Grand Theft Auto. I usually do case studies on GTA IV, the masterpiece, and my all-time favourite game from 2008. But this year, with the PS4 in full swing and PBR/ sculpts making up the majority of Triple A titles, I think it’s time to move on. Not entirely, I still in 2015 believe it to be the most immersive game environment I’ve ever played in, but I will not delve incredibly deep. We will, however, delve incredibly deep into the newest iteration of the franchise: Grand Theft Auto V.
Los Santos, the setting of GTA V, is a fictional rendition of Los Angeles and the surrounding countryside is an incredible place to get lost in.
The game world is incredible, but due to the size constraints and the amount they wanted to include, the world feels cramped and disproportionate. The ‘desert’ region is geographically the same size as a town, whereas it should be 5 times bigger, not small enough to see both ends from the middle. This makes the entire northern, rural part of the map feel smaller than it really is. The small towns are barely 2 roads wide, which adds to the scale problem. The overall map feels the right size, but there are too many elements trying to work synchronously, which ends up creating a feeling that none of them work particularly well. All being located on one island doesn’t help, as the city and desert are only a 5 minute drive apart. The world feels too well connected, and while this may seem backwards, the appeal of small framing towns and deserts is that they are unconnected and vast.
The city is definitely geographically larger than GTA IV, but my project is going to be nowhere near that scale. For this case study, I’m going to look at small elements that make the game seem immersive and realistic. The one element I liked most in GTA was the subtle set dressing. Each corner of every building seems meticulously planned and adapted to make it seem the most realistic portrayal of a fictional state.
Here are some annotated screenshots I have created with screenshots taken in game, by myself.
This image shows an abandoned house between the city and the desert. The location is in the foot of a mountain, surrounded by empty space. The style and textures make the house seem well placed and suiting of the location, a Rockstar speciality.
Both images above are in the area called Sandy Shores, a poor area of the map filled with stereotypical rednecks and buildings to suit their needs.
Above are the more natural screenshots, the colours throughout the changing times indicates a different mood, but all seem to convey a calm, undisturbed and beautiful land. The bridge is small and low, fitting for the small bumps and hills of mountainous lowlands.
The above images are essential for my own learning. The world is saturated in media, advertising, brands and business. This is a pivotal element in creating an immersive environment. Brands add a history, characters and people to a world, and helps to explain a lot of the set dressing and sub-plots. It adds life to all of the small intricacies of the world.
I’ll undoubtedly have to create some brands and advertising myself to place on billboards/ train freight/ posters etc, and I will use real life brands as inspiration. As I don’t really have a background in graphic or logo design, i’ll parody well known brands.