Rockstar co-founder and VP Dan Houser, notably reluctant to give long interviews, especially about himself, sat down with Variety's Ben Fritz for a 90 minute interview, and from the looks of it, nearly all is transcribed in Fritz's blog on Variety.
It's a huge talk. I can't digest it all into bullet points for you. But he delves into the origin of the 3D GTA titles, more or less saying that Take Two's 1999 acquisition of DMA (which became Rockstar, and now Rockstar North) was to answer an internal dispute of whether Grand Theft Auto could be done in 3D. We know the answer to that.
Fritz asks Houser if, at any point, the creators doubted that the level of detail put into GTA III would even matter, much less become the baseline expectation of the sandbox genre as we know it. Houser answers with a visionary's conviction:
I remember when we were talking about 60 or 80 different speaking parts, I remember it was such a big production issue, but the thing we never spoke about was, "Are people going to care about it?" Our attitude always was, "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing. If they don't' like it..."
He also says why third-person perspective is pretty much the standard for Rockstar games now (all of GTA, Bully, Red Dead Revolver, Max Payne, Manhunt, etc.): "Obviously both views are artificial. None of them are like your eyes. But to us the third-person view feels less artificial than the first person. That whole "blinkers on" just doesn't feel as much fun for some reason."
I agree wholeheartedly. Some first person games, I feel like I'm looking into a shoebox diorama of the world where I'm playing. Admittedly, a well rendered, often fun diorama. But it makes me wonder again why they ever did the first-person free-look in GTA III and Vice City (I will never stop complaining about that.)
There's tons more in the full interview.
Dan Houser's very extended interview about everything "Grand Theft Auto IV" and Rockstar [Variety]