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Interview with Rockstar North's President Leslie
81st Chillinbill 0 Comments · Likes · Like · 19th Aug 2013
He's President of Rockstar North, his games have sold more than 130 million copies, he's the mastermind behind September's GTA V and GTA Online - and he's given so few interviews since the release of GTA III, you probably don't need a hand to count them on.
Entering the fourth floor of Rockstar North's top secret Edinburgh bunker feels like charting undiscovered territory. And yet, for a man who prefers to shun the limelight, Benzies is affable, welcoming, and incredibly upbeat. He also looks surprisingly stress-free for someone four years into development on Rockstar's biggest ever game.
Maybe it's the two air conditioning units running simultaneously at either end of his XXL-sized office. Or the scented candle he's burning. Or the fact he's the owner of the World's Biggest iMac. Or maybe - as the wall full of vehicle printouts, idea-crammed whiteboards, and TVs showing live feeds of bug fixes, attest - maybe he's just really, really good at these things after eight successive Grand Theft Autos.

When did you first start to think about GTA Online, and what was your vision for it?

This started when we began making GTA III, and every single game we've said, "Right, now we're going to do it, now we're going to do it," and I guess we've never felt like we've had the manpower or the tech power to do it. Now the time is right. We had a great engine to work from, and we had the staff to do it.
On GTA V O'Clock, we've been speculating for a while that GTA Online would, in fact, be an MMO-style experience - and it's exciting to see that's definitely where it's headed. A by-product of that is that players will be able to create their own missions and reshape the world. Can you expand a little upon that?
Well, let's take the most simple example: a deathmatch. You open up the Creator, you place all your spawn points, place some props, place cars, place planes, place anything you want around the world. When you're happy you've playtested it, when you're happy to publish, hit the button, and it sends it up to the Cloud - our Social Club Cloud. That's then available for everyone else in the world to use.
So, when (your friend) boots their game up, they could pick you as a preferred creator, and then all your content will get sucked back into (their game). It's constantly evolving. Everybody creates things. You choose whose content you want to see. You set up a blue marker, and that's kind of the instigator of the mission. You walk in there, and then it triggers whatever you've created. And that will constantly be evolving, so we'll be creating content all the time - every day you'll boot up the game and there'll be new things coming in.

But the tools for the Creator won't be available at the start?
Initially, you'll be able to create races and deathmatches, which are probably the simplest. And then, over time, when we feel comfortable that people are ready to get the new creators, they will be released. So it'll be a trickle, but it'll be a constant release of new creators and new content. We don't want to overdo it. It's a complex system. That's another reason for the two week delay between single-player and Online. We want to give people an opportunity to actually get their heads around what's happened, because even single-player is a big advancement from the old games. There's a lot of new things to learn.

Quote"Grand Theft Auto Online is a different entity, a separate thing. It's not part of GTA V. It'll grow on its own..."
So, you could, in theory, have launched at the same time?
We could, but we want it to be known as a different entity, a separate thing, and it'll grow on its own. It'll be GTA Online; it's not part of GTA V. Obviously it's set in the GTA V engine, but it's going to grow and evolve into its own thing.
And after two weeks, how will you get access to it?
When it launches, you'll have an extra character on your Switch Wheel. Instead of choosing Franklin, Michael or Trevor, you'll select your multiplayer character and you'll be sucked straight in there.
So your multiplayer avatar will appear after two weeks?
There won't be any other download required?
There may be a tiny download, but it'll just be a code. We've just got to figure out how that will work with Sony and Microsoft.
When you first start playing Online, will you have anything to start with, any stats that will carry over from the single-player game?
There's a character creation system, so you'll create a new character to start with. But, no, none of your stats, as the three guys in GTA V, (will carry over). Again, this speaks to the difference between the two: the world of Grand Theft Auto Online is set slightly before the events of GTA V, and so while it shares some of its experiences and it shares characters, the stats are all separate.
They're all separate, yeah. Each character has his own set of stats, and as you create your character, depending on what you're creating, your stats will be different.

Okay. When you start GTA Online, you presumably begin with no money. So what are your first steps in the game to get things moving?
In traditional GTA style, you'll be taken on a journey through the first few missions of the game, just to give you a feel for it. We'll have the usual Rockstar help, to keep you on the straight and narrow all the way through. So, it'll be a nice, hopefully well-paced introduction to the game. There's a lot for people to learn, so we don't want to just throw you into the world. You're not just going in and playing deathmatches.
Characters from GTA V will introduce you to the experiences of GTA Online. You'll meet characters from single-player, who'll introduce you to things in the same way as they do in single-player. So, for example, someone will say to you, "Here's Ammunation, here's where you can get weapons..." It's got a flow like a single-player has a flow, so there is a progression through some things - not a story, but a progression through Online. It's a different type of flow.

You can also insure cars now, so that - if someone steals it, or blows it up - you can get that same car back for a premium. You can also leave your cars somewhere in the world, and come back to that place and they're still there...
We don't let anyone steal your personal vehicle. If we were in a personal vehicle, and I jumped out as the owner, you could take it. But if it's locked, it's locked. You could blow it up, if you're that way (inclined), but anything that's going to annoy other players, we will punish by giving you what we call a Bad Sport stat. We store how you behave in there. If you're too bad, you will be punished.
Can other players see when someone has a Bad Sport stat?
Yeah. They'll be able to check it out, and think "I'm not playing with that guy."
So going back to the vehicles - are you almost more encouraged to buy them than to steal them?
You can buy cars, just like you can (in the real world). Or you can steal them if the mod shops are prepared to dabble with them. If they are, you can spray them and change the plates. If they're not prepared to do that, when the cops spot you in a stolen car, you'll get a Wanted level.
How is Weazel News going to work online? You showed news feeds of fellow players escaping from the cops - are we going to have the ability to share them?
You don't share them. All you can do at the moment is watch the feeds when people have Wanted levels, from your apartment. It doesn't get fed out anywhere else.
It'll just pick the people who are currently on Wanted levels?
It'll pick your friends, Crew members, if they've got Wanted

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