Grand Theft Auto was “almost canned,” says original developer

Monday, 31st January 2011 20:33 GMT By Johnny Cullen


The original Grand Theft Auto was “almost canned,” according to ex-DMA Designs developer Gary Penn.

Penn, speaking to Gamasutra, said there were two main issues with the game.

“There are probably two key things it fell down on. Two critical things. One of them is stability, which is a really boring one but it crashed all the fucking time,” said Penn.

“So even if you did get something in the game, you couldn’t really test it. The designers couldn’t test stuff out or try things out, it just kept crashing as simple as that. That was a boring one, but that was pivotal — so that was the first step to get that knocked out.”

The other key issue that plagued the game was the handling of cars. But as Penn goes on, there was one moment which changed everything.

“One day, I think it was a bug, the police suddenly became mental and aggressive. It was because they were trying to drive through you,” he said.

“Their route finding was screwed I think and that was an awesome moment because suddenly the real drama where, ‘Oh my God, the police are psycho — they’re trying to ram me off the road. That was awesome, so that stayed in.”

And the rest is history, etc.



  1. pukem0n

    nothing changed in the car handling in GTA 4, its still crap ^^

    #1 4 years ago
  2. DaMan

    would be surprising if it wasn’t.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. Dr.Ghettoblaster

    GTA4 is to crap………as you are to intelligence, right?

    There’s a difference between not liking a game, and stating it’s crap. Especially when it’s the #1 highest rated game on metacritic with an average rating of 98/100 based on 86 different critics reviews…

    #3 4 years ago
  4. LePlatypus

    ^ Highest rated on current gen, Ocarina of time has a metascore of 99

    #4 4 years ago
  5. Gekidami

    To be fair, if GTA4 came out today it wouldnt score so high. Reviews were really lenient on big releases round the start of this gen. Hence the fact alot of gamers disagree.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. The1stMJC

    I think he is commenting on the car handling alone and not the whole game.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. Hunam

    GTA4 is still astonishing for the fact it’s a living, working city, it’s breath taking, but now we’re used to it.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. DaMan

    pretty sure GTA4 would’ve gotten the same reception anyway, open world Rockstar game with an immense appeal to general public. RDR getting 9+ all around is no different.

    they traded fun for a decent narrative and realism. that was the whole point. I hate the game though.

    #8 4 years ago
  9. Dr.Ghettoblaster

    @5, well ofcourse. Exactly why GT5 scored as low as it did.

    I think GTA4′s biggest comparison would be GTA:SA regardless of release date, and it still would have scored outstanding, mainly because it’s an outstanding game.

    #9 4 years ago
  10. pukem0n

    lol i said the car handling in gta 4 is crap. the rest of the game is very much good. so learn to read. and grammar and stuff.

    #10 4 years ago
  11. Dr.Ghettoblaster

    Does the car handling have a learing curve? Absoultley. Like most good games do.

    Is the car handling “crap”? Absolutley not. In fact, quite the opposite in my opinion.

    I found myself driving around Liberty City swirving in and out of traffic, and taking corners like freakin’ Rick Mears!

    #11 4 years ago
  12. DSB

    @3 You can always argue what’s crap and what’s not, but if you look at those Metacritic reviews you’ll see a lot of reviewers buying the hype and just mindlessly sucking GTA IVs balls.

    Fundamentally the game left its roots behind to become some kind of dreary urban opera, terribly composed of the most grotesque clichés with a boring, unimportant protagonist who apparently loves running around doing errands for everyone in New York City. When he isn’t being telephonically harassed by his friends (Who apparently have no other friends than him) to go do some mundane task every 5 minutes.

    The gaping flaws in that game are only too obvious, but sadly, with todays deadlines and armies of coked up PR reps, reviewers tend to shoot their load before they have the time to calm down and look the bitch in the face.

    That being said, it was a beautiful game with amazing details and physics. It’s just sad they didn’t put it to better use.

    I genuinely believe that we’ll get to wipe our protagonists ass and water his plants in the next GTA. That has to be the next step into mindless, grey realism.

    (The original game, not the expansions)

    #12 4 years ago
  13. albo88

    to be honest GTA4 is a game that never get old
    speciality on PC with all of thus modifications peoples make and with the fantastic video editor i just wish that thing could record more then 20 seconds or how it does

    #13 4 years ago
  14. Johnny Cullen

    GTA IV is very much one of the best games I’ve played this gen. Just incredible.

    #14 4 years ago
  15. Dr.Ghettoblaster

    You and I can argue opinions all day for sure. But I’m not going to argue with 86 opinions all stating the same thing. I don’t use metacritic as a crutch, I play the games, watch the movies, and judge for myself. But it sure does make the closest thing to a valid reference point as you can on a collection of opinions.

    There’s an odd trend these days that I see once a game starts getting such huge acclaim, people start hating on it. GTA4 and COD’s recent entries are perfect examples. My opinion of the game is the same today as it was years ago when I first played it. Mr. Cullen sums it up above me quite perfectly.

    #15 4 years ago
  16. M2Kx

    Yay some people who also think that gta4 is/was a bit overrated. Imo the worst of all rockstar games ever made :/

    #16 4 years ago
  17. KillerDD

    Still think they should’ve sticked to the top-view…

    GTA II is still the best one in my honest opinion. Other GTA games have never been able to really catch my attention.

    Just my two cents. =)

    #17 4 years ago
  18. earlyrock



    #18 4 years ago
  19. DiodeX

    The car handling worked in the in car cam, car view was hard to drive imo.

    #19 4 years ago
  20. Kuwabara

    cant wait to see vice city in hd ps3 graphics!!

    #20 4 years ago
  21. OrbitMonkey

    The ONLY gta i liked was liberty city stories on the psp. All the others just bored me silly. God knows i tried to like them :(

    #21 4 years ago
  22. Badger


    Love it, and love all the games it spawned.

    (Make a GTA:UK already…)

    #22 4 years ago
  23. TheWulf

    @21: I felt exactly the same way. People look for different things in games – and for me, I look for unique experiences and well told stories. From my perspective, GTA IV had neither. There’s a lot you can laud about GTA IV, but those specific two things it didn’t have.

    I really hope that we won’t have anyone saying that GTA IV was the height of writing, to be honest, otherwise I’d have to recommend that such a person read a lot of books, watch a lot of films, and even play a vast number of other games. It was trite.

    Now if you want a driving game with an interesting setting and a good story, you need to look no further than the original Mafia. It was lacking in the unique experiences department, but the rest of it was compelling enough for me to have loved it. I can’t say the same about GTA.

    Sorry GTA fans. Different strokes.

    #23 4 years ago
  24. DSB

    @15 I don’t disagree that Metacritic is a fair yardstick, and you’re bound to find well argued positive reviews as well.

    I just don’t think it’s valid in the case of major releases, because personally I don’t believe that most games journalists have the integrity to withstand events like that. The gaming industry still sets their deadlines for them. Not that they’re corrupt by default, they’re just massively influenced, without seeming to mind.

    Black Ops got huge reviews in spite of some fairly crippling bugs for a lot of players. So is a 9 representative of the truth? It just isn’t if a game is so fundamentally screwed up.

    I’m sure most people liked GTA IV, and I’ve personally stood up for plenty of big games and against the groupthinking underdog mob, but I’m not calling it a bad game because it’s big, I’m calling it a bad game because it’s boring, hollow and poorly written.

    But yeah, taste, perception, influence all depends on the person.

    #24 4 years ago
  25. back_up

    PlayStation made gta popular

    #25 4 years ago
  26. Dr.Ghettoblaster

    @24. Well stated and well devlivered DSB. I respect you and your opinions.

    #26 4 years ago
  27. KenanB97

    I’m sorry but I could never get in to GTA IV, when it go released I loved it and after finishing it left it for years. Recently picking it up along with the ballads of gay tony expansion I really did not enjoy this game.
    I’m still on the brink of not gettinf GTA V. I’m going to wait for reviews from not so popular gaming magazines/websites.

    #27 2 years ago

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