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GTA 5 character research was "eye-openingly depressing", says Houser

Grand Theft Auto 5's character research was spread over 100 days and saw Rockstar staff conversing with FBI-agents, former Mafia members and some "eye-openingly depressing" experiences out in the sticks, according to Dan Houser.

In an interview with The Guardian, Houser shed new light on the team's process, and explained the game's three-pronged character approach. he said, "Having three protagonists allows us to create nuanced stories, not a set of archetypes. Rather than seeming like you've got this super-criminal who can do everything effortlessly, they're all good and bad at different things."

On troubled father Michael he added, "We liked the idea of a protagonist retiring with a family, and how awful that would be. We've never done anything like that and you don't really see it in games - to feed into these concepts of parenting and pseudo-parenting."

While researching for the game's 1,000-page script, the team took to the streets of Los Angeles to nail the local flavours therein. House continued, "We spent a minimum of 100 days in Los Angeles on research trips, probably more. Out and about, all night long with weird people, strange cops showing us around, a lot of first-hand research.

"We spoke to FBI agents that have been undercover, experts in the Mafia, street gangsters who know the slang - we even went to see a proper prison. These poor buggers in the middle of the salt flat desert, miles away. It was eye-openingly depressing."

Seeing as GTA games like to lampoon and capture various aspects of American culture, it's little wonder the volume of research that has gone into GTA 5's character work.

GTA 5 hits PS3 and Xbox 360 on September 17.

Via OXM.

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Grand Theft Auto IV

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Dave Cook avatar

Dave Cook


Dave worked on VG247 for an extended period manging much of the site's news output. As well as his experience in games media, he writes for comics, and now specializes in books about gaming history.