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GTA3: Vice City secrets

Hmm. I don’t remember spotting a tiki bar in GTA3:VC… must go searching when that VGA adapter turns up. ;)

I’ve been repeatedly struck, while in California, what an incredible job the GTA3:VC designers did with the graphics and level design. It evokes so many visual aspects of US cities, perfectly, and this is pretty impressive when you consider they’re a Scottish games house. This interview details how they did it:

GS: Did you do any on-location studies of any areas to help with the design of Vice City? If so, where did you go, and how helpful was it?

AG: After the near-death experience that was the development of Grand Theft Auto III, the entire team flew out to Miami to recover and soak in the atmosphere of the area. While the rest of the team sunbathed or propped up the News Bar, the ever-industrious art team headed out onto the baking hot Miami streets armed with digital cameras. We split up and covered every area we were interested in using for Vice City. The animation team armed with digital camcorders spent time examining exactly how women in bikinis and roller skates moved, and the city modelers braved both the seediest, scariest parts of Miami and got kicked out of all the best places. By the time we returned to sunny Scotland, we’d amassed countless hours of video and close to 10,000 digital photos. When scouting locations, we tried to get a cross-section of shots — a good few were wide angle to remind us how the place fit together, and the rest were details to aid in modeling and texture usage. The guys in the New York office also sorted out some professional location scouts from the film industry for us who provided us with some really excellent locations for any areas we hadn’t managed to get enough detail on. I can’t imagine capturing the feel of a city without all this resource material, never mind actually spending time in the place. Sending the entire team rather than a few leads allows everyone to understand what it is they are trying to make. We couldn’t have done it any other way.