1up.com have conducted a highly interesting interview with Team Bondi founder, Brendan McNamara, with questions touching on the long development time of L.A Noire, why it changed hands from Sony to Rockstar, and Rockstar's involvement in its development.
So why did it take a whopping seven years to complete L.A Noire when it was initially predicted to only take three? McNamara puts it down to a number of things, but it's mostly due to the team underestimating the huge job they had at hand. From 1up...
(McNamara) Obviously, having a brand new team, with brand new technology, and a brand new type of game, and some technology that had never been seen before was a pretty big undertaking. So yeah, we massively underestimated it. But also we started with one line of code; now we've got eight million. That's what you need to run this type of game.
What's not often officially talked about is why L.A Noire made the switch initially as a Sony funded title over to a Rockstar Games release. McNamara explains that a change in Sony management meant that the continued development of L.A Noire was on shaky grounds, so he consulted with long-time friend and co-founder / president of Rockstar Games, Sam Houser, for Rockstar Games to take on the role as the new publisher. Sony, McNamara indicates, were nice enough to hand it over...
(McNamara) Sam Houser -- who runs Rockstar -- and I go back a long way. We were both in it when Sam was an A&R [Artist & Repertoire] guy at BMG Records, and they started the BMG Interactive division, which was trying to do some games and that kind of stuff...
I knew him when he was in BMG Music, and I went over as kind of a freelance artist working on different things. We went back a long way, and we used to get together and talk about games over these marathon Chinese meals.
It looks like Rockstar gave Team Bondi the additional resources and extra time to polish and refine the title, providing some developers from Rockstar North to assist in animation, cleaning up motion capture data, and tweaking various gameplay aspects. Finally, McNamara reveals that Team Bondi are finished and done with L.A Noire apart from some loose ends such as the Japanese translated version of the game and possible DLC add ons. Most of the team are on holidays while McNamara is kicking around some ideas for the next project.
For the entire interview piece with Brendan McNamara, head on over to 1up.com!
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..
The game will be a free-roaming title with a historically-accurate recreation of Los Angeles in 1947.
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.
Team Bondi has even hired a costume designer to research the clothing of the era so the game's attire can be accurate.
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...
Aside from main story, side missions will be based on actual cases pulled straight of the newspapers of 1947.
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.
A US Marine plays a big role in the story.
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.
Not so exclusive...but LA Noire definitely ain't coming to Xbox 360, the size of the game is an obstacle to this.
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! :)
Hideo Kojima, VP of Konami Digital Entertainment, is eagerly awaiting the release for Team Bondi's detective thriller, L.A Noire. In fact, he has such high expectations for it that he's described it as the ONLY game he is looking forward to, and he's willing to wait out the extra two months after the initial May release for the Japanese translated version.
So why is the developer behind the extremely successful series of Metal Gear Solid games so eager for L.A Noire? From his tweets, he believes it may change the future of adventure gaming. From playstationlifestyle.net..
It seems that “L.A. NOIR” will be released in Japan on 7th July(the Star Festival). It is the most and the only game that I am looking forward to playing. English version will be released in May. I cannot wait, but as it is the detective game, I should wait for the Japanese version. This game may change the future of “adventure game.” I’ve got a big expectation!
Kojima's incredible anticipation for L.A Noire could be equally matched by a group of architects and historians who are thrilled by all the reports about Team Bondi putting an extraordinary amount of research into their game, creating a "time machine" for a 1940's era Los Angeles. From the Los Angeles Times...
"Everyone's talking about it. I know architects and historians dying to get their hands on it," says Kim Cooper, a student of Los Angeles history and, with her husband Richard Schave, the proprietor of Esotouric, which offers noir-themed bus tours of Los Angeles and was asked by Rockstar to conduct a special tour for people brought in to Los Angeles to try out the game before its release.
Team Bondi production designer, Simon Wood, was at hand for the L.A Times article to describe some of the research that Team Bondi conducted for the game, including sourcing detailed maps and roughly 180,000 photos from collections of that era, examining and photographing hundreds of period props, and making equally exhaustive efforts for the right clothing, hats, and suits for the characters in-game.
L.A Noire is arriving on the 17th of May for North America, and the 20th of May for Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, for Playstation3 and Xbox360.
All eyes are on Halfbrick Studios and the success of their early adoption of a new cross-promotion feature offered by social gaming network, OpenFeint. In what will surely become the latest of many strategies for game app developers to get more consumer eyes on their releases, OpenFeint's Developer Announcements feature allows developers to promote their other titles to gamers whilst in-game. With a simple tap of a promo, gamers are able to immediately install and play the new game.
Halfbrick Studios is the perfect candidate to take advantage of Developer Announcements, having sold well over 6 million copies of their fruit slicing hit, Fruit Ninja. By promoting their endless runner title, Monster Dash, to the huge number of playing Fruit Ninja fans, the Brisbane studio has seen a sharp rise in Monster Dash sales. From Venturebeat.com...
After OpenFeint did the cross promotion, Monster Dash's downloads spiked 123 percent in two days, said Phil Larsen, head of Brisbane, Australia-based Halfbrick. The game also jumped from No. 143 on the Apple App Store to No. 4 in free apps. In paid apps, the game moved from No. 267 to No. 84.
As games developers find crowded app marketplaces increasingly challenging for their titles to get noticed, Developer Announcements from OpenFeint could prove to be an important cog-wheel of a developer's marketing strategy...
We are Raptus Games, a new independent studio based in Melbourne. We would like to show the teaser trailer for our up coming western shooter DRAW.
Inspired by classic spaghetti western films DRAW is a on rails shooter with bright colourful visuals and great style! Use classic weapons from the frontier days and take out the bandits raising hell in town!
Flick Buddies by Brisbane indie developer, Bane Games, is now available in a lite version so you can try out the physics based arena game for free on your iOS device!
Flick Buddies Lite contains 18 complete levels as well as all the environments, game modes, and characters from the complete version. Avoid spikes, gravity wells or even the dreaded Vortex of Death as you flick your team past the opposition and into the awaiting goal. Join with the 100,000+ existing Flick Buddies fans in frantic finger flicking fun; in solo play or with friends all on the one device.
Now, there's absolutely no excuse for not trying it out. Grab it from the iTunes link below!!
Heavy Rain, a 2010 Playstation 3 exclusive gritty film noir adventure game which relied heavily on quicktime events, was promoted as pushing the boundaries for virtual actors in video games. Heavy Rain boasted a high level of performance realism, with full motion body capture, facial capture, as well as the likeness of the actor performing those actions, far beyond what had been previously accomplished in games. Those boundaries are set to be surpassed with the upcoming release of Team Bondi's detective thriller, L.A Noire.
In an interview with Computer and Video Games, Quantic Dream's founder CEO and creator of Heavy Rain, David Cage, had some interesting words to say about L.A Noire and the technology behind it, describing some of the main limits of MotionScan, the facial scanning tech developed in Sydney by Team Bondi sister company, Depth Analysis. From the interview...
(Cage) "What to say about L.A Noire? I think it's an interesting solution to a problem for now. But it's also an interesting dead end. That's exactly what I feel. Their technique is incredibly expensive and they will never be able to shoot body and face at the same time...
...they can't have real time lighting. Their technique means they can't have lighting the way I think we should do it. Basically, they take pictures; they take scans several times per frame. They also have limitations on the shaders they use, they can't re-target the eyes because they eyes are captured."
Not to be outdone by MotionScan tech, Cage reveals that Quantic Dream's own capture solution shoots both the actor's body and face at the same time and has plenty of room to improve. It's capable of reaching the photo-realistic level of capture performance of 2009 movie blockbuster, Avatar, within four or five years, he explains.
Halfbrick Studios is bringing out a new title for Apple iOS devices called Machinegun Jetpack. It stars the familiar Barry Steakfries character who appears in their previous iOS games, Monster Dash, as well as Age of Zombies. The gameplay shares some familiarity to Monstar Dash in that it is also a runner game, so expect to be making your way through an endless, randomly generated level and avoiding all the enemies and trappings that come at you.
The big difference to Monstar Dash, however, is that you won't be spending most of your time running and hopping your way through. As the title suggests, you can gear up to keep yourself vertical with a jetpack or an anti-gravity suit. Coins can be collected to upgrade your gear or for use in the slot machine at the end of the game which provides a chance to win an opportunity to continue on or receive rewards for the next game.
Toucharcade were given a preview of Machinegun Jetpack at the Game Developers Conference at San Francisco this week which you can see below. Machinegun Jetpack is expected for a release in roughly three months time for the price of 99c...
During a meeting at the Games Developer Conference with Destructoid this week, Brisbane-based Halfbrick Studios has disclosed that they are bringing their 6+ million iOS selling game, Fruit Ninja, to the social gaming platform giant, Facebook. From Destructoid...
Called Fruit Ninja Frenzy, the game will utilize the same addictive swipe gameplay mechanics with some twists, including power-ups. Expect full leaderboard support, which means countless hours spent competing against Facebook friends, including that one kid who sat next to you in 7th grade history that haven't seen in over 15 years.
Making the most of your I.P should be the aim of many independent developers, and we've seen local developers like Firemint monetising the most of their game titles by porting it to as many platforms as possible, but we can only imagine the enormous potential of bringing Fruit Ninja to a huge social gaming platform like Facebook. Excellent move, Halfbrick!
Any new game announcement from Firemint is always anticipated, given the high standard of quality titles from the Melbourne games studio and for the fact that they've only released two titles for the iOS devices so far since the launch of their original 2009 hit title, Flight Control. Firemint certainly haven't been sitting on their laurels, however, as they've been preoccupied since with the big productions and highly acclaimed titles of Real Racing and Real Racing 2, as well as the many platform ports and updates of Flight Control.
Firemint CEO, Rob Murray, disclosed late last year that the studio was always prototyping new ideas but discarded many because they did not reach a certain level of innovation or freshness that the studio has come to expect. He explained that Firemint would be ready to announce any new game "when we have gotten it to the stage where it is close to finished and we are really loving it".
It seems that time has come as Firemint have been busy showcasing a preview of their new casual iOS title at the Game Developers Conference this week. The new game, titled Agent Squeek, has you you playing a mouse that has to collect cheese that has been strategically placed in the level. Once retrieved, you'll need to find an escape route to a mouse hole. You'll be doing this by drawing your path in the familiar way to directing your plane in Flight Control.
As to be expected, there are enemies to avoid, powerups to collect, and many achievements to be had. From the many previews that Agent Squeek has had, it's expected to include increasingly challenging levels, huge boss battles, and the final product will be of a level of polish you'd expect from Firemint.
The developers promise many hours of content, with tons of levels set in a variety of environments, plus a lot of replayability. Like in Angry Birds (and many other casual games), when you complete each level, you're awarded up to three stars for your performance.
No exact release date has been given so far for the release date for Agent Squeek nor has any screenshots or footage been released so far, but we should be seeing it sometime in 2011.