If anyone has been watching the first few episodes of HBO's Westworld (which I have to say, so far, I would describe as "promising"), you may, like me, have noticed an uncanny déjà-vu feeling creeping up on you - notably it seems to evoke memories of RDR in particular.
Not just that it is obviously a Western setting, or even that some of the sub-narratives the "Guests" in the TV show can enjoy, such as optional Bounty Hunter quests, seem like they've been lifted out of the Red Dead game. In my opinion there's a big R* vibe going on here, lots of little things all adding up, like Steven Ogg having a recurring role as the minor "Host" Rebus, or the technicians describing behaviour as "aberrant" - an unusual choice of phrase that I honestly can't remember a character using since Lester Crest in GTA V when Michael is kidnapped by Wei Cheng.
Just me making connections that aren't really there? Maybe. However, Director and writer Jonathon Nolan has confirmed RDR has actually been an inspiration for Westworld:
With the other subtleties I'd guess Mr Nolan may well be an admirer or R* titles in general. So, on this general theme, here's a number of general thoughts to invite discussion on.
1) Timing - It's remarkably convenient, that R* announce a long anticipated sequel to their Western Franchise, just at the same month as HBO air a $100m budget series in the same genre. Has the announcement been deliberately timed (OK, it's pretty much a year from release of the game, but R* have often done a first trailer before that), or has it just coincidentally overlapped with their schedule? Note Westworld has been in the pipeline for a while and HBO's big hope of replacing the smash hit, multi-award winning, record breaking, Game of Thrones - so even if you've seen neither, it wouldn't be regarded as trivial in the entertainment industry.
2) Westworld is depicted as the ultimate virtual reality, open world experience of the future. Is there perhaps some underlying acknowledgement from R* inside their games, that they are not intended to be a direct depiction of reality, but a game within a game. A tongue in cheeky remark that springs to mind is the GTA V Ammunation clerk saying "I barely exist outside this store". There's lots of parallels with the TV show - the "Hosts" (NPCs) run the same story scripts over and over the same way - unless a "Guest" (Player) interferes and does something different. There are obvious ends to the map, and limitations on what the "Hosts" (NPCs) can do (e.g. whether the can use a weapon and attack). The idea that it's a virtual reality simulation (acknowledged within the game, not just as we, the players perceive it) also offers explanation of the genre change in Undead Nightmare - similarly in Westworld, the programmers introduce new scripts that drastically change behaviour to keep the "Guests" (players) entertained. Lastly, it's a way the could potentially link their franchises. in GTA V Jimmy is playing computer games, although you can't interact with them. What if in a future GTA, you could access a console in your safe house and play the full original RDR for example?
3) Erring on the serious side, how real is too real? GTA and Red Dead franchises have been beautifully detailed, but still have (an I don't mean this as a critique) a "cartoony" vibe. In Westworld the "Guests" (players) kill "Hosts" (NPCs) regularly for entertainment without a second thought. Except that it looks really real. How real does it get before it becomes too disturbing frankly for the majority of us to want to play it? I'm not there yet, and I suspect the next installments won't be either - but how far off in the future might this be a genuine issue?
This might be a tad deep for some members, but I see this type of post as a counterbalance to the potential "I want to buy my own stable in online, but I hope we won't get jet griefers in RDR2" thread, that I hope we won't see too much of around here, but fear we will.