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Original GTA Design Docs, Dated March 22nd 1995 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the there-will-be-no-floppy-version dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Mike Dailly, part of the original GTA team at DMA Design, just posted scans of the original design documents for Grand Theft Auto, which were recently unearthed. It makes for interesting reading!" After following the link, hit the "Newer" button to scroll through the "Race'n'Chase" documents in order. It's interesting to see what concepts they felt the need to state explicitly back then. "If a player-controlled car has a serious crash, it will blow up after a short time. Hence, the player must get out of the car and find another one."
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Original GTA Design Docs, Dated March 22nd 1995

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  • ...from them wikileaks cables?
  • by grizzifus (2021406) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @06:51AM (#35584202)
    GOURANGA! :)
  • Seems a bit pointless to document what they have there.

    It's a *very* rough outline of a game, almost like saying "It's going to be like Game X but possibly better!". The only details are things like the pixel-size of a block and the map size in blocks which seem a bit odd to document that early - surely something you'd leave until later when you know how the engine reacts.

    It looks like they already knew what they were working towards and this was just a formal document that doesn't lock down very much or a

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Although there are a few "surprises" like they envisaged a school crossing with children on it (yeah, that would go down well when you can run them all over)

      Why would this be a "surprise"? It's in the game. Anyone who's played the original GTA doubtless has fond memories of GOURANGA!, which is to say, running over an entire line of schoolchildren out on a field trip. You get a hefty point bonus for it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Flibberdy (780254)

        Why would this be a "surprise"? It's in the game. Anyone who's played the original GTA doubtless has fond memories of GOURANGA!, which is to say, running over an entire line of schoolchildren out on a field trip. You get a hefty point bonus for it.

        I think you'll find that the Gouranga bonus was for driving over a line of Hare Krishnas.. hence the word "Gouranga", which is a popular Hare Krishna chant

    • by Anrego (830717) *

      Guess it depends on approach.

      I actually find when building a spec for something complex (and that's really what this is, a spec, not a design) it is sometimes helpful to write out the obvious stuff. I'll do this in meetings as well sometimes... put the basic things we all know on the whiteboard. It seems to have a centering effect. People can go off tangants, and having a "this is the basics of what we're trying to do" document can serve to bring people down to reality and help determine if ideas fit the ov

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      it's the kind of document you make up to get funding and then never show to anyone.

      and the references to actual sizes and such, it sounds like it was written after coding the initial engine. and really the game is such that it was probably just written straight, the most important thing being the graphics engine which actually was pretty neat and supported vesa2.0 modes and probably used some tricks to make it fast, too.

      what sucks about gta1 and all gta's after that is that the action is focused only around

    • by guruevi (827432)

      What strikes me is that even though it's a very rough project proposal that even then they were already looking for optimizations to get more done in less space as well as specify a game editor.

      "Rotation can be done in software, this means we only have to store 3 frames per car (for the up/down rotation)", "Store 2 byte pointer for each block (landscape) instead of 5 faces & type", "The whole level should fit in memory (which comes out to be 1MB)".

      These days they create a bunch of unnecessary graphics a

    • ... having a 2D-SimCity-like view for slow computers, none of that really comes to fruition and was obviously rejected almost immediately after this document was written.

      You're forgetting the Gameboy version.

  • by CyberK (1191465) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @06:57AM (#35584222)
    I'm disappointed that the words "Murder Simulator" aren't in there anywhere.
  • by SendBot (29932) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @07:14AM (#35584286) Homepage Journal

    I've never found a quick way to download flickr sets. Closest I've come are old apps that have had api access blocked off. It's such a hassle to manually pick the high-res images and download them all to the same folder. Short of writing my own program to do it, does anyone have a good way to get all these images?

  • rockPaperShotgun (Score:4, Informative)

    by bguiz (1627491) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @07:41AM (#35584448)
    I think this link is worth appending to the submission:

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/03/22/dailly-news-gtas-original-design-document/ [rockpapershotgun.com]

    (it is also linked in the comments of the currently linked article)

  • Imagine what GTA IV Docs would look like now with all the interactions possible in the game... It's amazing to see how much the complexity of the game evolved.
  • Original article instead of some idiot's shitty photo blog: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/03/22/dailly-news-gtas-original-design-document/ [rockpapershotgun.com]

  • From comments of original article:

    kregg says:
    March 22, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Just for those who don’t like or have trouble browsing through the images, I’ve made a PDF Version [dropbox.com] of the high-resolution image documents for convenience. All pages are in the right order.

    Also, I don’t own any rights to these images, these still are of Copyright to Mike Dailly, I’ve just put the images together in a PDF format for easy reading.

  • From his website! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @08:44AM (#35584876)

    http://www.javalemmings.com/miked/programming.htm

    links to GTA and Lemmings docs...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Actualy it includes the prototype code...Pascall..

      to make it run download dosbox and mount the folder...

      3D graphics in 94!

      • http://www.javalemmings.com/miked/programming.htm

        links to GTA and Lemmings docs...

        Actualy it includes the prototype code...Pascall..

        to make it run download dosbox and mount the folder...

        3D graphics in 94!

        Was going to post this myself. Hopefully someone will mod-up P and GP.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      Any idea how to get those prototypes running on a modern Windows computer?
      Vista basically says it's not an x86 executable.

  • by snap2grid (630315) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @09:17AM (#35585212) Homepage
    I guess it's predicable that some people are focused on the whole "murder simulator" thing, which can't seemingly be separated from GTA. Since I was at DMA at the time (I'm mentioned in the first paragraph on pg 4), I can tell you that nothing like that was in our minds. What no-one seems to get - or remember - is that GTA was in large part a pisstake. We deliberately made the graphics bright and garish. We deliberately added humour. We didn't take it too seriously. If anyone still has the paper map that came with it (you didn't all pirate it surely?) just take a look at the adverts around the side. (I'm paraphrasing but... "Enjoy a meal while our technicians accelerate particles to the speed of light." - An advert for a combined cafe and particle accelerator!) GTA was a cartoon.
    • by Goldsmith (561202)

      I loved the first two GTAs (the top down, sprite graphics, cartoonish feel). The humor in those games was definitely noticeable. I have a copy (not pirated) around here somewhere. By far, the absolute best thing about those games was the multiplayer. My brother and I spent a lot of time doing stupid stuff in those games.

      It was a mistake to go toward more realism and no multiplayer in GTA 3 (or whatever it ended up being called when it rebooted in 3D).

      • I didn't really like GTA 3 but I've got to say the GTA 3 talk radio is probably some of the funniest material I've ever had in a game and it adds a cool feeling to the game.

        • Indeed, early in the game, I'd sometimes just keep cruising to hear the end of a segment rather than actually start a mission. Other driving games make getting to the mission a boring chore, or add an unrealistic quick jump mechanic. Rockstar got it right (not so much in later editions).

    • by kliklik (322798)

      Having played Miami Chase [lemonamiga.com] on Amiga before GTA on PC I always thought that it was greatly influenced by it to say the least. Were you guys even aware of Miami Chase?

      • by snap2grid (630315)
        I can't speak for everyone, but I hadn't heard anyone mention it. I'm pretty sure that the graphics engine (Mike's "Legovision" as we called it) predated any idea as to what we'd use it for.
    • by Raenex (947668)

      I guess it's predicable that some people are focused on the whole "murder simulator" thing, which can't seemingly be separated from GTA. Since I was at DMA at the time (I'm mentioned in the first paragraph on pg 4), I can tell you that nothing like that was in our minds. What no-one seems to get - or remember - is that GTA was in large part a pisstake.

      I never played the first two games, so maybe it isn't true for those, but the first time I played GTA3 I was just in awe of the realistic feel of the city. I remember car surfing just to take in the scenery and layout of the city.

      I also remember the first time I used the sniper, and the perverse pleasure I got from popping somebody's head off from afar while blood spouted of their neck. Yeah, don't call the Feds, you guys know you did it too.

      I remember the first time I drove in the game I actually tried to

      • by Anrego (830717) *

        Can totally relate to this.

        I used to just drive around GTA: Vice City and listen to the various radio stations, that sunset effect that is so annoying when on a mission is actually quite spectacular when just cruising around.

        The earlier versions of GTA (before GTA3) have a kind of nostalgic charm but the immersive quality of the later games is beautiful.

        GTA San Andreas I didn’t really get into, but that was more story than game play. Just couldn’t relate to the gangster thing.

  • 5.4 Players - "... will be playable by multiple players across a network ..."

    Yet somehow this guideline was forgotten in later versions of GTA.

  • It's interesting to see what concepts they felt the need to state explicitly back then. "If a player-controlled car has a serious crash, it will blow up after a short time. Hence, the player must get out of the car and find another one."

    I'm not so sure why this example is especially interesting. Why would you not explicitly state that a player-controlled car would blow up soon after a serious crash, and that the player would have to get out and find another car? This was in a design document, was it not?

    • The funny thing is that I don't recall cars blowing up sometime after a crash in the first GTA. You'd slowly damage the car as you hit things, which was reflected in its look (though that was not reliable, as some car models could be mangled pretty bad while still having decent "health") and engine sound (which was very reliable). Ultimately if the next bump would reduce health to zero, the car exploded there. But if you survived the bump, it wouldn't explode later, and the cars didn't start burning (and th

    • No, these days, the car physics built into the GPU ensures the car explodes in a completely realistic way, based on long running crash test models (even if the Mythbusters never manage it). No programming is required. Programmers had it tough back then, but now it's very easy, so all the big bucks is in coming up with ideas. The programming step can be done by monkeys, and often is with good enough designers like Will Wright.

  • A game concept is a document conveys the idea of the game, a general overview of the game. Generally handed to producers before it is decided before the game gets a green light. A game design document on the other hand details _everything_ in the game, without leaving holes, the design document would have quite a bit more pages than 11.
  • It's interesting to see what concepts they felt the need to state explicitly back then. "If a player-controlled car has a serious crash, it will blow up after a short time. Hence, the player must get out of the car and find another one."

    That's what design documents are for in the first place. Finding an explicit description of how a major part of the game is supposed to work in design documents is roughly as surprising (and interesting) as finding bread being used to make your sandwich.

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