The Vision of Saints Row

GAME VISION: Jacques Hennequet

The original idea for Saint’s Row came from a small group of people at Volition (Aaron LeMay, Lida Tang, Matt Boynton, Dave Samuel and Chris Helvig). The proposal was for a “Gangsta-rap sandbox-style First Person Shooter, featuring Snoop Dog & Dr. Dre”.

Early work was just starting when I joined Volition in the fall of 2003. The team was very small, less than 10 people. The project was not officially green lit by THQ yet, but we had approval to take things to the next step at the studio level. The high level design evolved fairly quickly into a third person action/driving hybrid steeped in Hip Hop culture, based on Respect, in which you tried to take over the city and bling up your character and vehicle. The vision of the game moved toward an exaggerated, over the top, music video feel rather than a realistic one.

We immediately chose the Xbox 360 as our development hardware. We saw a great opportunity to bring this type of gameplay to Microsoft’s platform. Multiplayer was also something we agreed upon very early. It was not a simple proposition, but everyone thought it was essential.

We developed what we call a “vision trailer”, the trailer that was used at E3 in 2005, and officially presented the project to THQ. The game was controversial because of its subject matter and because of the existing GTA series. Fortunately we had the support of our parent company, THQ, and the project was given the official go-ahead.

It is worth remembering that this was in 2003. GTA San Andreas was more than a year away and we had no idea of what it would contain. The color chosen for the player’s gang, green, also pre-dated San Andreas by a year.

The emphasis on open world gameplay was always there. We wanted to develop a game that was less linear than most and gave the gamer a great deal of freedom. We initially wanted to forego any type of story for the sake of freedom, but decided after a while that gamers would still want a story arc and story elements, and would feel lost without them. This was easier said than done. We gradually came up with the four story lines and the concept of Respect unlocking Missions. We spent a good deal of time defining the Activities: how they interacted with Respect, how you triggered them, what kind of progression they offered, etc... This part of the Design was ongoing through most of the cycle.

It was around this time that one of our designers, Alvan Monje, came up with the name “Saint’s Row” and we all liked it immediately.

The team size started to grow and the studio hired a number of people to deal with the project which we knew was bound to be a difficult one; trying to create a game of this type for the first time, on a totally new platform, is not an easy exercise. Among the people who joined the Saint’s Row team early on was a young tester, who took our writing test and did very well. His name was Steve Jaros. We decided to entrust him with all of the game’s dialogues, and I think everyone agrees that he did a remarkable job.

San Andreas and its content was an interesting topic for us when it was released. There were definitely hard questions to answer on how it affected us. In the end, we decided to move ahead as planned, confident that we were building substantially on the genre and that gamers would appreciate that. It came down to respecting what they’ve done for the genre but realizing that the features we were delivering, along with being the first game of this type on next-gen was a huge deal.

Time was beginning to pass more and more quickly. We lined up a great cast and started the recording sessions. We were also negotiating the rights to a lot of music content, with the help of a company called Cornerstone. We identified our main Hip Hop consultants and started showing them our dialogue, design, clothes, the radio stations etc… Their feedback was very positive and very helpful.

Meanwhile development of the city was advancing rapidly, as well as AI programming, two key elements of the game. The city was an enormous undertaking. The level of detail on buildings is so much higher than for last Gen that our Environment Artists really had to work extremely hard to put it all together.

We wanted the AI to really improve on existing games in the genre. This called for some tough work from our AI gurus Chris Helvig, Nick Lee and David Ansager. Our city feels more alive than any I’ve seen before. We also recorded over 30,000 lines of dialogue that our NPC’s can use to provide comments that are relevant, rather than always repeat the same lines.

The emphasis on character creation had also grown. We realized that it was a lot of fun to create your own character and watch him appear in the story lines. This was made possible because all our cut scenes are done in real time, and our extensive character creation set makes this feature even more interesting.

From the very beginning of development, we decided that we wanted a cast of excellent actors with great voices, but also people who were not overexposed. Our goal was to have the gamers notice our actors and ask, “Who is this? I know this voice” and then go “Oh yeah, great actor/actress” when they realized who it was. I remember us wondering exactly what actors reactions were going to be to being in a game of this nature. Discussing the project with agents was definitely a nerve racing process. One actor we approached actually turned us down, but fortunately, all our other first choices accepted.

There were some interesting moments during the recordings. For example, Daniel Dae Kim was concerned that we might expect him to play a stereotypical Asian character with all the attendant exaggerations. Fortunately, we were able to tell him that we had no such expectations. I think he was relieved. Asking African American actors to use the word “nigger” was also not an easy thing to do, but it is definitely part of the gangs’ slang. They understood this and agreed to it, once they realized that we used the word in a completely different and non-racist context. The recordings went very smoothly and we ended up with very good performances. We have some great key characters and a couple of incredibly despicable villains (David Carradine and Clancy Brown, who both did an amazing job). We ended up giving the “Carnales” actors in particular a lot of latitude to ad lib quite a few sentences in Spanish, to create a more spontaneous and authentic feel in their dialogue.

Today, we are close to finishing the game. It is amazing for me to look back at early tests and see how far we have traveled. I think that we have remained faithful to our original vision as much as possible. Above all, Saint’s Row is a lot of fun to play. It has been a long and hard cycle. A large number of people have put great efforts into creating this game. It is now my hope that the public will receive Saint’s Row well and that the team’s efforts will be rewarded. I think both will turn out to be true.

Source : Press Release via TeamXbox

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FamoAmo6562d ago

Man this game is gonna be sick!!! Is Snoop Dog and Dr DRE some of the actors?? They said 1 declind but all the other first choices accepted... I hope those guys are in the game!! Anyway this is gonna blow any GTA out of the water fo sho!!! That is until next gen GTA comes out most likely!!!

THAMMER16562d ago

I really hope this game is good. But I do not think it will blow GTA out of the water. That is going to be a hard task. GTA5 is going to sell Halo numbers around this time unless they water it down. I will pick up saints row for my collection.

Gamer136562d ago

Well what can i say ive been waiting for this game a while now, I just can,t wait to play it.

Cyclonus6562d ago

Awesome Saint's Row Vid

fantastic explosions. Great attention to detail, check out the bicycle.

Balance6562d ago

This game keeps looking better and better. when is the release date? I might actually skip having to play the demo before buying. after the whole blazing angels thing that is a good rule. Demos are awsome for the gamer, saves time and money.

Dazzboi3606562d ago

is gonna be available on the 1st of august


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GamerRN4h ago

Is there anything they can really do to fix this franchise?

just_looken4h ago

Though i agree the truth is that it always sells well and then millions are made in ultimate team.

GamerRN2h ago

Because there is no competition


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1nsomniac3d ago

WOW! What an incredible amount of words to say so little.

A bizarre, verbal onslaught "review" that tries so hard to be eloquently whimsical in its writing to cover the fact it doesn't really contain any content. Other than the self explanatory and rehashing what we already know...

Someone's either trying really hard to impress someone at the office or this was written by AI.. Tone it down a bit, It'll give people less of a headache.


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just_looken2d ago (Edited 2d ago )

The fact you can kill the end by either changing your console clock or my way when he is on the dock is such a cool Easter egg.

My video/play through i time coded the part of end getting killed at the dock

The river scene with ocelot's dad will also change depending on your kill count

So many things that can change on each playthrough

Oh also the iconic ladder scene always a classic

just_looken2d ago

wait are people upset i gave out spoilers on a 20 year old ps2 game?

Like for real this was on top of alot of charts for sales with so many different versions

SimpleDad2d ago

There are many people (new) that didn't experience the game dude.

just_looken2d ago

It's 20 years old man these new "gamers" are weak

No one here ever turn on a history channel or go to school there are scary spoilers there too.

Getting hate for talking about a 20year old game on a comment section with a article that talks about the 20year old game with spoilers in the article

" original Snake, aka Big Boss, whose DNA was used to create the clones Solid, Liquid and Solidus"

Quick call 911 IGN spoiled the game

Chard2d ago

Wait til he realises there are people born years after MGS3 released who are now getting into mature gaming

just_looken2d ago


I was watching robocop before i grew chest hair are you seriously saying people only play M rated games after they turn 17?

Chard1d 23h ago (Edited 1d 23h ago )

That’s not what I’m saying at all.
Im referring to the weird conclusion you jumped to, which is that anyone who hasn’t played MGS3 by now took too long and are also weak for being bothered by spoilers this long after the original release.

Plenty of people without chest hair will try this remake as their first exposure to MGS3. It’s not somebody’s fault or weakness if they were born in 2010 and had better things to do than play MGS3 prior to this remake. The world doesn’t revolve around you

Aphrodia1d 12h ago

And no one who hasn't played this game yet will know what the hell he's referring too. sensitive, delicate, snowflake.....

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 1d 12h ago
Inverno2d ago

Have an agree, if people haven't bothered playing a 20 year old game and get mad at spoilers then they should stay out of enthusiast posts.

just_looken2d ago

Right and this article has series/game spoilers

Yui_Suzumiya2d ago

I'll call the WHAMBULANCE for the down voters, lol

just_looken2d ago

Right? like wow perhaps i should post about the gta 3 story in the next article get hate there for spoiling that game.

SimpleDad2d ago (Edited 2d ago )

You really are something. Not only does a world turn around you, but you also are sensitive to 5 dislikes.
Who is weak now?
All remakes are done to bring in a new audience and make new money.
Why would you spoil a game or any kind of media for whatever reason If You experienced it?

Ohhh for your Youtube channel... there it is.

Jesus... imagine if someone commented your gameplay. Badly...

My boys will experience this remake for the first time.

just_looken2d ago

1. Its not the dislikes its many post's on this site and other's always the haters or like you mad about spoilers on old old games.

2. My youtube channel is older that most "gamers" today i lost alot of vids do too youtube bots and yourself has no proof even playing any of the games so go ahead post away on stuff you have no idea how to play.

3. My header is real i used to make a few k or more a month or more with mahcinima when bf/gta/halo/world of tanks were in there prime.Now there is just few vids here there