A recent interview with Rockstar Games suggested Red Dead Redemption 2 saw weeks of massive overtime work, however one of the company’s executives has clarified his statements.
Rockstar co-founder and Vice President of Creativity Dan Houser told Vulture that the team behind Red Dead 2 worked very long weeks this year.
“We were working 100-hour weeks,” Houser said, initially in a comment that has since drawn ire on social media given the continued discussions about the nature of “crunch” developing in the gaming industry.
In a statement provided to IGN, Houser clarified his comments, saying the 100-hour work weeks sentiment was explicitly about his writing team, which included himself, Mike Unsworth, Rupert Humphries, and Lazlow Jones.
Houser explained that this specific group felt it had to work those long hours “to get everything finished” but that “we obviously don’t expect anyone else to work this way.
“Across the whole company, we have some senior people who work very hard purely because they’re passionate about a project, or their particular work, and we believe that passion shows in the games we release. But that additional effort is a choice, and we don’t ask or expect anyone to work anything like this,” he continued.
Houser’s full statement reads:
There seems to be some confusion arising from my interview with Harold Goldberg. The point I was trying to make in the article was related to how the narrative and dialogue in the game was crafted, which was mostly what we talked about, not about the different processes of the wider team. After working on the game for seven years, the senior writing team, which consists of four people, Mike Unsworth, Rupert Humphries, Lazlow and myself, had, as we always do, three weeks of intense work when we wrapped everything up. Three weeks, not years. We have all worked together for at least 12 years now, and feel we need this to get everything finished. After so many years of getting things organized and ready on this project, we needed this to check and finalize everything.
More importantly, we obviously don’t expect anyone else to work this way. Across the whole company, we have some senior people who work very hard purely because they’re passionate about a project, or their particular work, and we believe that passion shows in the games we release. But that additional effort is a choice, and we don’t ask or expect anyone to work anything like this. Lots of other senior people work in an entirely different way and are just as productive – I’m just not one of them! No one, senior or junior, is ever forced to work hard. I believe we go to great lengths to run a business that cares about its people, and to make the company a great place for them to work.
Houser went on in the original interview to explain that Red Dead Redemption contains 300,000 animations, 500,000 lines of dialogue, and many more lines of code.
And Rockstar’s aims to perfect its world even expanded to Red Dead Redemption 2’s marketing. Houser said that, for every trailer and TV commercial, the team “probably made 70 versions, but the editors may make several hundred. [Rockstar co-founder and President Sam Houser] and I will both make both make lots of suggestions, as will other members of the team.”
But Dan Houser’s explanation of the game signals hope that all that work was worth it for the final product. He explained that the team’s labor of love is “this seamless, natural-feeling experience in a world that appears real, an interactive homage to the American rural experience. [It’s] a vast four-dimensional mosaic in which the fourth dimension is time, in which the world unfolds around you, dependent on what you do.”
Elsewhere in the same interview, Houser reveals that Red Dead Redemption 2 is about 65 hours long. It’s not hard to believe the game is that big given its enormous file install sizes on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Red Dead Redemption 2 will be released on Oct. 26 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but Rockstar fans can read IGN’s impressions of the first four hours right now.
Nick Santangelo is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. He’s not happy that Red Dead Redemption 2 is releasing while he’ll be on vacation. Follow him on Twitter.