GTA 5 writer explains the decision to develop for current gen consoles

As of right this minute, if you really want to read about Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto 5 in any real depth, you still don't have much choice apart from (gasp) actually purchasing a magazine or something. That holds just as true in Japan, where this week's issue of Famitsu magazine offers largely the same sort of information that was in Game Informer but, you know, in Japanese.

Included in the coverage is an interview with GTA writer Dan Houser, who gave Famitsu the same sort of rambling insider look at how his mind works that he gives in most of his profiles.

"There were five key themes for this title," he began. "One, it should have just this really huge world. Two, it has lots of goals you need to accomplish. Three, the number of robbery missions spread throughout the game apart from the main story. Four, the three playable characters; and five, the completely new multiplayer. I think when players experience this sort of gameplay they've never seen before, they're going to say 'What the hell is this?' And I think that's the most vital point here."

GTA 5 features three characters (Michael, Trevor and Franklin) that you switch between as you run tandem missions and so forth. "Michael is the serious operator and Trevor is the crazy lunatic," Houser said, continuing, "so Michael is like the criminal who wants to compartmentalize and be a good guy some of the time and Trevor is the maniac who is isn't a hypocrite. I think each of the three characters can be described as being masters at greed, ambition, and insanity respectively. When a GTA hero becomes a criminal, he starts to get deeply moved by these three emotions. Michael was who we came up with first, the sort of guy who'd be a middle-aged retired GTA hero. He's got money, he's got a wife, but he's bored. Franklin is a young man with a lot of hope, which I think makes for a nice contrast. Trevor is very extreme. He is very smart, but has a bad personality that sometimes makes it exciting to compare with Michael."

In other words, Houser is quick to note, this isn't going to be your typical sort of GTA story where some random hood starts as the lowest of the low and eventually becomes a cartoonish mob kingpin. "It's a completely different type of story this time," he said. "The three heroes are all playing out their own conflicting roles, and it makes for a deeper and more complex story than before. I'd like you to think of it as a new story, one that you've never experienced not just in games but in any other medium. I guess it sort of talks about how that beautiful West Coast, covered in these rainbows of hope, isn't really the paradise you'd imagine."

With all this bold talk about the story, Houser was a lot more conservative in his talk with Famitsu when it came to hardware. The editor Houser spoke with was a little surprised that GTA 5 wasn't coming out for the console generation after the current one, something the Rockstar creative director brushed off. "Rockstar is a content company, not a hardware company," he said. "We use the technology we have to create content, and we try not to let ourselves get beholden to the hardware. The fact that hardware's so mature right now is exactly why we're able to go on to the next level. GTA 4 was our first attempt at a new platform and HD visuals, so the first part of development was seriously difficult. Now we know what the hardware's capable of, so it's become a lot easier to move things along and a lot more fun, too. GTA: San Andreas came out at the peak of the PlayStation 2's cycle, and we put out a really good game thanks to that. All the best games for a console come out at the end of the lifecycle, right? So now's the best timing of all."

Houser, and Rockstar, have always been kind to Japanese game magazines in terms of offering coverage, and it's paid off in recent years. Grand Theft Auto 4 sold over 270,000 copies in Japan, still the company's top seller there (although Red Dead Redemption isn't far off). "I really believe that GTA 5 is something that Japanese players can really enjoy," Houser closed. "I also really hope that even more Japanese players take this game on than previous ones. Now I just hope they all don't mind waiting a little longer to hear about GTA 5's multiplayer."

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