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Red Dead franchise illustration Kathrine Anderson

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How the Red Dead franchise began

It started with Peter Gabriel, Resident Evil 2 and Patrón

The story of the Red Dead series, one of the biggest and most renowned in gaming, starts long before its current home at Rockstar Games. In fact, it starts in the ’80s in Carlsbad, California, at Angel Studios — a company initially not known for video games, but for 3D work in films and music videos.

It’s a story with a lot of steps, business negotiations and meetings. It’s a story about a company with less of a strategy, and more of a keen eye for opportunities. And it’s a story that — even in its early days — leaves some people burned out, taking time away from the game industry in its wake.

With Red Dead Redemption 2 set to be released next week, we recently looked back at how this mammoth of the industry came to be. We tracked down seven former developers and executives involved with the series at Capcom, Angel Studios and Rockstar to discuss the first Red Dead game, Red Dead Revolver, and how it built the foundation for one of Rockstar’s most valuable intellectual properties.

It starts with a businessman named Diego Angel. A man with an ability to strike deals and bridge geographical divides. A man who loves to party.

illustration of cowboy with liquor bottle and shot glasses in his utility belt
With Diego Angel at the helm, Angel Studios developed a reputation for throwing parties.
Kathrine Anderson

Six bottles of tequila

Diego Angel founded Angel Studios in 1984 as a work-for-hire studio producing 3D graphics. The company found success in its first several years working on the 1992 film The Lawnmower Man and Peter Gabriel’s “Kiss That Frog” music video — the latter of which won an award for Best Special Effects in a Video at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards.

According to Angel, he founded the company around a philosophy of “three P’s” — passion, patience and perseverance. It wasn’t about taking on everything offered his way, he says, but rather, projects that showcased his team, its technology and the caliber of both.

“Money was not the first thing that went through my mind,” Angel tells Polygon during his first interview in several years. “I wanted to build a company as an entrepreneur based on the know-how — based on what we [could] give. I knew that money [would] come.”

Those working for Angel in the studio’s early days describe him as a character, and as someone who took care of his employees. He ran his company like a family, they say. He also loved to have a good time.

“Always, Friday evenings around 5, he would start getting people together and offer a shot of tequila or something,” says Red Dead Revolver lead artist Carlos Pedroza, who was Angel Studios’ 90th employee. “‘Everybody relax. It’s 5 on Friday. Everybody chill out. It’s time to start winding down.’ And then the parties would begin, and all sorts of stuff.”

“On a Friday afternoon, he was like, ‘OK everybody, time for Sippy Wippy,’ and he’d break out his Patrón tequila and we’d all just hang out in the office and drink tequila shots,” says Revolver art director Daren Bader. “It was a really fun time.”

Angel Studios’ transition into game development came about more or less thanks to a chance meeting. In the early ’90s, the company was working with tech giant Silicon Graphics, making demos for its high-end computers in exchange for, well, its high-end computers. It was this work that turned the tables for the company, then a decade old.

“Mr. Takeda, that did the technology [for] Nintendo, [saw our demos],” Angel says. “He said, ‘Fuck. Who are these guys?’ They said, ‘A little company called Angel Studios in San Diego.’ He called me right away. He said, ‘Can I be there at 9 in the morning the following day?’ I said, ‘Yeah, come over.’ He came, and three days later, Nintendo signed us as their technical partners for the launching of the N64.”

In February 1995, Nintendo announced Angel Studios would be part of a “Dream Team” group of development studios for its then-upcoming Nintendo “Ultra 64” console — 10 third-party studios that Nintendo chose to make games for the system. Coincidentally, DMA Design was also part of this group — the studio that would later become Rockstar North.

“Angel Studios is recognized around the world as a leading creator of amazing three-dimensional graphics and real-time environments,” Howard Lincoln, chairman of Nintendo of America, said in a news release at the time. “Their award-winning work in music videos, motion pictures and commercials will transfer nicely to the video game industry — in particular to our powerful 64-bit system.”

“We’ve waited patiently to enter the video game industry until a vehicle was developed that allowed us to fully display our talents — Nintendo Ultra 64 is that vehicle,” Angel said in the same release. “The creative energy being committed to this game by the staff at Angel Studios, coupled with the capability to render ‘on-the-fly’ in real time as built into the powerful Nintendo Ultra 64 system, will produce a video game for Nintendo Ultra 64 unmatched in its graphics quality and interactive game play enjoyment.”

Using Nintendo’s deal as an impetus, Angel Studios shifted to making video games, though it didn’t limit itself to just Nintendo or the Nintendo 64. First, it worked on the 1996 Sega Saturn game Mr. Bones, contributing to the art and cutscenes. For Nintendo, the team developed the entirety of the 1998 sports game Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey Jr. and its 1999 sequel, Ken Griffey Jr.’s Slugfest. It also worked for Microsoft on the 1999 racing game Midtown Madness.

One key to the studio’s success, says Angel, was working well with Japanese publishers. At the time, he says, studios in the East didn’t trust studios in the West — and vice versa. “I was the only company in video games, the only [American] studio in those days, that was working and getting along with the Japanese,” he says, adding that not being American himself probably helped because “Americans are kind of closed [off]. [...] When you’re outside the United States, you’re open to other cultures than the Americans.”

His other key to success: alcohol.

“I used to go every month to Japan and just bring six bottles of tequila,” he adds, laughing. “They loved it.”

This ability to bridge divides, to work with high-profile Japanese companies, secured Angel Studios a contract gig that changed the course of the company forever, he says: the Nintendo 64 port of Resident Evil 2, which was released in 1999.

“We were the first — at least as I was told — the first developer outside of Japan to work directly with Capcom Japan,” says Stewart Spilkin, producer on both Resident Evil 2 and Red Dead Revolver at Angel Studios.

A team of nine developers at Angel was able to get all of Resident Evil 2 — which originally shipped on two discs when it debuted on Sony’s PlayStation — as well as new features, onto a 64-bit cartridge.

Capcom was impressed with Angel Studios’ work and later approached the developer about something different. A new game. A new IP. No one knew that it would eventually lead to one of the most popular series in games.

S.W.A.T. / Red Dead illustration
As Capcom’s S.W.A.T. idea changed into Red Dead Revolver, some of the ideas carried over and others were left behind.
Kathrine Anderson

‘We know Westerns’

Capcom had an idea.

According to former Angel Studios team members, Yoshiki Okamoto, then Capcom’s chief operating officer, approached the team about wanting do a single-player game called S.W.A.T., a third-person shooter where the player controlled different tactical team members, each with unique abilities, switching between them as they wished. Okamoto, speaking to Polygon, says he doesn’t remember the project starting this way, though he admits that his memory of the time is faulty given how long ago it was.

One way or another, though, the team at Angel Studios worked on the idea for approximately three months, building a prototype.

“The original concept was: There’s a single building, and you have a S.W.A.T. team of seven different characters with different abilities and equipment. And you kind of go through the same scenario over and over in different ways,” says Spilkin. “So we went with that for a little while, but then [Okamoto’s] idea shifted. At one point it was supposed to be, like, a carnival on an island that has been taken over by robots. It’s sort of the same S.W.A.T. team concept, but you have to go in and kill all the robots. We never actually did anything with that — I think that was just an idea that was talked about.”

A little while later, the concept went through one last big change: It became a Western. Okamoto — who had previously worked on the 1985 Western arcade shooter Gun.Smoke — expressed interest to the team about wanting to do another game set in the Wild West after seeing the movie Blindman, according to a recent video on YouTube channel People Make Games. The developers replied with enthusiasm, Spilkin says, interested in exploring a genre that wasn’t seen much in games at the time.

“[Okamoto] was actually really into Westerns, and he said, ‘You know, I always wanted to do another Western game,’” Spilkin says. “‘Who better to do it with than with an American developer? Because you guys know Westerns, right?’ We’re like, ‘Oh yeah. Sure. We know Westerns.’

“There [were] no Western games; there [were] no cowboy games,” Angel says. “It fascinated us, the idea of the horse and of the shooting. Before that, it was wars and shootings and this and that. But there was no shootings between cowboys. So we said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Angel Studios twisted the acronym “S.W.A.T.” to take on a new meaning for the in-game crew, calling it the “Spaghetti Western Action Team.” And Red Dead Revolver was born.

illustration of a steam train heading into shadow
At a certain point in Red Dead Revolver’s development, the relationship between Capcom and Angel Studios became less collaborative and more instructive.
Kathrine Anderson

Monsters in white dresses

Shifting to the West, Angel first worked on the game’s visuals, specifically on nailing the lighting of the setting and time.

“It was actually bright and hot and sunny, glare-y, but still deserted, dusty. It kinda felt like that was the first time you’d really seen that in games, a really bright world,” Bader says. “I grew up in California, so I’d basically lived and breathed that environment all my life. So I knew what I wanted to try and get out of it, and it was pretty enjoyable to hear people kind of go, ‘Yeah, yeah. We want it more like this; more dust, more dirt, more grime, more grit.’”

For a while, Angel Studios retained the idea of including different playable characters, though team members recall this being impossible to pull off given the technical limitations of the era.

Then, a year or so into development, Capcom sent over some of its internal developers to oversee the game. Akira Yasuda, famous for designing the Street Fighter 2 character Chun-Li, came over to work as art director.

Under Yasuda’s direction, Revolver’s look had more of a fantasy vibe to it, developers recall. It was more exaggerated, magical. Being based in America, Angel Studios knew what a typical Western looked like, Bader says. He adds that the Japanese staff wasn’t always on the same page, and some of Yasuda’s character designs — though good in Bader’s opinion — left some of the Angel developers scratching their heads.

“One of the characters that they had in the game, they wanted him to be this big, giant sort of Frankenstein-looking guy who was wearing a dress,” he says. “It’s like, ‘Wearing a dress? What are you talking about?’

“They were like, ‘It would be really funny, you know? He would kill women and wear their dresses.’”

Some of Yasuda’s influences for designing characters, designer Dominic Craig recently told People Make Games, were the developers at Angel Studios itself. For example, he says, the character Pig Josh is named after lead designer Josh Needleman, Javier Diego after the company’s CEO. Whether these were created with well intentions or not, Craig couldn’t say.

“You can’t quite tell if it’s homage, or if they’re just being a bit mean,” he said.

Bader also points to the game’s eventual title as another example of cultural differences. The name Capcom came up with, Red Dead Revolver, which Okamoto says Capcom employee Naoto Tominagi came up with, thinking it’d be fun to play with the two rhyming words “red” and “dead,” didn’t make sense to many of the people at Angel Studios.

“When they came back with that, we were like, ‘What the fuck does that mean?’” Bader says, though he adds that he thought the name “sounded cool.”

“We tried to put stuff in the game to make the name make more sense,” Spilkin says, “like naming the character Red and having his hand get burned so his hand was red.”

Differing work ethics were another thing Angel Studios developers didn’t understand about the Capcom crew — especially those of Yasuda, who rarely left the office and surprised people with his sleeping habits. “He dedicated virtually every waking moment to working on the project while he was here. He literally slept under his desk at Angel Studios,” Bader says. “He would just stay there 24 hours, seven days a week. It was just kind of really odd.”

“[When working on Revolver] he basically always slept in the closet when there was a huge bed in his room,” Capcom’s localization team leader, Tom Shiraiwa, told Polygon in 2014. “I just saw his legs coming out of the closet. And I asked him, why is that? And he felt much more peace of mind when he slept in the closet.” [Yasuda did not respond to an interview request for this story.]

All of these cultural differences contributed to a rocky development for Revolver under Capcom, according to the Angel Studios team members speaking for this story. And language barriers led to a lot of work being done, then subsequently thrown out by Capcom. Angel Studios built entire levels, Spilkin says, and then, for reasons unclear to those at the studio, Capcom trashed them.

“The way that they tended to develop was take a single nugget of an idea, and push on it and watch it iterate over and over on one kind of moment,” Bader says. “Capcom would explore these kind of offshoots to see if there was new gameplay to be discovered. I think that that’s a super cool way to go, but you gotta have a lot of time and money and resources to bury into that.”

As development issues piled up, Spilkin says, the studio ended up in danger of missing milestones. Because Angel Studios was an independent developer working on a contract from Capcom, missing milestones meant missing paychecks.

“[Development] wasn’t exactly what you would call smooth,” Okamoto says, echoing Angel Studios developers and saying that revisions and alterations were happening throughout the entire project. “You know, as a company, we can’t release something that we don’t feel good about. So there was all sorts of tumult throughout the entire process.”

As Angel Studios developers tell it, this was a one-sided relationship. Capcom called the shots; Angel did what it was told. According to Spilkin, Capcom’s development philosophy was very different from what Angel Studios, an American company, was used to. At Angel, development was more collaborative; ideas could come from anywhere, he says.

“I don’t know if they started this way — it’s hard to say because of the language — but it got to a point where they were just like, ‘We don’t really want to hear your ideas; we’re just going to tell you what to do and we just want you to do it,’” Spilkin says. “You know, these are all really smart, talented guys [at Angel Studios]. And part of the enjoyment of spending so much of your life making games is, you get to exercise some creative freedom. When you’re in an environment where you can’t do that, it becomes stifling.”

Nevertheless, development continued.

Capcom officially unveiled Red Dead Revolver in March 2002. But many behind the scenes wondered if the game would ever actually see the light of day. At the time, Spilkin says, there was no “measurable forward progress” being made on the game. Capcom continued to have ideas, scrap ideas, and start over on large chunks of the game.

“That was one of the hardest jobs, I would say, I had in the industry,” Spilkin says. “We’d already been working for several years on the game, and there was a lot of really good stuff there. There was stuff we disagreed with pretty strongly, but overall, there were all the pieces there that you [could] put together and make a game and ship it. But we felt like we would never get there.”

“It was a point where [I thought], ‘Oh my God, I’ve just spent all these years of my life and there’s no clear future as to what’s going to happen with the project,’” says Pedroza, who left the company at the time. “People were, obviously, a little bit disconcerted. For them, it’s: Are they going to keep their jobs? What’s going to happen?”

As it turns out, that work wouldn’t be for nothing, thanks to Rockstar founders Sam Houser and Dan Houser.

illustration of two gunmen
When Rockstar purchased Angel Studios and Red Dead Revolver, the franchise began to inch toward where it would end up years later.
Kathrine Anderson

‘Weird guys’

Behind the scenes, Diego Angel was preparing to sell his company.

Outside of Capcom and Red Dead Revolver, one of Angel Studios’ biggest clients had already been Rockstar Games. Over the years, Angel developed games for Rockstar in the popular Midnight Club and Smuggler’s Run series.

“We loved Diego. We loved Midtown Madness,” Jamie King, Rockstar co-founder and its former vice president of development, tells Polygon. “We were making [Grand Theft Auto 3 and] there were two games we obsessed with in the office. And one was Counter-Strike — I think it was beta 1.6, or whatever that version was. [The other] was Midtown Madness on the PC. To the point, [some people] would have the steering wheels. At lunchtime, we would have multiplayer Midtown Madness racing sessions — just like people now do with HQ, that app. And because of that, that’s how we found Angel Studios.”

Around the time that Red Dead Revolver was struggling under Capcom, Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto 3 and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City were doing gangbusters. Rockstar had a lot of money. It was releasing new games at what King describes as a “relentless” rate. It was also buying up some of its development partners. And it had its eye on Angel Studios.

Similarly to his work with Capcom, Diego Angel befriended the Houser brothers. They were “weird guys,” he says. They liked tequila and “a lot more things.”

“They were crazy and they were good,” Angel says. “But they allowed us to be ourselves.”

Angel says he talked to a few companies, such as Microsoft, Activision and Rockstar, about selling his studio. Out of all those he talked to, he says Rockstar was the only one willing to give him the freedom he wanted. While working with Microsoft on Midtown Madness, Angel says the company was too strict with what could be in the game. Rockstar, however, had no issues with what he wanted.

“We couldn’t run over pedestrians [in Midtown Madness]. There couldn’t be any accidents. There couldn’t be wrecks,” he says. “And Rockstar was [pitching] hard to do games with us. And I went to them: ‘Would you allow me to do this, this and this?’ [...] [They said,] ‘We will go farther. You can kill. Do whatever the fuck you want.’”

Even before Rockstar purchased the company, the team would visit Angel Studios several times a year to see the tech the team was working on. Knowing that the team was working on a Western somewhere in the studio, Bader recalls, piqued the Housers’ interest, Sam especially.

“They couldn’t really technically come see what we were doing [because we were working with another publisher],” Bader says. “But I remember Sam and Dan saying, ‘Man, we would walk down the hall, and we wanted to come in there and see what the fuck you guys were doing with the Western, because we’ve always wanted to do a Western.’”

With the Housers wanting to make a Western, Red Dead Revolver going nowhere under Capcom and Diego Angel wanting to sell, Rockstar made an offer.

And Angel didn’t bite.

“I remember they made me the offer. I said to the owner of Rockstar, I said, ‘Thank you very much. It was very nice of you. We’ll talk.’ And I never called back,” Angel says. “He called me back in a week: ‘You haven’t called me back.’ I said, ‘Why? For that offer? I don’t need to call you back.’ They were lowballing me.”

Rockstar returned with a new offer. One that, as Angel puts it, he couldn’t refuse.

King says that buying up a company like Angel, one that was already developing multiple games for Rockstar, just made sense from a business perspective. When collaborating with a third-party developer on a series doing well — like Midnight Club was, he says — just going ahead and buying that developer helps build the franchise.

“Ultimately, it scales the headcount and grows the company profit,” King adds. “It was the more efficient thing to do.”

There was another reason Rockstar bought Angel Studios, it turned out. As King tells it, Sam Houser wanted Rockstar to have its own proprietary engine rather than continue using Criterion’s Renderware on the Grand Theft Auto series. Rockstar liked the Angel Game Engine, and felt that it could turn it into something that all the Rockstar studios could work with.

Take-Two Interactive, Rockstar’s parent company, announced in November 2002 that it had acquired Angel Studios. With the purchase came all of Angel’s technology and its 125 employees, including management. It also, through later negotiations, came with Red Dead Revolver. Shortly after the purchase happened, Okamoto left Capcom. Since the game was under his arm at the company — and since Rockstar owning Angel made it more complicated to develop — Capcom saw no point in keeping it once he was gone, he says. All the work that the two parties had been doing before the acquisition was handed over to Rockstar, and the team at Angel was allowed to keep working on it, though Capcom retained the publishing rights in Japan.

“They’d been working with Capcom for four years on this thing,” says King, who was sent to San Diego from New York to oversee the game and Rockstar’s new engine. “And, like, apparently really creative people from Capcom [were on it]. But apparently, every year, like, the whole story, design, whatever, changed. So they had never got anywhere. And Sam’s like, ‘Look, do we want it? It comes [with] the deal.’ I’m like, ‘Yes.’”

“Capcom were prepared to walk away from it,” Dan Houser told IGN in 2010, “so we said we’d finish it and all they ever wanted was the rights to publish it in Japan if we ever did finish it — which they never thought it could be.”

Now off the project, Yasuda returned to Japan. In 2018, he told Japanese documentary outlet toco toco that he hadn’t wanted to go to the United States in the first place, and that he found the development process emotionally draining. He quit Capcom and took a decade off from the industry to do contract work after he got back home.

“Actually, after turning freelance I started to hate games, which was probably provoked by my experience in the United States,” Yasuda said. “But after 15 years I started to forget.”

Angel Studios was now Rockstar San Diego. It had a new logo and a deadline, and it was time to get Red Dead Revolver out the door.

illustration of horse-drawn carriage with computers
Under Rockstar, the team working on Red Dead Revolver raced to the finish line.
Kathrine Anderson

Seeing it through

In August 2003, nine months after Rockstar acquired Angel Studios, Capcom announced that it was canceling Red Dead Revolver. Publicly, the game was dead. But it wasn’t really.

Four months after Capcom’s cancellation, Rockstar re-announced the game. Behind the scenes, Rockstar San Diego had been working on it pretty much the whole time.

“I mean, I guess legally and technically it was canceled, but really it was handed over to Rockstar,” Spilkin says.

“[As] far as I understood, the cancellation was basically a formality when it happened,” Spilkin adds. “It was really more of a negotiated transfer, and development wasn’t ever stopped completely. Rockstar didn’t really want a whole dev team at their new studio making a game for someone else, and Capcom understood it was not ideal to have another publisher developing a game for them.”

Part of Red Dead Revolver being a Rockstar property meant stripping it of some of Capcom’s weirder aspects. “Rockstar’s like, ‘This is not Rockstar. We don’t wanna have this big Frankenstein guy in a dress. That’s just too freakin’ weird,’” Bader says.

King echoes this, adding that although he really liked Capcom’s more fantastical ideas, they didn’t make sense for a game billing itself as an homage to Western films and directors. They didn’t “connect,” he says.

Okamoto, however, remembers things differently, saying, “I’m not exactly sure where you heard [they cut Capcom’s ideas], but that is completely wrong. The Red Dead Revolver that actually came out is basically more or less unchanged from what we made. We had gotten the game pretty much most of the way to the end of development.”

“What you see is basically what we had,” he says.

The biggest hurdle Rockstar San Diego had in front of it was simply getting the game out the door. When King showed up in San Diego, the game was in, as he puts it, “pieces.” Those parts needed to be stitched together into a cohesive game. And, as he tells it, Sam Houser didn’t give him a ton of time to do it.

“Sam’s like, ‘You’ve got nine months. You’ve got to get it out in nine months,’” King says.

Red Dead Revolver had, he says, a lot of game built, but it was all in pieces. It had a lot of story, but didn’t have a complete script, for example. Part of King’s job was bringing all these disparate parts together into something the studio could ship — something cohesive that it could just get out the door.

There was a lot to be done. And so the studio crunched. Hard.

“It was as hard a Rockstar [crunch] as Rockstar gets — which, it gets pretty crunchy,” Spilkin says about the end of the project. “But it was a good crunch because we were all so happy. Everyone was so happy that, ‘Wow, we’re going to finish this game and ship it.’”

That’s not to say the crunch didn’t take its toll. Spilkin says that at this time, his then-wife was pregnant with their first daughter. She’d drive up to the San Diego studio so they could spend time with each other. “[She] would come up and have dinner with me,” he says. “Drive up and have dinner, then drive back home again. So I’d see her for dinner and that’s about it.”

“I think all game development has had that element,” King says about the crunch, adding that a core group of developers had to work late and on weekends. “But from our perspective, you’re part of a public company, and every three months you’ve got to release product. [...] And we were very proud, at that point, of hitting our ship dates. And are you exhausted by the end? Hell yeah.”

According to developers we talked to for this story, this crunch was in part an effort to get the game out of the way. Rockstar’s headquarters wasn’t simply interested in having Red Dead Revolver under its belt, they say; the publisher was excited about what it could do next, how it could bring its open-world pedigree to the Wild West setting.

After about five years of development, Rockstar shipped Red Dead Revolver on May 4, 2004, for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. A lot of the team was just happy the game saw the light of day.

“I think we were all really proud of it,” Spilkin says. “Any game you ship, there’s always things you leave on the cutting floor that you wish you could’ve done or wish you could’ve added or changed. If we’d started differently, we maybe could’ve made a better game. But we’re all proud of the game we made.”

“It’d been on the chopping block so many different times, it was kind of a big achievement to see that thing through,” Bader says.

For the wider Rockstar organization, King says he remembers some being frustrated that Red Dead Revolver wasn’t getting higher review scores, as well as disappointment from Rockstar’s fan base that the game wasn’t open-world. But that doesn’t matter much to him. The team did its best with what it had, he says. And besides, he’s still really proud of the game.

“I was super stoked,’ he says. “Every now and then, I bump into somebody that’s like, ‘That is my favorite game.’ And I’m like, ‘Right on, man! You’re all right.’”

With Revolver now behind it, Rockstar began looking to the future of the Red Dead series, to something a lot bigger.

illustration of cowboy standing at entrance to Old West town
With Revolver behind it, Rockstar moved on and made the game that went on to define all Western video games.
Kathrine Anderson

The big one, and the next big one

Diego Angel finally left his studio in 2005, after 20 years as its head. As he puts it, he got what he wanted. “I had a wonderful life those 20 years. It came out of nowhere,” he says. “I remember people used to ask me, ‘Diego, you put this together. You got it going; you grew it to this point and everything. What was your business plan?’ I never had a business plan. They say, ‘But what was your vision?’ I say, ‘No. It’s just: Be alert, know what’s going on and know when to get in.’”

After leaving Rockstar San Diego, Angel moved back to his hometown in Colombia, where he went on to work with the country’s government to try to set up game development opportunities and give talks about business. However, in recent years, the former has been a challenge for the entrepreneur.

“My reading was that a lot of the games, a lot of the innovation, 3D, was going to Asia,” he says. “I figured it out in Colombia, to position themselves to get some of that cash. But it didn’t work out.”

As for what he’s up to now? “Very little, because there’s no [help] here from the government,” he says.

Rockstar San Diego went on to develop a sequel to Revolver: Red Dead Redemption. Redemption ended up being the open-world Western game that, developers say, Sam Houser wanted to make — part of the reason Rockstar bought the rights to Revolver in the first place.

“I remember Sam loved The Wild Bunch, and certainly that was a huge influence on Redemption,” says Spilkin. “I think when he saw Red Dead Revolver, he kind of imagined what he wanted the game to be eventually, and decided that that was a path to do that.”

Redemption was released on May 18, 2010, to resounding critical praise and has, as of February 2017, sold more than 15 million copies. Many consider Redemption to be one of the greatest games of all time.

Developers we talked to from Angel and Rockstar consider Redemption and Revolver to be defining games in their respective careers. And they’re interested to see what’s next.

Okamoto, meanwhile, blames himself for the Red Dead series not being part of Capcom’s library. After seeing the success of Redemption, which he says he hasn’t played, he thinks Capcom probably regrets dropping the game.

“Since this is a project where I pulled out partway through, I do think I am kind of to blame for what happened,” he says.

Six years after Redemption’s debut, Rockstar announced a new entry called Red Dead Redemption 2, which is set for an Oct. 26, 2018, release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It’s a game announcement that takes Angel by surprise, when he asks during our interview if the series is still going on.

“Ah, fuck,” he says.

“That’ll be great,” he adds. “Those guys are good.

“They’re Rockstars.”