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Red Dead Redemption

Process of development to shops of Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption
by

Dave Harrison

on 5 April 2012

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Transcript of Red Dead Redemption

Rockstar Games Rockstar is a the high-end publishing division of Take Two Interactive which is a developer, publisher and distributor of videogames which is made of TWO susidiaries. Responsible for games such as Above all, I wanted to start a label for the games industry like the labels you saw in the record industry. At that time, games were positioned as either toys or bits of technology. But I was interested in a hip happening label, more about lifestyle, not toys or technology – a valid form of entertainment. Take-Two said off you go. Look below for the a complete history... ... or here for the big idea Rockstar Co-founder Sam Houser Or we'll go off make cool games using marketing techniques learned from working in the music industry and our parent company will look after the boring stuff like distribution went on to sell 14.8 million copies, making Rockstar cash rich and able to expand and become vertically integrated* * def: The integrating of successive stages in the production and marketing process under the ownership or control of a single management organization.
Fully vertically integrated companies in game industry are Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft as do every bit of the chain of production. Develop Publish Distribute Exhibit Exchange As they build the consoles They have online stores accessible from their consoles. So Rockstar Games bought up GTA developers DMA Design and rebranded them Rockstar North Now Rockstar can develop and publish games Rockstar continued to do this process with other independent developers they worked with - buying them up and rebranding them so now today this is what Rockstar looks like... Rockstar Lincoln
Quality Assurance - formerly known as Tarantula Studios Rockstar Toronto - worked on The Warriors and PS3 version of GTA4: Episode of Liberty City Rockstar Vancouver - formerly Barking Dog Studios, worked on Bully and developing Max Payne 3 Rockstar Leeds - formerly known as Mobius Entertainment, specialise in handheld games Rockstar London - created to finished Manhunt 2 Rockstar Japan - localisation studio (translation etc.) Rockstar New England - formerly Mad Doc Software, worked on the Bully ports for Xbox 360 A horizontally integrated company is a company that acquires other companies that are involved with the same stage of the production process so you could argue that once Rockstar had vertically integrated, then focused on integrating horizontal - buying up other developers Rockstar San Diego Rockstar San Diego began life as Angel Studios 1984. They specialised in open world racing games such as critically acclaimed Midtown Madness. It was because of this Rockstar commissioned them to developed Rockstar's Smuggler's Run and then the Midnight Club series. Just like the many developers Rockstar worked with, they were bought up and became R* San Diego. the one we're interested in 2003 This is the year Rockstar buy ... and turn them into ... and set them to work upon ...but also being developed in the studio was a cowboy game called Red Dead Revolver that was being funded and publisher by Japanese publisher This what it looked like Rockstar acquired the partially-built bits of first game, Red Dead Revolver, from Capcom. So with Red Dead Revolver, Rockstar wound up polishing and completing the product, but the core wasn't what Houser termed a 'Rockstar design'. "It didn't fundamentally play like a Rockstar game." Exert from Ign.com interview with Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser (08/05/09) was released in 2004 for PS2 and Xbox and after R* tweaked it looked like this the game did well selling 1.5 million copies and incorporated a lot of what Rockstar love: VIOLENCE TOUGH GUYS CULTURAL REFERENCES What it didn't have was what Rockstar also liked: REALISM OPEN WORLD The obvious idea would to make a 'cowboy GTA' PROBLEM was creating an open western world wasn't really possible with the existing consoles - the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox so Rockstar had to wiat for NEW TECHNOLOGY "We were just starting to get wind of dev kits and the ideas about what would become the 360, what would become the PS3, we were beginning to get wind of some of the specs on that and thinking about things we'd want to do on the new hardware. Obviously one of the things that we decided we would love to do is a game where countryside was rendered beautifully, because that was very difficult on a PS2 to make these big, open environments that look fantastic. We'd done it in a couple of different games, but we'd never made a game that was to the countryside as GTA was to the city." Dan Houser talking to ign.com So way back in 2004 R* San Diego put a small team to work on a Wild West project for the PlayStation3 and Xbox360. Evidence of their effort could be scene at Sony press conference announcing the PS3 in 2005 This was just a tech demo designed to show what the PS3 was capable of 2006 Is when R* assign a full team to work on Red Dead Redemption DEVELOPMENT 2004 2005 2006 May 2010 R* San Diego finish work on Red Dead Revolver First glimpse of a potential sequel at the Sony Conference Full team assigned to development Red Dead Redemption is released Development time: 4 years (at least, arguably 6) Budget Estimated at between $80-100 million Technologies Rockstars Advance Game Engine What is a game engine? A game engine is a software system designed for the creation and development games. RAGE consists of:
rendering framework (to create objects)
a physics engine (to allow things to interact in realistic way e.g. objects falling)
audio engine (to make sounds)
animation engine (to make things move)
scripting language (to enable gamers to interact with it. what has RAGE got in it RAGE was created by Rockstar San Diego and was unveiled in 2006 as it was used in the game Rockstar’s Table Tennis. Reasons why it was worth R* making Rage They have the money to develop it. It enables them to create an engine that suits their games (open world, realistic) Other developers can't use it – their games will have a unique look and feel They don’t have to license (pay) to use the software. Think of a games engine as the building tool for video games, they provide all the basic building blocks of the game world so the developers can get on with the ‘fun’ stuff of designing gameplay, characters and the look of the game. Many games are created using pre-existing game engines (e.g. Havok, Unreal, Renderware) that are off-the-shelf packages. This is a cheap and efficient way of doing things rather than creating a game engine from scratch. If making a game was like hammering a nail it would be creating a new hammer from scratch every time you want start hammering. Havok demo Unreal demo This is an character animation software created by a company called NaturalMotion. This works with RAGE to create the realistic look of R* games This is technology R* have to license from another company Red Dead was developed for 2 consoles: BOTH technologically converge machines
output High Definition visuals
connect to the internet
have big hard drives that can cope with open world games Broadband Red Dead was developed to exploit fast internet speeds enabling multiplayer gaming online Sam Houser talking about the potential of the PS3 in 2005 The significance of this is that Rockstar had to wait till consoles as powerful as the PS3 and 360 were created before they could create a game as detailed as Red Dead Redemption – it couldn’t have been made for the PlayStation 2, they needed new technology. The music Voice Acting +Script Tens of thousands of lines of dialogue were recorded for the main cast and the many occupants of Rockstar’s Wild West. Researchers created a style guide of dialect that remained faithful to the Wild West setting. DISTRIBUTION It was a packaged good – which means gamers bought a physical copy of the game – a disc inside a box. Red Dead Redemption was released in the UK on May 21st 2010 Retail Online Retail R*'s online store Specialist Retail www.rockstargames.com/warehouse/ Digital Download Red Dead Redemption became available to download from Xbox Marketplace (the Xbox 360 online store) on 21st December 2010 – seven months after the packaged release. £32.90 £29.99 £49.99 EXCHANGE In terms of paying for the product the consumers pays upfront for a completed product. Products bought in a shop cost most ... but there’s no waiting time. Products bought from an online store are cheaper... but you to have wait for it be posted. The digital download is the cheapest but... ONLY available 7 months after the release and on the Xbox Marketplace. The point of Exchange – money exchanged for goods – is significant for Rockstar as it is only after they finish the product that they will start to get revenue back.So R* shelled out up to $100 million to make Red Dead Redemption with no guarantee that they will get that money back. SO THERE IS A HIGH RISK TO THIS MODEL OF BUSINESS At approx. $50 per game, R* would have to sell 2 million copies to break even. They did though - they sold 2 million by the end of May and 8 million by the end of 2010 EXHIBITION To play Red Dead Redemption you need the following: OR Broadband ...which is an expensive set up but necessary to play this type of console game. Or you can just 'experience' the game by watching the walkthrough on youtube ... MARKETING almost 4 year after the PS3 tech demo, Rockstar announce Red Dead Redemption Delays Rockstar Games is proud to announce that Red Dead Redemption is scheduled for a fall 2009 release on the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system and PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system. Developed by Rockstar San Diego, as a follow up to the 2004 hit game, Red Dead Revolver, Red Dead Redemption is a Western epic, set at the turn of the 20th century when the lawless and chaotic badlands began to give way to the expanding reach of government and the spread of the Industrial Age. The story of former outlaw, John Marston, Red Dead Redemption takes players on a great adventure across the American frontier. ...plus this logo and 7 screenshots along came the first trailer Red Dead was given an 18 certificate by the BBFC. Here's why: RED DEAD REDEMPTION is an action adventure game set in the Wild West. Viewed from a third person camera, game play allows players to roam freely through large open worlds as they go on a variety of missions. RED DEAD REDEMPTION was passed ‘18’ for very strong language and strong violence.

The BBFC's Guidelines at ‘15’ state that ‘aggressive or repeated use of the strongest language is unlikely to be acceptable’. In RED DEAD REDEMPTION there is a cut scene in which two men are shown dunking a man’s head into a water trough whilst using very strong language. This placed the game at ‘18’. Additionally, the Guidelines at ‘15’ state that ‘violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain and injury'. Throughout the game players are given the ability to stick a gun under the chin of any non playing character and blow their heads off. Although this happens very quickly, the option to do this repeatedly over many hours of game play amounts to a dwelling on the infliction of injury that also places the game at ‘18’. The fact that players can do this to entirely innocent characters – the young women working in a saloon for example – was considered an aggravating factor.

RED DEAD REDEMPTION also contains frequent strong language and during another cut scene, some breast nudity during sexual activity. 4th Feb 2009 6th May 2009 plus these screenshots This kickstarted 5 days exclusive coverage with IGN.com DAY 2 DAY 3 DAY 4 DAY 1 DAY 5 First trailer
7 Screens Ign.com preview More screens Exclusive interview Dan Houser (part 1) Exclusive interview Dan Houser (part 2) April issue (out in May) of US magazine Game Informer had an exlcusive look "We can now get these environments that look beautiful, have dust particles coming up, have rays of sun coming through cloud," says Dan Houser, "You simply couldn't have done that before in a big setting. You might be able to do it over a very narrow, not very interactive environment but then that doesn't feel like the West. The West, when we thought about it, was as much about geography as it was about people. And getting the geography right you couldn't really do on anything before 360 and PS3." Problems with Red Dead
It’s a serious game that tries to create an authentic view of the Wild West. Compare this to GTA 4 which is parody of modern American which lends itself open to spoof adverts and websites. (see here for GTA4's marketing http://tinyurl.com/6jkmdm4)
It’s a historical cowboy game – no opportunity for contemporary branding.
It’s a sequel to a game that came out six years before and wasn’t a massive, massive success – so are their gamers who claimed to be ‘Red Dead fans’.
The delay in development (first announced as Fall 2009, then April 2010, then May 2010) meant the marketing strategy had to redesigned and interest had to be maintained. Plus points for Rockstar
Red Dead and cowboys much less controversial source material than school bullies (Canis Canem Edit), snuff films (Manhunt), gang war (GTA4).
The Rockstar brand is very well known and many gamers have expectations and brand loyalty to a Rockstar game – so there will always be interest.
The specialist press are always hungry for new on Rockstar games therefore Rockstar can expect a lot of press coverage for each announcement. This means give little away and let the press speculate.
As well as the specialist press there are numerous fan websites that will always post new information and have forums where readers can post links to new assets. These existing communities mean new news spreads fast. Rockstar’s Marketing Strategy
Rockstar has often spoke about a consistency and integrity between the construction and marketing of a product, in that they always want the adverts, trailers, representation to be a true reflection of the final product.This means they try to not over-hype, promise stuff they can’t deliver or use strategies that don’t fit in tone with the product. Drip feed of information R* were careful to provide a steady flow of information - the idea being to not give too much away at the start to keep the potential consumers interested Official website updates New trailers 01/12/09 My Name Is John Marston - intro to the lead character 15/12/09 The Introduction - gameplay demo 02/02/10 Weapons and Death- Gameplay part two 11/02/10 The Law 23/02/10 The Women of Red Dead Redemption "Red Dead Redemption from Rockstar Games is now planned for release on May 18, 2010 in North America and May 21, 2010 internationally."
"We at Rockstar have always prided ourselves on the uncompromising quality of our games - and will always opt to take a bit longer to polish and fine-tune a game to be as perfect as possible when we think it necessary. With Red Dead Redemption, we felt that these extra few weeks will make a big difference in helping us deliver you an experience beyond your expectations.Thanks for your patience. We believe it will be worth the wait. 17/03/10 Life in the West 24/03/10 Gentleman & Vagabonds 01/04/10 Life in the West Part 2 22/04/10 Multiplayer Trailer 24/04/10 Rockstar Games is offering 400 Microsoft Points to the first 5,000 users who download the latest 'Gameplay Series: Multiplayer Free Roam' from Xbox Live between April 26th and May 10th.The points will be given to the first 5,000 people who download the trailer but everyone who downloads will also receive "a unique gift courtesy of Rockstar". The promotion terms and conditions suggested this might be an "exclusive Rockstar theme", this promotion is exclusive to UK residents over the age of 18. Multiplayer Free Roam 06/05/10 Revolution Trailer 18/05/10 Official Launch Trailer Rockstar were confident that there was enough interest in the game (especially in the specialist press) that any information would be picked up by magazines and websites given wider coverage.
Also fans could use Facebook, Twitter and email to share new screenshots and videos with each other.
Gameplay Features History of the Wild West New Screenshots Brands from the game Wallpapers Question & Answer Sessions Updates from Rockstar on Twitter Updates from Rockstar on Facebook Rockstar ran a Red Dead Movember event. The winner (Charles Lecce) got a in-game character created in his likeness. Exclusive Features with Specialist Press Websites Magazines Advertising The conventional side of marketing, advertising on billboards, on websites, on TV, in magazines. UK TV Ad Mural on the side of buildings in New York 10/02/10 Joint marketing with retailers Rockstar partner with retailers Gamestop, Amazon and HMV to offer exclusive bonus game content for consumers who pre-ordered the game. Pre-Order bonuses Consumers were given the chance to vote for which bonuses they wanted. For Gamestop For amazon.co.uk For HMV Info on Achievements + Trophies Gamestop is a US retailer who sponsor a NASCAR racer car. For several races in 2010 they used Red Dead Redemption artwork on the bonnet Retailers had their own promotions such as this offer - buy RDR get a film for FREE at HMV Official Merchandise All available from Rockstar's online store Rockstar Warehouse and used as gifts for journalists, fansites and retailers Shirts, dynamite candles, t-shirts, playing cards etc. Movember '09 Facebook App This 'social dueling' game was Beta tested months before May '10 then went live in 3 weeks before Red Dead's launch Dealing with the delay Here's how Rockstar span the delay of the release from April '10 to May '10 Live Music Performances Jose Gonzalez plays Far Away from the Red Dead soundtrack on top of Rockstar's New York HQ And here's the music video... Ashtar Command play Deadman's Gun. The whole Red Dead Redemption Soundtrack was released at the same time as the game but was only available as a digital download from iTunes and Amazon. Only on the 25th August 2010 could you purchase the soundtrack on CD and vinyl. RDR Film Rockstar worked with Hollywood film director John Hillcoat (The Road, The Proposition) to create Red Dead Redemption: The Man from Blackwater a 30-minute short film created with graphics engine and character from the game. The film was televised on Fox in the US and Five USA in the UK the week of the games release. CONSUMPTION Once the game is on sale then the consumers can play, use and celebrate the game however they want, here are few examples... Fan cosplay dressing up to you and me Fan art DRD Pumpkins Fan Films Or Machinima as it's known Fan Hack Some consumers attempt to ‘hack’ Red Dead by cracking into the games code and unlocking all items and changing the game experience. Rockstar clamped down on all gamers who had hacked their game and banned them from playing Red Dead online. POST RELEASE Rockstar’s work on Red Dead Redemption did not stop when the game was released. Here’s what they have been up to… As both the PS3 and the 360 are both online, Rockstar can update their game by releasing ‘patches’, software downloads that can correct any potential faults found in the game or even add content. This allows Rockstar to listen to consumer feedback and respond to it. Updates (patches) Downloadable Content (DLC) Rockstar have released 5 Expansion Packs for Red Dead. Expansion packs are extra game content and features - they are not whole games and also they require the consumer to have a copy of the original game. 10/08/10 Legends and Killers Pack 9 new multiplayer map locations
8 new multiplayer characters from Red Dead Revolver
The tomahawk
New achievements and trophies. Liars and Cheats Pack 21/09/10 New multiplayer modes such as "Stronghold" and horse racing,
Multiplayer versions of liar's dice and poker.
Fifteen additional multiplayer characters are added. 12/10/10 The Hunting and Trading Pack A new animal - the jackalope
Savvy Merchant and Expert Hunter outfits for use in single player as well as related challenges. £7.99 £7.99 FREE 26/10/10 Undead Nightmare A horror element is added, with ghost towns and cemeteries full of zombies.
A new single-player adventure.
3 new weapons, 6 new mounts, new animals to hunt, and 8 more multiplayer characters.
New online co-op mode called "Undead Overrun". £7.99 Undead Nightmare was the biggest and most significant of the expansion packs as it had a whole new single player adventure and a complete change in tone. Therefore Rockstar launched a significant marketing campaign before it’s release, similar to the campaign for the main game. Trailers Info updates New artwork Soundtrack Rockstar recommends... Rockstar suggest films to see to get gamers in the mood for the game 22/06/10 Outlaws to the End Pack New online co-operative missions FREE 26/10/10 Undead Nightmare was released as a stand alone disc (the original game not needed). This pack also included the Legends and Killers and Liars and Cheats DLC. £24.99 PSN and 360 Avatars Consumers can customise their online presence for both the PS3 and 360 with various Red Dead themed avatars and artwork. Some are unlockable bonuses, other, for instance the PSN avatars, are £0.99 each! This is Rockstar's online portal where game users can register and get information on:
Mulitplayer events - when gamers can play against Rockstar Staff
Special competitions when prizes can be won.
Tips and hints to play the game.
Contact other gamers to form friendships!
Upload stats and see how you rate on leaderboards. Rockstar Social Club Rockstar Social Club is significant for Rockstar as it allows them to keep in direct contact with consumers and cultivate a strong fanbase and community which will then become the potential consumers for their next game. This post-release period is hugely important for Rockstar as they can continue to make money from Red Dead Redemption even after the initial launch. They can getting new revenue from the DLC (without big distribution costs) and ensure Red Dead is still fresh and current, therefore enticing new consumers to buy the game. When Red Dead Redemption was first announced it was due for a Fall 2009 release. This was quickly changed to an April 2010 release and then put back again to 18th May. The problem with delays is that it can affect consumer confidence in the product and have a financial impact on the company who would have predicted revenue coming in at a certain time. Other problems for Rockstar included a blog by a Rockstar San Diego employee who stated that the developers were having to work 12 hour days, six days a week, which was leaving a very demotivated and unhappy staff.
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