motivation to actually work on it. He didn’t explicitly say it, but it’s safe to assume that a large part of this community feedback consists of fans, friends, associates and hundreds of thousands of people signing petitions! who are all urging him to finish what he had started with PT and Silent Hills, with a brand new IP. Without a doubt it would result in an almost guaranteed win for all parties involved, especially from a financial point of view. Ragnar: But what if I told you that the entire PT debacle was not an unfortunate succession of bad events as we are led to believe? That it was not just Konami taking a dump on their black sheep? That it was an elaborate coup d’état staged by Kojima and his closest associates for quite some time? To not only finally break loose from his former employer, but to, instead of just leaving in quiet mutual agreement play Konami like a – Oh, what’s that you’re smelling? Tin foil? Fungo: What does tin foil smell like? Ragnar: Well – you’re right, this is a theory based on speculation, circumstantial evidence and maybe a generous pinch of confirmation bias here and there. So… be wary of conspiracy. But that never stopped us before, did it? So, let’s crawl down this rabbit hole of conspicuous leads and clues once again because way down at the bottom we have something for you, something that has been hidden in plain sight all along that might just blow your mind. (that was a metaphor) Fungo: So, after Silent Hills had officially been cancelled people were eagerly awaiting to hear where the road would lead Hideo Kojima next. On December 16th the founding of his new studio, Kojima Productions, was finally confirmed – this time without any ties to Konami. This press statement was immediately followed by a video statement from Andrew House, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, announcing that his company had partnered with Kojima Productions as their future publisher. House, a long time friend and close associate of Hideo Kojima, also added that Kojima’s studio was already in the process of developing their first game as a PS4 exclusive title. Fans and journalists had been trying frantically to get more detailed information about this title from Sony and Kojima Productions but they were unanimously met with silence. Ragnar: Now, what’s interesting to notice here is how fast and dedicated Kojima’s transition from Konami to Sony went ahead. His definitive departure was reported by multiple sources in late October 2015. The inception of his new studio, including the partnership with Sony, was made public only 58 days later. Fungo: It seems extremely likely that he had already been in negotiations with Sony a good while before his departure from Konami was officially confirmed. Another peculiar coincidence is that the PT demo was solely released on Playstation 4 even though Konami usually releases all their games on as many platforms as possible to reach the largest customer base! Ragnar: Which was after all the primary reason for developing the Fox Engine in the first place. But of course that doesn’t prove anything on its own, so, for now let’s just keep that in the back of our minds. After keeping relatively quiet for a while Kojima then started to stir up new rumours, by a tweet in January stated that he: – accompanied by a picture of a smartphone cover with a Kojima Productions logo next to a Guillermo del Toro sketch book – igniting new speculations for a renewal of their collaboration. In February 2016, then, he was seen reunited with director del Toro and on another occasion actor Norman Reedus, who was supposed to play the protagonist of Silent Hills. In the following days, Norman Reedus himself added fuel to the speculations by retweeting numerous articles covering the re-ignition of the PT/Silent Hills hype due to their reunion. Kojima’s meetup with del Toro subsequently turned out to be a joint interview of the two friends moderated by Canadian games journalist Geoff Keighley at the annual DICE summit on Februay 18th in Las Vegas. Many people were hoping for an official announcement of their collaboration and the reveal of Kojima’s next project, but nothing was explicitly confirmed nor denied during the key note. Fungo: The moment that came closest to confirming the two working together again was was when Geoff Keighley asked del Toro if he’d want to work on a video game again soon in the future. To which he replied: “I’ll do whatever the fuck he wants” followed by a question directed at Kojima asking him if he would want to work with del Toro again in the near future. He immediately reacted like this: The eyes on the palms referring to the Pale Man from del Toro’s horror movie Pan’s Labyrinth. Kojima likes to keep it vague, it could very well be interpreted as a light hearted joke but it could equally be a broad hint that the two will, in fact, work together on something with a similar psychological horror direction as del Toro’s movies: Pan’s Labyrinth and Devil’s Backbone, which Kojima mentioned and admired several times during the interview. Ragnar: They went on to talk about their friendship, about creativity and their love of films, film-making and video games, but close to the end del Toro said something that… well, it might have been an accidental slip-up. Keighley was in the middle of asking Kojima about what makes a collaboration with Guillermo so valuable – well, listen for yourself: Fungo: He made an offhand remark saying “Ito Junji” to Hideo, followed by short laughter, but ultimately it was ignored and Kojima went on to talk about something else. Now Ito Junji, or Junji Ito, is a renowned horror manga artist who also contributed to PT by providing art design and direction. So why did Kojima evade this interjection? He could have just talked about their collaborative work on PT, but he might have been careful not to put Ito in the spotlight at this point in time. Because if they are in fact working together right now his contribution being revealed would be hard evidence that the project is in fact a horror title! Ragnar: This hypothesis is even further substantiated by the circumstance that del Toro and Ito had followed each other on Twitter only in October 2015 and met each other for the first time only in November 2015 – a good month before Kojima came back out of hiding. Ito himself had since that day been very actively re-tweeting the official Kojima Productions Twitter account, especially when it concerned brief insights into their current projects. At the same time Donna Burke, known for her voice acting and musical contributions to the Metal Gear series and her roles as Angela and Claudia in Silent Hill 2 and 3, as well as Stefanie Joosten, who played Quiet in Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain both followed Guillermo del Toro on Twitter around the same time and were followed back by him. All three had been affiliated with Kojima for a long time already but had only established social media contact around that time. It has since been speculated that Donna and Stefanie were working together on a project as voice-over artists to which they always simply replied: that they can’t announce anything yet. Fungo: Huh – that sounds familiar! Ragnar: But, yeah. All of this is circumstantial evidence at best and nothing so far has 100% confirmed that Kojima Productions is in fact working on that speculative spiritual Silent Hills successor. But enough breadcrumbs have been spread that the assumption doesn’t feel like grasping straws at all. Especially considering the enormous business potential such a venture would bring to the table for both Kojima and Sony. Fungo: PT was the most downloaded demo on PSN of all time. Exclusively publishing the game that it would lead to is an absolute no-brainer for a company like Sony! Add to that the fact that Kojima has, more than once, made it abundantly clear that he had desired to move away from Metal Gear Solid to strive for new creative challenges for a very long time already but was always forced to keep delivering the next iteration of Konami’s best selling video game franchise under extremely degrading and borderline abusive work conditions. “.. and I mean there were times when people I don’t think realised the conditions under which Metal Gear Solid V was made, with him, you know, in an isolated room from his team, finishing this game and it still is, you know, up for game of the year and one of the most acclaimed games of last year.” Ragnar: It is therefore safe to assume that Hideo Kojima had at least toyed with the prospect of leaving Konami for quite some time. and during his simultaneous efforts on Metal Gear Solid V and Silent Hills in 2014 he might just have seen the perfect opportunity to make this a reality. Fungo: Now this is where things get a little more nebulous and speculative, but the hypothesis is that it all started with Silent Hill. Kojima had already stated in September 2012 that he was interested in rebooting the franchise with the help of his studio’s proprietary Fox Engine. Of course Konami’s executives had shown interest in that idea – both names Hideo Kojima and Silent Hill meant potential revenue after all! Geoff Keighley, who was a very close friend and associate of Kojima has hinted at the fact that Hideo had filled him in on some of his current plans in a personal conversation after the DICE summit – and that what he’s cooking right now is so incredibly limitless in scale and ambition that we r not red e! Ragnar: But now try to imagine him pitching a concept with such a limitless scale and ambition to a room of corporate executives in pressed suits – people who don’t give a flying fuck about video games as a form of artistic expression people who disbanded the original team Silent because their last title was “too experimental to sell enough units” people who only condescended to green-light Sam Barlow’s psychologic story telling concept once he agreed to squeeze it into a reboot of Silent Hill 1’s story line. All those people see in a pitch like the one Kojima would have approached them with is a highly expensive and risky bet that can’t be backed up by any market analytical data whatsoever. “What you can do with the medium… it’s, it’s limitless. It’s only limited by the bastards with the money.” In order to convince “the bastards with the money” how well his concept of a Silent Hill reboot could resonate within the community Kojima had to get proof – a sort of proof that he couldn’t get on paper. He had to irrefutably demonstrate that he was right. Now, it’s actually not an uncommon practice in the game industry that developers create tech demos and prototypes in secret to convince their investors of the viability of a concept that looks too risky on paper. In Kojima’s case, simply showing his executives a tech demo wouldn’t be enough though. To absolutely airtight proof that his ideas work he had to make an example that displayed beyond doubt that his vision would be critically met with overwhelming approval. But how could he have pulled that off without anyone noticing? Fungo: At the time, as we know, he was in the middle of directing Metal Gear Solid V on a budget of 80 million dollars! In such a massive undertaking it’s commonplace to outsource different modular parts of development to external third party developers under the supervision of the game’s director. The game had already been developed under the guise of a third party developer studio called Moby Dick Studios. Initially only being referred to as a horror game called Ground Zeroes until it was later revealed to be the fifth instalment in the Metal Gear Solid series. “Kojima Productions? What does that mean? “There’s got to be a reason that’s there” Ragnar: And even MGSV’s prologue, Ground Zeroes, long before Kojima effectively left Konami, featured an unlockable Easter egg mission called Déjà Vu in which the player was tasked to find and remove Metal Gear Solid logos throughout the stage. Fungo: This strongly hinted at the idea that, even back in 2014, Kojima had already anticipated the eventual falling out with Konami. Another interesting fact to notice is that the bonus mission was – just like the PT demo – exclusive to only the PS4 version of Ground Zeroes. And it was so well hidden, so difficult to unlock that it’s not at all unlikely if no one at Konami had gotten wind of its existence or at least its subtle hidden messages, during QA before the game released. In the end, the events that Déjà Vu foreshadowed were, in fact, exactly what happened! Shortly before The Phantom Pain’s release, Konami actually began removing Hideo Kojima’s name from all the covers! “You might be able to erase the markings, but the memories will never disappear.” Ragnar: Now, with PT, a strikingly similar pattern was starting to unfold. This demo too had officially been developed by an independent studio called 7780s Studios. The crucial question is, how can Kojima have commissioned the game’s production without anyone at Konami noticing? The simplest answer would be: he disguised it as an Easter egg mission for The Phantom Pain! Fungo: Just think about it. Nothing in PT has anything to do with the Silent Hills franchise directly. It felt, and has been stated to be, a completely unrelated game that was meant to be a proof of concept for Kojima’s vision of a Silent Hill reboot. The only thing that points at the game being tied to Silent Hill is the trailer, a plain video that is only unveiled once the game is finished. But the entire PT puzzle was designed in such a way that it would take the entire community of gamers worldwide at least a week to solve it. “The PT itself was meant to be sort of a decoy and we were thinking that it would take ten days to solve it, two weeks, and they solve it in like three days!” Ragnar: Kojima and del Toro had also often stated that the game had deliberately been downgraded cutting back the capabilities of the Fox Engine so it would appear to be a lower budget Indie game. “About PT, see Hideo, when we are looking at the PT, he said: “We’re gonna do this low-tech, we’re gonna do this so that people don’t known it’s ours until the endings”.”” Fungo: But, who did they intend to fool? The community? Or Konami! Ragnar: It is even plausible that the developers of PT themselves believed that they were actually working on an Easter egg mission for Metal Gear Solid V. A similar hidden bonus mission had already been included in Metal Gear Solid 3 In order to unlock it, the player had to save the game right after Naked Snake had been tortured and imprisoned by Colonel Volgin in Groznyj Grad, restart the game and load this saved game. Only then would the player wake up in Snake’s dream – a bonus mission called Guy Savage, which had absolutely nothing to do with Metal Gear Solid itself. It’s a darkish, horror-themed hack and slash with a completely autonomous control scheme that was written and directed by Shuyo Murata on his own. Fungo: PT itself contains some elements that people still haven’t been able to make complete sense of. Think about the negative MR scans of a human brain in the menu. In no way are they related to the events of the game itself, but it could also have made the developer team believe they were working on a coma dream of Big Boss after his helicopter crash. On paper, it would have appeared to “the bastards with the money” that this segment was just another module for Metal Gear Solid V in development – nothing conspicuous! “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for” “These aren’t the droids we’re looking for” “Ko ji ma” Ok, assuming this is what happened, how the hell did Kojima get it published without anyone noticing? Ragnar: Well, at the time, his official title was Vice President of Konami. He also had established and maintained a close friendship with Andrew House over many years, so he could easily have convinced Sony to release the demo with Konami’s official approval, given by him. And as we’ve already highlighted, it was only released on PlayStation. Not on Xbox, not on PC. Fungo: We all know what happened after the PT bomb dropped. The “one hallway” phenomenon took the gaming world by storm! and created an unprecedented level of media attention pushing the Silent Hill franchise right back in the spotlight and made it one of the hottest topics in gaming for months to come. Ragnar: But, alright, assuming this is really how it all went down that nobody at Konami knew that they had just released a free demo to a concept they didn’t agree on in the first place and that they only found out days after it was already everywhere, suddenly finding themselves in a hailstorm of unexpected media attention from all sides. Assuming this is the case then, well sure, it DID prove that Kojima was right all along, and more importantly for them, that it would easily translate into sales figures beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. But, such a coup would have been nothing short of mutiny! which it’s no coincidence that more and more news of harsh mistreatment of their star game designer surfaced after this. – Forcing him to direct MGSV under tight surveillance in an isolated room from his team, and even prohibiting him from accepting the Game of the Year award in person. “Mr Kojima had every intention of, being with us tonight, but unfortunately he was informed by a lawyer representing Konami just recently that, that he would, er, not be allowed to travel to tonight’s award ceremony to to accept, um, any awards” Why else would Konami feel the need to restrain him in this way if they hadn’t felt severely back stabbed? Especially considering the very corporate business culture in Japan It would have been extremely unlikely that Konami’s management would suddenly take a step back, apologise to Kojima-san, and admit their initially flawed perception of his prosposal tap him on the shoulder and gladly grant him all the resources to make his vision of Silent Hills a reality. Fungo: Of course not! But, Kojima KNEW that. He knew what would happen and he took that into consideration. Laying low until he could fulfill his remaining contractual obligations by finishing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and finally cut ties with Konami for good. He left his old employer as a martyr in the eyes of fans and press alike having the unequivocal support of the community and an overwhelming demand for a prospective horror game project as the foundation of his new company – and Sony had already been waiting outside…to welcome him with open arms. He kew exactly what would happen, and you know what? He had even told us, hidden in plain sight! Ragnar: You DO remember the final soliloquy from PT, right? When you think about it in the context of PT’s narrative, it doesn’t really make sense. It’s the story of an average middle class father, who one day went on to kill his entire family. The monologue is apparently told from the perspective of the son at the time at a preadolescence age. Fungo: Why does he have the voice of a middle aged man, speaking from beyond the grave? Why would the father play video games every day? In the time period we are led to believe the murder occurred that would be uncommon, out of character, or at least highly unlikely. It… it doesn’t add up, does it? Ragnar: Well, that’s because it’s not the son talking to us. It’s Kojima himself! “Konami was such a drag. Every day they’d serve the same kind of food, dress the same, make the same kind of games. Yeah, they were just that kind of company. But then one day they go and fire us all! And they couldn’t even be original about the way they did it. I’m not complaining… I was dying of boredom anyway. But guess what? I will be coming back and I’m bringing my new toys with me.” Kojima knew exactly what would happen and he gave us a plethora of clues, always precisely predicting events long before they actually occurred. And, revisiting PT with this knowledge in mind, puts many of its highly ambiguous messages scattered throughout the game in a completely new light. Fungo: Think, for instance, about the background narration during the bathroom murder scene. On the surface it comes over as a harmless radio broadcast while in the scene’s context appearing to be a command that urges the father to murder his family. But at the same time it also features this theme of oppressed hard working people who unjustly lost their jobs for much too long now, so now’s the time to finally do something about it. This theme surfaces a couple of times during the events of PT and when you think about it it mirrors Kojima’s whole Konami debacle almost too closely to be mere coincidence. Ragnar: In the end it really doesn’t matter if leaving Konami in this way was just Hideo Kojima’s contingency plan, or if this entire Machiavellian coup d’état had been mischievously planned and orchestrated all along. It remains a decisive victory in the eternal struggle between creative minds and “the bastards with the money” In my eyes he deserves to take as many spoils as possible from his life’s work of defiance against an oppressive system that perpetually, but ultimately without success, tried to keep him on his knees. If you put all of this together – even if half of the evidence brought up for this theory turns out to be untrue – it still remains highly plausible to assume that sometime soon we WILL see an announcement of a new horror game that carries out the limitless ambition and scale of what Silent Hills was meant to be. Am I delusional? I don’t think so. I’m looking forward to it. Fungo: Hey, me too! Don’t leave me out of this, Rag. Ragnar: Hey guys, thank you for watching. I hope you enjoyed this video – if so then please leave a like, a comment, or subscribe to my channel. That’d be highly appreciated! Just a quick heads up for my long term subscribers: I’ve been working on a whole new set of Monsters of The Week episodes, and the show is going to come back soon! If you’d like to support me directly, then why not hop over to my Patreon and leave a small contribution? Also, please make sure to visit my friend Fungo over on his channel. This video wouldn’t have come together without his massive help and I’m sure that if you like what you saw you’ll enjoy the hell out of his deeply analytical videos about video game lore, reviews and a lot more! So, thanks for watching Monsters of the Week! Until next time, remember… … the truth is out there.