It’s a good thing the detective thriller from Rockstar and Team Bondi’s doing so well, because it took a helluva long time to make. Team Bondi was cooking up Cole Phelps’ story for well over five years, much of that spent on just how to structure it. Years went by figuring out whether they wanted it to be a text-based game, or incorporate aspects of the ol’ point-&-click games.
Then the Australian dev studio hit upon their MotionScan technology, which allows them to deliver the tons of dialogue and nuanced physical performances that the game needed to become what it is.
Team Bondi honcho Brendan McNamara recently spoke with GamerLive TV:
“Obviously the Motion Scan technology for capturing actors works and exists and other video game people are using that today, so that’s there and available and quick,” said McNamara. “We developed a lot of tools to make this kind of game, so I think that part of it will be shorter. The writing part you can’t really make any shorter. You can make it shorter than five years, but we’ve also now started working on technology for [full] body capture.”
McNamara said this new technology, which will be available in a couple of years, means that his team can put actors in costumes to walk around and give their performances just as they would in film or television.
“We’ll be able to drop that performance in a video game, which will be pretty amazing,” said McNamara.
People have criticized L.A. Noire for being too much like a movie itself. But as the tech behind the game matures, it follows that the range of games that can be made with it will broaden, too. MotionScan was made to build a certain kind of experience, but the tech itself will be an asset to whoever wants to use it. On that last point, McNamara also said that other game-makers are already using MotionScan, so we may yet see more uncannily animated faces popping up in upcoming games.
These advances might have to wait for the next generaton of consoles, anyway, though. Reports of overheating, hitches and freezes have dogged the game since release, supposedly on account of how much data’s streaming from the disk at any moment. One presumes that the next next-gen consoles will be able to handle all that data better.
Finally, I’m most excited about the comments that full body capture is being worked on. I often found that there was a disconnect between the faces and the bodies–which were animated with standard ping-pong-ball, point-mapping mocap–in the game. If entire characters can look as good as the faces, an L.A. Noire sequel could unlock all-new levels of drama.
More on TIME.com: Arresting Development: ‘L.A. Noire’ Review