GTA almost never happened because it "crashed all the f*cking time"

Just ponder for a second, if you will, a world of games without that quaint little series Grand Theft Auto. No slaughtering innocent OAPs in drive-bys. A huge vacuum in that whole ‘beating digital prostitutes with baseball bats’ genre. Worse still, a world without OG Loc. Can you imagine such a dark, open world-free existence? Well, this terrifying alternate reality almost came to pass, during the first GTA’s troubled development.

During an interview for a book charting the history of the games industry, Gary Penn (who was part of developer DMA when it made the first GTA) said: “It was a real mess for years, it never moved on, it never went anywhere.”

Above: We've come a long 'really sociopathic' way, baby

The game’s rocky development period really centred around a couple of major problems with the top down fellony ‘em up. “There are probably two key things it fell down on,” continued Penn. “One of them is stability, which is a really boring one but it crashed all the fucking time. The other thing that was a problem was the handling -- the car handling was appalling.”

These problems were apparently so crippling, publisher BMG Interactive almost scrapped the whole project.  According to Penn: “It was almost canned. The publisher wanted to can it, as it didn't seem to be going anywhere.”

In a weird quirk of fate, it was actually a bug which went on to rescue the game’s make-believe bacon. Penn stated: “One day, I think it was a bug, the police suddenly became mental and aggressive. Their route finding was screwed I think and that was an awesome moment because suddenly the real drama where, 'Oh my God, the police are psycho -- they're trying to ram me off the road.'"

So there you go, kids. A series that, to date, has sold north of 122 million copies to become one of the biggest entertainment franchises <shudder> on the planet, was saved by a wonky AI routine.
So when to go to sleep tonight, make sure to give thanks to the ghost of Ricardo Diaz. Because if GTA had never hit the big time… well, we’d have never been given this… 

Source: CvG via Gamasutra 

Feb 1, 2011

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  • TheUsernameYouSelectedIsAvailable - February 2, 2011 9:49 a.m.

    Ahhh GTA 1, good times... I cant remember if there was a story though... just that I played A LOT of it, but in a very free roaming way. I think the AI bug they were talking about was the cops went mental and attacked ferociously, they were probably supposed to be more restrained and try act like real police would. As opposed to police from the 3rd world.
  • Trg564 - February 2, 2011 5:48 a.m.

    I remember playing GTA when I was 5. I don't even think I actually did anything other than get shot or run over. Was the game actually any good?
  • JenosIdanian - February 2, 2011 12:04 a.m.

    Cool. Another addition to the list of "Mistakes that Worked" along with Coca-Cola, Tollhouse Cookies, Potato chips, and VELCRO.
  • xumaximus - February 1, 2011 10:09 p.m.

    Hahahaha.....OG LOC...good times goooood times!
  • CH3BURASHKA - February 1, 2011 7:27 p.m.

    Not that surprising, really. The biggest things usually start out as flukes or accidents. In an alternate universe, GTA doesn't exist, but the project they were working on alongside it was finished, and has spawned a multibillion-dollar franchise.
  • GwaR - February 1, 2011 5:53 p.m.

    @garnsr - The first two didn't sell really highly, but sold well enough that they were actually able to release the third one, which is when they changed everything and really became a household name. Had they not been able to release the first one, then they never would've gotten to the third one in the first place. Additionally, I don't think anyone gives them enough credit for the first two GTAs. They were ground breaking games, they just weren't as ground breaking as GTA 3. Here's hoping that GTA 5 comes soon!
  • garnsr - February 1, 2011 4:25 p.m.

    I'm not sure that not having the first two GTA's would necessarily have kept the 3D ones from coming along (with lower numbers, of course.) What sort of sales did they have with the top-down ones, anyway?
  • Defguru7777 - February 1, 2011 3:45 p.m.

    Leave it to GamesRadar to put Stubbs' stub in another article. :(
  • Japanaman - February 1, 2011 1:50 p.m.

    Forget the cops! How did they get the cars driving so well and not get the game to crash.
  • NinjaPopsicle - February 1, 2011 12:29 p.m.

    I don't quite understand. How exactly did that bug save the game? Were the police never meant to try and take you out?
  • Baron164 - February 1, 2011 12:20 p.m.

    I loved the original top down GTA games, GTA 2 especially. I still wish they'd remake GTA 2 into a 3D GTA game. But with the more serious story telling they are going down it probably won't happen. Maybe Volition can take a break from Saints Row and do it :-)

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