Kojima initially planned the third Metal Gear game in 1994, originally titled "Metal Gear 3", and to release it for the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer in 1994. Conceptual artwork, by illustrator Yoji Shinkawa, of the characters Solid Snake, Meryl Silverburgh, who was also a character in the adventure game Policenauts, and the FOXHOUND team, were included in the Policenauts: Pilot Disk preceding the release of the full 3DO game in 1995. However due to the declining support for the 3DO, development of the game shifted to the PlayStation shortly after it was released.
Kojima retitled the game Metal Gear Solid, choosing this over the working title Metal Gear 3. This was due to the fact that he believed that the first two MSX2 games in the series were not very well known. He used the word 'Solid' which was chosen due to the game being the third installment in the series, and because it uses 3D computer graphics, as well as being in reference to Solid Snake, the game's protagonist. Sequels to this game also use the Metal Gear Solid title, and follow a new numeral progression.
The development for Metal Gear Solid began in mid-1995 with the intention of creating the "best PlayStation game ever". Developers aimed for accuracy and realism while making the game enjoyable and tense. In the early stages of development, the Huntington Beach SWAT team educated the creators with a demonstration of vehicles, weapons and explosives. Weapons expert Motosada Mori was also tapped as technical adviser in the research, which included visits to Fort Irwin and firing sessions at Stembridge Gun Rentals. Kojima stated that "if the player isn't tricked into believing that the world is real, then there's no point in making the game". To fulfill this, adjustments were made to every detail, such as individually designed desks.
Hideo Kojima created the characters of Metal Gear Solid. Modifications and mechanics were made by conceptual artist Yoji Shinkawa. The characters were completed by polygonal artists using brush drawings and clay models by Shinkawa. Kojima wanted greater interaction with objects and the environment, such as allowing the player to hide bodies in a storage compartment. Additionally, he wanted "a full orchestra right next to the player"; a system which made modifications such as tempo and texture to the currently playing track, instead of switching to another pre-recorded track. Although these features could not be achieved, they were implemented in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
Metal Gear Solid was shown to the public at the E3 gaming event in 1997 as a short video. It was later playable for the first time at the Tokyo Game Show in 1998 and officially released the same year in Japan with an extensive promotional campaign. Television and magazine advertisements, in-store samples, and demo give-aways contributed to a total of US $8 million in promotional costs. An estimated 12 million demos for the game were distributed during 1998.
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“The man, or the boy, in his development is psychologically deterred from incorporating serving characteristics by an easily observable fact: there are already people around who are clearly meant to serve and they are girls and women. To perform the activities these people are doing is to risk being, and being thought of, and thinking of oneself, as a woman. This has been made a terrifying prospect and has been made to constitute a major threat to masculine identity.”
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