Red Dead Redemption – rockstars new shooter game is alive!
It’s not wholly inaccurate to bill Rockstar as the house that Grand Theft Auto built. After all it was the success of the first top down game in 1998 that helped birth the company, and subsequent games have helped define it, from the revolution ushered in by GTA III and the cultural impact of Vice City and San Andreas to the cinematic cool and shocking detail of GTA IV. But as its slate for the coming months attests, there’s a sense that it’s shifting the focus away from its staple series as LA Noire, Max Payne 3 and Agent fill out a year that many thought would see the release of the next GTA. Is it possible that Rockstar is trying to move away from being predominantly known for GTA psp games?
“Hopefully we’re not just famous for GTA,” says Dan Houser, creative VP and co-founder of Rockstar. “That’s how we would look at it and obviously we believe Red Dead Redemption is the best game we can possibly make at this time, just as GTA IV was the best we could possibly make at that time. We put our hearts and souls into making the games as best as we can. Last year, 2009 and 2008, we released a three part GTA IV epic experience and now we’re working on a couple of other things.”
In order to get a handle on what Rockstar will be offering next, it’s worth looking at what’s important to them now ? and Red Dead Redemption’s embellishments to the open world template give a good idea of what direction its games are taking. “Our next great thing that hopefully Red Dead Redemption is taking a step further forward is multiplayer,” says Houser, and it’s important to remember that it’s an area that Rockstar is still relatively new to, with GTA IV and its subsequent episodes the first full-blooded attempt at multiplayer from the company.
We don’t know much about multiplayer, but expect some horse and cart shenanigans.
What those steps will be is a mystery for now, as multiplayer details remain scarce around Red Dead Redemption ? though we expect it to add to GTA IV’s suite and make full use of Red Dead Redemption’s envious assets, throwing horseback gunfights and open savannahs into the mix as well as a handful of surprises.
Whether we’ll see a shift comparable to the one made by GTA III as it introduced 3D to the series and GTA IV as it embraced the HD generation remains open to question, but another of Red Dead Redemption’s focal points reveals an area that’s close to Rockstar’s heart ? and one that Dan Houser sees as being the next logical step for its games. “I think AI is probably the single area where games are not as far ahead as they could be, for me,” he tells us. “In terms of where you will suddenly see cities come to life the next level will be because there is much better AI on all of the characters.”
With a desire to embrace multiplayer tied into one to take artificial intelligence one step further there’s one obvious catch-all answer ? a massively multiplayer online game, an answer that one of GTA’s creators has run with in Realtime World’s APB. It’s something that’s certainly crossed Rockstar’s collective mind, though its games would have to compromise more than most, perhaps losing the dialogue and plotting that’s defined many of its open world pursuits.
“As soon as you’ve got an MMO you lose that,” says Houser. “Our feel with the MMO is that it becomes like a costume party and you lose the immersiveness of the world, partly through behaviour but also simply just through the way everyone sounds.
“Suppose you’re making a city MMO and you’ve unlocked the great job of being a security guard, standing there until someone comes and shoots you. There are just too many bit-part players in too many of our games at the moment to do it where you have no AI. Whether you could make a world that was more persistent and have more characters with broadly similar goals and maybe compete with each other, living in it, then of course and that would be very interesting. We’ve always been thinking about that but we haven’t really had the chance to put any major thought into it and actually do it.
“I think you’ll see that [Red Dead Redemption] is definitely an instrumental step forward significantly for us from where we were before but overall an MMO? If we had an infinite amount of teams and time when of course we would do one, but without that we feel like we’re working manically just to do what we’re doing. So maybe in the future. Who knows?”