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Jimbatron

HBO's Westworld, RDR and R*

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Jimbatron

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:

http://uk.ign.com/articles/2016/10/04/skyrim-red-dead-bioshock-inspired-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.

Edited by Jimbatron

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Wolfsbane Franklin

I think it is just coincidence that the announcement coincide with the debut of Westworld, despite the inspiration from the creator of the show. You are reading too much into it.

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Jimbatron

I think it is just coincidence that the announcement coincide with the debut of Westworld, despite the inspiration from the creator of the show. You are reading too much into it.

Enjoying the irony here since I posed it as a question not a statement.

 

Personally I think either is possible. Fall next year is a year away so timing could be coincidental. On the other hand R* will have known about Westerworld and the series date for a while, it never hurts to ride on a wave other companies have paid to generate.

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Fuzzknuckles

I think it is just coincidence that the announcement coincide with the debut of Westworld, despite the inspiration from the creator of the show. You are reading too much into it.

I think it's obvious that it's actually a movie tie-in with the new Magnificent Seven movie because horses and cowboys and all that.

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Jimbatron

Well so much for my thoughts it might be possible to have a vaguely intelligent discussion around topics such as marketing strategy, layers of reality within a game, and the degree of realism that's desirable.

 

On the other hand, after 7 years on this forum, what was I thinking?

Edited by Jimbatron

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Alex Francisco

This will probably get more traction in the RDR2 part of the forum.

Edited by Alex Francisco

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Jimbatron

This will probably get more traction in the RDR2 part of the forum.

 

Thanks, I made this before (or about the time) the RDR2 forum was created. You might be right. However, I suspect it would quickly get pushed down off the front page by threads like this:

http://gtaforums.com/topic/871721-what-type-of-radio-stations-do-you-want-in-rdr2/

I hope it's meant to be satirical....

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ryuclan

It's based on a film that was made in the 70's of the same name.

225px-Westworld_ver2.jpg

Edited by ryuclan

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Beez

I've been enjoying HBO's new Westworld too and definitely got the RDR vibe right away. You bring up a lot of good points Jimbatron and I certainly think it's possible that there is a marketing tie in. They each scratch each other's back so to speak, the RDR2 trailer comes out just as WW season 1 is gaining popularity. Gamers hyped on RDR2 get their fix watching WW and WW fans see that there's a Western game coming soon. Then Fall 2017, Season 2 of WW is starting just before the release of the game. The partnership helps ensure the success of both.

 

I read another post here where someones said that a reporter from IGN said he thought RDR2 was nearly done and could be released Spring 2017 but pushed to Fall so R* doesn't have to announce a delay (which they are known for). Obviously there is no way to know if any of that is true but it is convenient for a marketing tie in.

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Jimbatron

Certainly, I'm sure they could have announced in September for instance if they'd wanted to. It may have been influenced by GTAO update schedules, although I'd have thought they'd prioritise marketing a full new title over free patches.

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Crystal3lf

It's based on a film that was made in the 70's of the same name.

Obviously Rockstar have been planning the RD series since the 70's, come on... /s

 

 

Well so much for my thoughts it might be possible to have a vaguely intelligent discussion around topics such as marketing strategy, layers of reality within a game, and the degree of realism that's desirable.

 

On the other hand, after 7 years on this forum, what was I thinking?

Perhaps you should come up with a vaguely intelligent thread first?

Edited by Crystal3lf

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Jimbatron

 

It's based on a film that was made in the 70's of the same name.

Obviously Rockstar have been planning the RD series since the 70's, come on... /s

 

Well so much for my thoughts it might be possible to have a vaguely intelligent discussion around topics such as marketing strategy, layers of reality within a game, and the degree of realism that's desirable.

 

On the other hand, after 7 years on this forum, what was I thinking?

Perhaps you should come up with a vaguely intelligent thread first?

If you don't like a thread don't post in it. Otherwise you a just trolling if you pop in to hurl some insults with no real substance behind your critique.

 

The fact there was a movie in the 70s has nothing to with it. It's been known that HBO were spanking a $100m on this for over a year. It's not every year you get a TV series in the genre like that, much less that the director acknowledges the RDR game was an influence to.

 

Could R* have timed their announcement to coincide with the release? It is at least a credible possibility.

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GourangaMaster

You bring up some interesting points. I am really enjoying Westworld and besides the obvious western theme the show has some moments gamers and in particular RPG and open world game fans will appreciate. A friend and I had a similar discussion about your third point not too long ago. I imagine an elderly individual who had never heard gamed or heard RDR would find it pretty disturbing seeing someone tie up a person drag them by horse and leave them hogtied to be run over by a train. Gamers who have grown up through the technological evolution and played all there life will not be fazed. Much like those in Westworld who live in a time where AI has become so common place it's now used as a theme park attraction.

I personally feel the line for me may come when open world games achieve an uncanny level of simulation in terms of AI behaviour and the game narrative really forces you to question your moral limits. IMO the torture section in GTAV for example is not disturbing because the violence is realistic but because the context is very much a reality and the characters reactions are visceral and confronting. To me visual fidelity does'nt carry the same weight as something that affects you emotionally and mentally. Much like a horror film, gore does'nt frighten me like a story that really gets in your head and provokes thoughts that linger in your mind long after its over.

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Crystal3lf

Could R* have timed their announcement to coincide with the release? It is at least a credible possibility.

No. The answer is no. Rockstar probably started work on RDR2 in 2013, because as confirmed by The Benz, this is how they work on games. One after another. GTA V -> RDR2.

 

http://www.gamespot.com/articles/rockstar-more-than-1000-people-made-gtav/1100-6415330/

 

“That’s the way we work now--everyone works on GTA, or Red Dead, and so on, then we move on to the next thing,” The Benz said.

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Jimbatron

You bring up some interesting points. I am really enjoying Westworld and besides the obvious western theme the show has some moments gamers and in particular RPG and open world game fans will appreciate. A friend and I had a similar discussion about your third point not too long ago. I imagine an elderly individual who had never heard gamed or heard RDR would find it pretty disturbing seeing someone tie up a person drag them by horse and leave them hogtied to be run over by a train. Gamers who have grown up through the technological evolution and played all there life will not be fazed. Much like those in Westworld who live in a time where AI has become so common place it's now used as a theme park attraction.

 

I personally feel the line for me may come when open world games achieve an uncanny level of simulation in terms of AI behaviour and the game narrative really forces you to question your moral limits. IMO the torture section in GTAV for example is not disturbing because the violence is realistic but because the context is very much a reality and the characters reactions are visceral and confronting. To me visual fidelity does'nt carry the same weight as something that affects you emotionally and mentally. Much like a horror film, gore does'nt frighten me like a story that really gets in your head and provokes thoughts that linger in your mind long after its over.

 

 

Yes very much how I feel. Of course in Westworld there is also the more disturbing aspect of whether the Hosts have some degree of sentience. I've never been put off by game violence - although the GTA V torture scene is probably the part that's most pushed the boundaries I've seen so far. However, if you keep going down the GTA/RDR route becoming more realistic, whether is better graphics, better AI or immersion, I assume it will get to a point where I stop enjoying it and feel repulsed (in the sense if it was actually real I would be) - I'm just not sure where that is. Westworld level of virtual reality would be too far for me (not that any of the fictional guests are put off by it), although that level of technology is clearly far in the future. Somewhere there's a a grey area in between R*'s current iterations and that where it begins to cross the line.

 

 

 

Could R* have timed their announcement to coincide with the release? It is at least a credible possibility.

No. The answer is no. Rockstar probably started work on RDR2 in 2013, because as confirmed by The Benz, this is how they work on games. One after another. GTA V -> RDR2.

 

http://www.gamespot.com/articles/rockstar-more-than-1000-people-made-gtav/1100-6415330/

 

“That’s the way we work now--everyone works on GTA, or Red Dead, and so on, then we move on to the next thing,” The Benz said.

 

 

Not sure if you've misinterpreted what the threads about? There's no suggestion the conception and development of the game had anything to do with Westworld whatsoever. Its not about choices R* made back in 2013 concerning new projects, but their marketing options in 2016. The question is whether the decision to formally announce it specifically in October might have been influence by a ground breaking investment in a major Western franchise. If RDR has been in development for so long, they could easily have had an announcement over the summer, or postponed to Christmas. It's not a bad thing to try to piggy-back on a vibe for a genre that another major company is effectively financing.

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AUScowboy

Illuminati confirmed, GG pal!

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Jimbatron

Illuminati confirmed, GG pal!

 

Hardly. I think you have confirmed my expectation above though (despite a couple of intelligent responses) that this was the grade of response you come to expect round here. Even the trolls "humour" is disappointingly mediocre.

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Pedinhuh

I believe that R* decided to announce RDR2 now because of the whole western trend that has started to come back with Westworld, they might just be using the opportunistic time to get even more hype for their future game.

 

If this means that the western will be trendy in the media like vampires and zombies were, then it's great for me :)

 

BTW, you can still have civilized discussions in these forums, just ignore, report the trolls and move on, don't let them get you down.

Edited by pedinhuh

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Jimmy

Some episodes do feel like RDR. But again, there isn't much new West World concept to show on TV. There must have been tons of TV Shows about Wild West. Also, I don't really think there's any relation regarding the Announcement of RDR2 with the TV Show.

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saintsrow

I believe that R* decided to announcent RDR2 now because of the whole western trend that has started with Westworld, they might just be using the opportunistic time to get even more hype for their future game.

 

If this means that the western will be trendy in the media like vampires and zombies were, then it's great for me :)

 

BTW, you can still have civilized discussions in these forums, just ignore, report the trolls and move on, don't let them get you down.

I liked the well-thought-out ideas in the OP. Some of the shots in Westworld just totally trigger my RDR neurons. But as others have said above, surely WW was also inspired by the same great movie scenes and set pieces as Rockstar ripped off paid homage to in RDR. I also like the comparisons and metaphors above regarding WW as immersive virtual reality game, played in the real world. We can only hope that RDR2 will rise to that level.

 

However, being the ubercynic that I am regarding Rockstar marketing, what worries me is that this was simply an opportunistic marketing announcement given the current WW hype, and actually RDR2 is still in embryonic stages, hasn't yet hit the wall with all the serious and debilitating development problems that it will surely encounter, and it's probably still 2 years away from being rushed to market with many good ideas cut. But thank goodness it will have mind-numbing PvP online, because that's easy to implement, and that's all the players really want, anyway. /sarcasm /cynicism

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IG_

I do get a small RDR vibe from Westworld, but the connection Westworld has with RDR is probably non-existent.

 

RDR is just pure wild west entertainment. Westworld is not the same.

 

Westworld's topic is more philosophical than wild west entertainment. Westworld goes into the topic of can AI be self-conscious and is conscious AI any different than human consciousness. The primary focus of Westworld is not to entertain you with wild west stories.

So I'm not sure what exactly what you're trying to say, but if you're saying HBO and R* might have some sort of connection or agreement over Westworld and RDR, no I do not think so at all.

And if you notice, Westworld is starting to deviate away from the park and the show is taking more focus on the consciousness of the hosts. The park is just becoming that thing that exists.

Edited by IG_

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fw3

It's obviously purely coincidental, but the timing is impeccable IF they release RDR2 (I keep seeing R2D2 when I type this!) within a relevant timeframe of the show's peak.

I remember seeing the original Westworld film in the theater with my brother and my dad, and I was absolutely terrified. It was around the time of The Six Million Dollar Man (early 1970's) and one of the characters on that show was Maskatron, a realistic robot/android that was clearly lifted from the original Westworld. Still, it was so cool.

Anyhow, on topic, the idea that a themed show based on a film from my childhood is out, and a similarly themed game based on a game I loved from a few years back, well... this dummy couldn't be any more thrilled!

 

"Maskatron" circa 1974 from the show, The Six Million Dollar Man
tumblr_lfqz3uXuj41qepx1xo1_400.jpg

 

A "Fembot" circa 1976 from the show, The Bionic Woman

d2768b3e24512b6ab3010bbbc1dd86eb.jpg

Edited by fw3

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Beez

We must be around the same age fw3. And I keep seeing it as R2D2 also. :lol:

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saintsrow

We must be around the same age fw3. And I keep seeing it as R2D2 also. :lol:

I third, R2D2

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dr_theopolis

A Westworld mod? Just sayin'... yes please ;)

 

RDR_WW_1.jpg

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saintsrow

A Westworld mod? Just sayin'... yes please ;)

 

RDR_WW_1.jpg

A Westworld DLC, with rebellious killer cowboy robots, would be 1,000 times preferable to bullsh*t zombie DLC.

 

In this DLC, there could be boss robots that are smarter and harder to kill than the masses of dumb robots. And there could be a final boss battle with a super robot, that would take like 60 sticks of dynamite to kill.

 

Rockstar could lead into the Westworld DLC by starting with a replay of the SP's final boss mission, where our protag finally wins (as opposed to getting himself shot up with more holes than a screen door) and then there appears one final marker on the map, on the other end of the boss battlefield.

 

Our victorious protag walks to that marker, and an old wooden door slides creakily open, revealing a brushed aluminum, neon-blue, glowing high tech lab, full of rank and file of inert cowboy robots, and the tall, idiosyncratic robot inventor doctor guy walks over, wearing his lab coat (of course), and congratulates our protag on successfully beating the game, the first tourist ever to reach the end of the narrative.

 

Then our protag is walking through the labs with the robot inventor, as he talks about the development of the robots, and how some of them are developing intelligence and getting rebellious, and they have been rejecting their software patches. He thinks it's due to an airborne digital virus that gets into the robots' brains and makes them self-aware and gives them free will.

 

The robot inventor suggests that our protag should quickly get back into his street clothes and catch the next bullet train out of the park, while park staff tries to shut down the rogue robot virus and regain control.

 

Predictably, within minutes, there will be a robot rebellion, the robot inventor doctor guy will get ripped to pieces, and our protag barely escapes back to the western park world with nothing but a six-gun and 18 bullets, being chased by a horde of crazed intelligent cowboy robots.

 

So begins the DLC...

Edited by saintsrow

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dr_theopolis

 

A Westworld mod? Just sayin'... yes please ;)

 

 

A Westworld DLC, with rebellious killer cowboy robots, would be 1,000 times preferable to bullsh*t zombie DLC.

 

In this DLC, there could be boss robots that are smarter and harder to kill than the masses of dumb robots. And there could be a final boss battle with a super robot, that would take like 60 sticks of dynamite to kill.

 

Rockstar could lead into the Westworld DLC by starting with a replay of the SP's final boss mission, where our protag finally wins (as opposed to getting himself shot up with more holes than a screen door) and then there appears one final marker on the map, on the other end of the boss battlefield.

 

Our victorious protag walks to that marker, and an old wooden door slides creakily open, revealing a brushed aluminum, neon-blue, glowing high tech lab, full of rank and file of inert cowboy robots, and the tall, idiosyncratic robot inventor doctor guy walks over, wearing his lab coat (of course), and congratulates our protag on successfully beating the game, the first tourist ever to reach the end of the narrative.

 

Then our protag is walking through the labs with the robot inventor, as he talks about the development of the robots, and how some of them are developing intelligence and getting rebellious, and they have been rejecting their software patches. He thinks it's due to an airborne digbtal virus that gets into the robots' brains and makes them self-aware and gives them free will.

 

The robot inventor suggests that our protag should quickly get back into his street clothes and catch the next bullet train out of the park, while park staff tries to shut down the rogue robot virus and regain control.

 

Predictably, within minutes, there will be a robot rebellion, the robot inventor doctor guy will get ripped to pieces, and our protag barely escapes back to the western park world with nothing but a six-gun and 18 bullets, being chased by a horde of crazed intelligent cowboy robots.

 

So begins the DLC...

 

 

Hell I'd plop down some DLC cash for that storyline ;) The concept, like you say is far richer than the tired zombie gig. It opens up an entirely new canvas. A nice touch in game play, too, be having face / arm panels fly off here and there exposing the framework and maybe some smoke. Of course those would be the gen 1 models from '73, not the refined Jonathan Nolan flavor- unless your character were to acquire real firearms and not the harmless props used in the park. Queue the hydraulic fluids!

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BenjoJ

The writers have already confirmed that they took inspiration from Red Dead Redemption, among other titles:

 

“A lot of interesting storytelling that’s happening right now is in video games—which literally didn’t exist when Michael Crichton was writing the original film. Now, video games are a bigger industry than film or TV. I’ve never worked in that industry, but we have friends who have, and I was fascinated by the concept of writing a story in which the protagonists’ actions aren’t part of the story. In games like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Red Dead Redemption, or the sandbox games that Bioware make, morality is a variable. How do you write a story in which the hero’s moral component exists on a spectrum? That’s a fascinating challenge.

 

I’m also fascinated by how non-player-characters in video games have their own lives. In Skyrim, when you walk into a village, you aren’t necessarily the most important person there. The NPCs have lives that happen whether you’re there or not. I was listening to directors’ commentary from Ken Levine about building Bioshock Infinite and the affection that game developers and designers develop for their characters. It’s a qualitatively different relationship than the one screenwriters have with their characters, because video game characters don’t just recite dialogue—they do sh*t, and the players interact with them. It’s a relationship that I think Crichton anticipated to some degree, but it’s become much more complicated than even he could imagine.”

 

Sources:

http://www.geeksofdoom.com/2016/10/11/westworld-skyrim-red-dead-mass-effect-bioshock

http://www.polygon.com/tv/2016/10/9/13221024/westworld-hbo-grand-theft-auto-nycc-2016

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