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Dan Houser On How Rockstar Does It

November 18, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4
 

One of the hot new technologies of this industry these days is 3D. Is there a room or a place for true stereoscopic 3D in a game like Max Payne 3?

DH: I'm not really the person in Rockstar to talk to about that one, because it is no passion of mine. I don't think anyone has solved the riddle of how you make 3D an integral part of the gaming experience: 3D in terms of depth of graphics of course, but not 3D in coming out on the screen and stereoscopic.

Is it really able to impact gameplay in a meaningful way? That is something that we haven't solved. You know, I don't think any of us have come close to solving it yet, and I don't think they've solving it in cinema. But that's a more complicated debate.

There are a lot of powerful people in movies who are passionate believers in it. In games it's got a little bit less attention, because games are about gameplay, and no one has yet found a way that it enhances this gameplay.

Every other technological innovation, that either television, or console makers, or PC graphics card makers [has made that] you can see, has had a tangible impact on either the ability to make mechanics more interesting at the core level or the ability to make the characters better.

3D has not yet done that, as far as I am aware. You can point to the killer experience on most bits of new technology, or most bits of new hardware. And you can't point to anything that makes you go, "Once you play this on 3D, then you know why you want to play 3D."

I've got to ask: In Max Payne 2, Mona dies in most difficulty levels, but if you finish the game at the highest difficulty level, she lives. Where does she stand health wise at this point in Max's life?

DH: It is not continuing that aspect of the story, because of that exact issue. Because of the time difference or the platform difference, there's no way of know what anyone might have played.

We toyed with figuring out some way, or doing something clever, and then [decided] "No, no, just move on from that bit of the story." It really didn't work because there was no way of knowing the choices someone made.

Options turn your consumer from a passive consumer into an active consumer. The more choices you give them, the more balls go into the air, and the more problems you have when it comes your turn to reset the balls up for their next go at it.

It is interesting work in making a narrative that responds to what the players want and the player's choices. The second you do that, though, it makes sequels very hard. So it is super exciting that stuff, but it also can make your head spin.

I can't even imagine what your bible is for a game like GTA, and much less for one like Max.

DH: Oh, I've got several bibles for GTA. There has to be, because there is a bible for brands, and a bible for radio, and one for background characters. Really, there is no one single knowledge base on GTA. There's too much now. I mean, between the technical and the non-technical sides -- but even on the non-technical content sides.

Well, there is one expert -- and it is the fan base.

DH: Yes! We don't make a lot of mistakes, but if we make them, they find them in seconds -- even the tiniest little things hidden away in the back of beyond in the games. You have to be careful because they are there for you.

It's funny. I spoke with Tim Kring, the creator of the TV show Heroes, earlier this year, and even that show had so much mythology going on he said that the writers lost track. But thankfully, the fans were so obsessive they had basically put together a wiki, and the writers were pulling information from that.

DH: We do the same. I would be very surprised if anyone working on a long running thing like this that is popular these days isn't. The wiki is pretty good. For some of the older games, where I just want to remember a particular person's name or a particular brand or something, it's probably in our records, but some of the details stuff from the wiki is amazing and we love it.


Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

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