Revisiting Surfer Girl's L.A Noire exposé from 2007

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Let's cast our minds back to the year 2007 when an anonymous blogger called Surfer Girl came out of nowhere and made an enormous splash by claiming to have insider knowledge on games that were secretly in development. And in 2007, there was no other game more secret that Team Bondi's L.A Noire. Even though it had been in development for two to three years prior, neither Team Bondi nor its founder, Brendan McNamara, had yet conducted interviews or released any press information regarding L.A Noire, and so the only information available on the game at the time was no more than just the description of "a detective thriller set in the 40's".

When Surfer Girl made his/her exposé on L.A Noire, it caused a sensation as it gave us all a glimpse of the scale that Team Bondi was going for. We're going to go through each rumour that Surfer Girl made to see what proved to be true as Rockstar and Team Bondi open the information floodgames on L.A Noire while they prepare to release their long awaited game next week...

Here was Surfer Girls' 2007 rumour list on L.A Noire...

* The game will be a free-roaming title with a historically-accurate recreation of Los Angeles in 1947.
* Team Bondi has even hired a costume designer to research the clothing of the era so the game's attire can be accurate.
* Aside from main story, side missions will be based on actual cases pulled straight of the newspapers of 1947.
* A US Marine plays a big role in the story.
* Not so exclusive...but LA Noire definitely ain't coming to Xbox 360, the size of the game is an obstacle to this.

Ok, let's start..

Rumour 1

The game will be a free-roaming title with a historically-accurate recreation of Los Angeles in 1947.

Verdict: True

While this rumour is definitely true, we're at a fairly dubious start for Surfer Girl's exposé as this really was a no-brainer. Before Team Bondi there was Team Soho. Under the direction of Brendan McNamara, the London based studio produced the 4 million unit selling open world game, The Getaway, for the Playstation 2. For The Getaway, Team Soho re-created extensive areas of London, so it wasn't a stretch to come to the conclusion that McNamara and the few from Team Soho who had formed Team Bondi would do another open world game for their next project.

Surfer Girl was right, however. L.A Noire is a historically-accurate recreation of a 1947 Los Angeles. How accurate? The L.A Times describes the effort that Team Bondi made to digitally recreate L.A from that period by stitching maps from the 30's and overlaying them with topigraphical elevation level information from data obtained from historical libraries. Needless to say, it's got a few architects and historians fairly excited.

Rumour 2

Team Bondi has even hired a costume designer to research the clothing of the era so the game's attire can be accurate.

Verdict: True

Team Bondi made quite an exhaustive effort on the costume designs for L.A Noire, hiring professional film and TV costume designer, Wendy Cork, to work on clothing. From Rockstar's page on the costumes of L.A Noire...

The principal costumes by Ms. Cork and her team were scanned by Team Bondi in full body 3D scanners, giving them incredibly high resolution models to simulate the texture and fabric in detail. While some costumes were able to be sourced locally in Sydney (including some wardrobe previously used in Peter Jackson's "King Kong" remake), the bulk were sourced in L.A.

Wendy Cork was nominated for an AFI award in 2010 for Best Costume Design for the World War 1 film, Beneath Hill 60. Her excellent work can be seen in this trailer below...

Rumour 3

Aside from main story, side missions will be based on actual cases pulled straight of the newspapers of 1947.

Verdict: True

From Rockstar's page on the real crime stories of 1947 Los Angeles that inspired L.A. Noire cases...

In L.A. Noire, virtually all of the cases you’ll play are inspired in some part by real life incidents that happened in and around Los Angeles circa that crime-plagued era of 1947. Team Bondi meticulously researched stacks of original articles reported in the newspapers of the day to cull authentic elements of real life crimes that would inspire the in-game cases.

Rumour 4

A US Marine plays a big role in the story.

Verdict: True

Some clever sleuthing by L.A Noire fans on the the main character, Cole Phelps, reveals that the main character does indeed have a history as a former U.S Marine. From the fan created L.A Noire wiki...

Cole Phelps is a central character and the main protagonist of L.A. Noire. Phelps is a former member of the Marine Corps, who later returned from the war as a hero, joining the Los Angeles Police Department soon after, he quickly rose through the ranks and became a Detective.

Rumour 5

Not so exclusive...but LA Noire definitely ain't coming to Xbox 360, the size of the game is an obstacle to this.

Verdict: True

Yes, this was in fact absolutely true. In 2007.

Initially, L.A Noire was to be a PlayStation 3 exclusive, and the MotionScan technology was one of the main reasons why it was never going to make an appearance on the Xbox 360. The amount of facial data scanned for the 400+ characters in-game meant that the Xbox 360 and the capacity of its standard dual-layer DVD was clearly not up to scratch. The fact that L.A Noire was to be published by Sony was the other main reason it wasn't coming to Microsoft's console.

When Rockstar came onboard as the new publisher, this all changed, however. Rockstar are no stranger to multi-platform development, and they've dealt with capacity issues before with their enormously successful game, Grand Theft Auto IV. Here's Dan Houser, co-founder of Rockstar Games, lamenting on the disk capacity issues of the Xbox 360 to 1up...

(Dan Houser) One of the problems with the 360, and it affects games like Grand Theft Auto if you think about how much content we put in the actual machine, is the fact that they don't have a significantly larger storage medium than the previous systems. It's a slightly bigger DVD disc.

As the publisher of L.A Noire and with the experience of multi-platform development, it's no surprise that Rockstar Games wanted it to arrive on the Xbox 360. And with a whole lot of work, it is indeed coming out for both the Playstation3 and Xbox 360. But what about the capacity issues raised earlier? Kotaku recently revealed that Team Bondi have managed to squeeze L.A Noire will on three discs for the Xbox version, and it was engineered in a way to keep disc swapping to an absolute minimum.

(McNamara) Since the game is built around the concept of progressing through individual cases from desk to desk, players on Xbox will find disc-swapping is hassle-free. In fact, players will only need to swap discs twice at natural breaks between cases without interrupting the flow of the game.

Overall Verdict: SPOT ON

So, what's the verdict on the rumours? Well, we can unequivocally say that Surfer Girl was right on the money about L.A Noire on every point. Keeping in mind that none of the information and insights on L.A Noire published by Rockstar was available until fairly recently, some four years after Surfer Girl's blog post, the exposé by Surfer Girl was huge. Great job, whoever you are! :)

Comments

Anonymous's picture

I don't really think it's a

I don't really think it's a badge of honour to leak information about a game like it's portrayed in this article. The fact remains sensitive information being leaked has lead to studios losing contracts and finally closing down. Publishers can also sue you if they can find the source was linked from the development team. Thankfully LA-Noire will see the light of day and no damage was done when the info was leaked.

Anonymous's picture

"The fact remains sensitive

"The fact remains sensitive information being leaked has lead to studios losing contracts and finally closing down."

Examples?

Anonymous's picture

Most recent example would be

Most recent example would be Transmission Games: certain confidential details were leaked to Kotaku, the studio lost a project as a result, and closed shortly afterwards. Now, let's not get bogged down in the details of why the leak wasn't the only cause of the studios collapse (it wasn't) - the point is it was still a tremendously damaging blow to the studio.

Anonymous's picture

What's the big deal about

What's the big deal about Surfer Girl anyway? People are leaking stuff all the time. I guess the difference is she didn't bother keeping inside the game development community and just put it out everywhere for all the world to see... which is no different to what 90% of the news stories on any games site is on any given day. Is it just that she has a handle that makes people picture some blond bombshell in a bikini who might be working in games development?