It appears that developers at Konami left a secret message of support for series creator Hideo Kojima in spin-off game Metal Gear Survive, following his high-profile departure from the studio following the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain in 2015.

When Kojima parted ways with the company he left behind the 30-year-old series, which returned last week with the release of Survive, a multiplayer-focussed survival game for PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Kojima has since re-established Kojima Productions as an independent studio and begun work on mysterious new project called Death Stranding with Sony.

The secret message appears early on in the game, when players glimpse a clipboard featuring their character and the Metal Gear-style codenames of fellow soldiers, such as 'Midnight Falcon' and 'Dire Gibbon'.

Eagle-eyed Reddit users spotted that the second initials of a succession of the names spell out "KJP Forever", or "Kojima Productions Forever".

This is followed by the names 'Bastard Yota' and 'Cunning Yuji' in reference to Metal Gear Survive's director Yota Tsutsumizaki and producer Yuji Korekado.

Kojima's rocky relationship with his paymasters at Konami was well-publicised in the run-up to Phantom Pain's release and came amid further reports regarding allegedly poor working conditions at the gaming giant.

Being the first post-Kojima Metal Gear title, Survive has faced an uphill struggle to win over fans. Reviews have been far-from-glowing and sales over its opening weekend were poor in the UK - falling far short of Phantom Pain and past spin-off Metal Gear Rising.