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Richard Ham (Syphon Filter)
Scott Youngblood (Syphon Filter)

By John Szczepaniak, March 2012

Interview with Scott Youngblood of Syphon Filter

Scott Youngblood

SY: Iíd be happy to answer what ever questions you may have about that series. I worked on the following Syphon titles:
* Syphon Filter 3 Ė PS
* Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain Ė PS2
* Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror Ė PSP
* Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow Ė PSP.

Also if you havenít already gotten a hold of him... The person that I consider to be the real father of the Syphon Filter franchise is Richard Ham (currently at Splash Damage Software).

JS: The origin of the stealth genre is actually even older than the original Metal Gear games from 1987. Did you play the original Metal Gear, or NES sequel Snakeís Revenge, back in the day?

SY: Unfortunately I never have experienced the NES version. My first experience with Metal Gear was on the original PlayStation. It was awesome!

JS: Your first Syphon Filter was #3, the third release in as many years for a highly regarded series. Tell me about the influence of Metal Gear.

SY: Syphon Filter came into being largely because of this series. Right product at the right time. Many players finished playing Metal Gear Solid and began looking for a similar game to play. Syphon Filter filled this need for many people.

JS: SF3 was released November 2001, the same month as Metal Gear Solid 2 on PS2. What can you recall of the atmosphere on that project in relation to Konamiís sequel? Were you and colleagues conscious of MGS2 during development? Because SF3 was on PS1 was there a feeling of comfortable distance, or was MGS2 regarded as possible competition?

SY: We were aware of the Metal Gear project, as you typically are when youíre in development of a competing title. While we were still working on Syphon Filter 3 at that time, we had already begun breaking ground on Omega Strain as well as an early version of a scrapped PS3 title. MGS was always considered competition, but we were able to differentiate Syphon from MGS enough that players often would buy both games.

JS: The Omega Strain was the first Syphon Filter for PS2 and was released roughly 6 months prior to MGS3: Snake Eater. Would you say yourself or the team took any inspiration from the previous release of MGS2 on the PS2? And to what extent were you conscious of the impending release of MGS3?

SY: We really wanted to start pushing the envelope with Omega Strain. It was the first 4 player coop version of Syhpon Filter with a distributed AI system that would transfer handling of NPCS seamlessly from PS2 to PS2. If one player dropped out the load would be evenly distributed amongst the other remaining players. While both games are stealth in nature, MGS always felt a bit MORE stealthy to me than Syhpon Filter. We intentionally made it more supportive of run-and-gun styles of play to try to give players a new experience if they had just come from playing a MGS game. Every game developer out there draws inspiration from other games. Fresh new ideas are fairly rare in games as companies are typically unwilling to bet millions of dollars on an unproven idea. That is why you see games come out frequently that are evolutions or inspired heavily by other games. Tribes is a great example of this for PC shooters. Games like Unreal Tournament, Battlefield, Call of Duty were all heavily influenced by Tribes. In my opinion itís a good thing. If someone can take an idea Iíve had and make it better... the gamers win. And that benefits all of us.

JS: For MGS4 Konami famously explained how they had played Western developed games to better understand the different design philosophies. Did you follow MGS4 and do you feel they perhaps took some inspiration from the Syphon Filter games?


SY: Unfortunately I didnít spend much time with MGS4. I looked at it initially for their new technology, but at the time I was transitioning out of stealth games onto what Iím working on now Ė Firefall.

Firefall is another great example of taking inspiration from multiple types of games and combining it into something new that people have never seen before. For this game I drew inspiration from games like M.U.L.E., Tribes, World of Warcraft, Dota, and Quake.

JS: Do you like M.U.L.E. ? I too am a huge fan of M.U.L.E, and conducted interviews with several of the team.

SY: Iím a huge M.U.L.E. fan. It was the first game that I spent up all night with my friend playing on my Commodore 64. If you do a bit more research about Firefall Iím sure you will notice some influence (some more obvious than others) in the design of Firefall. Iíll definitely give your article a read.

More information on Firefall can be found at:

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