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Former Rockstar cutscene director working on '1979: The Game,' about Iran Revolution


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You may not know Navid Khonsari by name, but you've undoubtedly seen his work. Credited as a writer and director (and voice actor) for Rockstar between 2001–2005, Khonsari would "establish and pioneer the cinematic feel" introduced in Grand Theft Auto 3's cutscenes and evolved throughout the studio's storied run. Most recently, Khonsari directed the cutscenes in Alan Wake for Remedy, which he had worked with on the first two Max Payne titles.

After leaving Rockstar, the jack of all trades established Ink Stories, a multimedia production company, which he runs with his wife in New York City. Ink Stories is working on at least one "in-house" video game, Motor City, according to its website, but in a recent interview with RT (formerly Russia Today), Khonsari discussed another project: 1979: The Game.

Said to be based on the events of the Iran Revolution, and focusing on the takeover of the American Embassy, Khonsari outlined a game based on different perspectives. "We're primarily looking at about 8 to 10 different roles," he told RT about the number of characters the player might assume. "Initially, you'll start the game off as Iranian -- but American-born US State Department translator -- who's coming in with the objective of trying to free the US hostages."

"I'm using truths that exist in history, so the initial alliance of the US with Saddam Hussein is one thing that we look in -- maybe you come in through the border between Iran and Iraq; or maybe you use the US alliance with the Taliban at that time (who were fighting the Russians)," Khonsari described of the open-ended, but perhaps controversial nature of 1979: The Game.

"One of the main objectives here was to start some kind of social dialog amongst people who are gonna play it -- not just in the West, but around the world," Khonsari continued. "Things aren't so black and white when you are able to understand the side of the victim, as well as the side of the aggressor." (This is starting to sound a bit like Jaffe's fabled Heartland, no?)

"It's not a matter of bad guys going after good guys, or good guys going after bad guys," he emphasized, alluding to a variety of characters with different motives in the game "whether they're Iranian, American, pro-democracy, pro-theocracy; whether they just want to make money on the side by sneaking in alcohol; or whether they want to make sure everyone wants to follow the religious rules of Islam."

"These are all different stories, and to be able to actually convey that and let people interact as those players," Khonsari said, "I thought would just open up this entire genre of gaming" -- not that he would say exactly which genre 1979: The Game belongs to, or, really, anything too concrete about its development.

You can look for more clues in RT's video interview below:

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