In the gaming industry, surprises are hard to come by. It’s not hard to think about; Game Rant exists to serve a ravenous fan-base, eager to gobble up any and all bits of information about unreleased games. Readers demand information, and we do our best to satisfy that demand.
However, one studio has tried to maintain some semblance of surprise and information control in this very fast-paced digital age. Rockstar Games, responsible for the Grand Theft Auto series as well as the upcoming Max Payne 3, has been notoriously quiet in regards to offering spoilers and previews. The studio feels that maintaining control (and secrecy) over its cinematic and story elements is absolutely key to delivering a fantastic experience for fans, as well as new converts.
Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser says letting people look behind the curtain spoils the fun:
"It's really important to us that the games (feel) kind of magical. It might annoy people that we don't give out more information, but I think the end point is people enjoy the experience. The less they know about how things are pieced together and how things are broken down and what our processes are, the more it will feel like this thing is alive, that you are being dragged into the experience. That's what we want."
It has been eight years since the world last saw Max Payne, the series credited with pioneering a cinematic approach to gaming. The first two games had a very "noire" feel to them, a trend that, based on limited screen shots, appears to continue in this third installment.
In previous coverage of the game, I questioned whether Max Payne 3 would be able to draw back its fans after an eight year hiatus. The 2008 Max Payne film was a disappointment (to say the least). In crafting the new game, the developers at Rockstar have to consider the nostalgic feelings many fans have for the previous titles -- feelings that typically omit any and all shortcomings.
Houser expanded on the thought:
"I think the challenge of nostalgia is a profound one, because one thing about videogames is your memory tends to remove the horrendous. (The games) become these great, perfect experiences. It's definitely a challenge to get the right pitch when you want to appeal to the fans of the original and bring in a new audience."
Preserving the feel of the game while bringing in new fans is critical, especially considering how many copies must be sold to make Max Payne 3 a commercial (if not critical) success. With the video game industry maturing at a rapid pace, games are no longer always “button-mashers,” but instead offer thought-provoking sequences that leave gamers (and the general public) pondering the greater meaning.
"If games are to be the next major form of creative consumption, art, cultural expression or whatever the correct term is, then strong narrative has to be part of that. If the mechanics are fine and the story is ridiculous, the experience is much diminished."
Personally, I oftentimes struggle with spoilers and what to do in terms of my entertainment choices. On one hand, I want to know as much as possible to satisfy my own impatient tendencies about games. For films, though, forget about it; don’t spoil me (though it’s hard not to read up on The Avengers news).
I commend Rockstar for their approach to Max Payne 3. There are so few surprises left in this world anymore, it's great that someone is working to keep a small segment of mystery hidden. Good for them! While we patiently (or impatiently) wait for Max Payne 3 to be released, there will be plenty other opportunities for other games to spoil you.
Max Payne 3 will be released in March 2012 for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
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