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 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…


Feb 1, 2011

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David Meikleham
Google AMP Stories Editor

David has worked for Future under many guises, including for GamesRadar+ and the Official Xbox Magazine. He is currently the Google Stories Editor for GamesRadar and PC Gamer, which sees him making daily video Stories content for both websites. David also regularly writes features, guides, and reviews for both brands too.