Red Dead Redemption 2 was an absolutely massive game. Nearly every aspect of it was expertly handled and developed, creating one of the most immersive and rewarding video game experiences of the decade. And it's not like every video game developer can make a Red Dead Redemption 2. It requires a lot of hard work, money, talent, and time to create something so unbelievably good and expansive, and the story behind Red Dead Redemption 2 is just as interesting as the one it presents. OK, maybe not, but it's still pretty good!
These are ten secrets behind the making of Red Dead Redemption 2 that you may not have known.
10 The Game Was A Collaboration Of All Rockstar Studios
Rockstar Studios is a massive company, and it contains many divisions that work on many different titles. Rockstar North is perhaps its most popular division, responsible for Manhunt and Grand Theft Auto, but there is also India, International, Leeds, Lincoln, London, New England, San Diego, and Toronto. Red Dead Redemption 2 was such a massive undertaking that every subsidiary had a role in its development. Rather than crediting one specific subsidiary, Red Dead Redemption 2 is said to have been developed by Rockstar Studios, a first in Rockstar history.
9 Some Employees Worked 100 Hour Weeks
It's no secret that the gaming industry is a tough one. Employees often complain of long hours, excessive crunch, and intimidating management, all of which combine to create one heck of a toxic working atmosphere. And it's no different over at Rockstar. While most employees worked regular hours (between 40 and 45 hours a week, overtime pay included), some of the higher-ups experienced incredible stress. Dan Houser and a few key members of the writing and development staff reported to work 100 hour weeks. For those of you bad at math, that's 20 hours a week for a traditional five-day work week, or about 14 hours a day, seven days a week. Luckily, that was not a regular occurrence.
8 The Script Was Over 2,000 Pages Long
Writing a 60-hour long game obviously takes a lot of time and effort, and the script for Red Dead Redemption 2 clocked in at roughly 2,000 pages! And to think, that only includes the main story! That doesn't account for the random pedestrian dialogue or side quests. The general rule of scriptwriting is that one page equals one minute of screen time, so most movie scripts come in anywhere between 90 and 150 pages. If we're using the same rule, that would mean that RDR 2's script would translate to roughly 33 hours of screen time. Sounds about right. They basically made a Western television show for a video game, and we love them for it.
7 The Motion Capture Work Took Six Years
It's frankly unbelievable how much work went into this game. Not only was the script dense enough to be a TV show, but it required 1,200 actors to bring to life. According to Dan Houser, "[Rockstar is] the biggest employers of actors in terms of numbers of anyone in New York, by miles." It also took these 1,200 actors roughly 2,200 days to film the entire game, which is just a little over six years. Granted, they would only film in two-to-three week bursts, but that's still an incredible achievement nevertheless. If this doesn't convince people that Rockstar still cares about single player, we don't know what will.
6 Rob Wiethoff Came Out Of Retirement To Voice John Marston
Before Red Dead Redemption, Rob Wiethoff was a dejected, failed actor working as a bartender to pay the bills. It wasn't until he was heading back home, giving up on the prospect of acting, that he received word from his agent that he would be auditioning for Red Dead Redemption. Despite nailing the role and enjoying the work, Rob left Hollywood behind, traveling back to his hometown of Seymour, Indiana to raise his two kids and work construction. However, the call was just too great, and Wiethoff returned to work on Red Dead Redemption 2, which he sporadically did between 2016 and 2018.
5 The Game Utilized The RAGE Engine
Every Rockstar subsidiary worked with the RAGE engine while developing the game. RAGE stands for Rockstar Advanced Game Engine, and it was created by a division of Rockstar San Diego called the RAGE Technology Group. The first game to use the engine was, surprisingly, Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis, which was released way back in 2006. Since then, the engine has been used for Grand Theft Auto IV and its DLC, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, Red Dead Redemption, Max Payne 3, and Grand Theft Auto V. And that's why some people think the games are getting a little outdated...
4 Rockstar Overhauled Their AI System
Despite the RAGE engine being thirteen years old, their AI system was even older. To make Red Dead Redemption 2 feel more organic and lifelike, Rockstar completely overhauled their AI system for the first time in SEVENTEEN years! This of course allowed Dan Houser and his writing team to create hundreds upon hundreds of unique scenes and situations, as every little action results in some sort of reaction. You can both greet or disturb random passersby, all of whom will react to you in any number of unique and unpredictable ways, and all of whom have their own unique lines of dialogue.
3 Composer Woody Jackson Returned
Composer Woody Jackson gained prominence in 2010 thanks to his work on Red Dead Redemption, which was his first major work as a composer. Before that he worked as a session musician on movies like The Devil Wears Prada and Ocean's Twelve. Following his work on Red Dead Redemption, he worked on the first season of Nashville and returned to Rockstar writing incidental music for L.A. Noire and composing Grand Theft Auto V with Tangerine Dream, The Alchemist, and Oh No. Jackson returned for Red Dead Redemption 2, and may we say, it is one of the most gorgeous video game soundtracks in some time.
2 The Marketing Team Made 70 Different Trailers
Even the game's marketing is meticulous. As with any game or movie, it can live or die by the marketing, and luckily, the trailers and gameplay snippets of Red Dead Redemption 2 had us all foaming at the mouths. And that's because each trailer was meticulously crafted to the point of perfection. According to Dan Houser, the marketing team "probably made 70 versions" of the trailers, but that "the editors may make several hundred." Both he and his brother Sam make numerous suggestions and notes, resulting in the most precise, intoxicating, and alluring trailers possible.
1 The Team Did A Ton Of Research
Rockstar really wanted to make Red Dead Redemption 2 as authentic as possible, and the only way to do that is to consult the past. Like we said, Dan Houser and his senior writing team worked up to 100 hours a week, and a lot of that time was spent researching various aspects of the American Frontier in the late 19th century. The team consulted hundreds of novels, historical accounts, and Western movies to make the setting and dialogue as accurate as possible, and they eventually played through the entire game several times to take notes and iron out the flaws, however minor they may have been. Luckily, the work shows, and the end result was a bonafide masterpiece of gaming.