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Angel in Disguise: An Interview With Rockstar San Diego's Alan Wasserman
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Angel in Disguise: An Interview With Rockstar San Diego's Alan Wasserman


June 22, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 6 Next
 



There hasn't been much Rockstar investment in handhelds so far. Is that out of Rockstar's scope at this point? Do you want to just make more big games?

AW: Midnight Club 3 is on PSP. Max Payne is on the GBA. Rockstar Games is not about hardware. It's about delivering an experience in any way that will make sense. Think about Table Tennis. The fact that it was announced on April 1st led people to believe we were joking, but the thing about the game is that the experience is intense. It's an intense, head-to-head game, whether you're playing the AI or another person. It's a great party game.

It's curious to me, since it's almost one of those things where you think, "Do we really need a video game about this?" Table tennis is a thing that is quite easy to play in real life, and quite often, games are about being able to do something you are not really capable of doing. That took a lot of people by surprise.

AW: I think people have various preconceptions of what Rockstar is all about. Whether you're talking about Table Tennis, Midnight Club, Smuggler's Run, Manhunt, or GTA, the common thread in those games is delivering an experience where you walk away saying, "Wow." You're not questioning whether it was money well spent. We've given you an experience, not $40 of entertainment for X number of hours.



It seems that the day of the character-driven game is over, and it's now all about experience-based games where you can go out and affect a world and have that world react to you. I think Rockstar is a big reason for why that shift has happened. What are the elements of that that are important or appealing for Rockstar?

AW: I'll frame it within Midnight Club. What you get out of a Midnight Club experience is, in theory, just racing. In theory, we could carve out the city in such a way that you think you have choices [but you don't]. Part of what I think makes Midnight Club special is that you could play the game to win, or at any moment you can say, "Hey, I wonder what's over there?" Does that mean you're going to win, or get a faster score or a better time? No. What that means is that you can do what you want.

That, I think, is the heart of any Rockstar game, even something as focused as Table Tennis. What's the point of a game that's defining your experience with, "Hit A, hit B?" We believe [that discovery-based gameplay] is a better experience. We could make prettier pictures if we wanted. We could make it prettier -- though not much, since we're cramming every pixel and poly we can out of the systems -- but it would take away from the experience that we think is important.

Do you find that open-world type stuff is easier on next-gen consoles? Or is it simply a matter of there being that much more space, so you have to fill it up with that much more stuff?

AW: The next-gen hardware is just that; it's next-gen hardware. A next-gen experience is making everything you put into that world more and more cohesive. Whether it's a lamppost falling in a better way or breaking into more pieces because that's the way it would react, or getting pedestrians to scatter correctly, or damage on a car -- these are just layers upon layers of making the world more cohesive and filled.

Every time they give us new hardware, we are going to break it. We will take it to the limits, break it solidly, then back off in the minimal amount that we have to, to make our game fit. On that basis alone, we're never going to be done enhancing the experience. But the next-gen stuff is like, "What new thing can we add to it beyond just adding more of the same?" That's the challenge.


Article Start Previous Page 3 of 6 Next

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