To those unfamiliar with how they are made, video game development is a seemingly magical process. Just how do all those programs and systems come together to create a cohesive experience? Small, independent projects require thousands of strenuous hours to put together, so one can barely wrap their mind around the man power put into a AAA title. Take, for example, Red Dead Redemption 2, which finally hit shelves in October, 2018 after years of anticipation. Getting this title of unprecedented ambition made was a massive undertaking, and the fact they pulled it off smoothly has to be commended, even by those who may not enjoy the game.
This list isn't going to claim to know how video games are made, but we did dig up twenty five interesting tidbits about RDR2's production. It's always great to know what went on behind the scenes of the best video games, and given the amount of moving parts that came together to create this Wild West opus, one can bet their bottom dollar there are plenty of impressive facts to choose from. Hopefully, these stories will deepen one's appreciation of the gargantuan amount of work that went into making one 2018's most impressive games.
So pack your six shooter, because here are 25 Things Only True Fans Know About The Making Of Red Dead Redemption 2.
While people were split down the middle as to which title deserved game of the year, God of War or Red Dead Redemption 2, most were in agreement that Roger Clark deserved to be recognized as delivering the best performance as Arthur Morgan. When he accepted his acting reward at the Game Awards, some may have been surprised to hear a thick Irish accent.
Roger Clark was born in the United States, but grew up in Ireland. This only makes his performance more incredible, as most people can't hold a fake accent for five minutes, let alone countless lines of dialogue.
Rockstar games used to cast celebrities in their titles, but shied away from the practice starting with GTA IV. This helps immerse gamers further into the world. The one exception they went with was Graham Greene, who plays Rains Fall in the 2018 western. The Native American Actor has had a long, illustrious career, with an Academy Award nomination under his belt for a supporting role in Dances With Wolves. He's a recognizable name and face, but his powerful performance brings so much more to the role than pedigree.
It's common for high profile game announcements to make waves in a company's business, but Red Dead Redemption 2's reveal took things to a whole new level. Before the game was officially announced as the second part of the beloved series, Rockstar's social media profiles teased it with a few western themed images. This simple act ended up causing a notable increase in publisher Take-Two's stock value. It's a good thing the teasers led up to a real announcement, otherwise there would have been real confusion and a lot of disappointed investors.
Grand Theft Auto fans will immediately recognize the name Lazlow Jones. The walking train wreck has been featured in the series since the GTA III, with a significant role in the fifth numbered entry. Not everyone knows, however, that he is a real person. Thankfully, the real Lazlow is not a mess like his virtual caricature. In fact, he is a writer who has worked with Rockstar games for over a decade, and contributed to the creation of Red Dead Redemption 2. He also wrote dialogue for 2012's Max Payne 3.
Rob Wiethoff ventured to Hollywood after being given empty promises of high profile movie roles. After floundering in obscurity for many years, he landed the role of John Marston in Red Dead Redemption. Shortly afterwards, he started a family and left the industry entirely by 2013. Fortunately for Red Dead Redemption fans, the opportunity to play Marston once again pulled him back into the acting world. The prequel is a better game for it too, as another actor playing Marston would have made it feel like a different character altogether.
When people think about the game industry, they usually picture Los Angeles or other sunny places. Really, famous studios are dotted all over the globe, with Id Software in Texas, BioWare in Canada, and Bethesda in Maryland. No one would expect one to be smack dab in middle of the Big Apple, though, but that's exactly where Rockstar Games is located. To be fair, there were many studios involved in RDR2, but the publisher and headquarters of it all is based in Manhattan, where Sam and Dan Houser do their work.
With a game as anticipated as this one, it would be a no brainer to bring it to the biggest annual video game conference and show it off, receiving the adoration of countless fans and reporters. Rockstar doesn't do the industry like most companies do, however, and never attend the show. The company sees it as a waste of time and, honestly, it is not necessary. They have a high enough profile that they don't need the assistance of such events in order to spread the word about their upcoming titles.
It is no secret that any game takes time to craft. As the medium becomes more complex, so does development time extend. This large scale project in particular took about seven years to make from start to finish. Consider, for a second, how long seven years is and think about the people who were involved from the beginning and saw it all the way through. Individuals go through immense changes in that time span, so staying focused and dedicated to a single project for so long is truly commendable.
Every cinematic, set piece, and line of dialogue has to be written before it is animated or acted out. For the main campaign alone, this amounted to over two thousand pages of writing. To put that in perspective, Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace usually sits somewhere at around twelve hundred pages, depending on which edition it is. Granted, Red Dead Redemption was put together with a team of writers, rather than a single author, but that does little to diminish the sheer amount of content just in the main story.
Almost every animation in RDR2 was made with motion capture technology. This method, which helps simulate real life movement by capturing actors' performances, has been used in the medium for about twenty five years, but rarely to such an extent. All in all, the developers say they spent around two thousand days in the motion capture studio. This ranges from cinematics, animations, and even some of the animals. In a title that strives for realism, this method greatly contributes to the feeling of being sucked back in time to real Wild West.
What makes it into a game's story is rarely from the first draft. Sometimes, changes are made deeper into production than one would think. For example, Arthur was originally going to have an additional love interest. Everyone knows Mary Linton, but no word on who the other one was. It may have been a character who is still in the game, or someone unique who was cut altogether. There's also Eliza, a young waitress whom he impregnated, but she passed away before the game's events, so it's doubtful she was the one.
The game, like many Rockstar titles, wears its inspirations on its sleeves. They also take inspiration from the lessons they learned in past titles. In GTA V, the three protagonists were always in the middle of an activity when the player jumped into their shoes. This idea impacted the way Van Der Linde's camp was portrayed. The developers wanted the player to understand that the camp is constantly being lived in, even when they are away. With this achieved, each member of the gang feels alive, and not like a mindless NPC.
Looking at the cast list for the game on IMDB, one may come across a small surprise when getting to Jack Marston's name. The performer who portrays John's son is Marissa Margaux. While this may come as unexpected to many, others already may have deduced why this is the case. Hiring child actors is often a hassle due to the strict rules one must follow with underage performers. By hiring a woman, they can usually imitate a child's voice and work longer hours. Of course, teenage Jack is played by a young adult male.
With a prequel, it can difficult to round up all the talent that made the first one so special. With RDR2, they managed to get four actors to come back for their iconic roles and, thankfully, they were some of the most important ones. Rob Wiethoff, Benjamin Byron Davis, Steve J. Palmer, and Jim Bentley all came back to portray their respective roles of John Marston, Dutch Van Der Linde, Bill Williamson, and Edgar Ross. It would have been nice for more to return, but the cast they got all did marvelous jobs.
With speaking roles alone, the cast consists of several hundred performers. However, given the nature of motion capture, the project called for hundreds of non speaking parts on top of that. All in all, the production utilized the talent of over a thousand actors. Given that the studio was in New York, this made the company notable for providing the most acting jobs in the city. Next time one is in the Big Apple, there is a good chance they'll run into someone who contributed an acting role to the game.
Even with its immense size, every aspect of the game was treated with extreme care. This extended to the marketing as well. For example, every trailer, from the announcement to the launch, was painstakingly crafted to reveal just the right things at the right moments. All in all, each sneak peek reportedly went through about seventy versions and edits before being unleashed upon the public. Our hats go off to anybody who had to sift through mountains of footage for hundreds of hours just to make a minute long teaser.
Music is important to every video game, and was key to bringing this western to life. For the task of scoring RDR2, Rockstar hired Woody Jackson. Jackson started his professional music career in the early nineties, taking on all types roles including touring musician, session player, and running his own recording studio. This also was far from his first work with the company, having first done the music for Red Dead Redemption in 2010. He also contributed music to Grand Theft Auto V, the first game in the series to have an original score.
In addition to an instrumental score, the game also brought additional artists to write and record songs for key moments in the story. The talent brought on board included Willie Nelson, Josh Homme, and D'Angelo. D'Angelo's inclusion, which involved him singing the song "Unshaken," comes as particularly surprising, considering the rarity at which the famed singer releases music. The venerated artist's prior release was a 2014 album, which came out after more than a decade long hiatus. Hopefully, this foreshadows more new material from the talented performer in the near future.
The game comes in at almost one hundred gigabytes to download. This may seem irrationally huge, but playing reveals that there is no a single megabyte wasted. There's no way they were compressing all those environments, animations, textures, and dialogue into anything smaller. Regarding speech alone, there was an estimated 500,000 lines of dialogue recorded for the project. Even if one made each of those lines a single word, that would still turn out to be longer than most epic novels. For comparison, Thomas Pynchon's groundbreaking novel, Gravity's Rainbow, is about 324,000 words.
When Harold Goldberg visited Rockstar's offices prior to RDR2's release, he passively mentioned several cats roaming around the place, dubbed the "official mousers." The writer quickly moved on to topics related to the game, but many readers probably would have loved a full profile on each of these cats. Felines are far more interesting than any upcoming release. New York City residents are well aware of their importance in keeping rodent populations in check, and look forward to seeing their friendly neighborhood bodega cat every time they stop by for a deli sandwich.
Every game has missions cut from the final product, and details on these adventures rarely see the light of day. Most of the time, they are cut for the betterment of the overall experience. Even if the part functions properly, its inclusion may have disrupted pacing or felt out of place. This game's cut content was said to make up around five hours of gameplay and included completed missions. It has gotta be tough to make that decision, but everybody on the team must know it is for the best.
Two names heard more than any other in relation to this series are Sam and Dan Houser, but these siblings didn't make the whole game by themselves. If they did, it would have taken more than a hundred years to finish. Ultimately, more than three thousand people from ten different teams worked like a well oiled machine in order to bring this world to life. These companies were located all across the globe, including a studio in India. Without the team effort, the game never would have seen the light of day.
These days, it is more commonplace for celebrities to admit their love for gaming. D'Angelo was a fan of the series, and that was his first step to contributing music to it. Comedian Fred Armisen has previously admitted his love for the first entry in the series. There may be some bias there, because he does lend a voice, but the performer assures readers that his admiration for the title is genuine. For the prequel, Armisen returned to voice Albridge T. Albington, an MC at the Theater Raleur in Saint Denis.
It is best not to divulge any information about an upcoming Rockstar game if the publisher doesn't want it known. TrustedReviews learned this lesson when they leaked a document detailing a possible Battle Royale mode for Red Dead Online, which may have been hinting at the recently added Gun Rush mode. As a result of the article, Take-Two sued the site, eventually settling for a million dollar donation to three separate charities. Every cloud has a silver lining, so it is good that some charities received funding from the incident.
A game like RDR2 could have simply smacked a title up there and called it a day for its reveal, but they still went through the effort of making a whole trailer. The tease consists of several vistas followed by a line of dialogue. The words came from an unrecognizable voice, who everybody now knows is Arthur Morgan. Funnily enough, the line comes from deep into the game, somewhere near the end of Chapter Six. The line has no spoilers, and gives just enough hints as to the themes with which the game will deal.
What do you think about the incredible amount of work poured into this game? Let us know in the comments!