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L.A. Noire 'Blurs the Line' Between Story and Game 83

donniebaseball23 writes "Rockstar, never a studio to shy away from risks, first tackled Westerns with Red Dead Redemption, and is now about to launch a film noir-based title called LA Noire. IndustryGamers posted a feature on the game's unique storytelling method. 'One of the things we wanted to do was move away from exposition cinematics,' said Rob Nelson, art director at Rockstar Games. 'We incorporated the exposition into the gameplay, which blurs the lines between story and game. There's a lot of dialogue and exposition while you're playing the game. This was a pivotal focus for us and I think we've done it reasonably successfully.'" L.A. Noire has been seven years in the making, and is due to launch in the US next Tuesday. The Guardian recently spoke with two of the developers about the process behind their story-driven approach, and a launch trailer has been released.
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L.A. Noire 'Blurs the Line' Between Story and Game

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  • LA Noire (Score:3, Interesting)

    by aahpandasrun ( 948239 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:28PM (#36124472)
    Games that try way too hard to be realistic usually don't come out well, but if LA Noire can do the story game thing as well as Heavy Rain then it will be a success.
    • by macshit ( 157376 )

      Eh? Heavy Rain had great intentions, but the actual game was a huge mess -- hard to control, frustrating. If anything it shows how difficult it is to really do this sort of thing well...

      I actually have some hope that RockStar will do a better job, though, as they've got a lot of experience with sandbox games, and so will probably not screw up so many of the boring but critical details that Heavy Rain did...

      Games like Red Dead Redemption do essentially fit in quite a bit of narrative and direction whi

      • Re:LA Noire (Score:4, Interesting)

        by bigstrat2003 ( 1058574 ) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @01:36AM (#36124988)
        I disagree. There were occasional times I felt the controls were bad, but on the whole I felt they were very suitable. In general, I was very happy with the game. I don't know that I'll ever be able to play through it again, because it's not nearly as much fun knowing who the killer is at the end of a murder mystery, but it was an amazing game nonetheless. Worth the $60 I spent, certainly.
      • I liked everything about Heavy Rain except the horrible voice acting. I had to play it in French, which I don't understand, with English subtitles, to make it bearable.

        • I had to play it in French

          Since it's made by a French developer, that is the CORRECT setting.

          • Considering the story is set in the United States and you play a freaking FBI agent at times, non shitty English voice work would not be too much to ask.
    • by brunes69 ( 86786 )

      I had a chance to watch a playthrough of LA Noir at PAX, and if the whole game is anything like what I saw, it is going to be a massive blockbuster. It may even outsell Red Read.

      I've had it pre-ordered for months.

  • What makes this any different from the original Half Life?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What makes this any different from the original Half Life?

      This one is smack dab in the Uncanny Valley?

    • Um, facial expressions, interrogations, plot-driven instead of action-driven, etc.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        plot-driven instead of action-driven

        There's a single word you can use for that expression - "linear".

    • Re:Welcome to 1998 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AdamHaun ( 43173 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:49PM (#36124578) Journal

      The Rockstar guy doesn't say it's new, he just says that this is what they're trying to do. IndustryGamers layers a bunch of superlatives on top, then the summary adds some more. Bad article.

      I'm glad that more studios are listening to Valve, though. I was starting to think that cutscene-heavy, gameplay-light was the mandatory style of this generation.

      • Damn my lack of mod points. Can somebody lend parent a +1 insightful for me?
      • Personally I think there's a balance... with previous Rockstar Games (GTA IV, Red Dead Redemption) there was some in-game dialogue but it would sometimes be hard to make out (because it comes in the middle of a gun fight or chase) or possible to skip over (by just capping the motherfucker), but if they really integrate this into the game I could see that as good. On the other hand, I was actually kind of disappointed with Fallout: New Vegas (not by Rockstar) because of its lack of cutscenes--the game uses t
      • Well... the thing about what Valve does is... it works really well the first time you play. Then you go and grab the game and go: "Oh, that was there. Why can't I skip it?"

    • Re:Welcome to 1998 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:52PM (#36124592)
      As usual, the summary completely misses the point.

      The thing I would call the "big deal" in LA Noire is the facial animation technology. For (AFAICT) the first time, actual facial mocap is being used. While mocap isn't that new for broad animations, its use for facial expressions really could be revolutionary. Just watch some of the gameplay trailers - the facial animation in them is literally better than some pre-rendered cutscenes in other games. Hell, it's better than some CGI movies I've seen. The ability to make faces that genuinely seem alive like this is potentially game-changing (if you'll pardon the pun). I've done stuff with facial animation in other game engines - even with a HUGE amount of work, they still don't seem quite right. If you could just record an actor's performance, instead of having to make ramps for every muscle in the face...

      The summary seems to be claiming that, in LA Noire, cutscenes ARE gameplay (and vice versa). Half-Life was the first game to have the cutscenes be continuous with the gameplay (there's no break, and there's no shift in view), but the cutscenes are still segregated from gameplay. You aren't playing the conversations, just watching them. If LA Noire actually pulls this off, it would be another potential revolution. It's a longer shot, though - it would require drastic changes to game design to make it work, and even then many players may not like it. You'll note that, even a decade after Half-Life, many games still use the "end level, break to cutscene" style, because it does have it's own advantages.
      • Facial mocap were already used in Heavy Rain.

        As a result the game cost a fortune since they basically had actors acting the whole game.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Half-Life was the first game to have the cutscenes be continuous with the gameplay (there's no break, and there's no shift in view)

        How about every NES/SNES game ever? Why is going back to the way things were before the Playstation ruined gaming with endless cutscenes a revolutionary thing?

      • Half-Life was the first game to have the cutscenes be continuous with the gameplay (there's no break, and there's no shift in view), but the cutscenes are still segregated from gameplay.

        Not quite. That may be true of Half-Life 2, and certainly of the one or two cutscenes in Half-Life. But the trick of these games -- and you see it in the Portal series, also -- is that the majority of the plot and exposition unfolds without needing to take you into a cutscene, or out of the gameplay at all. I think Half-Life actually did this best, because so little of it was verbal -- you would find things out by looking around at the environment, or by actually doing things.

        My favorite, I think, was disco

      • this is potentially game-changing

        Watched the gameplay video, very impressive attention to expressions and body language, which is indeed a first I think in a game. But as usual it comes down to the gameplay. Hopefully at least it means this is a game with a good plot - that's rare enough.

        I'm reminded of Deux Ex 2, which had a brilliantly immersive story in the game, no cutscenes, no need for amazing visuals to be evocative and engaging. IMO it's all in the execution, not the technology.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by novium ( 1680776 )

      John fuckin' Noble.

      In fact, that's the one thing I know about this game: John Noble's got a role in it. Everything about it could suck, and that alone would make it awesome.

    • by grumbel ( 592662 )

      Having, you know, an actual story maybe? The only line Half Life blurred was the line between levels, where previous games send you on separate missions or levels, Half Life removed that separation and connected everything to one huge construction. Thats what made it special. The actual story in the game was pretty much garbage.

  • It was there long ago. Like, how Star Control 2 (now ur-quan masters) did it.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This article blurs the line between buzzwords and marketing speak.

  • by Lord Byron II ( 671689 ) on Friday May 13, 2011 @11:46PM (#36124558)

    Has Rockstar given up on the PC for good? Has anyone heard if there will be a PC version of Red Dead Redemption or LA Noire?

    • I think so, which is a shame I've been wanting to play Red Dead Redemption and I've been eyeing LA Noire as well but I don't think well see even a PC port let alone a PC version of either game. I guess I'll have to wait 4 years until xbox360 emulators become sophisticated enough to run them.
      • by dingen ( 958134 )

        I guess I'll have to wait 4 years until xbox360 emulators become sophisticated enough to run them.

        Why the hell would you do that instead of just getting an actual X360 (or PS3) right now and play this game on launch day?

        • I don't really need or want a console. Nor do I think that the few console exclusive games are worth me investing in an xbox 360. Plus I generally dislike the xbox 360 as a hardware platform.
          • by dingen ( 958134 )

            I don't really need or want a console

            You do need a console if you want to play these games.

            But whatever floats your boat of course. If you want to stick to your PC and play this game using an emulator in 4 years, that's fine. I don't really get the reluctancy against getting a console though. I'm not talking about you personally, but the general PC gaming crows as a whole. Isn't it about the games? So why is it such a problem to get the platform for which these games are created? Of course you have to spend some money, I understand that's a ba

    • Re:PC version? (Score:5, Informative)

      by filthpickle ( 1199927 ) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @12:33AM (#36124770)
      They usually release a half assed PC port about a year+ or so later. If you are excited to play those games...get a used 360 and play it on that.

      I admit that it looks amazing, and it may very well be a great game...but I couldn't be less interested in it. I'm sure I'm in the minority there, they will make a ton of money on it.
    • Who really cares i never could get into their games.
      I am currently waiting for the unlock of The Witcher 2 :-)

  • by lucm ( 889690 )

    There goes my summer...

    • Unless you barely play, I doubt it will take you all summer to beat it. And I also doubt that you'll ever play it again once you play thru it once.
  • I'm sorry, but this looks horrible. It's like they took GTA, kept the same shitty combat and driving mechanics, and simply tacked a new highly-scripted story on top. I guess the so-called "AAA" studios are so caught up in their profit margins they can't be bothered to experiment with, I don't know, actually immersing the player instead of making them watch the game play itself.
    • This sounds pretty damn immersive to me. Instead of listening to the words, you have to evaluate their facial expressions and body languages to decide if you believe what they're saying. Sounds like you really have to be the character, analyze surroundings, separate fact from fiction, etc. in order to find a solution.

      Obviously it won't be for everyone, though. I don't know that it sounds that appealing to me, personally.

      • Well, either that or you take the easy approach: What is the intention of the game writers, what direction should it all take, then follow the lead. Games are suffering from the same problem movies suffer from, they have to follow a certain direction. It's pretty much impossible with contemporary means to create a game where you can really make your own decisions.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Like this story blurs the line between story and advertisement!

  • Anyone remember those choose your own adventure books we had growing up? Kinda reminds me of that. I don't know how innovative it's going to be. Lots of games have a working plot and lots of cutscenes. Mirror's Edge comes to mind. Still might be a great game but it makes me cringe that every time a studio brings out a game they want to try to make it sound like it's nothing like anything before it, when in reality innovation is quite rare and usually comes in small chunks, especially in gaming.

  • Heavy Rain was a bit more restrictive but it had a real and emotional story. If you check out the ratings on gamefly you will see a pattern, adults who loved the game, giving it a 10/10 rating and children who said it was boring and giving it a 1/10 rating. It really could be made into a movie and the critics would love it.

  • by bhcompy ( 1877290 ) on Saturday May 14, 2011 @03:17AM (#36125278)
    It's got a long way to go if it's going to out noir Max Payne. Everyone is talking about that abortion Heavy Rain as if it was the first to do it. Well, I say, "Bah," to that.
    • by MWoody ( 222806 )

      But Max Payne wasn't film noir so much as a parody of film noir. At least, I assumed it was a parody. Oh god, they weren't serious, were they?

  • ...of the phrase "adventure game". Is this because it truly can't be defined as one, or they're afraid consumers will freak out, say, "I refuse to play a game in which I have to think," and skip it?

    If the second case is true, I might actually be interested.
    • by dingen ( 958134 )

      Based on the leaked gameplay footage [] I think there's enough searching for objects and talking to people to qualify LA Noire as an adventure game, yes.

      • by cduffy ( 652 )

        ...while historical adventure games typically did suck in exactly that fashion (searching-for-objects being much too big a gameplay element), have you played much of the modern interactive fiction being noncommercially produced?

        I follow IFComp when the opportunity arises, and the quality of the writing (and the puzzles) of each year's winners is astonishingly better than what the commercial games of the 80s offered.

        • by dingen ( 958134 )

          have you played much of the modern interactive fiction being noncommercially produced?


  • Let's be honest here, has anyone played a game that "blurred the line between A and B" that managed to do A or B right? A lot of games tried to blur lines only to end up as a blurry piece of junk that didn't deliver either, or at least a half assed combination thereof.

    Now, I am not too spoiled by movies anymore, I cannot name too many movies with a good story lately, but games sure take the cake when it comes to half-hearted storylines. It's usually very easy to predict what direction the whole mess is goin

    • Most (not all) of the Infocom games did a terrific job of blurring the line between story and game, yes. The writing was so good I didn't mind that I had to get help for puzzles, and the puzzles were a great challenge. So yeah, the concept isn't anything new but the technology has improved tremendously.
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *

      Red Dead Redemption was pretty powerful. Never really cared for the Grand Theft Auto games, as I never found the chracters sympathetic enough to really care what happened to them. But Red Dead certainly had a powerful story and was also a lot of fun to play. If Rockstar can repeat that with L.A. Noire, I'm definitely in.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    i can think of many games that have tried this to some extent, Deus ex, FFVII, the later Ultimas.
    some of the big hurdles are
    1.player not looking where you want them to when you want them to
    2.player not being near enough to hear properly (distance, bad 3d sound, player using headphones (people only have 2 ears) missing dialogue on dropped surround sound channels)
    3.player not being in the right place at the right time (my play style has always been slow methodical sneak and snipe, so if a game has real time s

  • Does it blur the line between sucking ass and blowing chunks too? My guess would be yes.

  • It's kind of weird seeing realistic face motions grafted onto dated looking character models. The whole effect reminds of the old cartoon Clutch Cargo.

    Seriously though, I think motion capture is going a bit far here. It gets to the point where if you're going to go with that level of detail in noninteractive portions of the game, you might as well do FMV.
  • I can't wait to get my hands on this game, hopefully it gets offered in the 5 games free titles for the playstation customer rewards program :D
  • Slashdot blurs the line between article and advertisement.

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