"might annoy people" but it's to 'better their immersion'.
It's "really important" that games feel "kind of magical," and dishing on their processes would lessen that. Houser wants us feeling "this thing is alive," and losing ourselves in it.
Rockstar Games have quite the reputation for being notoriously stingy when it comes to game details. For a long time GTA: San Andreas was marketed by just a couple of screenshots.
"It's really important to us that the games (feel) kind of magical," Dan Houser told . "It might annoy people that we don't give out more information, but I think the end point is people enjoy the experience."
"The less they know about how things are pieced together and how things are broken down and what our processes are, the more it will feel like this thing is alive, that you are being dragged into the experience. That's what we want." Many studios now like to use developer diaries to help keep the marketing wagon rolling, but not Rockstar.
Silence is golden for the developer, and they prefer to let fans do the hard work of spreading the anticipation. The next big release from Rockstar, other than L.A. Noire for PC this week, is Max Payne 3. "I think the challenge of nostalgia is a profound one, because one thing about videogames is your memory tends to remove the horrendous," he said.
A lot of people remember fond memories of Max Payne and 'forget' its foibles. "(The games) become these great, perfect experiences. … It's definitely a challenge to get the right pitch when you want to appeal to the fans of the original and bring in a new audience," explained the Rockstar co-founder.
In Max Payne 3, Max is no longer a cop but a private security specialist working in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Gangs target the family of the industrialist he works for and, in true Max Payne style, all hell breaks loose and he goes on an action spree, whilst trying to deal with his inner demons. The series has always walked a dark path in story.
"If games are to be the next major form of creative consumption, art, cultural expression or whatever the correct term is, then strong narrative has to be part of that," he says. "If the mechanics are fine and the story is ridiculous, the experience is much diminished." Multiplayer won't be completely devoid of any narrative, hints Houser.
"We wanted to put some elements of single player into the multiplayer so the multiplayer will have a lot more detail and have elements of story in it and have a sort of an immersive quality," he continued. "We think that's something that is underexplored in multiplayer."
Rockstar are sticklers for detail, and they go to some great lengths for a project.
"We are building a film set, but it's a 360-degree film set that has to join together and feel real," he explains. "Some of the stuff we end up being most obsessed by are the things that join between walls. And where a lot of other games fail is their models may look great, but they don't sit together very well."
Houser feels Rockstar is more a film studio than a traditional games developer, as they shoot the equivalent of a feature film in motion capture every few weeks, he reveals. One area that they aren't interested in pursuing, unlike most others these days, is 3D. Max Payne 3 maybe 3D-compatibile but it's not been seriously invested in.
"I don't think anyone has solved the riddle of how you make 3D an integral part of the gaming experience," noted Dan Houser. Recently Rockstar released a trailer for the newly announced Grand Theft Auto V teasing its location and place in time, but in true Rockstar style they haven't released any specifics about it. Does that annoy you?
Max Payne 3 releases on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in March, 2012.