News Article

There Was Very Nearly a World without Grand Theft Auto in It

Posted by Sammy Barker

Like nailing jelly to kittens

While we’re all chomping at the metaphorical bit to play Grand Theft Auto V, ex-DMA Design (now Rockstar North, of course) employees have revealed that the original PSone game almost didn’t make it to market. Chatting with The Guardian, producer and creative director Gary Penn explained that the project was a mess for much of its four-and-a-half year development cycle – and was close to being cancelled on multiple occasions.

“The writers were driving at one way. The level designers were driving at another way. They weren't meeting in the middle,” he recalled. “So you ended up with something that read badly, that made no sense, and it kept breaking.”

He continued: “We'd have conference calls at least once a week with the US. They wanted to kill it every week. Every week they wanted to kill this game, and we'd have to argue to try and keep it going, because we had some faith. Anarchic almost makes it sound sexier than it really ought to be. It was just messy.”

Penn now works as an internal development manager at Denki, but remembers fondly the struggles that the title faced prior to release. “It was like trying to nail jelly to kittens. Eventually there were enough hands to hold this thing together, but please nobody move, because this thing is going to fall apart,” he said. “That's what it felt like right at the end. It was like, we've just got to put this out now because if we don't it's just going to break again and we've lost it forever."

You can check out The Guardian’s full video feature through here. In addition to the problems that plagued the original, it also delves into the controversy surrounding the series’ trademark violence, as well as the franchise’s famous transition to the third-dimension.


User Comments (9)



Stuffgamer1 said:

With everyone looking forward to this game, I'm sure my opinion will be unpopular,, I wish that world had come to pass. Not only because I don't like GTA in particular (although that is true), but because it was the #1 cause of the open-world explosion, a game design choice I'm less than thrilled to see become more and more NORMAL nowadays. Sure, somebody else probably would've figured it out sooner or later...but we don't know for sure. All we DO know is that GTA was a prime factor in the real world, and I for one do not appreciate that. :/



Ginkgo said:

@Stuffgamer1 Personally, open world titles are my favorite genre. I have waited many years for them to get as good as they are now, which is still so much less than what I long for them to become. To feel like a living character in another world is amazing. GTA is not my favorite series, but I am looking forward to the title.

But the world is a diverse place, both in people and opinions, and luckily for both of us, there are many and varied games that cater to us all.



get2sammyb said:

I'm also an enormous fan of open world games. I love a nice carefully constructed linear experience, too, but there's a real joy to being given freedom around a massive world filled with interesting things to do.

Of course, not every developer gets the luxury that Rockstar is afforded, which is why so few developers are able to pull off truly great open world games.



Stuffgamer1 said:

Okay, here's the thing: For a completionist such as myself, open-world equals tedium, 100% of the time. Repetitive, boring tasks thrown all over the map bogging down the overall experience. That's not to say I've never enjoyed some open-world games...I really like InFamous, and I've had some good times with Assassin's Creed on occasion. Heck, I even liked Bully, though I never finished it. But there are variables, of course. Take Saboteur, for example. There are SO DAMN MANY things to blow up in that game. It gets EXTREMELY old, thanks in no small part to your limited dynamite carrying capacity.

The thing is that anytime a game mechanic which can so easily be done so poorly gets popular, the flood of games using it are BOUND to do it wrong more often than not. Then even otherwise linear games decide it's a good idea to have a sprawling hub world (Sonic games have suffered from this for years). And now it seems that open worlds are practically the NORM for next-gen...I just think that's going too far.

To be clear, I do think it's about balance. Linearity to the degree of the majority of FFXIII is overkill, obviously. And like I said, I do like some open-world games. But think of it as the comparison between the first two AC titles in terms of collectibles. The first one was straight-up asinine, and 2 took great strides to fix the problem. Heck, InFamous 2 fixed the biggest complaint with 1 by adding that blast shard ping power. So yes, the genre is improving, but even so if EVERY game is like that, it's going to get old fast.



grenworthshero said:

I don't particularly like GTA, but I love it for the strides it's made in video games. I used to be a completionist, but then there are so many good games these days I had to change my style of playing.

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