“There seems to be some confusion arising from my interview with Harold Goldberg. The point I was trying to make in the article was related to how the narrative and dialogue in the game was crafted, which was mostly what we talked about, not about the different processes of the wider team. After working on the game for seven years, the senior writing team, which consists of four people, Mike Unsworth, Rupert Humphries, Lazlow, and myself, had, as we always do, three weeks of intense work when we wrapped everything up. Three weeks, not years. We have all worked together for at least 12 years now, and feel we need this to get everything finished. After so many years of getting things organized and ready on this project, we needed this to check and finalize everything.
More importantly, we obviously don’t expect anyone else to work this way. Across the whole company, we have some senior people who work very hard purely because they’re passionate about a project, or their particular work, and we believe that passion shows in the games we release. But that additional effort is a choice, and we don’t ask or expect anyone to work anything like this. Lots of other senior people work in an entirely different way and are just as productive — I’m just not one of them! No one, senior or junior, is ever forced to work hard. I believe we go to great lengths to run a business that cares about its people, and to make the company a great place for them to work.”
The original story follows below.
Co-founder of Rockstar Games Dan Houser sat down to an interview with Vulture, where he shared extensive new details on his company’s imminent new title Red Dead Redemption 2. A lot of the new info is about the extent of work the studio dedicated behind closed doors, but we also learn about the approximate game length.
Houser, who is the head of the writing team at Rockstar, is rarely out in the public giving interviews. As such, Vulture’s interview is even more fascinating as it gives a rare glimpse at the creative minds behind blockbuster titles like GTA 5 which shaped the gaming industry like few others managed. Unlike most other games, it doesn’t look like the indifference towards the usual PR machinery is hurting Rockstar. GTA 5 is still adamantly clinging at the top-spots in sales charts, well over 5 years since its original release.
Naturally, the entire gaming press and gamers are razor-focused on October 26th. The day Rockstar’s first new game after GTA 5. Expectations are nothing less than stellar and from what the game studio has shown so far, signs are looking pretty good at even topping those.
The article at Vulture goes in-depth how the Houser brothers ended up being the juggernaut game creators they are today, so we highly recommend reading the whole thing, but for now, we’re mainly interested in news about Red Dead Redemption 2.
As such, we learn that the script for the main story alone is over 2,000 pages long. Add on top the many side-quests and players are sure to spend dozens upon dozens of hours in the Wild West open-world. Houser estimates 60 hours for the story alone but the large, living open-world has opportunities for so much more than the campaign.
Rockstar’s penchant for minute attention to detail assures that quantity doesn’t give way for quality, however, as a massive amount of over 1,200 actors have been deployed in motion-capture sessions spanning more than 2,200 days. 700 of those actors were also doing dialogue work. This ambition culminates in Red Dead Redemption 2 including more than 300,000 animations and 500,000 lines of dialogue. Slim chance players will get feelings of déjà vu anytime soon.
But it comes at a cost. Despite development for Red Dead Redemption 2 having started as early as 2012, Rockstar’s signature level of detail and depth led to many weeks of overwork. Houser states his team had several 100-hour work weeks this year alone. It’s not really meant as a point of pride but as a sign of dedication by the studio, but that couldn’t avoid the wave of criticism emerging against Rockstar’s management of not preventing such harsh work conditions.
It’s true that excessive work weeks like these aren’t healthy and in recent years more and more voices inside the industry have spoken out against the horrible industry standard of “crunch”, a late-development period of increased work hours.
Dan Houser probably won’t be thrilled to open his doors to interviews anytime soon after this backlash, and admittedly he never boasted about it. He merely told candidly how much dedication is poured into our favorite hobby on a regular basis.