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L.A. Noire: Rockstar Tells Us The Story Behind The Game

KevinG4
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Posted October 17, 2011 - By Kevin Kelly


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L.A. Noire: Rockstar Tells Us The Story Behind The Game

L.A. Noire is about unraveling a mystery, but if you want to learn about the mystery behind the development of the game, read on. Rockstar Games has been delivering sandbox-style gameplay with compelling characters and stories, but L.A. Noire sought to model the specific style of film noir and stick it squarely in 1940s Los Angeles. They succeeded, and now they're bringing that experience to the PC for the first time on November 8. 

We spoke with Jeronimo Barrera, VP of Product Development at Rockstar Games about L.A. Noire, and he pulled back the curtain on what it was like to create the game in this world. He also spoke about what the PC experience will bring to the game, and why they broke out a lot of the content from the game and turned it into DLC. Read on for some tidbits behind the creation of L.A. Noire, and start thinking about what you'd like to see when Rockstar heads back into the world of gumshoes and nostalgia.

New L.A. Noire Screens Show Stylish Detective Work

G4: Were you guys surprised with the reception? The game seemed to be everywhere early this summer. Was it worth the wait?

Jeronimo Barrera, VP of Product Development at Rockstar Games: We’re glad that so many people enjoyed it. We can’t wait to bring it to PC for the same reason. From the beginning, we knew that it was an ambitious game – we were pioneering brand new technology and a completely new form of gameplay – but that was our drive for taking it on in the first place, and we were excited to be working with Team Bondi on the project. We always take great risks to push ourselves and to create these games, and it’s really satisfying when gamers appreciate the final product.

Is this a world that you can return to again?

The concepts explored in L.A. Noire definitely have more potential than have been explored so far, but it’s only been a few months since the original game’s launch, and PC is right around the corner, which we’re really excited about. It will be a while before we’re ready to say anything more definitive than that.

There was a lot of DLC for this game. Was any of that pulled out from the main game in order to keep content coming?

Our first concern was the game’s sheer size. The team definitely started out with more ideas for content than the cases that wound up comprising the final game, which consisted of 3 entire DVDs for Xbox 360 and in the case of the Playstation, one entire Blu-ray. But it was obvious very quickly that not all of it was going to make the final game. With that in mind, we first focused on finalizing content that best fit the narrative of the game, electing to work on the more self-contained cases later as DLC.

L.A. Noire

As LA residents, we were sometimes upset when the map didn't go far enough in certain directions. Was it tough to keep Los Angeles so contained?

Researching and designing an entire eight square miles of L.A. was a massive undertaking and Team Bondi did an incredible job recreating that much of the city in such deep and accurate historical detail. That in itself was plenty to work with and the simple fact is that as much as we love the entire city, it just didn’t make sense from the point of view of the game’s structure to make the gameplay much bigger.

Was it always the plan to use facial scanning? Or did that come about later?

The concept of MotionScan was something that Brendan McNamara, Team Bondi and the Depth Analysis team had been working on from very early on in the development of L.A. Noire, and its evolution was in parallel to the early stages of the game. Because of its ability to deliver something traditional motion capture could not - that is, every nuance of an actor’s facial performance - MotionScan quickly became integral to the game’s design because of the opportunities it delivered for interrogation. Knowing that the team had created a new form of gameplay based around the use of MotionScan was one of the high points of the development process, and we could not be happier with how it turned out.

Were there any funny outtakes from the recording sessions? Any facial scanning tech bloopers that got passed around?

We had plenty of outtakes, yes, mostly of people completely flubbing lines.That’s the nature of the process though - we were putting actors in a room for hours at a time, delivering lines to a screen - there were always going to be a great blooper reel! What’s great about Motion Scan is that because we were capturing an actor’s performance, we also had great footage of actors yawning, smiling, snarling and stretching their mouths in order to prep for their lines. That’s some pretty scary stuff.

L.A. Noire

Was there ever an idea towards have torture/pain feature in the game? You know, the "beat it outta him!" that you see in classic noir films?

The team did experiment with implementing a ‘force’ option that would encourage Phelps to get physical during the interrogations, but often when we tested, players would go for that option first, locking themselves out of any opportunity to actually get to the truth. Beating up a witness would almost certainly be a much less reliable way of getting evidence than TV shows might lead you to believe.

A lot of the random crimes that Cole can encounter throughout the game involve shooting. Were those added to make the game more appealing to shooter fans?

The street crimes were designed to break up the pacing of the game, giving players the option for some faster-paced incidental crimes between cases, so naturally enough, they ended up featuring a lot of shooting. Most individual cases are between 30 minutes and an hour long so it just made sense to give players a way to get quick bursts of action through crimes they could complete in a few minutes.

The PC version is coming out soon, why did it take so long? Is Rockstar returning to the PC as a viable game platform?

Given L.A. Noire is coming out on PC, and that our next big game, Max Payne 3 will have a PC release, and that we’ve released both Grand Theft Auto IV and Episodes from Liberty City for PC, it’s safe to say we never left.

Exclusive L.A. Noire Screenshots Give First Look At

L.A. Noire: Rockstar Tells Us The Story Behind The Game
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