The Grand Theft Auto franchise offers been a phenomenal success since it was first launched exactly 25 years ago, making billions of dollars for its American owner Take-Two Interactive.
So it may come as a surprise to learn that the creators, Dundee-based DMA Design, were far from confident about GTA’s prospects as they struggled with creative and technical problems during its development in the 1990s.
Colin Macdonald, who joined DMA a few months before the particular launch associated with the action-adventure video game in 1997, explains: “In mid-development, there was an informal staff survey on which of the seven titles they were working on would be the most successful plus least successful.
“The one voted most likely not to succeed was Great Theft Car.
“That’s because, mid-development, the direction of the game wasn’t clear. It was also quite buggy – you couldn’t play it for more than a couple of minutes without it crashing, so certainly at grassroots level there wasn’t the lot associated with confidence within it. ”
Colin, who was to become the maker of GTA 2 and later Channel 4’s 1st games commissioning editor, says the atmosphere at DMA was “quite relaxed” by the time he joined.
“GTA went through a lot of different iterations and was quite a troubled development, and wasn’t really regarded well for most of the particular time it was in production.
“By the time I became a member of it has been pretty much done and the team was actually quite happy because they had kind of got shot of it.
“They were looking forward to sitting back, planning a sequel properly, redoing the things that these people weren’t delighted with, and just looking forward to getting stuck into iterating on it and seeing where else they could take it. inch
GTA facts and figures
GTA had been launched on 28 November 1997 after three-and-and-a half years in development
According to business news provider Marketwatch , GTA 5 alone sold 90 million units between 2013 and 2017
During that period, this brought in $6bn – far above the success associated with blockbuster movies like Star Wars or Gone With The Wind
In February, Rockstar Online games said for the first time that Grand Theft Auto 6 was “in active development”, although no further details were given
Fans of GTA may also be surprised to understand that the particular franchise really stemmed from a technology experiment — with a dinosaur as its central character.
Colin explains: “One of the original founding programmers at DMA, Mike Dailly, was basically doing a tech experiment as a way of showing how buildings could look in 3D through top down with the little bit of perspective.
“So he basically came up with a dinosaur sport. You experienced this city that moved around inside some form of 3D, but you were a dinosaur roaming around and destroying the structures. That was what Grand Robbery Auto started as.
“He then added in little cars driving close to, just to bring the town to life.
“Someone got the bright idea to see what it would be like driving one of the vehicles rather than controlling the dinosaur and suddenly it changed into a car game, rather than a dinosaur game.
“It has been called Race ‘n’ Chase for the good while. And then someone realised, ‘oh, actually we’ll try letting the player get out associated with the car plus run about and jump in and out of other cars’.
“It has been really only at that point it morphed in to Grand Fraud Auto. inches
Overhauling the original idea brought its own problems, according to Colin.
“When you are changing a game so fundamentally like that will, all sorts of issues get introduced.
“You have developed code that is no longer performing what it was originally intended in order to do. So there’s all sorts associated with problems : the game gets very buggy and crashes a lot, and the team are feeling like the particular whole process is completely changing and they are not doing exactly what they initially set out to do.
“But in fact, this process of evolving and iterating is what made it feel so dynamic.
“So although it was a very frustrating procedure for the team, this meant these people could see what really worked, iterate on it and give the particular game a new direction.
“They also acquired time to polish this, so they began doing things like adding skid marks and shadows and nice sound effects as well as the radio stations – all of those things that really introduced the world to life. ”
Colin says that although GTA only came together within its final six months of advancement, there were signs that it can connect with a wide audience.
“The team were playing it in their own lunchtimes, which will be always the rare thing.
“After you spend a couple of years developing something, you might be usually sick in order to the back again teeth of seeing it – the last thing you want to do is observe it again in your spare time. inch
Colin says the sequel he produced involved making technical changes to make the video game more “structurally sound” plus moving the game from being set in the contemporary world.
“We wanted to make it really feel a little bit more futuristic. That gave us more creative licence with the vehicles, using the weapons, with all the types of environments you would see.
“In hindsight, that will probably hasn’t resonated along with audiences as well while the modern vehicles and cities. Most of the Grand Thievery Auto games have gone back in order to being set more or less in the present day. inches
Colin adds that despite the franchise’s birth pangs, there had been a sense within the initial team that they were on to some thing.
“We knew we had something special — the fact that the particular team were playing this within their personal time is a really strong indicator of that – but there are countless games that will come out every year that are creatively and technically brilliant yet just don’t sell particularly well, with regard to whatever reason.
“Most people don’t hear about them – they are not quite capturing the zeitgeist of the moment : and Grand Theft Car could easily have been another one of those.
“It’s been quite a surprise to see it still perform so well a quarter associated with a century later. ”
* You can learn more regarding Rockstar Games’ and GTA’s history simply by listening to BBC 5 Live podcast Bugzy Malone’s Grandest Game here .