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Rockstar touches on Red Dead Redemption 2 length, cuts and development crunch

Red Dead Redemption 2 is heading our way at the end of next week, which means it is all hands on deck at Rockstar as the team prepares for launch. As part of an interview this week, Rockstar did manage to spark some controversy, after talking about 100-hour work weeks for developers.

Speaking with Vulture, Rockstar co-founder, Dan Houser, discussed progress on Red Dead Redemption 2. We know that the main story will be roughly 60 hours long and that around 5 hours worth of gameplay was cut due to some missions and story beats not hitting the quality bar that Rockstar was aiming for.

The big thing that was taken away from this interview was Houser’s comments on development time. During the interview he notes that the development teams have been working 100+ hour weeks at various points in order to polish up the game’s 300,000 animations and 500,000 lines of dialogue. Given that developer crunch is a hot button topic in the industry right now, this did spark some concerns.

Since that comment, Houser has clarified what he meant in a statement given to Kotaku, saying: “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”. Houser also explains that while his senior writing staff will often work three really intense weeks to wrap story elements up, the studio as a whole is not expected or required to work this way.

“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.”

“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!”

Extensive overtime is common in the game development world, especially late into a project as a studio gears up for launch. It isn’t uncommon for developers at some triple A studios to sleep in the office and work extra long hours to finish up a project. Some studios discourage crunch time, while others fully embrace it. From the sounds of it, Rockstar is a mix of both.

KitGuru Says: Development crunch is always a topic worth discussing. Being overworked can have very rough effects and there are certainly a few studios out there that need to take better care of their workers. From the sounds of it, Rockstar can be a mix of both, with some teams actively crunching while others take more breaks.

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