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AndyGanteks

Dan Houser leaves Rockstar Games [official statement]

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McBando
On 2/8/2020 at 5:24 AM, Jimbatron said:

Dan Houser on the writing team doesn't guarantee people will like the story, but that's not really relevant in my view as you could say that about any writer.

 

I can understand why people might have preferred IV or RDR2's stories, but I also think there was something of an overreaction in the backlash V got from some fans. Most of the critiques that V was poorly written don't stack up in my view. The Michael - Trevor arc of past ghosts coming back to haunt you I thought was as well executed as any plot they've done, and they are probably the most beleiveable protagonists R* have come up with in the HD era onwards: basically because they were pretty unpleasant people. Niko Bellic and Arthur Morgan for example, whilst engaging characters and superbly acted, lacked credibility in this sense - their moral compasses were so well refined, and their instinct on the right way forward were so well refined, they ought to have been leadership coaches in the 21st century - it really doesn't fit that these guys would be sucked into criminal acts like they were. There are two areas objectively for me where V's story falls down: it's too short, and there's lack of a flesh out antagonist - although the latter is likely a function of the former: Wei Chang for example could have been an awesome bad guy, but he’s hardly got any screen time. I suspect for a lot of people they simply didn't enjoy playing as flawed protagonists: the Trevor character I think would have been far less divisive had he been an NPC for example. But whatever, I think it's totally understandable that some fans won't have like V's story as much as others, I do think there was an emotional over reaction about it in a lot of quarters that led to people saying "it was poor writing".

 

That's something of a digression, but the key point for me is if there is an objective flaw in V's story is that it's too short - as I've noted, in particular there wasn't enough time to flesh out a strong antagonist. That's not necessarily a function of the writers - it can also be what constraints they are put under.

 

This is speculation, but you can imagine for example Dan Houser being frustrated for example that he didn't get enough time for V's story, thinking to himself "RDR 2's not going to have the plot cut down, it's going to be epic, and I'm going to use V's financial success as leverage to run RDR 2 exactly how I want".

 

The real importance therefore will be is if Dan Houser was the leader pushing for big sprawling story content to be the cornerstone of each title. We don't know this is the case but it feels plausible. I'm sure for example Rupert Humphries can still write just as good stuff after he's gone, but will there still be a champion with the profile of Dan Houser insisting to Take 2 that that area gets proper investment? We don't know for sure if this is the case, but as an outsider that feels like it could be the major risk.

GTA V's protagonists the most believable? Dude what world do you live in lol? No offense, but it was mediocre with very poorly written dialogue. It had no idea what it wanted to be. The online portion with the voiceless protagonist is more believable. Everything that happens in GTA V is beyond wonky and dull. Franklin and Trevor were useless protagonists with absurd stories written by nerds watched too many movies. Michaels was the only semi well written story and it in itself is just a giant combination of cliches. The straying away from the Rise to the top angle and underdog to power story is spelling GTA's downfall. GTA IV had a decent rise to power element, even if it was riddled with over-the-top sob stories and forced memes on politics. 

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Jimbatron
2 hours ago, McBando said:

GTA V's protagonists the most believable? Dude what world do you live in lol? No offense, but it was mediocre with very poorly written dialogue. It had no idea what it wanted to be. The online portion with the voiceless protagonist is more believable. Everything that happens in GTA V is beyond wonky and dull. Franklin and Trevor were useless protagonists with absurd stories written by nerds watched too many movies. Michaels was the only semi well written story and it in itself is just a giant combination of cliches. The straying away from the Rise to the top angle and underdog to power story is spelling GTA's downfall. GTA IV had a decent rise to power element, even if it was riddled with over-the-top sob stories and forced memes on politics. 

I’m afraid this is that exactly the kind of emotional overreaction I was talking about.

 

The word “useless” to describe the protagonists betrays the underlying sentiment. From reading a lot of comments like this since 2013 I think it’s pretty apparent a lot of players have issues with being in control of a flawed protagonist. But guess what, criminals are generally pretty flawed people.

 

You could label any of R*’s stories as absurd versus reality, but the important point is whether the characters are true to the world they live in (the world has to be taken as given), and whether their actions fit their personalities. RDR 2 is my favourite story overall for the variety of characters, but Arthur Morgan is such a reflective individual with such a strong sense of morality his actions generally don’t fit with the person even if you’re maxing out the honour. Same with Niko Bellic. GTA V protagonists on the other hand have obvious personal flaws - Michael’s selfishness, Franklyn’s coldness, Trevor being emotionally unstable.

 

Its perfectly fine to say you enjoyed playing as Arthur Morgan more. But to dismiss GTA V as crap writing - because you struggled to identify with the character(s) you are in control of - lacks credibility.

 

Its the same writing team. People may enjoy some stories more than others, but the technical quality hasn’t changed, except where it is was very obvious that GTA V was short and RDR 2 was much longer.

 

Which comes back to the point which a lot of people seem to be missing.

 

Dan Housers role as a leader is likely to have been more important than his role as a writer. There’s a writing team and you’d expect if Humphries, Unsworth and Lazlow etc stay on they’ll continue to do good stuff.

 

The relevant questions are:

1) Was Dan Houser the leader pushing for story content to be front and centre of R* titles?

2) If so will his departure mean whoever comes in is not as effective at championing the importance of story mode?

 

If the answer is yes to both questions, this will be the signal of big change. If the answer is no to either, then maybe not.

Edited by Jimbatron
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XAIKON
On 2/5/2020 at 9:26 AM, Spider-Vice said:

Very shocking news, but not a tragedy I don't think. RDR2's production was very centred in Rockstar North and Rob Nelson's direction and it was the masterpiece we know of, it's very possible that Dan wasn't as involved with everything for a while now. It's not doom for GTA VI or anything as there's plenty other talented people at Rockstar and 99% sure more talented writers.

 

As I said tho, still really shocking. Sort of thought he'd wait until GTA VI was done to be able to exit with that success on his back.

Yeah, he was only the LEAD WRITER of EVERY GAME R* has EVER RELEASED. No loss here! Pffft

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Zapper
5 hours ago, Jimbatron said:

I’m afraid this is that exactly the kind of emotional overreaction I was talking about.

 

The word “useless” to describe the protagonists betrays the underlying sentiment. From reading a lot of comments like this since 2013 I think it’s pretty apparent a lot of players have issues with being in control of a flawed protagonist. But guess what, criminals are generally pretty flawed people.

 

You could label any of R*’s stories as absurd versus reality, but the important point is whether the characters are true to the world they live in (the world has to be taken as given), and whether their actions fit their personalities. RDR 2 is my favourite story overall for the variety of characters, but Arthur Morgan is such a reflective individual with such a strong sense of morality his actions generally don’t fit with the person even if you’re maxing out the honour. Same with Niko Bellic. GTA V protagonists on the other hand have obvious personal flaws - Michael’s selfishness, Franklyn’s coldness, Trevor being emotionally unstable.

 

Its perfectly fine to say you enjoyed playing as Arthur Morgan more. But to dismiss GTA V as crap writing - because you struggled to identify with the character(s) you are in control of - lacks credibility.

 

Its the same writing team. People may enjoy some stories more than others, but the technical quality hasn’t changed, except where it is was very obvious that GTA V was short and RDR 2 was much longer.

 

Which comes back to the point which a lot of people seem to be missing.

 

Dan Housers role as a leader is likely to have been more important than his role as a writer. There’s a writing team and you’d expect if Humphries, Unsworth and Lazlow etc stay on they’ll continue to do good stuff.

GTAV had ace character writing but the ending arc should've been longer and Franklin (more like all 3 characters) could've used more solo missions to flesh out the story more. 

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Jimbatron
1 hour ago, Zapper said:

GTAV had ace character writing but the ending arc should've been longer and Franklin (more like all 3 characters) could've used more solo missions to flesh out the story more. 

I agree with this. But this isn’t an issue with how capable the writers are - it is how much story time they are given to work with by the company.

 

In his interview at the release of IV Dan Houser talked about the importance of having creative freedom - it’s not unreasonable to assume he was a driving force behind RDR 2 having a long epic narrative. Not only as the lead writer but also as founder of R* he has more clout than most. Will someone else be able to argue for the importance of story length and quality as effectively post his departure? That’s the question in my mind.

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Zapper
13 minutes ago, Jimbatron said:

I agree with this. But this isn’t an issue with how capable the writers are - it is how much story time they are given to work with by the company.

 

In his interview at the release of IV Dan Houser talked about the importance of having creative freedom - it’s not unreasonable to assume he was a driving force behind RDR 2 having a long epic narrative. Not only as the lead writer but also as founder of R* he has more clout than most. Will someone else be able to argue for the importance of story length and quality as effectively post his departure? That’s the question in my mind. 

What you say is the real question but unfortunately until Rockstar release their upcoming games it's impossible to say anything about it. We just gotta sit tight and see what happens. 

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Jabalous
6 hours ago, XAIKON said:

Yeah, he was only the LEAD WRITER of EVERY GAME R* has EVER RELEASED. No loss here! Pffft

Lead writer is an assumption as there's no role in the credits by that title. Here's a snippet from Redemption 2's credits.

 

writer.png

 

Sure Dan is listed first, and this may indeed mean that he was the lead contributor, but it'd still be an assumption. For all we know, Michael and/or Rupert might have had more input throughout the development of the story. There's no way to tell. They've been involved in the story writing and directing with Dan since Grand Theft Auto 4.   

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gonnaenodaethat

Dae ye think

he's aff 'cos he

got heid hunted by

Hollywood? 

 

Asking fir a pal. 

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Zello

I hope that Ryan Mccaffrey reaches out to Dan Houser and is able to get an interview for IGN unfiltered.

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Len Lfc
3 hours ago, Zello said:

I hope that Ryan Mccaffrey reaches out to Dan Houser and is able to get an interview for IGN unfiltered.

Get tweeting him asking for it! I already have lol. But I know it's practically impossible.

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Jimbatron
4 hours ago, Zello said:

I hope that Ryan Mccaffrey reaches out to Dan Houser and is able to get an interview for IGN unfiltered.

Even if he does an interview, there is [email protected]#k all chance of him divulging the real reason he decided to leave (if it’s any gripes about the way Take2 is running things at any rate, if it’s genuinely for personal reasons he either wants to keep it private for good or would have put out a short statement already). He’s likely going to be under contractual restrictions, and it looks unprofessional to prospective new employers to publicly bad mouth the company you are leaving - even where justified. Keep in mind Zelnick’s statement implies Dan Houser is not retiring.

 

I doubt we’ll hear more than rumour and speculation on this during the next year, and we may never have the real truth confirmed. The best chance of that I can see is if Sam retires and publicly says “Dan was p155ed off for X, Y and Z reasons”.

Edited by Jimbatron
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HelloMyNameIsHuman
6 hours ago, Jimbatron said:

Even if he does an interview, there is [email protected]#k all chance of him divulging the real reason he decided to leave (if it’s any gripes about the way Take2 is running things at any rate, if it’s genuinely for personal reasons he either wants to keep it private for good or would have put out a short statement already). He’s likely going to be under contractual restrictions, and it looks unprofessional to prospective new employers to publicly bad mouth the company you are leaving - even where justified. Keep in mind Zelnick’s statement implies Dan Houser is not retiring.

 

I doubt we’ll hear more than rumour and speculation on this during the next year, and we may never have the real truth confirmed. The best chance of that I can see is if Sam retires and publicly says “Dan was p155ed off for X, Y and Z reasons”.


that’s real talk right there. Rockstar publicity is an endless line of bullsh*t. There are so many things that people take as gospel and say are fact because rockstar said it when half the time, at least half of the time, it’s obvious bullsh*t.

 

i love the games, but the things the housers say about why this or how that is often absurd.

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Zello

 

Dan Houser right now

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Arsewipercareerman20

I think a lot of people are overreacting. Sure Dan is a great writer but they still have other good ones. Just because Dan Houser stepped down doesn't mean Rockstar is finished. People were saying the same thing when Leslie quit and Rockstar is still doing good. That's the problem with this fanbase. Every time something new happens they jump to conclusion and instead of waiting things out to see what the out come is.

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Giantsgiants

While I agree that the "It's the end of Rockstar as we know it" reactions are a bit much, I think that people are justified in being worried or fearful or disdainful. Yes, Rockstar is still doing good and selling well, but it's no longer the game that longtime fans wanted it to be. Immersive single player experiences have been ditched for PVP and overmonitized multiplayer.

 

Did anyone else notice that the troll vehicles and public lobby requirements started to roll in right after The Benz left? I really don't think that's a coincidence.

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Jakub1904
9 hours ago, Giantsgiants said:

While I agree that the "It's the end of Rockstar as we know it" reactions are a bit much, I think that people are justified in being worried or fearful or disdainful. Yes, Rockstar is still doing good and selling well, but it's no longer the game that longtime fans wanted it to be. Immersive single player experiences have been ditched for PVP and overmonitized multiplayer.

 

Did anyone else notice that the troll vehicles and public lobby requirements started to roll in right after The Benz left? I really don't think that's a coincidence.

They also released IMO their best SP experience after Benzies left.

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Jabalous
9 hours ago, Giantsgiants said:

Immersive single player experiences have been ditched for PVP and overmonitized multiplayer.

Found the guy who did not play Red Dead Redemption 2, the game which is objectively praised for its overly lengthy and deep story-driven world. 

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gonnaenodaethat
11 hours ago, Giantsgiants said:

While I agree that the "It's the end of Rockstar as we know it" reactions are a bit much, I think that people are justified in being worried or fearful or disdainful. Yes, Rockstar is still doing good and selling well, but it's no longer the game that longtime fans wanted it to be. Immersive single player experiences have been ditched for PVP and overmonitized multiplayer.

 

Did anyone else notice that the troll vehicles and public lobby requirements started to roll in right after The Benz left? I really don't think that's a coincidence.

Huv ye iver thought o' suing Mogwai fir stealing yer tunes? 

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GrandTheftAutobot

The idea Dan will retire is for the birds. He will probably take some time out. He is not that far away from 50 not 70 or 80. A guy with such a prolific background doesn't simply retire. He will probably start his own company. Take his time. No rush.

 

Maybe it was the right time to go. GTA V at times felt very cliched, very tired story wise. Dan was a huge part of 12 GTA stories. 12!!! As I said he will be soon getting close to 50, so perhaps it's time for some new blood front and center.

 

I assume at least Sam will be there for GTA VI so at least for the most part it's in safe hands.

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Spider-Vice

I very much doubt Dan had anything to do with the current state of Online, given the man was likely working on other mainline projects like RDR2 and GTA VI. He probably didn't even hear about GTAO flying bikes for a while after they were put there as long as the game was doing good!

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Kris194

Both Sam and Dan are story focused guys. Just look at RDR Online, it has its own separate team. That's how it should always be.

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Zello
2 hours ago, Spider-Vice said:

I very much doubt Dan had anything to do with the current state of Online, given the man was likely working on other mainline projects like RDR2 and GTA VI. He probably didn't even hear about GTAO flying bikes for a while after they were put there as long as the game was doing good!

Maybe he could have just signed off on a couple of things or approved them.

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TagoKG

just check rdr2 austin map what a waste of land.....

 

and online state is saddly

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Dark Rosewood Varnish

Take Two Interactive are solely responsible for the demise of Grand Theft Auto and turning into a modern day open world Splinter Cell type game. Creatively, Dan Houser leaving could prove to be catastrophic for the Grand Theft Auto franchise.

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Ronald Reagan

A guy with such a prolific background doesn't simply retire. He will probably start his own company. Take his time. No rush.

 

Yeah, and I'm sure it will fail miserably.

 


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anizawa
On 2/10/2020 at 7:25 AM, Jimbatron said:

I’m afraid this is that exactly the kind of emotional overreaction I was talking about.

 

The word “useless” to describe the protagonists betrays the underlying sentiment. From reading a lot of comments like this since 2013 I think it’s pretty apparent a lot of players have issues with being in control of a flawed protagonist. But guess what, criminals are generally pretty flawed people.

 

You could label any of R*’s stories as absurd versus reality, but the important point is whether the characters are true to the world they live in (the world has to be taken as given), and whether their actions fit their personalities. RDR 2 is my favourite story overall for the variety of characters, but Arthur Morgan is such a reflective individual with such a strong sense of morality his actions generally don’t fit with the person even if you’re maxing out the honour. Same with Niko Bellic. GTA V protagonists on the other hand have obvious personal flaws - Michael’s selfishness, Franklyn’s coldness, Trevor being emotionally unstable.

 

Its perfectly fine to say you enjoyed playing as Arthur Morgan more. But to dismiss GTA V as crap writing - because you struggled to identify with the character(s) you are in control of - lacks credibility.

 

Its the same writing team. People may enjoy some stories more than others, but the technical quality hasn’t changed, except where it is was very obvious that GTA V was short and RDR 2 was much longer.

 

Which comes back to the point which a lot of people seem to be missing.

 

Dan Housers role as a leader is likely to have been more important than his role as a writer. There’s a writing team and you’d expect if Humphries, Unsworth and Lazlow etc stay on they’ll continue to do good stuff.

 

The relevant questions are:

1) Was Dan Houser the leader pushing for story content to be front and centre of R* titles?

2) If so will his departure mean whoever comes in is not as effective at championing the importance of story mode?

 

If the answer is yes to both questions, this will be the signal of big change. If the answer is no to either, then maybe not.

There's a difference between being a bad person and a bad character. Somehow V nails both of them.

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Jimbatron
18 minutes ago, anizawa said:

There's a difference between being a bad person and a bad character. Somehow V nails both of them.

The first part I agree with as it’s entirely my point: but I’ve yet to see a properly objective reason that V’s protagonists were badly written compared to the other titles.

 

Yes the story could have been longer and I can understand that a theme with a lot of government agency focus wasn’t what some players wanted. But that’s subjective. It’s fine for example to say you don’t like fantasy and therefore don’t enjoy  the Song of Fire and Ice  series, but to then jump from there to say GRRMs writing is rubbish doesn't hold up.

 

Its the same writing team, and the style of plot and character development, dialogue etc in V are very obviously from Houser and Co.

 

Unfortunately a lot of people get stuck in a mentality about things in life which is roughly “I don’t like it so everything about it must be crap”.

Edited by Jimbatron
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The Wolf Man

Ex-BioWare employee explaining what the hell happened with BioWare and some of the reasons he left: 

 

https://whatculture.com/gaming/mass-effect-2-writer-reveals-truth-of-bioware-s-downfall?rf=homepage

 

(TL;DR: "The teams were pushed to create games based on market research...")

 

Maybe it is the same situation with R* and Dan?

 

Edited by The Wolf Man
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AnimalFather

RIP GTA, he cashed out.

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GrandTheftAutobot

Maybe wanting to set VI in the past (in part) got vetoed by Take Two? Due to them wanted to max out money made from the next modern set GTA I'd imagine setting one in the past is a big no no.

 

Plus not being able to do the Story DLC in V and perhaps being prevented to do so with RDR2 was the last straw as well?

 

Bully 2 cancellation could have been another reason. Take Two just didn't see the dollar signs there either.

 

The whole online stuff as well and the path clearly Take Two want to go on.

 

So in conclusion he had in theory plenty of reasons to leave in terms of Take Two's view point.

 

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