Grand theft Auto V (GTAV) is a really important game for the gaming industry. “Unlike the vast swathe of wondrous entertainment the video game industry produces, this series cannot be safely pigeon-holed or ignored by non-players.” (Keith Stuart, 2013). Rockstar and Take Two Interactive developed GTAV. GTAV is Rockstar’s most ambitious release to date with 11.21 million Units sold within the first 24 Hours. This is one out of many world records GTAV has achieved including the quickest entertainment property to earn 1 Billion dollars from worldwide retail (Chris Thursten, 2013). GTAV was first released on the 7th generation consoles PS3 and Xbox 360 on 17/09/13 (Keza Macdonald, 2013). It was then re-released as a remastered version on PS4 and Xbox One on 18/11/14. The game was lastly released on PC on 14/04/15 (Dan Stapelton, 2015).
GTAV is an Action Adventure Game, FPS and TPS that has both single player and online mode. However, this game covers other areas such as racing and role-playing. (Frédéric Goyon, 2013)
I first played GTAV on PlayStation 3 on release day with the collector’s edition to get the best consumer experience. I have then rebought the game on PlayStation 4 to re-experience the game with new features. I also played IFruit on Ipnone4 which is a companion app created by rockstar to interact with GTAV. Companion Apps are rising in popularity “Companion apps aren’t exactly a new phenomenon in video games, but they’re certainly becoming more and more popular these days. (Mike Rose, 2013)
I played GTAV religiously on both platforms when it first came out. However, my playing habits have changed as I spend fewer hours playing video games. Nevertheless, I have never been a hard-core gamer nor a casual gamer. I am a console gamer that plays video games to relax. I avoid new titles of games franchises that I did not follow from their first release. Identified by (Dan Ackerman, 2010), a game developer takes for granted that their audience played the original game and remembers the plot in its entirety. “This blindness to anything but the uber-fan audience is a disservice to the very mainstream game buyers who keep the entire industry afloat.” (Dan Ackerman, 2010). Indeed, this is the reason I avoid franchises that I am not accustom to. These factors categorises me as a Casual Gamer.
Going by the 2008‐2009 Casual Games White Paper, casual gamers play video games to relax and pass time. They also avoid games that require commitment “There is the perception that casual game players do not play games frequently or only play in short game sessions. Both these behaviours are observed in the casual games audience “ (Juul, J. 2010). Certain Gamers as myself do not fit in a specific category. “While there is the perception that casual game players do not play games frequently or only play in very short game sessions, there is a large group of users who do not fit this stereotype.”(Abdelkader Gouaich, 2010)
Single player is the main way I play GTAV, attempting to achieve gold medals for mission and achieving PSN trophies. Using the four player times by Richard Bartle, I categorize my self as an achiever and an explorer. An achiever is a gamer interested in achievements set by the Game World. An Explorer is a gamer that seeks hidden secrets within the game. “Players try to find out as much as they can about the virtual world.” (Bartle, R. 1996). These theories explain my playing habits as a gamer.
The game world is key in making the game attractive to customers. Experienced players usually detach themselves from the game world, as they prioritise the core mechanics. They may see the Game World as a distraction. However, people not familiar with gameplay mechanics only have environment to explore and interact with (Ernest Adams, 2010)
GTAV is a massive 3D open world game with the biggest map of the series. The map of GTAV is bigger than GTA San Andreas, GTAIV and Red Dead Redemption combine. This really shows the scale of how big and ambitious GTAV truly is. (Joseph Bradford, 2015)
GTAV is sets on in Los Santos, a direct representation of Los Angeles. Rockstar managed to capture the atmosphere of Los Angeles by recreating many areas of Los Angeles in the game world. There are at least 18 other places in Los Santos that have captured some of Los Angeles famous locations. (Fahad Arif, 2014)
The whole map is available from the start to the player with all three protagonists at a different section of the map. Michael has a safehouse in Rockford Hills, which is a posh area of Los Santos. Franklin is located in Strawberry, an area representing the urban section of Los Santos where gangs rivalry rules. Trevor starts the story at Bane County, which is the countryside of Los Santos. These locations give a rich variety of environments for the player to get immersed in. (Tom Hoggins, 2014).
As an open world game, the player sees a cycle of day and night. “By breaking down time within the game — two real-life minutes for every in-game hour,” (Megan Farokhmanesh, 2013). The game world also has weather such as sunny, clear, cloudy, smoggy, overcast, rainy, thundering, clearing, and snowy weather (Prarthito Maity, 2015). The weather and time of the day has an impact on the population of the game such as more prostitute spawns during nighttime and more pedestrians during the day.
GTA IV was known to have a grey atmosphere with a depressive storyline. Rockstar created a vibrant atmosphere for GTAV with an environment richer in color than its predecessor. “If GTA 4’s environment (and narrative) were built to oppress as much as it freed players, then GTA 5 seems to represent the opposite approach.” (Steven Burns, 2013).
In single player, the three protagonists are all customizable to a degree. It is possible to give characters different hairstyles, clothing, and tattoos unique to them. This is as far as customization goes in single player mode; there are no body, voice or facial customizations available. (Edward Smith, 2013)
The online mode on the other hand has an addition of facial customization. An online game does offer more customization than a single player game, as it is a representation of the gamer in the eyes of others. It is a way for the gamer to feel connected with their in-game avatar (Tegan Harris, 2011). However, GTAV does not offer full control over what the avatar looks like. The facial customization system is based on heritage. “For instance, fans will choose their character’s heritage by specifying who their parents were.”(David Stonecipher, 2013) Unfortunately, this is still restrictive to the player, limiting the originality of an avatar makes them likely to look similar. “Everybody comes out looking just slightly wrong, and weirdly similar to one another.”(Keza Macdonald, 2013).
Interface/HUD (Head-up Display)/controls
GTAV has a HUD made of a mini map of Los Santos. The mini map is used as a GPS for the player to navigate around the map. The mini map also contains a health bar, a special ability bar and an armor bar. The current location of the character is also shown. The player also sees their in-game account balance. Changing character opens a menu in the bottom right in witch we see the switchable character with their skill bars. There is also an interactive menu that allows the player to add a quick GPS and access the inventory to change hats or glasses. (David Farrell, 2013). A weapons wheel is available to change weapons (David Stonecipher, 2013). While browsing through the weapons wheel, the in game world will slow down. There is also the option to turn on and off the radar and HUD as well as the GPS route.
When GTAV was first released, the game was only available in third person. However, on the remasterd versions of the game Rockstar added a first person view. The third person perspective is the most practical view to play the game. (Daniel Krupa, 2014). There are three variations of the third person view, with a mid shot, a long shot and an extreme long shot. The player gets to see a lot of the surroundings around the character (Kirk Hamilton, 2013).
The first person view is the most visually pleasing perspective. This view pays attention to the little details and is a great way to show HD texture. However this perspective is not as practical as the third person view because the vision is restricted (Daniel Krupa, 2014).
It also still appears that the FPS in GTAV is not as fluid as an intended FPS such as Call of Duty (Aaron Birch, 2014). The first person view also makes GTAV look a lot more graphic. When using melee weapons such as a machete, the player will feel more touched by the brutality of the action. “You’re not the puppeteer controlling an agent of violence anymore — it’s one step closer to being you. It seems like this is what the developer intended all along.” (Dave Thier, 2014). In vehicles, there is also the addition of a cinematic view where the camera will change positions for interesting visuals. However this mode makes it impractical from a gameplay perspective as the angle of the camera may hide obstacle in the way. All these different perspectives are given to satisfy various different gaming habits. (Daniel Krupa, 2014).
Is there a Help tool?
To create an enjoyable game, the designer needs to put himself in the players place (Scott Rogers, Level Up). To make players pick up the control, GTAV has a prologue section. The tutorial method used in the prologue and throughout the game is called Tutorial by Exposition. Although not the best of help tool, it is a sufficient way of guiding the player. “This includes, but is not limited to, the likes of text explanations prefacing gameplay and the traditional “controls” screen.”(Paul Suddaby, 2012).
The Four Bartle Types will all be satisfied playing GTAV. Ultimately, the main objective in single player is to complete the story mode. The story mode is the most rewarding for the player with the most unlockable items and in-game cash to be gained. This would be the main objective of the achiever. Numerous Easter eggs have been added to the game. Certain Easter eggs require a certain location weather and time of the day to be found. In the Mt. Gordo region in Los Santos, a ghost figure appears at nighttime at the specific time of 23:00 in game. Finding Easter in GTAV is rewarding to the Explorer (Shui Ta, 2013). In GTA Online, the objective is to rank up to gain more money and items to buy. This would be the objective of a Killer aiming to be the best. GTA Online also has apartments vehicles and yacht for players to hang out with no particular objective to satisfy the Socializer (Bartle, R. 1996).
Game rules and the player’s role:
In GTAV, one of the game rules is that the protagonist has fewer penalties than the AI. When the main protagonist gets caught with a headshot, the health bar will lower. In comparison to the AI, a headshot would immediately die. Being wasted in GTAV has less significance, as the character will only be put in hospital and loose a bit of money. These rules apply, as a GTAV character is the center of the world. The termination condition in GTAV can found in mission (Haider Khan, 2013). In property missions, characters sometimes need to deliver merchandise from one side of the city to another. The mission can be terminated by timeout if the player fails to deliver the item in time. In delivery mission, the player can also fail by damaging the merchandise crashing the vehicle. “Level is terminated if the number of a certain sprite is less than or equal to a certain value.”(Ahmed Abdel Samea Khalifa, 2015).
GTAV has various ways of rewarding the player. In single and multiplayer, the player is awarded in-game cash through the completion of missions. The more the player explores the game and completes missions the more money they will get. Doing certain missions will also unlock new clothing for the character. By completing the game, costumes from previous missions will be unlocked (Leon Plisken, 2013). Depending on how well a single player mission is completed, the player will be rewarded a medal in correspondence to the performance. The common reward system goes though bronze, silver to gold. These rewards are based on challenges such as a required amount of accuracy, headshot to be completed and a specific amount of time in which the mission needs to be finished. This adds replay value to the game, as a mission generally needs several attempts before achieving gold (William Schwartz, 2013). GTAV online has a ranking system to reward players by acknowledging their experience. Rankings unlock more weapons, vehicles and customization to reward the player. (Keza Macdonald, 2013).
GTAV has a close; a medium and a long range combat system. The close range combat system is involving melee attacks. Whether it is fist or melee, the mechanics stays the same. Using stealth attacks, it only takes one hit to knock the AI. However, while fighting the AI will be able to take more punishment. While being hit the protagonist will lose health per strikes/bullets landed. These rules change however while using Trevor’s special ability. While Trevor is in rage mode, no damage will be taken. While in combat it takes a single strike to knock out an opponent (Adam Rosenberg, 2013). The health also regenerates up to halfway once getting below 50%. The mid weapons are shotguns and the stunt gun. The longer-range weapons go from assault rifles all to the sniper rifles (Patrick Garratt, 2014).
GTAV has both player progression and game progression. As an RPG, GTAV is heavily based on game progression in single player. The game is relatively easy to pick up and does not need a substantial amount of skills to be completed. GTAV has a really arcade driving system and a aiming assist in combat to make the game easy to pick up. GTAV single player is based on completing mission and unlocking items. The online mode keeps the same principle as the single player mode but relies more on player progression to be successful. Playing online will need more skills because competing against a person is more difficult than playing against AI (Josh Bycer, 2013).
Integration of narrative & gameplay:
GTAV is heavily story driven. The game contains multiple cut scenes per mission. Most single player missions are story oriented and focus on the character development. The characters generally speak to each other within the journey from point A to point B: Here, interesting dialogue can be found, such as in the mission’ The paleto Job where we get an insight on Franklin’s first ever heights and why he is ashamed of it. The actors for GTAV all have motion captured to make the cut scene believable. The characters also look very familiar to the actors (James Plafke, 2013). In an exclusive interview with IGN, Ned Luke talks about his performance and how he related to the character from his personal life. This demonstrates that characters were well chosen to perform their role. It is even stated that real criminals were chosen to make GTAV feel authentic (Sam Byford, 2013). GTAV is similar to games such as Heavy Rain as GTAV has multiple endings based on the players’ decision (Darren Franish, 2013).
GTAV does not have a difficulty level to separate players with different skill level. In fact GTAV keeps the same difficulty levels from the start to finish. Previous GTAs, used to ease in the player by restricting them to one section of the map” The early hours of previous GTA titles were a tease, tasking you with a series of mundane tasks, forcing you to make do with melee weapons and handguns, and limiting you to a relatively small section of the map until you’d done enough to unlock other areas.”. GTAV is consistent with the difficulty level staying the same throughout. The game is really accessible to the majority of gamers. (Ben Lindbergh, 2013).
Forms of competition and/or cooperation:
The competition and cooperative aspect of GTAV comes more so in the online mode of the game. This section is to satisfy the socializer and killer player type (Bartle R, 1996). “Residents of Los Santos band together to participate in activities and ambient events, or compete in traditional game modes with the entire community, all with the personality and refined mechanics of Grand Theft Auto V.”(Rockstar Games, 2013). GTAV offers races and team death match for players to compete against each other, but can also play cooperatively. (Keza Macdonald, 2013). Missions are set up for online players to complete as a team. This can be seen with the long waited heist game mode where player depends on each other to complete the mission. Players get bonus money when all stay alive through the completion of the mission (Chis Pereira, 2015). Players can communicate with each other through the microphones, which add social aspect to the game (Rashid Sayed, 2013).
GTAV has a representation of the US dollars as an in game currency. The three protagonist as well as the online characters, are set with a bank account. There are two banks in Los Santos, the Maze Bank and the Bank of Liberty. It is possible to view how many GTA dollars are stored in the bank accounts by going on the in-game websites or by going to an atm. The most practical way to view the account balance is by looking at the top right corner of the screen where the balance is displayed. The in-game currency is used to purchase weapons and vehicles. It is also used for weapons, vehicle, properties and character customization such as clothing, tattoos and haircuts (Brett Molina, 2013).
It is also possible to buy shark cards. Shark cards are a way to buy in-money in exchange of real money for GTA Online (Akash KJ, 2014). Microtransactions in videogames were born from the first arcade machines back in 1971(Mat Smith 2014). In a quote from author R*A stated that “You don’t have to spend real money to attain the cars, guns, clothes, flash and style of a high-roller in Los Santos, but can if you wish to get them a little quicker.” GTAV is not forcing or strongly influencing players to purchase in-game currency the same way candy crush is as there are risks that it will ruin enjoinment of the game (David Jenkins, 2014). However, with the recent low-rider DLC that can go up to 1.410.934 GTA dollars it is clear that it is going to be considerable for many gamers to purchase Shark cards.
A way that I have personally spent real money in exchange of GTA dollars was purchasing the collectors edition of the game. The Collectors Edition covered many benefits including a 20% discount over every shops of Los Santos.
GTAV is a masterpiece that made the gaming industry grow. GTAV can be played both in first and third person. As a narrative game, the characters were very believable with actors being able to relate with the characters. GTAV managed to capture the environment of Los Angeles within the virtual world of Los Santos. GTAV. GTAV is, being capable of satisfying every gamer type whether they are socializers, killers, achievers or explorers. GTAV has an in-game economy called GTA dollars where players are able to purchase in game money by buying shark cards. With GTA Dollars, players are able to purchase vehicles, weapons and different customizations such as clothes. GTAV is not a difficult game, with the difficulty level staying the same throughout. This is because as an RPG, GTAV is heavily based on game progression rather than skills. GTAV rewards players by giving them GTA dollars. In single player, players are awarded medals to rank their performance and rewarding players who completed a mission considerably well. Online players are ranked as a reflection of their experience to reward players who play the game a considerable amount. Ranking also unlocks items within GTA for the player to spend money on superior items.
Creating my game-world from an existing location to make the game authentic is an aspect I would like to implement in my game. Using cut scenes and motion capture to create a believable story is another aspect I consider adding to my game as I am planning on making a narrative driven game.
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