Hand in hand with the outpour of Red Dead Redemption 2 reviews, Rockstar's head honcho Dan Houser gave an interview to GQ Magazine, where he discussed the current gaming climate, RDR2 development, crunch allegations, his own ego and more.
Asked to comment his avoidance of spotlight, which is perhaps most evident from Rockstar's continued absence from prominent gaming expos such as E3, Houser said that it isn't arrogance, despite how it may seem. "It's not cool to be out there pursuing fame", Houser said and added that "video games will keep you fairly humble".
In spite of Houser's humbleness, there are very few things about Red Dead Redemption 2's development that can be called that. The game was developed by Rockstar's studios from Edinburgh to San Diego, all of which combined into a global game development pipeline that the company "finally managed to get pretty right", admittedly after years of trying.
To better paint a picture of the scale of the project, Red Dead Redemption 2 has more than 300,000 lines spoken by 700 voice actors over 2,200 days, half a million character animations, 200 pieces of original music, 2,000 pages worth of main story script and countless other pages of side quest and pedestrian dialogue. Massive doesn't really tell the whole story.
Houser also commented on how Rockstar balanced history and fiction in Red Dead Redemption 2, saying that they were aiming to show the "conflict between society and savagery, between civilisation and industry". He commented that racial and gender inequality were commonplace in the era but said, "You want to allude to that stuff, but you can’t do it with 100 per cent historical accuracy. It would be deeply unpleasant."
Asked to comment last minute changes, such as the one that meant redoing all the cutscenes in letterbox, Houser said that games take shape in late stages and that even before that, there are moments when he doubts both himself and the team. He stressed however that the key is to think about the game and not oneself. “We care about it. We care about details. We are also hopefully humble enough that we can look at it and go, ‘Yeah it’s good but this rough edge, we have to smooth that out'", he said.
Houser also reflected on how he's glad that he's not releasing Grand Theft Auto VI in this day and age because he's almost afraid of how upset people would be. "Both intense liberal progression and intense conservatism are both very militant, and very angry. It is scary but it’s also strange, and yet both of them seem occasionally to veer towards the absurd. It’s hard to satirise for those reasons. Some of the stuff you see is straightforwardly beyond satire", he said.
In the end, Houser was asked why he still makes video games after all this time, saying that "games are still magical. It’s like they’re made by elves. You turn on the screen and it’s just this world that exists on TV. I think you gain something by not knowing how they’re made", where the last sentence is probably true for all the arts, regardless of where your curiosity takes you.
"As much as we might lose something in terms of people’s respect for what we do, their enjoyment of what we do is enhanced. Which is probably more important”, Houser concluded.
You can find Houser's full interview with GQ here.