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Rockstar North President Leslie Benzies, a producer on every Grand Theft Auto game since GTA 3 as well as Red Dead Redemption, LA Noire, and Max Payne 3, has left the studio. His departure was confirmed today in a statement sent to Kotaku, in which Rockstar said Benzies had been on an extended sabbatical and elected not to return.
We can confirm that Leslie Benzies went on sabbatical on September 1, 2014 and has decided not to return to work for the company. We are very grateful for Leslie s contributions to Rockstar over the last 15 years as we worked together to make some amazing games, the statement says. Leslie helped us build an incredible team that will continue to create great experiences for our fans. Leslie will always be a friend to the company and of course we are going to miss him but we wish him the absolute best for the future.
Benzies joined the studio in 1998, when it was still known as DMA Design, and worked as the lead programmer on the Nintendo 64/PlayStation release Space Station Silicon Valley. His name may not be as immediately recognizable as those of founders Sam and Dan Houser, but he was instrumental in the creation of Grand Theft Auto 3, the game that launched the series as we now know it, and for seeing it grow into its subsequent world-beating success as the president of Rockstar North. In 2005, he and Sam Houser were awarded a BAFTA Special Award for Games for their contribution to the videogame industry; in 2014, he, along with Dan and Sam Houser, were inducted in the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.
According to the Kotaku report, Rockstar North is now headed up by Aaron Garbut and Rob Nelson, who most recently shared art direction duties on Grand Theft Auto V.
Fail Forward is normally a series of videos all about the bits of games which don t quite work and why. But in this special episode, Marsh Davies talks about how the mainstream media tends to discuss games only in terms of their threat or their use – with a particular look at the BBC’s recent Make It Digital season, including programmes like the docudrama The Gamechangers and the science show Horizon.
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.>
I wouldn’t call Grand Theft Auto: Vice City [official site] the best GTA game, but I might say it’s my favourite. Between the eerie deadness of GTA 3 and the sprawl of San Andreas sat a tidy little game about ’80s Miami bathed in neon and dusted with cocaine. It was a crude sketch of future plans for the series, done on the back of a copy of Scarface>‘s script, but its roughness left gaps that the atmosphere nicely filled.
On Tuesday night, the BBC aired The Gamechangers, their one-off drama about the making of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and the court cases brought against Rockstar Games by US lawyer Jack Thompson. This seems like rich subject matter, but the results proved a disappointment in nearly every way.
Other people have already written accurate reviews and rounded up what Rockstar and former GTA developers thought of it, so I’m not going to do either of those things. Instead I want to talk about the film’s failure to offer insight – or even to attempt to depict – the game development process. Mostly I’m going to talk about James L. Brooks’ 1987 movie Broadcast News.
There was a time when the name Jack Thompson inspired loathing, anger, and even fear in the hearts of gamers. He was the industry's number one enemy, a giant killer, relentless and indefatigable, who would stop at nothing to get his way. Until his antics in and out of the courtroom grew so bizarre and offensive, that is, that he was disbarred permanently, with no leave to apply for reinstatement. All of this is relevant because, back in the days when Thompson mattered, his number-one target was Grand Theft Auto, and that epic conflict forms the basis of an upcoming movie called The Game Changers, which is set to debut on BBC Two later this month.
A Beeb docu-drama may not sound like the most thrilling thing ever, but this one stands out because it stars Daniel Radcliffe as Rockstar co-founder Sam Houser, and Bill Paxton as Thompson. Radcliffe, of course, is famous for portraying Harry Potter, while Paxton is a Hollywood character actor stalwart who's been doing good things since the early '80s. Also, as the BBC explained in May, Rockstar parent company Take-Two Interactive filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against it over the film, saying it wanted "to ensure that our trademarks are not misused in the BBC's pursuit of an unofficial depiction of purported events related to Rockstar Games." Which probably only had the opposite desired effect of making people want to see it more.
The lawsuit doesn't appear to have had any impact on its release, however. The Gamechangers is slated to make its debut on BBC Two on September 15.
Our Graham was the one to post about the BBC making a “factual drama” about the Grand Theft Auto series and Jack Thompson’s crusade against video games, perhaps because I could only frame my response as a series of contorted facial expressions. But no, really, they are doing it, and it’ll star Daniel Radcliffe and Bill Paxton. Well, if they don’t get shut down.
Take Two Interactive, the owners of GTA makers Rockstar Games, have filed a lawsuit against the BBC for trademark infringement. See, they’re none too pleased that they haven’t been consulted.
If you've ever questioned the value of hobby drones, the above video perfectly demonstrates why they need to exist. As spotted by Kotaku, a bunch of clever folk have recreated GTA 2 using a drone, several cars and lots of red jumpers. If you've ever controlled a drone for five minutes without it plunging to the ground or colliding with something, you'll understand the skill at play above.
While the sleepy suburban setting doesn't really channel GTA, the creators have added some neat touches: collectibles and bullet fire have been added after the fact, there's a mild instance of pedestrian carnage, and gangs are out in full force, enjoying impromptu scraps with the local constabulary. All it needs is a good tank. Maybe next time guys.
The BBC are working on a high profile docu-drama about the making of, and legacy of, the Grand Theft Auto series. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Daniel Radcliffe will be starring in it, playing the role of Rockstar founder Sam Houser. They're obviously spending a bit of money on it.
But according to some who worked on the first game, under the banner of Dundee's DMA Design, the documentary might not be entirely accurate.
I find it quite telling that no-one from DMA I ve spoken to so far seems to know anything about it," says former DMA writer Steve Hammond. "With Rockstar s famous reticence to talk to anyone, that makes the only behind the scenes source David Kushner s book Jacked, which frankly has me a bit worried."
He later adds: "I wonder if the GTA team will be portrayed as badasses and bad boys compared to the other teams, as per Kushner s book? In reality, no more or less bad/weird/outsider than any other team.
You can read more from these ex-DMA devs on GamesRadar. Will you watch when the drama is eventually released?
BBC has confirmed it is producing a TV movie based on the rise of Rockstar Games and Grand Theft Auto. 'Gamechanger' will tell the story of "arguably the greatest British coding success story since Bletchley Park," and is expected to start shooting on April 20.
New reports suggest that Harry Potter himself, better known as actual person Daniel Radcliffe, is in negotiations to star as Rockstar co-founder and president Sam Houser. Interestingly, GTA hater and serial pest Jack Thompson is in the script, suggesting the film will focus on the media outrage that followed GTA 3's release.
Reports of Radcliffe's potential involvement come via Hollywood Reporter. Jack Thompson's role hasn't been cast yet, but occasional Black Mirror director Owen Harris will direct the film. The 90 minute tele-movie arrives as part of a BBC initiative to "inspire a new generation with digital technology". Maybe that new generation can port Red Dead Redemption to PC? Who knows.