Grand Theft Auto 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2 animator Mike York shares his thoughts on the recent GTA 6 trailer and hypes up Rockstar Games in the process.
It's not so often that we see actual game developers lend their expertise to YouTube trailer breakdowns. Mike York, who worked on two of Rockstar Games' highest-profile games, did a quick GTA 6 trailer reaction that's been making the rounds.
York's analysis is that the GTA 6 trailer is entirely in-game and has no pre-rendered footage--a declaration that has caused a bit of confusion among gamers.
"Everything you see in a GTA game is all done in-game. Every single cutscene. If you see that building way in the back, you can go to that building, you can climb it, you can jump off it. This game is very elaborate and that's why it takes them so long to make.
"A lot of the time we see cinematics...this is not that. When you play the game, it's really going to look like this. It's going to look just like this. It's going to be incredible, I can't wait.
"The artists over there really know how to push the consoles and the hardware to the limits with the level of detail and LODs."
This video gained a lot of traction, prompting York to publish a follow-up with much more clarification as to what constitutes an in-game cutscene in Rockstar's world.
"The biggest question I got from viewers is...are these scenes in-game? Are they in-game, are they cinematics, there's different terms. Are they real-time? Are they pre-rendered? One thing I want to clarify is, when I say that this is all in-game, what I mean is that it's all in-engine.
"The way I want to get this across is that a lot of times when they make a cutscene, they're going to try to make it the best they can when they're presenting it in a trailer."
York goes on to highlight how game devs will touch-up or spruce-up specific scenes or environments so that they look better for marketing and promos, like, say, a trailer for one of the most anticipated games in recent memory.
"So, for instance the scene with the flamingos...there's a bunch of flamingos and they're flying around. To take this scene into consideration, is this in-game? Is this a cutscene?
"This is most likely an in-game scene, but that being said, when they do a trailer or they're presenting a trailer to the audience, most companies--I'm not going to speak for Rockstar--but most companies, including Rockstar usually, what they'll do is they'll put a bunch of flamingos in here normally from in-game, but the trailer they'll put in a couple more flamingos. They'll have a little bit more foliage in the back. They'll pump up the textures a little bit, they'll add a little bit of extra fog in that area, hide a little bit of extra stuff in the background so they can get a bit more memory and assets to be able to stream it a little bit better just during this scene while they're showing it off.
"But that doesn't mean that this is a crazy cutscene and the game is not going to look like this, or anything like that. I want to preface on a little of that stuff, which is, a lot of this stuff is going to be in-game.
"What I mean by that is that they're streaming in-engine, they're not something that's pre-rendered. It's not a pre-rendered asset that's been rendered outside of the game and loaded in, and you're watching a movie. That's not the case.
"What happens is the developer, Rockstar in this case, doesn't want...Rockstar is going to change and mitigate a couple things so that the cutscene isn't messed up. They're going to minimize the amount of people being loaded into a scene, I'm just taking a guess. When I was over there, I was doing animation for the most part.
"In this case, if it's a cutscene, a lot of the time they'll hide some of the people, they'll minimize a lot of different things so that they can stream in better hair quality; this will be a different version of the character. They'll have two versions usually--an in-game version, the one that's walking around the city, and then the cutscene version.
"It's not a pre-rendered version, that's the point.
"A lot of the time in these old-school games they would have a pre-rendered cutscene. What that means is they'd do all these things way above and beyond the game, all the extra lighting and physics and things, they would make it look super realistic.
"Rockstar in this case has done a very good job in blending the two of them.
"They make their in-game assets look so real that they use those in-game assets as their actual cutscenes. It's really powerful that way because it gives them a lot of leeway on different cameras and things you can do in the game."