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"Manhunt made us feel icky"

An ex-Rockstar employee, Jeff Williams, chose this week to write about his experiences working at the company, blogging some interesting details about his time on the inside.

Apparently things were sordid from the very start. Well, in some sense.

"They didn't believe in cubes," Jeff explains. "Ok, I understand that. But they didn't apparently believe in air either. Or cleanliness."

Some of it is stuff we've always assumed:

"Every Rockstar project turned into a huge clusterfuck. I mainly blame this on a horrendously inefficient company structure combined with a few individuals who thought they were hot shit but really didn't know anything about either video games or marketing. By that time, Rockstar was arrogant to the point of absurdity."

Some of it is quite bemusing, like learning that Rockstar top dogs were pretty much running Take 2 itself, the two titles completely interchangeable. Working for the company is portrayed as more of an ordeal than a vocation.

But then the juice arrives once he talks about working on the original Manhunt project. It wasn't just the frotting press that had problems with this game.

"And honestly, I was pretty vocal in telling my superiors that while I'd do whatever they asked me to do (within reason), I didn't support Manhunt's release. It may sound surprising, but there was almost a mutiny at the company over that game. It was Rockstar North's pet project - most of us at Rockstar Games wanted no part of it."

After explaining how GTA at least offered you the choice to be moral or amoral, Williams continues.

"Manhunt, though, just made us all feel icky. It was all about the violence, and it was realistic violence. We all knew there was no way we could explain away that game. There was no way to rationalize it. We were crossing a line."

Discussing the disappointing sales of Midnight Club, Manhunt and Max Payne 2, Williams then enters full-on bitch mode.

"From the time I started at the company to the time I left, we had one bonafide major hit series - and it was a series that existed before Rockstar ever came to be. Nothing Rockstar Games ever created ended up a major and respected franchise in its own right."

Handbags. It's not the most revelational information, but it's rare that Rockstar say anything (you know, apart from that time they blamed PC gamers for the Hot Coffee scandal), so it's of interest to learn of discord among the ranks.

There - we're not even fully launched yet, and we'll have already written off any chances of Rockstar talking to us. Go us!

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John Walker avatar

John Walker


Once one of the original co-founders of Rock Paper Shotgun, we killed John out of jealousy. He now runs buried-treasure.org