The game is finally out, and we take a peek behind the development curtain in our two-part look at this long-anticipated game.
The only thing the cynics in the peanut gallery love more than an underdog is the guy who might not ever finish the race. When L.A. Noire was announced in 2005 as an upcoming "detective thriller," nary a detail was in sight, save for PlayStation platform exclusivity. A year later, a CG trailer surfaced and provided a first look at what the game might look like, before the elusive studio went dark. It was late 2010 before we heard anything about the project again, with some gamers justifiably assuming that the four-year silence relegated the game to Duke Nukem Forever vapourware status--a moniker bestowed upon titles doomed to never see the light of day.
More than six years after development on the game began, Detective Cole Phelps has finally had his day in court, with the game now on sale and critics singing its praise. But a few questions remain: What took so long? Why did the Australian studio go to ground? And where are its sights set from here? To answer these questions, and more, we sat down with Team Bondi's creative and technical leads for candid discussions about making L.A. Noire, what went wrong, how they could have done it differently, and some of the lessons learned in the process. In this first part, we delve behind the scenes into the nitty-gritty of the game's technical wizardry, including building a motion-capture system on theory, mating traditional animation with cinematography, and the arduous task of actually fitting the results on a disc.
Team Bondi as a development team is clearly a bigger fan of "show" than "tell," and for this reason, we were eager to see the office space where they have toiled away for so many years. The company takes up the entirety of a large floor in an unassuming Sydney office complex. As the lift doors open, we're greeted not by flashy oversized game props, pinball machines, and beanbags, but rather a humble, huge, unoccupied space. A low-slung coffee table is covered in the latest gaming magazines. Fixed to the wall beside a reception desk are framed discs and cover art for previous titles such as The Getaway--a game brother from a different mother that helped shape L.A. Noire's development. Team Bondi's first-shipped title doesn't have a space on the wall yet, but after surging global sales since launch, we're sure it won't be long before it takes its place alongside its predecessors.
As we pass through the office on our way to a meeting room, we notice that the walls are adorned with character concept art, reference photos of 1940s-style America, cars, and fashion. It's more like a time capsule than an office, and it's this devotion to detail of the era that permeates every aspect of L.A. Noire and drives the people who worked on it for so long.
The final results of this labour of love, particularly the game's unique facial scanning, speak for themselves--but where do you start with a concept as elaborate as this? Technical director Franta Fulin and producer Naresh Hirani took us right back to where it all began: building the tool skeleton to support the game's creative skin.
"People think we were an established team because we've done other projects before. There wasn't a single line of code, there wasn't a single texture, there were no tools, there was nothing to click. No desks, no nothing. A blank office with a few guys from Europe and a few guys from here. From there, it took years to finally get it to the point where it was something to call a team," says Hirani.
Fulin continues the thought; "Someone had to sit down and write the code to read the stuff off the disc before anything could be put onscreen. Every little layer had to be built one on top of the other. I think the first two years of the project was just about building tools."
In 2006, the team began to expand, evolving beyond simply developing technology and starting to put together the first semblances of actual gameplay experiences. But it wasn't all smooth sailing once they had the chance to begin layering content over the subsystems they had built, explains Fulin.
"Another tricky thing was the PS3 wasn't really something that existed. We were working on this game before we had PS3s to work on. Once it did start coming out, we were going through different revisions of the hardware, and Sony would tune a fundamental aspect of the PS3, and we had to rework everything for that. Then they'd change it back again a few months later. So that was part of the challenge, too."
Fulin goes on to discuss some of the bigger technical hurdles that the team was forced to tackle. "Naturally, the [Motion Scan] being the new technology, but other than that, the massive environment. That's a technical challenge for any team; you're working on a massive open world and can go anywhere you want, streaming things in. The level of detail we wanted for this game, as you're driving around looking at shop displays that have accurately modelled things in them. Pulling all that stuff in, there's never enough memory to hold everything you want, so you're constantly pulling things off the disc. Trying to do that in a way that the player doesn't notice, that was one of the big challenges. Making the technology disappear under the gameplay."
While Australia has managed to carve out its own niche in mobile gaming with the success of games like Halfbrick's Fruit Ninja and Firemint's Real Racing and Flight Control, the Aussie industry has seldom been known for its home-grown AAA game development. As a result, both while building the tools and moving on to the game's artistic design elements, Team Bondi faced a fresh wave of tests: finding locals to do the work.
"We found a lot of skill sets. The big related industry is animation, so we found a lot of people with that skill set we had to re-skill. It wasn't the usual situation where you have a big development community you can pull experienced resources out of and build the team quickly. In a lot of ways, we had to become kind of a university and train people up on what it was to make games," says Hirani.
A great game. It encourages using your head and eyes, and common sense to solve crimes. Although I was sorta bad at interrogations.
Make real games & add good story to them..we dont need only graphics....ow much you watch the game..Entertainment starts from gameplay....nlt only from graphics....Focus on Adding some good things..becoz of u have lot of sapce in Blu-ray..Don't make stupid one time playable 60$ games for ur money
@aaronfhff and @JJB03 I definitely agree with aaronfhff that is exactly what I meant in my previous comment. I didn't leave RDR on a bad note because of weeks of gameplay actually I still play it from time to time and it is my top game ever. After finishing L.A. Noire and not being able to do anything else caused me to leave the game on a bad note. Oh and my grandma used to say that every good thing must come to an end and I hated it XD. What can I say I'm just talking for myself here, thanks for your comment... And I agree on multiplayer as well, it would've been bad, maybe creating and sharing missions would've made this an everlasting game like in inFamous 2.
@aaronfhff123 I agree with you. That's the main reason I never got into the Drake's Uncharted series. The game looks cool and all, but there's just something about playing Pee-Wee that doesn't jive with me. I don't know, maybe it says something about my character.
To all those that think playing as a cop is fun...answer me this. What can you do in LA Noire once all the side quest and main story missions are done? Nothing! You can't rampage, can't steal cars(sometimes you can, why not all the time), you can't do much of anything. In GTA4 and Red Dead you can keep having fun after the game is done! In La noire the fun stops because cops are supposed to obey the law. Being a criminal or a cowboy gives you so many more crazy oppurtunities. Staying on one side of the law the whole time is boring.
After reading this, I can't help but stop thinking of the possibilities of the next-gen systems with abundance of memory so things won't need to be cut down that much.
David Cage has no right to slag off L.A.Noire, pure jealousy is what it sounds like. Heavy Rain is the most overrated game of the last couple of years, crappy story, stupid dialogue and acting and all the endings where either boringly generic or laughably stupid (and yes I've seen all of them) - L.A. Noire may have it's shortcomings but as a fusion of game and film/narrative storytelling it beats the hell out of Heavy Rain in every department, not just facial animation.
i dont think it should of had multiplayer tbh it would have ruined the point of the game these games come acroos once in a blue moon and theres something very minalmilist about them that prefer like you know the people who made the considered there options carefully and reframed from just pumping it full of everything so every gamer has an intrest
@Arda_Daghan212 I'v only partly played this game up untill i got to arson i think and im dieing for more but i think every game has to have a stop cap at some point, some are longer than others and some are more memoriable than others and i'd be pretty satisfied to put it on my shelf for it to rest once i do finish it because i know the moments the games gave me will have me thinking about it for a very long time and i think thats just as important as the actual amount of content in a game i think it has a good amount of content for what the game is if it was any longer you might have lost intrest or got bored of it by then and you would have left the game on a bad note...like people say ever good thing must come to and end. i guess i could have said that earlier rather than having this long comment XD
My final thoughts...pure disappointment. It's a good looking game with some of the worst mechanics I've ever seen. It's also the first game I've ever sold back to the store. Buy this one on the cheap later if you're really interested.
Even though how beautiful this game was it didn't take more than let's say 15-20 hours of gameplay and once you finish the storyline you have nothing left to do other than small side missions which you can finish in 2 hours (all of them I mean). We have free-roam but frankly it gets a bit boring after you drive for a few minutes and this may be rather enjoyable if you like all that architecture and scenery of 40's L.A but after all there is no fixing this point because of the plot and the storyline of the game. Being chased by cops and sherrifs and little side missions that keep occuring and most importantly multiplayer are the stuff that make a sandbox game replayable and ever-selling. If DLCs keep coming for L.A. Noire then maybe I won't put it on my shelf just yet. Even though this may sound like a very negative comment on the game, this game has brilliant graphics and brilliant storyline and brilliant gameplay, a game based on a cop story which cannot be made any better in any way, easily one of most noticeable and notable games to come out this year. Adding all this stuff up L.A. Noire should be bought by 100% of ps3 owners and should be loved by any who are into these type of games. After all Red Dead: Redemption remains my favourite on top of all other games and R* my favourite game producer. Sorry for such a long comment, though I liked it very much I think I'll post it to other sites as well XD...
@CobraKai83 How can you think Heavy Rain has better facial animations than LA Noire? That's just absrud, although I do agree that the graphics are better.
@LegionsAssassin That's my biggest concern about the way the gaming industry is going, as much as I love COD and do enjoy playing it, I wouldn't want to walk into a game store and see that pretty much every game on the shelf is either COD or a COD knock off
I really wished they had mulitplayer. If they did, it would have gotten a 10 for me! Game is fun, interactive, and will keep you playing for hours!
@oflow i agree HR had a better story but it's also a continuous story where as LAN is a series of cases. the same goes with gameplay LAN has a typical R*/ GTA/ RDR controls and HR had a refreshing new gameplay style considering most probably never played Indigo Prophecy.. I also think HR's facial animations and graphics are better than LAN
Very good approach at what they wanted, but! not what I wanted. Still an amazing game with amazing acting, loved it.
good game...at times...but the one thing that i can't get over is they named "Whittier Blvd" WHITTLIER" blvd. I live here in LA and it's one of the most well known and iconic streets here and to incorrectly name that particular street irks me...but about 2/3 of the way through its good...not great but good
La Noire was one of the best single player experiance any one could hope for. I really enjoyed the reliance one wit and tac (unless you punked out and used ipts's for guidance). Honestly though after beating the game I tried to start over and it wasn't the same, although the add-ons have that same spark.Great game, no surprise, games R** develops or is instrumental in completion are always a success.
I have enjoyed the game for the most part. My only grip is that the developers went into intricate research on the art of lie detection while creating the game but did not give the gamer much help on this. Just a few lines at the beggining of the game. If you've done so much research, help me out. I'm not a police detective, nor have I researched the art of spotting a lie. Im just a lil ole gamer looking for fun. I could see an expert in these things really being amazed at the level of detail paid to these arts. For me, the details flew completely over my head until about the halfway point of the game and still I've struggled. Also, don't be so punishing for wrong answers. In real life, I bet a detective doesnt check a question off his list if he botches his attempt..
It was a very fun game, but the formula got a little old on me by the end. Once you're halfway through the game, you've seen every type of clue finding and game mechaninc, so you know exactly what to do for the second half. Still, very entertaining.
The only thing, and if you want to call it a "thing," about LA Noire and the direction it takes is that it goes away from what makes a game an actual game. Don't get me wrong, the game was a good game (more of a game than Heavy Rain), the tech behind it was awesome, BUT, if your saying that the direction that gaming is taking is making a game more in line with a movie, then I might as well hang up my controller now because I don't want to sit and play an interactive story, I want to sit and play a game whose mechanics are supplemented by the story, not the other way around.
@Ford_Cruller I love yer Monty Python buddy icon/pic! "Coward...! come back... I'll bite your legs off!"
This game was ground breaking and full of sheer brilliance! I understand why people were disappointed in it but to be fair to the developers, they did say quite often that this was a different type of game (Not GTA style) to what Rockstar usually develop. I went into this, knowing what to expect and I wasn't disappointed, I had underestimated it massively! It is one of the few games in my collection that I actually wanted to play, until I unlocked all of the achievements. Some have been complaining of overheating on the xbox? This wasn't a problem for me. If anybody wanting to play this and are worried about the game or console(360) overheating, then I suggest trying to install it to your hard drive 1st, like I did? I know, I know... 3 discs? Still though, better safe than sorry eh?
The title of the article implies some sort of critical reflection upon the game and experiencing it. This title is misleading and incorrect with regards to the text context.
I love the game, like the person below me says, it felt like playing a TV series with the cases being separated and all.
Loved the game. I played it like a TV series - did one or two cases every session. Got a solid month of gaming out of it.
@cptpeg Love the comment and I agree one hundred percent. Though with enough time Activision will make sure there actually are one thousand COD's released lol.
@alext_b You don't have to wish any longer, they are releasing it. http://pc.ign.com/articles/117/1178442p1.html
People who say this game is repetitive...are you seriouse? Detective work IS repetitive. Im studying crime scene in school and if you turn off the music cues, you'll get a clue as to what I have to work with every day. It is a VERY realistic crime scene experience taking place back in the 40's before DNA.
@SkamArtist to get around the driving issue i usually opted to have my partner drive by holding down the Y or triangle button when next to the car...then you just pick a destination...much preferred. Granted still had to do car chases that seemed just stupid when i would have just told the perp he didn't need to run.