The technology of Max Payne 3

Emergent gameplay is possible in an environment like this

Obviously as you ramp up the complexity of the game you tend to hit some pretty spectacular bugs – although Reil believes this is a necessary evil.


"What you and I might imagine a car colliding with a wall looks like, for example, might very often come from movies and not look like what it actually looks like."

"It's true that the more complex technology becomes, the more propensity there is for bugs, but it's also true that when you open a game up and allow it to be more emergent in many ways it's desirable because it can actually surprise you," added Reil.

"You want to make sure that you control it to the extent that it doesn't break the gameplay – that's the goal and target for those games, but in general I have to say that you can meet those challenges. You can still control the game but also allow emergent gameplay.

"You need to understand what the triggers look like because not all of the visual references we have from the movies are actually realistic.

"What you and I might imagine a car colliding with a wall looks like, for example, might very often come from movies and not look like what it actually looks like. You want to combine realism with artistic licence… to get the best of both worlds.

"It is possible, it's not all simulation and you are always able to control it and I think over the years we have been able to make big progress with that with Rockstar, and you'll see that through Max Payne."

Max Payne - had to keep his old swagger with new physics

Rockstar art director Rob Nelson told TechRadar that keeping the essence and playability of Max Payne but also making it feel and look more polished was central to everything they were trying to do.

"What made the first game special was the movement and the shooting and that's what had to make this one special, so we put a lot of time into that," he said.

"We really just focused on that. And yeah we wanted it to be as polished as it could be, and look as beautiful as it did, and have a story that was very engaging, but for us the core element of this was the motion and I guess yeah we were worried [about the reaction].

"We felt we had it after several years of working on it. We felt we had it or were approaching it, and my fear was actually that people might not notice it because there's a lot of subtle stuff going on there.

"Actually it's tons of different subtleties, and we don't think everyone will notice every thing, but everyone will notice some things."

Max Payne, max problems

Making Max feel like the Max of old, but also with the modern Euphoria touches and the modern physics in games was clearly a massive challenge.

Non-playable characters (NPCs) were far simpler, but with Max not only does he need to appear to move realistically but also to be controllable to the player.

Systematic about simulation

"There's actually another layer on top of all of this which is player control - because you want to have a character ideally that looks realistic and reacts with the environment, you also want the player to have control of the movements in a way that looks believable," says Reil.

"You just have to be systematic about using simulation and how you let player control override it, but at the same time you want input from the creative side.

"The difference that you will get with the main character Max to the NPCs is that you need to have control over him, so in bullet time for example you want to have as much control as possible because it's gameplay.

"That's obviously not something you need to worry about with NPCs. The other thing is the degree of environment awareness which I think is unprecedented out there.

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.