Posted on April 23, 2008,

Rockstar Founder Talks GTA Development Issues


EGM’s Crispin Boyer was lucky enough to speak with Rockstar Games founder Sam Houser for the recent mag cover story, and now the full interview can be read online at 1UP. Of particular note is the subject of development troubles that Rockstar faced with GTA IV, and how future games might be impacted by certain technical limitations.

“Both machines are absolutely fantastic, but they both come with strengths and weaknesses. The strength of the 360 is a very, very accessible, familiar, effective environment to work in. You’re making the game from the get-go, everyone understands its PC environment — boom, off we go. It’s pretty good,” explained Houser. “One of the problems with the 360, and it affects games like Grand Theft Auto if you think about how much content we put in the actual machine, is the fact that they don’t have a significantly larger storage medium than the previous systems. It’s a slightly bigger DVD disc.”

Of course, the lack of a standard hard drive poses a problem for Rockstar, too. “I met with a bunch of the senior fellows from [Microsoft]. I said, that’s kind of complicated…. The upshot of the technical challenges we’ve experienced on either the 360 or on the PS3 is [that] both companies stepped up to the plate and have supported us in a way that was beyond even my greedy expectations. They’ve been amazing. I think that the 360 is going to have to get ’round this issue we’re talking about. I can think of various ways they can do it. Hopefully, they’re going to adopt one of those in the next year or so, because it’s going to become more of an issue. If we’re filling up the disc right now, where are we going? It’s not like our games are going to get any smaller. I think that issue’s on the table with a bunch of games right now. I’m sure they’ll come through with an intelligent solution.”

Having provided enough flamebait for fanboys to go wild with, Houser explained that both versions are “neck and neck now” in terms of visuals. He did, however, state, “There’s a slight difference in the way they look. I think that’s to do with really low-level technical stuff that I’m not the guy to explain. The 360 games have a certain look to them; PS3 games have a certain look to them. I like the way [the PS3] renders. There’s a certain kind of softness without being blurry — some warmth to it — and then there’s a certain more clinical element to how the 360 looks. Both have plusses and minuses.”

Houser mentioned he can think of various ways to get around those 360 issues, which I imagine would be an integrated Blu-ray drive or a standard hard drive in all 360 SKUs. While that would likely solve this issue, it would also alienate many early adopters — specifically with the Blu-ray option, since that’s a much different matter than early adopters not having an HDMI port on their 360.

Frankly, I think a standard hard drive is right around the corner. As the price for the system lowers more and more, it’ll be more feasible to finally take the plunge and make every system ship with a hard drive — which is a scenario that’s becoming increasingly clear should have been the case all along.

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12 Comments on Rockstar Founder Talks GTA Development Issues


On April 23, 2008 at 2:38 pm

:shock: I love a good article. Where is Fenris when you need to laugh at him. :mrgreen: GO PS3!!!


On April 23, 2008 at 2:44 pm

idiots at MS


On April 23, 2008 at 6:36 pm

Its quite a funny read because it rips apart a lot of the PS3 bashing. Its strange that he thinks the 360 would benefit from a Blu-ray drive while the Xbots are spreading crap around about DVD being somehow superior for gaming LMAO. Its also pretty funny how he says its better for devs and gamers for games to install to the hard drive which once again flies totally in the face of the retards attacking the PS3 for doing so.


On April 23, 2008 at 7:46 pm

Norbit, it’s important to note he never said anything about a Blu-ray drive; that was speculation on my part as to what his possible fixes for the problem could be.


On April 23, 2008 at 8:56 pm

Well actually, yes performance wise, DVD’s do in fact seem better, but the issue in hand is size limitations.

Performance issues:
“The issue arises from differences in the reading techniques of DVD and Blu-ray. By nature, the outer and inner parts of a disc move at different speeds while a disc is spinning, regardless of format (CD, DVD, Blu-ray, HD-DVD, etc.). While DVD drives can read data at those differing speeds, Blu-ray reads at one speed. Combine that with the extremely large size of Blu-ray discs, and simply dumping existing DVD data onto a Blu-ray disc will inevitably result in longer load times.”


On April 23, 2008 at 11:30 pm

So basically there will be little to no difference between the PS3 and 360 in GTA 4, but GTA 5 will almost certainly be too large for a single DVD. I bet by the time GTA 5 comes out, MS will be launching the next Xbox and abandoning all things 360.


On April 24, 2008 at 3:10 am

Ye ol’ CAV (DVD) vs. CLV (Blu-Ray/CD) debate.

The thing with CAV is for one to take advantage of maximum read speed, one has to strategically place the “important” data at the outside of the disc. While certainly possible during the mastering process, sometimes the whole disc might contain “important” data, otherwise. In this worse case scenario, you end up with variable load times (sometimes things seem to load fast, other times not).

A typical Blu-Ray drive will increase or decrease the motor RPM to meet the drive’s specified “constant” read speed. While this leaves to question “wasted read potential”, it does at least ensure “predictable” results. As a dev, I wouldn’t have to worry about strategically placing anything on a Blu-Ray disc, because it’s all going to be read a the same speed everywhere on the disc.

As far as the 360 is concerned, the DVD drive it currently implements can potentially stream data faster than the PS3′s current Blu-Ray drive setup. However, this seemingly DVD CAV advantage starts to slope off as you move inwards on disc. So really, it’s a moot point to compare to the two on speed alone. It’s impossible to predict with any DVD drive and is totally subjective. The PS3′s current 2x Blu-Ray drive is a mixed bag of sorts. Sony may have quadrupled optical media space by pushing Blu-Ray, but it certainly didn’t match that in retrieval speed. Having gobs of data that can only be streamed a little bit at a time is the proverbial small straw to a larger milkshake. Relatively speaking, of course.

Neither optical formats are what I would consider optimal for load times these days. If anything, you WANT a hard drive install option (something offering an order of magnitude faster). Why console makers keep ing around with running games off optical media baffles me. PC games have been doing the mandatory hard drive thing for over a decade now (even if it’s overkill). Hell, you can’t even use the “…but, hard drives are expensive!” excuse anymore. Get with the times.


On April 24, 2008 at 5:27 am

To be honest, with everything weighed in, both version are going to be about equal. This is really a debate that’s been beat into the ground the past two weeks by too many people. I’m not saying this is a bad article. It was a nice read, but I think it’s one of those circular debates we gamers tend to jump into too often. I’m guilty of it myself.

@Steve I am very curious to see how Microsoft’s exit strategy from the 360 unfolds. They dumped the original Xbox too soon, and I’d hate to see them make the same mistake. Consumer trust in their products is already a huge issue. I’ll be completely honest.. they Xbox 360 is a flaming pile of crap… but it has the games I play the most. With the XBLA titles, there will certainly be some waves created by gamers who invest a lot of cash in DLC. Will they allow people to transfer their games to the next system? I highly doubt it. I really think the next Xbox system will completely depend on issues surrounding DLC and Xbox Live. If they screw it up, there may not be another generation of Xbox consoles after the next.


On April 24, 2008 at 10:10 am

My name is Norbit and I like to hear myself talk out of my own ass. God could you be any more irritating? Seriously? :???:

Go Marlins!!!!


On May 10, 2008 at 12:16 pm

lol no p[problem 360 will never see the awsome sixaxis feature you can use to control vehicles if anything makes ps3 better its that haha also i saw in the store a trilogy of all the spiderman movies and instead of like original dvd having 3 differnt discs blue ray had them all on one yeahhh! lol thats the shat right there for real man lol 360 what? al;l you mean the xsux 3ty hahahaha


On May 10, 2008 at 12:21 pm

lol it wasnt for the 3ty grand thjeft auto 4 wouldnt have had limits to be on both systems if rockstar would havbe used there brains and stayed with sony only gta4 would ben beyond this it would have had the ups that previous games had like san andreas having the ability to swim underwater and also workout as well as a wide rang of clothes to buy and choose and also it would have had vice citys ability to buy property and all i think the next gta should be consisted of 3 differnt cities in like 3 differnt countries thatd be awsome and a full range aero accessed map so they can bring the planes back funny thing is xsux 3ty couldnt handle this so now rockstars gota wait till the 3ty comes up with a below decent storage capacity which i will laugh my ass off when microsoft resorts to using a sony made feature hahaha bottom line japan ssony will allways be number one lets leave it to the japs to make superior systems as its allways been


On July 17, 2009 at 9:30 pm

All i can say is xbox and microsoft are a bunch of ck suckers, go ps3 :)