Props to the designer

We’ve read about the real world of LA getting a coat of grime to become apartments and the allure of both sexes in appropriate headwear but in the third instalment of L.A. Noire‘s behind the scenes feature, Team Bondi’s production designer, Simon Wood, speaks of the challenges to populate the video game world with authentic retro props. And it’s not just about making sure a mug or painting are true to the era. Wood had to chose the right kind of light sources for art director Chee Kin to place around the characters to compliment the visuals: “We were always mindful of the game’s super life-like conversations and the need to light them correctly. Chee Kin had to have something to justify the way people were lit, so just like in film, we placed practical lights in the locations.”

Rare 1940's props were invaluable in set dressing in-game scenes with original authentically styled items.

Who says video games aren’t art? Read on to find out more on the production design of L.A. Noire.
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Sexy women and men in hats

What’s so great about the 1947? Most of the world was still in tatters after the war and the mood of the nation barely surpassed glum. Thank god for the attractive folk to raise spirits. Professional costume designer Wendy Cork was brought on board L.A. Noire‘s development schedule to take care of the multitude of extras in the game as well as the principle wardrobe. “It was such a glamorous period for clothes… Sexy women and men in hats,” said Cork though her jubilations were stifled slightly by the sheer amount of them “It was a cast of bloody hundreds! The costume needs just kept growing and growing as the cases grew more elaborate and interwoven, but it really makes all the difference having all these different characters in the game world.” Any gamer who dabbles in the open-world genre knows how jarring to the experience a repetitive NPC roster can be. Even more so when they’re repeating the same animations. If Wendy Cork and Team Bondi have been able to eradicate any hint of this in L.A. Noire, they’re work will be greatly appreciated!

Left: Starting from original sketches done in vintage style, and a collection of fabric swatches; Middle: Erika Heynatz as Elsa Lichtman, meticulously styled for the original photo shoot; Right: The finished product - Elsa in-game

See all the notes on the game’s costume design after the break.

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Location location location

If you’re like me, a child of the eighties, you’d remember the days of video games being developed by one dude, in their bedroom to then be copied onto a cassette or other such retro storage device. It’s no secret that 30 years on, things have dramatically changed (except the indie development scene who ruffle this otherwise sound statement!) and over the next few weeks, Rockstar Games will be peeling back the dusty but perfectly recreated curtain of L.A. Noire to show the what Team Bondi have been busying themselves with. It’s interesting just how similar creating a high budget video game has become to making movies with colour swatches and location scouting being a key part in both. As a result, many in-game locations of L.A. Noire are based on real-world settings like the Barclays Hotel of LA which has become an apartment block in the game where Cole investigates the driver’s seat case. If you’re a local of the city of angels, you may recognise a few of the sights though I’d hope not since they look fairly dilapidated…

Left: Authentic paint swatches from the 1940's were sourced to determine the game's color palette; Middle: From Team Bondi's extensive Los Angeles locations photo shoot - a Hallway from the landmark Barclay Hotel; Right: That direct reference material transformed into one of L.A. Noire's shadowy and dangerous locations.

After the jump is part one, locations and set design and stay tuned for a peek into the game’s costume design.

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Rockstar presents, L.A. Noire

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Rockstar’s debut trailer for crime thriller L.A. Noire has hit the internet and provides a glimpse into the tone of the game. That being dark, seedy and violent. What else do you expect from a company like Rockstar? Horses and cowboys?… Oh wait a minute… Anyway, there’s little if any actual in-game footage but how the engine handles facial animations is superb. Much like it was in the DLC for GTAIV and the brilliant Red Dead Redemption. Los Angeles will be the sandbox for this title and the 1940’s is where L.A. Noire draws its influences, following a detective as he tried to solve a series of murders. Heavy Rain meets GTA maybe a crude resemblance but one that wouldn’t necessarily be a negative if it turns out to be true. The balance between puzzle solving and open-world exploration could make for a great game as long as long as it’s done correctly of course. I’m purposely being vague because not a great deal else is known about the game so far but I’m sure Rockstar will keep us informed in the months to come.

L.A. Noire was originally a PS3 exclusive but it was later revealed that a version for the Xbox 360 is also coming in Spring 2011 when the game is set for release.

Crackdown 2 add-ons announced

Out yesterday and this Friday here in Europe, Crackdown 2 is yet to be touched buy a lot of gamers and reports of two DLC packs have already surfaced. Gamerzines pointed out that the downloadables called Toy Box and Deluge where found amongst the game’s Avatar Awards as four Avatar items have been set aside for those who buy the DLC. Anyone who obtains Toy Box‘s Fly Swat award will get a Green Agent Suit for their Avatar whereas completing 15 Minutes of Maim in the Deluge pack results in a PVP Agent suit becoming available. A helmet for the PVP suit is also only for those who buy Deluge.

Toy Box and Deluge may have been confirmed but right now, a release date and price is still under wraps. Stay tuned!

Free Red Dead Redemption: Outlaws to the End DLC out now

Today sees the world of Red Dead Redemption get a tad more busy with the release of Outlaws to the End co-op mission pack DLC for absolutely nothing. Yep, the multiplayer add-on is free and available now on Xbox Live and PSN. The pack consists of six brand new missions for up to four players including The Kidnapped Girl where Fort Mercer gets been taken over by a rival gang who are holding a farmer’s daughter hostage. It’s up to you and some friends to storm the fort, rescue the damsel and return her to the worried farmer while fending off all enemies who stand in your way. Sounds like a hoot!

The weapons and death of Red Dead Redemption

Wow. That’s my lame but so very accurate description for Rockstar’s newest Red Dead Redemption trailer called Weapons and Death. It features, well, death caused by some pretty cool weapons. I could go into more detail but it would probably dirty your enjoyment of the video. All I will say is how damn nice it’s looking – watch it, love it and keep them fingers crossed for it to meet its April 27th release date.

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