Interview Segment 1
Overall ZOE Mechanical Design

Mr. Shinkawa, what exactly do you do as the mechanical designer?

Shinkawa : comes down to drawing everything on a sheet of paper. However, communicating nuances is not easy. What I do is first communicate my image (with sketches and illustrations) and then sit next to the modeller and give detailed instructions.

So do you first start with rough sketches in the initial planning stage?

Shinkawa : Yes. Since my images for this game pick up from those of the previous game, I did not have to struggle when establishing the basic concept. There were some sketches from the previous game that I picked up and used as they were or modified them. Director Shuyo Murata gave me a basic description of events in the game saying "we need this kind of boss at this point of the game". Then I drew accordingly, showed him the sketch, and had it used in the game. That was the general flow.

Mechanical design Yoji Shinkawa

"Metal Gear Solid series"

Jehuty at its experimental stage

Shading with a unique texture.
This was constantly brushed up throughout development.
There are many mechs in the Metal Gear series. Are there any differences in the concepts of the mechs of the two series?

Shinkawa : The enemies -- both bosses and the weaker ones -- do not differ in concepts. The player mech has to look and work well when it is moved. It has to return proper responses. This kind of design is peculiar to games. Enemies can move in any way and introduce all kinds of fun while fusing with the atmosphere and gameplay and overall design. As for the player character, you must play by moving the mech and enjoy moving it. Since we enhanced the animation look this time, our means of expressions such as color tones and polygons are very different from the previous game. Although restrictions do exist, our modellers have done a great job and gave the game a more animation-like look to the game. It is not your typical cell shade you see. You will see a very interesting texture throughout the game.
I did have doubts in the beginning, but as we kept on working on the look, it became better and better.

Please let us know if there were any obstacles you had to overcome when working on the animation look.

Shinkawa : What was tough was deciding in the very first days of planning in which direction we would like to proceed. Initially the models had clearer outlines and looked more 2D. The modellers came up with many test models and then we boiled them down. So I guess it was the modellers and not myself who suffered (laughs). But yes, this decision making was the first obstacle.

Then, what was enjoyable?

Shinkawa : Mr. Mizutani -- the demo director -- said "we should play with colors." In Metal Gear with a realistic look, we cannot use too much orange or blue. But in ZOE we can go wild with all colors and have a lot of fun.

Unique charasterics of the Orbital Frames are the flowing lines and the silhouette along the legs.
How did you come up with these ideas?

Shinkawa : As for the silhouette, I looked over sketches I did as a student, and we were like "Why not go with this!"
The energy lines were expressions of shadows used in those sketches. Then Mr. Kobayashi (modeller) and I chatted as said "Let's make these into grooves!", "Let's make them glow!"
When we incorporated this in the game, we made the energy lines change color to indicate how much damage you have incurred. It comes down to coming up with logical explanations to make everything work and enjoyable.

The energy lines are interesting because there is motion even if the player does not do anything.

Shinkawa : (On "there is motion even if the player does not do anything".) There are robots that are given motions as if they are breathing. I think that's overdoing it. I don't like it. "Why is a robot breathing!" (laughs) Instead of breathing, the energy lines create an atmosphere of oils flowing through the mech to assist its motions.

Isn't Jehuty floating in air in the game?

Shinkawa : Yes, Jehuty does float. (laughs) Since its design is somewhat biological, I guess some motion makes it look natural. That's what I think. (laughs)

Another thing that "stands out" is the cockpit at the groin. Where did this come from?

Shinkawa : This is another idea from my school day sketches.
This is one major characteristic of Orbital Frames.
The name explains it well. It is a COCKpit.
When the Orbital Frame is in Flight Mode, it springs up and points in the direction the frame flies.

Secret materials revealed!
oji Shinkawa school day sketches
Look at the leg silhouette and cockpit!

Jehuty in Flight Mode.

New mech doing its neck bridge run.

Will we get to see Raptor in its Flight Mode!?
You mentioned the Flight Mode. The movie showed some that morphed. I personally like the one that slides down a slope with sparks flying.

Shinkawa : That's a new mech. That one doesn't morph. It runs in its neck bridge position a la Exorcist.
Raptor has its own Flight Mode (as seen in the E3 trailer).
In the previous game, I thought it would be fun if Raptor flies around in Flight Mode along with Jehuty.
There was a scene in which Raptor appears in the global map (where you travel between stages) and fights Jehuty.
We created the motion and effects for this Flight Mode of Raptor, but it never made it in the game.
I have not seen it in this game yet, but are we ever going to see it? (laughs)

There are many new mechs in the trailer. There is one with a big head.

Shinkawa : That is a stronger Raptor with thicker armor.

In other words, this is a mech wearing your favorite powered suit as you mentioned in the MGS2 interview.

Shinkawa : You can detroy this enemy with BURST attack or a strong attack. But if you try to finish it off with a weaker attack, it will shed its armor and the Raptor appears. I have not seen this gimmick in the game yet. But I believe we will see it some day. (laughs)