Red Dead Redemption 2 Boss Shares Some Shocking Stats About The Game [Update]

Rockstar also talks about some of the content it cut from the much-anticipated PS4 and Xbox One western.

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Author Harold Goldberg sat down with Rockstar Games co-founder Dan Houser recently for a chat about Red Dead Redemption 2, and there are a number of notable takeaways. [Update: Houser and Rockstar have now clarified some of these comments, saying it was only a small handful of people working such long hours and that other employees are not expected to do the same.]

Starting off, Houser discussed the intense production of the ambitious western, saying in a piece for Vulture that some people on the development team worked 100-hour weeks several times in 2018 to finish the game. This is an alarming figure, though it is not entirely surprising. In 2010, the spouses of Rockstar San Diego employees wrote an impassioned blog post in which they criticised Rockstar's management for overworking employees on Red Dead Redemption 1. Rockstar responded to the post by saying it was "saddened if any former members of any studio did not find their time here enjoyable or creatively fulfilling and wish them well with finding an environment more suitable to their temperaments and needs."

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Going back to the Vulture piece, Houser said, "We were working 100-hour weeks" for several periods of time in 2018. Oftentimes at the end of a project, developers will "crunch" to finish a game, and it appears that was also the case with Red Dead Redemption 2.

Red Dead Redemption 2 appears to be a massive undertaking. The Vulture report says the final game has 300,000 animations and 500,000 lines of dialogue. It is estimated by the author, presumably based on information from Houser or other Rockstar representatives, to be a 65-hour game, and it could have been longer. The report said Rockstar cut five hours from the game, one part of which was scaling back a love interest for main character Arthur Morgan. Apparently, the writers intended for Morgan to have two love interests, but Houser explained that "one of them didn't work," and as such, this story element was removed. Additionally, some missions got axed because "they were never going to work technically or be quite slick enough, or they felt superfluous."

One mission that got removed had Morgan on a train trying to take down bounty hunters. "It was fun at first, but then it wasn't," Houser explained. "This part of the process is always about compromise and horse trading. Everyone always loses bits of the game they love."

Regarding Red Dead Redemption 2 being a 65-hour game, this is only one estimation for its length. Everyone plays games differently, so your mileage may vary. And then of course, Red Dead Redemption 2 has an online mode that seemingly offer plentiful opportunities to keep playing after the story credits roll.

As Houser said, game development is a fluid process, and things change all the time. What's rare is for developers to talk about this, and even more rare for one of the higher-ups at a secretive studio like Rockstar to be talking about it.

The Vulture story goes on to claim that Red Dead Redemption 2's final script for the main story alone was 2,000 pages. Rockstar reportedly paid 1,200 actors to do motion-capture work on Red Dead Redemption 2, 700 of whom also recorded dialogue. What's more, they were all represented by the acting union SAG-AFTRA, which asked its members to stop working last year amid a strike that was eventually resolved. It's not immediately clear if Rockstar had to pause production on Red Dead Redemption 2's voice and mo-cap work as a result of the strike. "We're the biggest employers of actors in terms of numbers of anyone in New York, by miles," Houser said.

Also in the interview, Houser said Rockstar might make Red Dead Redemption 3, but he isn't committing to it yet. Rockstar will only do it "if [Red Dead Redemption 2] does well enough and we think we have other interesting things to say."

Red Dead Redemption 2 launches on October 26 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The multiplayer mode, Red Dead Online, is set to debut in November, and Houser said Rockstar intends for it to be "as robust as Grand Theft Auto Online."

You can read the full Vulture story here.

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XenomorphAlien

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This ain't something to brag about lol

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Deedubau

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I think people have to be naive to believe this when word leaked out that that was forced overtime for Max Payne 3 along with one ex rockstar employee saying on twitter he was miserable crunching that much for over a year I believe. Nobody at my workplace wants to work over 40 hours and I would imagine people wouldn't want to stare at a screen programming or whatever more than the required time they are needed to, especially if they are on a salary. I do believe not everyone working there isn't required to put in 40 hours a week, but I also believe more than a handful of people are required to put in the 100 plus hour work weeks, and not by choice either. Every AAA game has a deadline and they have to put in a massive amount of time and effort to make sure the game ships on time, and this is after all the delays they were allowed.

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DEATHWlSH

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So they make their employees work 100-hour work weeks, then address it by saying:

"saddened if any former members of any studio did not find their time here enjoyable or creatively fulfilling and wish them well with finding an environment more suitable to their temperaments and needs."

That's fucked up!

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RabbiSchmuley

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100hour work weeks...wow. I wonder if any of these 100hour folks got laid off right after crunch...historically speaking.

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James_xeno

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That's a lot of VAs and story. wow
Sounding pretty great... but

"Red Dead Redemption 2 has an online mode"

Well goodbye new SP content and updates... ugh

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rotchild

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@James_xeno: Agreed.

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Obiroid1

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screw you barnabas I will not fail.

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proceeder

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I don't work 100 hrs/week. I'm glad I never have had to.

But, I know how it is to have an oblivious supervisor who thinks things "don't work" and removes either material or emphasis from what you've poured your heart and soul into.

So, from me to you, supervisor:

**** you.

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rotchild

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Edited By rotchild

This freakin' game just made me (finally) get a Ps4 PRO... a little bit over 600 fucking dollars (because of all the taxes included, since Sony doesn't manufacture the console in my country, so you can only buy imported)... Xbox One would be a lot cheaper (manufactured locally), but with the Sony exclusives and all... whatever.

I always gamed on a PC, but I won't be able to hold out a year (or more) to play this on a PC, if it ever comes out, that is... If it does, I will surely get the PC version because of the mods, and the ability to push up the graphics, etc.

First pre-ordered game of my life, ever... Damn it, Rockstar... this better be good, ya hear me?! (just kidding, I know it will...) ;)

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sippio

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I have strong opinons about several things in this article and opinions/pov etc.

~1~ and most importantly is Sam Houser saying how a 'Train sequence w/ bounty hunters was cut because it WASN'T FUN"

***Sooo many missions in RDR1 WASN'T FUN & they realize & know this BUT sadly Sheople everywhere wanna pretend every part of RDR1 was golden. it wasn't & 3 times I bored-quit about 10 or so missions after crossing bridge into Mexico.

because getting from A to B while being chased was already exhausted in previous missions and by this point it was repetitive and stale...this is a fact not opinion as we all agree w/ basic fundamentals about cliché filler vs actual fun gameplay...

I loved most of GTA V & im going into RDR2 hoping for the best but I kinda expect it to be more of the same because Rockstar is a company of habit w/ GTA...So chances are I personally will be disappointed with RDR2 if it's more of the same ole....

~Riding a horse is fine & cool (RDR1) BUT IT WAS TEDIOUS getting on & off the horse. that animation and skinning animals animation was awful and a major turnoff to most...And skinning a animal near our horse or on a mountain or near an object was a godsend because it skippe dthe animation...lets hope they give us more fun,less animation that drags out..

POINT-2 ~ COMPLAINING EMPLOYEES WIVES

~This implies 100% that the husband/employee FAILED to explain to her about his commitment to work/project & she was left angry & bitter..

~AKA said employee went out like a b**ch by scapegoating..Insted of saying " I CHOOSE THIS "

He said " I have no choice "

& as gamers we are VERY VRY FAMILIAR w/ dealing with WIFE &/ or GF's who want our time more then we wnt to give..

this is gaming 101 lol

~& we all have 1 or 2 friends who we stopped gaming or hanging out w/ because they have to goto bed or spend time with 'HER' on our scheduled gaming nights etc etc..

sucks because these ar eusually our BestBros but it's a sacrifice I stopped making decade ago in regards to working around theyre weirdness..

Weirdness like Dude whispering into team Mic because his wife he is gaming in his bedroom with his wife sleeping because those are her rules..

weirdness like dude bailing on the crew early, or cancelling, or no show yaddaYadda..

So outta the hundreds of employees during 'development crunchtime' there's only 5-9 GF or spouses who complained VS the hundreds that didn't...This shows them to be a huuuuge minority but still enough to write a story about or atleast mention..

I CALL BS!!!!

I'd love to hear someones reasoning why they disagree if they do about how it's Dudes fault she complains...

*I call my wife 'The Boss', she dictates most of our schedules & pretty much runs our house. she controls 50% of ALL our money and this is normal. those who are controlled are just as bad as those dudes who are bossy and don't have a 'partner' they have a slave..

/rant off <this hits a nerve w/ myself (& wife)

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wtf_666

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I quit working and I live in a vannnnnn down by the river....

But I'll still manage to get RDR2.

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deactivated-5bfc8187829ef

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it is just marketing ok we get it you spent lots of money on this game we get it . but please don just give us 50 hours of sp and 7 years of gta online bs. thank you

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aross2004

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@rezagtx2017: Except GTA online is awesome.

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deactivated-5bfc8187829ef

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@aross2004:whatever i dont care .about the companies that want to force mp into their good SP games.

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James_xeno

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Edited By James_xeno

@rezagtx2017:

So much this!

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deactivated-5bfc8187829ef

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very funny!!! does well enough !?? these rockstar bs comments.

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lorddaggeroff

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Wouldn't it be funny all the scenes we watched were from the deleted scenes not the game.

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jeepguy16

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"paid 1,200 actors to do motion-capture work on Red Dead Redemption 2, 700 of whom also recorded dialogue."

What?

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phoenix1289

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@jeepguy16:

Hired 1,200 actors to do motion capture.

700 of those actors also did dialogue.

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jeepguy16

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@phoenix1289: Read this too early apperently. Read that as 2,700.

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phoenix1289

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Edited By phoenix1289

To me a good point from the article on the subject of the work hours was Navid Khonsari (a dev who worked with Rockstar on various titles)

“Some people think Dan is a dick. But he wasn’t to me. We always worked ourselves to the bone. But it wasn’t coming from the top down. Sam and Dan always rolled up their sleeves and they were always there. They never left us holding the bag. We all thought we were making badass shit, so it didn’t matter how hard we worked.”

A simple reality is that yes crunch time sucks but when devs care about what they are working on they will often be happy to put in those hours. That goes for a lot of creative fields. When someone is passionate in wanting to see what they are working on be as good as possible then they will be willing to work their asses off to make it as good as possible and by the sound of it the Houser's worked their asses off right there with them.

And honestly that's the kind of developer I want to support. The kind who care about the product they are making and are willing to give their all to make it as good as possible. Not a developer who just treats it as another job.

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Xristophoros

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Edited By Xristophoros

@phoenix1289: nice way of justifying exploitation of game developers...

you mean to tell me every single person on the team enjoyed working during those 7 day/100 hour weeks? you must be out of your mind. in most cases, they aren't even getting paid for the extra hours they are putting in, depending on their contract. that is straight up immoral. in the end, it is those high on the food chain who will reap the monetary benefits of the game, not the developers.

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phoenix1289

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@Xristophoros: It wasn't every week. The article specifically states that this was several times over the course of 2018. So it was crunch every now and then throughout the year, not constant unending crunch time.

And no they likely didn't enjoy it but welcome to reality. Most people don't enjoy their work 100% of the time. But many people especially in creative fields are willing to go through those kind of unpleasant periods if it means making a quality product. Many devs don't mind pulling all-nighters or putting in heavy work weeks for the sake of making a product they are passionate about.

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Xristophoros

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Edited By Xristophoros

@phoenix1289: "Many devs don't mind pulling all-nighters or putting in heavy work weeks for the sake of making a product they are passionate about." until you find hard data on this, i don't think you should make such assumptions. as a graphic designer, i can tell you there were projects i was passionate about but did not want to work on if i was not getting paid or if my health was being compromised. just because creative people can be passionate for their work, doesn't mean they should be exploited. you don't see this type of behaviour in any other (professional) field or industry. it is wrong. simple as that. please do not try to assume, defend or sugarcoat an issue you do not understand.

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whatsazerg

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RDR3 only if 2 does well enough? LOL... the game will sell 50 million easy!

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whatsazerg

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What?!?!? No Table Tennis?

Preorder cancelled!

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uubershikamarux

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"saddened if any former members of any studio did not find their time here enjoyable or creatively fulfilling and wish them well with finding an environment more suitable to their temperaments and needs." basically telling them to **** off then

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Welverin

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@uubershikamarux: They grossly overwork and exploit their employess and then are completely unashamed about it. Worse he comes off as if there's something wrong with them and not the way they operate.

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Pyrosa

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@Welverin: ...and they have gold-plated resumes after that. They can come into their next gigs at a much higher starting tier. Hard work DOES pay off in the end.

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ganondorf77

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"65-hour game" That one did surprise me, as GTAV is at most 30h long not trying too much to rush anything.

This one is still half any CDPR game, but fine.

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TheDkmariolink

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@ganondorf77: Um, no. Witcher 3's main story is way less than 65 hours, and the whole game not including the DLC's is only about 80, so saying half of any CDPR game is simply wrong, if this is indeed 60 hours of main story and not including side missions + side activities.

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ganondorf77

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@thedkmariolink: Played 3 times TW3, main story might be that, but they also said, and it's true, you might need more than 100h if you go to every single side quest you find. This RDR seems it will be 65h with everything, and that is also fine, good amount of content for sure. But GTA without doing anything special, just play, for sure less that 35 at most my first run, I felt it very short in comparison to SA.

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Pyrosa

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@ganondorf77: What? I got 60hrs out of the first playthrough, and was at about 92% by then.

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Edited By mpl911

@ganondorf77: Sorry, but "GTAV is at most 30h long" is simply wrong.

I don't know (or care) if you've played it, and I'm sure you could rush through and complete it in that time - but I think you'll find a very large number of people have spent much long than that playing it. I must have put in easily twice that (and probably closer to 3 times that), so it's clearly not "at most 30 hours long".

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ganondorf77

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@mpl911:

As I said earlier... GTA V without doing anything special, just play, for sure less that 35h at most my first run, I felt it very short in comparison to SA for instance.

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Fartman7998

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@mpl911: Eh I think I agree with him. GTAV isn't actually that long of a game, you just spend a lot of time farting around and not doing the actual story.

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mpl911

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Edited By mpl911

@Fartman7998: Most of these games are as long as you want them to be. If you want to rush through you can, it's entirely up to you. I prefer to take things a little easier which is why I spent a lot longer than that playing.

My point is, however, that he said that GTAV is "at most" 30hours long, suggesting that, in that 30 hours you would have done everything possible in the game. My own experience tells me that that is simply wrong. Hence my post.

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ganondorf77

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@mpl911: That is true, it's as long as you want, but I'm that kind of a gamer that loves 100% completion. GTA V felt not that long. Perhaps 35h ok, I can't remember, but I'll check my account.

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m_nay2008

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Edited By m_nay2008

@mpl911: Here is a website made only for these estimations :)

https://howlongtobeat.com/game.php?id=4064

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goldero

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@m_nay2008: There it is! So the main story takes an average of a little over 30 hours, but can take much longer if you so choose. Either way, RDR2 will be awesome.

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m_nay2008

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@goldero: Definitely gonna be awesome :)

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WarGameJunkie

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If this game is as good as I expect it to be, I would gladly fork over DLC type prices for the additional missions they made but eventually decided to cut. The Vulture story's great. I can't wait to play the scenes with Graham Greene.

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sakaiXx

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damn 500k lines of dialogue. This game better have sidequests longer than the witcher 3 ones. I mean witcher 3 sidequests can even be its own game!

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chopsbenedict

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@sakaixx: I feel like this is probably a junk statistic abused to make the game seem better. Most of these lines are going to be itty bitty meaningless things, like the reaction to you running into an npc 'oh my!' 'excuse me sir!" "well i'll be' etc etc. and then multiplied by the number of voices for junk npcs, youre already talking about potentially hundreds of lines just for the expected reaction for the player running into an NPC, let alone greetings, goodbyes.

I really appreciate a game that has an actual conversation going on between NPCs which i dont have to or cant interact with, but something thats more than a couple lines, it feels cheap if they only talk for the amount of time it would usually take you to walk by without stopping.

Now sure other games are going to try to do the same thing, and maybe this has the most lines or 'lines' of any game ever, I dont know. I feel like if this statistic is being thrown out, it would be more meaningful if it was something like lines of dialog greater than 5 words or something. The value there would have to be selected for its statistical significance and would require data crunching. This would be more of a conversational interaction number and with both pieces of data it could show both conversation (in main story or side storylines presumably) and ambiance (all the things making the world feel 3d, and real around you)

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