Now that Rockstar Games’ LA Noire is out and expected to sell 4 million copies or more, the attention turns to what’s next for Team Bondi. Brendan McNamara’s old Sony studio, Team Soho, followed up 2002’s PlayStation 2 hit, The Getaway, with The Getaway: Black Monday in 2004. Given that LA Noire took about five years to develop both the technology and the game itself, McNamara doesn’t believe a sequel will take as long to make.
“Obviously the Motion Scan technology for capturing actors works and exists and other video game people are using that today, so that’s there and available and quick,” said McNamara. “We developed a lot of tools to make this kind of game, so I think that part of it will be shorter. The writing part you can’t really make any shorter. You can make it shorter than five years, but we’ve also now started working on technology for fully body capture.”
McNamara said this new technology, which will be available in a couple of years, means that his team can put actors in costumes to walk around and give their performances just as they would in film or television.
“We’ll be able to drop that performance in a video game, which will be pretty amazing,” said McNamara.
McNamara said even with LA Noire, his studio broke the mold from what gamers traditionally see in a video game character.
“Generally video game characters are 2D cutouts that carry big guns and do one liners,” said McNamara. “So to bring that degree of humanity to these characters was a big goal for the game.”
Adding another layer of depth to these performances in a sequel will only further blur the lines between Hollywood and games, according to McNamara.
Unlike The Getaway games, LA Noire relies on the performances of these actors to steer the very direction of the gameplay. Lies and misdirection are connected with how believable a performance is and how realistic a character comes across. A sequel will be able to build on the technology that will allow actors’ performances to improve. But those lies also are at the heart of why a sequel will take a long time to write, again.
“All the lies and misdirection means that we have to map out many routes and a very large script to cover all of the different directions a player can go in the game,” said McNamara. “That means the script by its nature is three times as long because you have these different avenues and there are a lot of logical problems to that, as well.”
Speaking of problems, despite the critical praise for the game, there has been a backlash due to bugs and glitches in the final product from some gamers. Given the amount of time focused on creating the technology for this first game, a sequel will hopefully give Team Bondi more time to work these things out before launching the next installment.