Thursday, February 17, 2011

IGN Interview

IGN spoke with Brendan McNamara, Head of Team Bondi, about what it took to faithfully recreate L.A. in the '40s. It was an era of violent crimes, corrupt cops, and the rise of the mob in the City of Angels.

IGN: Set the stage for us. Obviously it's shortly after the end of World War II, but what is the state of the city of L.A. at the time (not just the police department)?

Brendan McNamara: LA in 1947 was a city in transition. Its population was to grow by a half million people from 1940 to 1950, boosted by returning serviceman who had done their training on the West Coast and were lured by the weather and the lifestyle. Before the war, Los Angeles County was mostly known for its farms, but quickly became one of the engine rooms of the war effort with aircraft production rivaling any other center in the US and being second to only Detroit in automobile manufacturing -- as well as being the capital of the movie and new television industry.
But the war brought other changes. While the men were abroad fighting, a shortage of skilled labor forced women in to the workforce, taking on new roles, doing technical work, driving their own cars and making use of the newly created child-minding services. For the men to come back to find the women of the city newly independent and unchained from their narrow household duties meant a time of great social tension.

IGN: How does all this impact on the game?

Brendan McNamara: From our research, we found at least 10 very violent murders of women that went unsolved in the period just before the Black Dahlia in January 1947 and ending around 1950. Some of the cases you'll investigate while on the Homicide desk are inspired by those cases, and determining whether those murders were indeed linked in some way or simply the work of opportunistic copycats will be a big part of your time on that desk.

IGN: Corruption plays a big role in L.A. Noire. How did the police department become so corrupt? How deep did the corruption go and how does that corruption show itself in the game?

Brendan McNamara: Like Team Bondi's home town of Sydney, Los Angeles has a long and checkered history of boosters and corruption. Mayor Frank L Shaw used the citywide Vice Squad as bag men for collecting his cut from many nefarious activities taking place around the city. The last straw came for Los Angelenos when LAPD Captain Earl Kynette placed a bomb in the car of corruption investigator Harry Raymond. Raymond survived the blast and at the trial Kynette alleged that his orders came from City Hall. Later, Mayor Shaw's administration was implicated in over a thousand illegal betting and prostitution rackets, often - it was claimed - under the protection of the LAPD. 
It wasn't until the appointment of former Internal Affairs head William H Parker in 1950 that the real work of weeding out the corruption within the LAPD would begin. Parker's most famous quote when referring to police corruption was, "We'll always have cases like this because we have one big problem in selecting police officers ... we have to recruit from the human race." 
As a detective on the rise through the ranks, Cole Phelps will unwittingly come into contact with police corruption on many desks, but more specifically during his time on Vice, the desk that deals with prostituteon and narcotics trafficking, which are always a potent combination.

IGN: Everyone loves a good mob tale. Was the mob in L.A. in 1947 and if so, how did they influence the city that year?

Brendan McNamara: Strengthened by their influence during the time of prohibition, the mob were a powerful force in Los Angeles as they were in the rest of post-war America. That said, L.A. Noire is not a game about the mob, it covers a huge range of crimes that were prevalent in L.A. at that time.
During the time of L.A. Noire, mob bosses were in the process of moving their gambling and prostitution interests to Las Vegas under Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel. Bugsy Siegel was shot dead in his home in Beverly Hills in June of 1947 and the case is still classed as unsolved. Siegel's successor, Meyer "Mickey" Cohen took over the LA mob and became a colorful, if very dangerous, local identity, and features prominently in L.A. Noire.

IGN: The year started out with one of the most famous unsolved murders in American history. How did the Black Dahlia case impact L.A.?

Brendan McNamara: We tracked a series of murders from 1946 through to around 1950 through the newspapers, and the Black Dahlia case was one of those. For us it sets the tone for the brutality of the crimes of that year and for the harsh and glaring way those crimes were depicted in the media. 
In a lot of ways, the Black Dahlia case is an analogue for the whole LA experience: a small town beauty comes wide-eyed to LA to make it in the movies and finds out that city of dreams is also the place of nightmares. L.A., like all major cities, can be a very hard place when you're down on your luck. Given the nature of the crimes and the modus operandi it would be easy to draw conclusions about the killers or killer. Like the Jack Ripper case, I think it will never be conclusively solved. 
The game, however, isn't just about homicide. Across the five desks of Patrol, Traffic, Arson, Vice and Homicide, we have cases based on missing persons, car thefts and drug distribution rackets.

Real Life vs. Game Life

IGN: In the Grand Theft Auto series, Rockstar created cities that were inspired by real-world locales, but were unique to themselves. Why not create a fictional city instead of trying to recreate L.A.?

Brendan McNamara: From the outset, we wanted to do a realistic detective thriller game. After looking into the narrative possibilities and doing lots of newspaper research, we quickly came upon the idea of doing true crimes that had either gone unsolved or were simply more interesting than we could ever dream up. Once we knew we were going to try and recreate these crimes and do justice to the period we knew we had to build the real city. The funny part about that is the real city is essentially downtown, which in many ways has since become the forgotten part of the LA because of the urban blight that has taken place there. 
Our concept internally was literally a time machine. Let's take our audience back in time so they can run around L.A. how it was back in the forties with the Red Cars still running and before the great expansions took place and the freeways were built. This seemed far more interesting than building a fictionalized location and it also gives the game and the crimes that take place within it a real feeling of authenticity. 


  1. This game looks promising. I hope they eventually will release it.

  2. Amazing! Read the whole text! thank you

  3. I love games set during the mid 1900's, they all have that old time feel to them and its great.

    The graphics look incredible on this here's hoping they will release it soon!

  4. I loved 90s games too...but now almost all games are about violence and stuff

  5. i hope the system requirements not too high

  6. That's really cool to find out how hard they actually tried to make it true-story based .. to some extent.

  7. nice post there, looking foward for the game itself

  8. looks good, hope it works for my pc! follow