Rockstar Reveals All in Massive GTA V Q&A
We’ve had the game’s features revealed to us on a silver platter, we’ve had the trailer given to us only a few days ago, and now Rockstar reveal all to the fans in their latest question and answers session about Grand Theft Auto V. Rockstar’s Dan Houser sat down with IGN to discuss and reveal all about the game.
Why new characters?
If we were in a situation where we were still making games about Claude or Tommy Vercetti in the same exact worlds where we just updated the map and hadn’t re-imagined large chunks of the game every time, we’d be incredibly bored…
It’s not that we didn’t love Niko; it’s just that we felt like after doing such a one-man odyssey type of game, to do something totally different would freshen everything up and keep it interesting.
Are the drastic changes in GTA V a response to GTA IV?
I don’t think we were necessarily addressing any criticisms from IV. We just wanted to make a different game from IV. IV was great.
How’d the “switch” gameplay come to be?
Once we started playing around with having these three intersecting stories and these three characters, someone on the design team said, “We could have them on the same missions and cut between them.” Brilliant. That takes away all the boring bits from the missions. All the bits that feel transitional or slightly ridiculous, in that if you’re the protagonist and I’m your NPC, I can be the best driver in the world, but you’re still driving the car. I’m a great gunman, but I hurt my wrist and you have to do the shooting. We have to make sure the player has all the fun. It’s not fun being driven. It’s the most simple and obvious way around that, but you have to figure it out and get the stories working for it to make any sense and have any weight…
The characters are all there and you join them for a bit and see what they do. Then you cut to someone else. That’s going to feel amazing, unlike anything anyone’s seen before.
So every mission involves these three criminals?
Not every mission has you switching. Some are like evolutions on old-style GTA missions. Some have two characters. Some have all three characters in them. We were very keen not to even think about making a game where you pick your protagonist and play through the same game three ways. That’s not what we were about.
Why a single-player story with multiple characters? Why no multiplayer co-op?
It would be impossible to do that and keep the level of precision we’ve got in this. You could make a great co-op game, but we felt that we’re doing other bits of our multiplayer that will fulfill those desires in ways we think are very fun.
So what’s GTA V’s multiplayer going to be like?
I believe this one will be the best we’ve delivered yet, the most comprehensive package and the best set of things you can do and ways you can organize and try to make it compelling…
We think there’s something very compelling about open world multiplayer. We believe this is the game with which we will finally convince other people of that, a large number of other people. We just need to get closer before we’re quite ready to show it.
GTA IV had players making story-based decisions that drastically changed the game; will GTA V?
We don’t have the same choices as we had with Niko, for one very simple structural reason. Just keeping track of three stories as opposed to one story means it’s harder to introduce a variable. You put a variable in a certain place and it just made our minds spin. You’ve got a lot of choices to missions. You have choices as to how you do things, that’s a big focus of what you’re doing. But the thing is, Niko is really an assassin. He gets told to go kill you; he can kill you or doesn’t kill you. That gives an easy way to kick that back in later. With these guys, who are focused much more on money and robbery… They can do the robberies in different kinds of ways and have a lot of choice over the things they do, but it was hard to implement all these loose ends that fundamentally affected things after. It would be impossible to track them all.
Money’s role in GTA V:
Money is used as a plot device, and also to help you to get things, and also lots of stuff… One of the criticisms that I thought was valid in GTA IV was we didn’t give you enough stuff to spend money on, given all the ways you could raise it. We want a lot of toys you can engage with at all points in the story. Using it in all different ways. Having a more vibrant economy and a sense that the reason these people are doing this stuff, at least on some level, is financially driven.
Why aren’t Kinect and PlayStation Move in GTA V?
One of the things we’re doing now, just to talk about mini-games, is making sure when you go into the mini-games and when you come out of them it feels very seamless. It feels like part of the whole experience. If you were suddenly go, “This bit’s Move, that bit’s not, this bit’s Kinect, that bit’s not,” it would feel very disjointed to us. That would be detrimental to the overall experience in exchange for a bullet point on the back of the box. That’s not very appealing to us.
GTA V is only confirmed for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Why not the PC, Wii U and so on?
Everything else is up for consideration. That’s all I can give you. The main thing is we are not… we are a third-party publisher. We’re not Nintendo, we’re not Sony, we’re not Microsoft. We love all of them in different ways. But we can do what we want wherever there’s the appropriate business opportunity and chance to find a market. If that’s on Apple we put something on Apple. Wherever it might be. I think that’s the fun in what we do. We see ourselves as a content company that uses technology. We don’t make it; we use it to make the most fun stuff.
Why isn’t GTA V a next-gen launch title?
Some other people talk about the limitations of the [current] hardware. We don’t feel there are that many limitations. We feel we can do some very impressive stuff and do it for a large audience. This felt like the way… There’ll be a much larger audience on PS3 than there will be on PS4. At a creative level, which is the most important for us, we could say everything we wanted to say and do everything we wanted to do on these machines. We didn’t sit there saying, “We’d like to do this in the game, but we can’t.” There’s plenty of power in these machines.
Does Rockstar have a future in iOS development outside of ports?
I don’t think we’ll be switching our core development over to those any time soon. We love console games, and we think the format is perfect for what we’re doing. I would still rather be entertained on my couch than on the bus.
Now that you have a three-character narrative, would you ever go back to a single protagonist?
I don’t think this is something that we have to do in the future. I don’t think it’s the only interesting thing to do. It’s something that we may well revisit, may well do with more characters or less characters, but I still think that there’s a place for a single-character game. That may be a future GTA game. It may be a future game with another IP or not.
What’s GTA V to GTA III?
Does it feel like the same game? It feels like the great-great-great-grandson of the same game. It feels like we did do a lot of work each time to evolve it on…
This is the first GTA with a musical score. Why?
We saw it in both Red Dead [Redemption] and Max [Payne 3]. When you put scores into missions, it brought them to life. It was doing a lot of work that nothing was doing in GTA. It adds something. We felt that as long as we kept the radios there as well, we wouldn’t necessarily lose anything.
On why San Andreas’ body building mechanic isn’t in GTA V:
It’s a really cool feature, and we just haven’t really used it since. We’d love to use it in a future game. It works really well in a California-set game. It just looked like, if the three characters were going to be something that was worth having, then that was something it would be worth not having.
On the GTA V Map:
This world — the range of height and between north and south and east and west — is huge, and it’s a real strength. It felt California. Oceans are there and tall hills are there. We wanted those in the game. For us, this kind of world, that was a big properly-realized L.A. and a huge slab of regionally appropriate countryside, felt like the most interesting match to do something new with. Doing other cities just didn’t seem appealing. Doing small towns is very appealing. There’s a bunch of small towns and villages and whatnot in there to discover and play around in. Doing other cities, though, felt like it was going to create problems we didn’t need. It wasn’t going to add to the experience. Of course you could do a game with a bunch of cities now that could be pretty interesting, but we didn’t think that was going to be this game. This map is going to be spectacular to people when they start exploring and playing around with it.
Dan Houser on Jacked: The Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto:
My understanding of it was that it had a rather odd angle on things, but I don’t really know how because I didn’t read it. Hopefully someone at some point will write a book that’s more accurate. We’ll see.
Ricky Gervais and Katt Williams were in GTA IV, will we see something like that in GTA V?
Not quite sure if we are going to be doing the comedy stuff or not. We’re planning something like that, though, hopefully. We’re not quite… Again, with that, we only use celebrities if there’s a reason to have those celebrities.
Will we see characters from GTA IV show up in GTA V?
Packie’s not in it. There may be the odd… They tend to be very small. The problem is that… You touched on this earlier. Because of a lot of the choices… We’ve never had a game where we’ve annihilated so much of the cast. I loved Roman, but he may or may not be dead depending on what choices you made. It would be difficult to bring him back.
So many of them were killed that we didn’t really have a large amount of the main cast left over. There may or may not be a few guest appearances. Some really subtle ones for people to find. Little Easter eggs for people.
Why Heists Matter:
We wanted it to feel like GTA, but fresh. We offer you a good range of experiences. If you bought the complete edition, if you bought GTAIV and the episodes, you played as this immigrant assassin. You played as a biker in a gang that’s crumbling apart. You played as a bodyguard for a lunatic trying to live the high life. We gave you quite a range of experiences. Part of the problem, when we sat down and started work on this properly, was that we needed to find something different from those. Those cover quite a range of stuff. None of them were specialist thieves, and so that was a different angle to go with. It felt good story-wise. It felt good gameplay-wise. We wanted to have a couple of really strong bank robberies. It felt strong for that. It felt like that was a good device that we’d never used in the past. Repeating ourselves is a fear when we’re doing games where part of the evolution is just technological.
To cut a long story short, we always felt like we had great feedback from these bank robberies when we hadn’t really done them justice. In this game… We’ll talk more about heists later on. But we wanted that to feel like robbery, but like a great thing… We wanted the act of robbery to be more fun.
You can read the interview from IGN here. We’ll have more GTA V news as it comes out, keep your eyes peeled!