Rockstar Founder Talks GTA Development Issues
EGM’s Crispin Boyer was lucky enough to speak with Rockstar Games founder Sam Houser for the recent mag cover story, and now the full interview can be read online at 1UP. Of particular note is the subject of development troubles that Rockstar faced with GTA IV, and how future games might be impacted by certain technical limitations.
“Both machines are absolutely fantastic, but they both come with strengths and weaknesses. The strength of the 360 is a very, very accessible, familiar, effective environment to work in. You’re making the game from the get-go, everyone understands its PC environment — boom, off we go. It’s pretty good,” explained 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.”
Of course, the lack of a standard hard drive poses a problem for Rockstar, too. “I met with a bunch of the senior fellows from [Microsoft]. I said, that’s kind of complicated…. The upshot of the technical challenges we’ve experienced on either the 360 or on the PS3 is [that] both companies stepped up to the plate and have supported us in a way that was beyond even my greedy expectations. They’ve been amazing. I think that the 360 is going to have to get ’round this issue we’re talking about. I can think of various ways they can do it. Hopefully, they’re going to adopt one of those in the next year or so, because it’s going to become more of an issue. If we’re filling up the disc right now, where are we going? It’s not like our games are going to get any smaller. I think that issue’s on the table with a bunch of games right now. I’m sure they’ll come through with an intelligent solution.”
Having provided enough flamebait for fanboys to go wild with, Houser explained that both versions are “neck and neck now” in terms of visuals. He did, however, state, “There’s a slight difference in the way they look. I think that’s to do with really low-level technical stuff that I’m not the guy to explain. The 360 games have a certain look to them; PS3 games have a certain look to them. I like the way [the PS3] renders. There’s a certain kind of softness without being blurry — some warmth to it — and then there’s a certain more clinical element to how the 360 looks. Both have plusses and minuses.”
Houser mentioned he can think of various ways to get around those 360 issues, which I imagine would be an integrated Blu-ray drive or a standard hard drive in all 360 SKUs. While that would likely solve this issue, it would also alienate many early adopters — specifically with the Blu-ray option, since that’s a much different matter than early adopters not having an HDMI port on their 360.
Frankly, I think a standard hard drive is right around the corner. As the price for the system lowers more and more, it’ll be more feasible to finally take the plunge and make every system ship with a hard drive — which is a scenario that’s becoming increasingly clear should have been the case all along.