Leslie Benzies, president of Rockstar North, and Imran Sarwar, producer and lead designer, answered some interesting questions on Jeuxactu about Grand Theft Auto V, and clarified some of the new features available in the game. Disregard any odd grammatical errors. Translating and polishing French isn’t one of my strengths.
Benzies revealed that several playable characters were initially considered for GTA: San Andreas on the PS2 and original Xbox, but the idea was abandoned for technical reasons. With GTA5, however, “one character alone could not manage all the activities and tasks we wanted to establish, and this system of interchangeable characters stuck perfectly with what we had in mind for the story and missions.”
Imran spoke more about the transitioning between the three characters, explaining that they all three have their own schedules that vary according to the time of day. You could see Michael with his wife and children, Franklin and his friend, or Trevor who may be unconscious or even being chased by the police with a three-star index. Schedules of the characters even include special events that could either be trivial or significant depending on the character.
Apparently, not every character will be available from the start. The biggest part of the game is based on these characters and how the lifestyle and actions of one can affect the other two. The idea of introducing all three at the beginning existed from the start, but it was thought that this process would interfere with the gameplay and the story. The player will earn the opportunity to get to know the three characters individually and explore the world with each of them, something that would have not been possible if all three were available at the start.
What is cool, though, is the fact that you can meet the other main characters in the open world if you know where they are. If Michael just leaves a mission and the player is currently controlling Trevor, the two characters can meet. Players can also force the process along, helping the characters become friends and spend time together. Rockstar initially wanted to make each character appear on the map so they could be followed at any time, but their efforts were focused on the system of interchanging between the characters instead.
What is unlocked right from the beginning is the entire map. Unlike past GTA games, the characters can travel through the entire map without blocks that require specific missions to be completed.
“The pace of the game is much faster than any of its predecessors,” said Imran. “From the beginning, we want to show the new game mechanics while creating an intense and action-packed gameplay to capture the player’s attention immediately. Remember that the tree characters in the game are already living in Los Santos and the surrounding areas. They are not newcomers like Niko in GTA IV and Tommy Vercetti in Vice City, or people returning after a long absence such as CJ in San Andreas.
“They already have contacts. They are already integrated and lead a busy life so these characteristics should give players an immediate sense of total immersion.”