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Old 08-26-2012   #1
Himuro
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What GTAV needs the most: realistic character motivations

People say GTAIV's story is "realistic", but it's still a cartoony story but with more realistic proportions of body parts, things like fingers that aren't glued to each other. There is nothing realistic about GTAIV's story. Oh hey, these guys just trashed a funeral with three waves of shooters to kill like two guys. That's totally realistic. Oh hey, this guy carrying 500k in his pocket is driving a garbage truck for some Italian asshole. I can go on and on, but more than that, it's mostly the world itself that intrudes on GTAIV being the gritty game that was advertised.

I personally think the rampant homophobia, ridiculous characters, and juvenile attempts at humor like TW@ Internet Cafe, Krapea (haha, it's Ikea but CRAP), or Gruppe Sechs (group sex haha, so funny) stand more in the way of crafting a believable gritty world than Niko desiring to kill people just to make ends meet despite having 500k in his pocket.

GTAIV suffers from an identity crisis. On one hand, it's a game that takes itself very seriously, to a fault, on the other...HAY COUSIN WANNA SEE AMERICAN TITTIES? And having a guy do random shit for people he barely knows like kill their enemies becaussssse...why again? Money? Haha, nice try Niko! I have 500k in my pocket because there's nothing to do or buy in this game! It's cartoony and yet serious at the same time. This creates a huge disconnect.

The Lost and the Damned, GTAIV's add on, is a much better example of GTAIV done right: a rags to even more rags story, telling the tale of the downfall of a biker gang.

I also find Red Dead Redemption to be a great example as well.

But ultimately, even IV isn't a good PORTRAYAL of a serious crime drama. It's like bottom feeder food of crime drama and besides the reasons I listed, so hard to take seriously. I think GTA is at its best when it's overtly cartoony. I was disappointed by IV, and then Chinatown Wars came out. I thought Chinatown was the best damn GTA since Vice City and the cartoony feel added a lot to that emotion. It wasn't ashamed of what it was, it felt natural, and the dialogue and characters fit the setting like a glove. I'm all for serious crime dramas in games, but even TLAD never managed to pull that off. I think that type of story is far above the Houser's writing capabilities. They are best at satire. Satire does not gel with serious drama.

Stop trying to mix both and try to convince people that it's realistic. The only people who would find such a story "realistic" are stupid high schoolers and college kids. So Rockstar, when crafting GTAV, I hope you take it to heart that people are not caricatures and when trying to write an actual gritty story. If you're going to write a gay man, just make a man who happens to like men - no lisp, no flamboyant clothing, no limp wrist; think of Omar from The Wire; if you're going to make me do random jobs for random assholes again this time, keep it to heart that these people should be INTERESTING. Having the main character go up to a random dude he heard from a friend, be told to kill someone despite having a nice, fat wad in his pocket that could be compared to an erection, is not going to sell me on your supposedly "gritty" tale, Rockstar. But more than that, who is this asshole I'm working for? Why should I give a shit? Why is the main character working for him beyond petty motivations like money? STOP IT. It feels like it belongs on the ps2, because it's what I experienced on the ps2.

Instead of really, REALLY badly written and juvenile takes on known brands such as Ikea, how about you make a real brand that people in real life would shop at. Give your art some meaning. It will certainly be a step up from me rolling my eyes at something I would have came up with in 5th grade.

Go out and reach for the stars, fellas.
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Old 08-26-2012   #2
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IV's story problem stems from Niko's desire for money. It's his excuse for almost all of his actions and it would be fine if once he got the money, he had something to do with it. Over the course of the story, Niko makes out like he needs money to survive, when in fact, the player would have no trouble beating the game with $10 in their pocket. Money was not necessary for gameplay, which in turn made it's purpose in the story irrelevant.

I can perfectly sum this up by asking this question: why did Roman pay for the fancy apartment when Niko clearly had the funds to afford it? You know, IV should have had businesses. The opportunity was there, it just never happened. Niko should have become joint partners in the cab business with Roman after it became obvious Roman couldn't do things by himself.

If GTA V can give players a reason for earning money in missions, such as the return of real estate (property and business purchasing) then it should be golden. I need to be able to go out and blow $500,000 on a choice business that will add to my revenue, or buy a $2,000,000 luxury home in the hills so that I as the player feel as if I am advancing my character rather than advancing the story.

There are countless other things that could add to this experience as well. CW's drug-trading comes to mind. I had no problem spending $20,000 on drugs because I knew that I could sell it off for 3x that much when the right opportunity came. It was more than a side-mission, it acted as a diversion that served a serious purpose. Especially when you needed to build up enough funds to buy a property and advance the plot. That said, there should be a greater risk/reward situation - where you have the chance to be ripped off and lose everything, otherwise it would just get too easy to make money. There's the option to expand this mode to other fields as well; i.e. gun rackets and illegal import/export rings.

They should turn earning money into a goal for the player, as opposed to just being a goal for the character. I'm not worried though, Rockstar are basing this game off of the "pursuit of the almighty dollar" so I get ther feeling the money situation will have the creases ironed out.

I may just have to start working on a new GTAG feature about the Pursuit of the Almighty Dollar in the downtime between the new screenshots and whatever is next to come.
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Old 08-26-2012   #3
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I agree with victim, but not fully with Himuro.

The overexagerated story, and silly humour is a staple of what makes grand theft auto, grand theft auto, yes I want to see realism in the game, but you can't take that too far as then it detracts from the fun. You can't turn grand theft auto into a gritty crime drama, because then it loses what makes it grand theft auto, but just because of that you don't have to choose that or the other extreme of "well if you can't make it completely realistic then you better make it completely stupid" Saints Row already does stupid, and guess what, it's stupid.

But what I do agree with is that having a motivation to earn the money, will make the story more viable, like victim said, drug trading and properties would be good.

I think grand theft auto's story's have always had a pretty good mix of humour and realism to make it interesting while still being fun, yes, admittedly sometimes they take things a little too far, some chracters can be overly flamboyant but thats not really a big deal, the only real problem is the motivation behind the story, but you don't need to make the story more gritty and serious just to give it motivation.
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Old 08-26-2012   #4
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Most games that try to take the realistic route have the same problems. Money may be the main character's motivation but if the player feels like it, he can spend 10 hours driving a taxi or doing some other side mission and after that, money is no longer an issue but you still have to follow the story R* wrote. You can't let the story get in the way of fun gameplay and player freedom.

Gameplay always comes first for me, videogames are interactive entertainment and not movies. With that said, i'm not putting movies on a pedestal and saying they're a superior form of entertainment.

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Old 08-26-2012   #5
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I don't play GTA for it's gritty realism. That's the last thing I go to GTA for. If I'm playing GTA, I want to sneak into area 51 and steal a jetpack, or I want to go on a rampage in a tank or beat a hooker to death with a dildo. I'm not interested in seeing a well rounded character struggle with his own morality or something like that. Not in GTA anyway. I love the over the top, ridiculous characters, I love the completely unrealistic situations the main character finds himself in and I love when the series doesn't confine itself to 'realism'.

The reason I love GTA is because it is a brilliant, witty and hilarious parody of American culture. It cleverly satires everything that is wrong with America and it never does it in a particularly serious way. Until GTA4 anyway. GTA4 still tried to demonstrate what is wrong with American society, but it tried to do it from a more realistic point of view. Rather than make a witty parody about the struggles of immigrants in America, it tried to show it more sensitively and realistically and as a result, it lost a lot of the qualities that make GTA so great.

I hope that GTA5 can be a return to form and recapture the humour and the absurdity that makes Grand Theft Auto so brilliant.
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Old 08-26-2012   #6
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Over-the-top fun gets old quickly. Hitting people with dildo's was funny in 2004 due to it's shock factor. Well, you could do the same thing in Saints Row The Third yet it seemed tired and forced because it's been done. They can't keep pulling in the same direction because some things eventually just become juvenile and immature. I feel there's only so much they can do with a game that is not centred around realism, especially one based on contemporary society.

If GTA is to act as a satire, it can't be a parody at the same time. While both are funny, a parody is only exists for the humour, while a satire also acts as a critique.

There's no need to "return to form" as you put it. It's been done. I'd rather move forward.
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Old 08-26-2012   #7
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If there's only so much you can do in a game not based on realism, then surely a game that is centered around realism is even more limiting. And as for the Saints Row comparison, I think that the reason Saints Row is not as shocking or as popular or entertaining as Grand Theft Auto is because it does not have the intelligence of the Grand Theft Auto series.

I would disagree with your point about satire and parody as well. I think something can be a parody and a satire at the same time, and that's exactly what GTA was. It was a very humorous critique.

I'm all for moving forward, but I don't think the moving forward into girtty realism will be good for the series. Until GTA4, the series had never been gritty or realistic ad it was a turn in the wrong direction and I think most people would agree. GTA4 was one of the worst entries into the series. It suffered because people could no longer drive tanks or fly jetpacks or do any of the ridiculously over the top things you could do in previous entries to the series, and these things were left out because they weren't in keeping with the series' new realistic direction.
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Old 08-26-2012   #8
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If GTA is to act as a satire, it can't be a parody at the same time. While both are funny, a parody is only exists for the humour, while a satire also acts as a critique.

There's no need to "return to form" as you put it. It's been done. I'd rather move forward.
Gta has always been a satire, sometimes they go a little over the top, but the underlying message is always somewhat based on the truth.

Gta without satiric humor would not be gta anymore (atleast for me). Personally I think gta 4 found the best balance between humor/satire and realism, but I know alot of people disagree. The game was realistic overall but had a form of humor that wasn't so obvious as games like Saints row, I liked that about Gta 4. The funny radio ads/conversations, the big bilboards etc etc.
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Old 08-26-2012   #9
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I don't play GTA for gritty realism, either. But I feel Saints Row has outclassed it in cartoony/over-the-top thrills with a story that picks at genre tropes and shits on how vapid games are. So with other games using a very similar and yet very different formula, I feel that Rockstar would best go in the opposite route. Not only would this help for the sake of variety, I think it'd help with the quality of the game.

I love GTA for its satire. But I miss actually creative satire like,"Maibatsu Thunder: Mine's Bigger" or "Fernando's New Beginning's" or "Giggle Cream" or "PROTECTING YOUR RIGHTS Vice City Ammunation commercial". Not "Krapea" or "TW@". How are those two things social commentary? They're not. It's just the guys at Rockstars seeing Ikea and putting crap in the name - except with a K! Or seeing Twitter and going,"twitter? lol, more like twat! Put in a @ in it and call it a day, let's get some beers." In the past, when GTA made satire, it did so through a veil of truth and honesty. When GTAIV made satire, for the most part, it was the sake of being as vulgar or juvenile as possible. There is a difference. Notice how in GTAIII trilogy, they'd make a product something based on reality that people would actually buy? Like, I can picture Maibatsu existing. Or Eris Running Shoes. I CAN'T however, picture Krapea, or TW@ Internet Cafe existing. My issue with GTAIV is not that it contains satire; my issue with GTAIV is that it contains VAPID and STUPID satire that is one-dimensional.

Despite being cited as the more juvenile game, Saints Row series is far more progressive. In fact, it is the most progressive game on the market today. Change your sex? No one gives a shit. All they say is,"Change your hair?" All the gangs? They all have men AND women, of ALL colors in their gangs. In SR2 at least, no one identifies you by a gender, but commands with respect and attention. Saints Row 2 and 3's social commentary was far more interesting than GTAIV's despite being labeled as cartoony or whatever.

I also think it's a great example of both a parody and satire. I disagree with Victim heavily. 80's parody films are excellent parodies and ultimately excellent satires on the film industry and their horrible tropes. A WELL written satire manages to pick fun AND pick up on social commentary.

The problem isn't realism or satire or whatever. Both are good routes. The issue is one of consistency and keeping the quality up.
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Old 08-26-2012   #10
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Just an FYI on the TW@ thing: http://gta.wikia.com/TW@
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Old 08-26-2012   #11
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And as for the Saints Row comparison, I think that the reason Saints Row is not as shocking or as popular or entertaining as Grand Theft Auto is because it does not have the intelligence of the Grand Theft Auto series.
I completely disagree. I think Saints Row is very smart. It's just that people look at it face value and conclude that it's stupid, when they haven't even gone through the effort to use their brains. Never mind the fact, that GTA itself used to have similar beginnings and yet people didn't find GTA to be stupid.

I think people who say Saints Row is stupid are really exposing themselves as not only hypocrites, but also people who are unable to parse intelligence or critique from story writing without it being shoved in their face. In other ways, they're the stupid ones.

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Just an FYI on the TW@ thing: http://gta.wikia.com/TW@
Didn't realize it was in the III-era games. UGH.
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Old 08-26-2012   #12
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I think gta 4 incorperated satire perfectly, something like this:



You can simply get in the car, sit back and listen to something like this or just get out of the car and get back in realism. You can defend Saints row all you want but people flying up in the sky when you hit them isn't really my idea of fun. I played through the story and after that I got bored pretty quickly. Free-roaming in SR3 is just not that much fun, gta will always have the upperhand in free-roaming.. I don't care that much about small things as internet-cafe's names. Even if you'd consider those things 'bad jokes' free roaming outweighs all that stuff.

But your argument started with character motivations and that is something I'm not really against, somewhat more serious criminals can't hurt for once. But maybe that's why they supposedly have 2 protaganists, the older guy seems to be somewhat more serious, maybe the other (black) guy is more of a CJ kind of guy. That would be a nice way of satisfying both people who loved gta 4 , and people who felt gta 4 was to focused on realism.
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Old 08-26-2012   #13
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I also think it's a great example of both a parody and satire. I disagree with Victim heavily. 80's parody films are excellent parodies and ultimately excellent satires on the film industry and their horrible tropes. A WELL written satire manages to pick fun AND pick up on social commentary.
By definition, something that acts as a critique stops being parody and starts being satire. Satire uses humour to make a point (or criticism), whereas parody just makes humour through imitation and is not intended to be offensive in any way. They're similar but different in that key area.
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Old 08-26-2012   #14
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I don't think it really matters was it satire or parody. What I think is that the gta series has only gotten better trough the installments, and i mean better in every possible way. (gameplay, size, detail, atmosphere...) The only thing gta iv screwed up was that new "serious, realistic" approach to game design. I have no problem with developing the story and characters in greater detail and making it all a believable, interesting tale that truly has a place in this huge breathing environment, I welcome it.

Because that truly is the next logical step in crafting the gta game concept closer to perfection. They have this not so new anymore engine that they have gotten used to by now, and they know how to use it and we have already seen what it is capable of. Look at these games people! Look at the size of the map, the amount of things existing and moving and happening wherever you move. A few years ago increasing the amount of things you can put into a game and bettering the graphics was a moving frontier, now not so much. Creating a huge, detailed and interesting space is no longer a technical limitation, and that is obvious. So coming back to the story/game design, we can see that bettering the story element should be the next thing on R* to-do list. Taking a "serious, realistic" approach to the story is fine as long as it does not interfere with the gameplay. Which is exactly what gta iv screwed up.

They took this serious approach to the story and made it as it is. People can argue about it, but I think it really was kind of flat and non-convincing as far as realistic stories go. Not realistic at all. But that's besides the point. The point is, this serious approach to the story element eliminated a lot of silliness, surprise, mayhem, fun, variety etc. from the game. That is the main and only thing that hurt gta iv, because when you compare it to San Andreas... Not considering graphics, and the fancy physics etc. Which is the better game? I'd say SA, but I may be wrong. And if you wanna believe that gta iv story is a considerable improvement over what you saw in SA, fine. I don't agree. In the end, whether gta v takes a more serious or realistic approach to storytelling or not i believe it shouldn't affect the overall free-roaming gameplay and atmosphere of the game as is. And to clarify without writing a book, SA is what I consider to be a closer representation of the ideal gta concept in comparison to gta iv. In conclusion, I'm excited for gta v because it seems to be all I would expect from a new gta game. It looks bigger, better, prettier, with all the fun and beautiful environments and crazy vehicles back. I can only hope that that the story will deliver as well, because I too would like to see a new gta with an engaging story.

And that's the key thing, to better the story experience you don't need to make it serious, realistic, gritty, grey, brown, desperate... You make it believable and engaging. Realism helps the belivability, but the game has plenty of it already.

P.S. As far as the comparison between gta and saint's row, LOL! Saint's row is a fine game in it's own regard but the only thing it has in common with gta is the open world aspect really. You could nitpick and compare, but what SR really is a clown with a funny hat wielding a dildo and beating up strippers in a beat strippers with dido game mode. While gta is the reason you registered here so you could talk to fans like yourself. GTA is much much more than SR in my opinion. One thing it is more than an open-world or sandbox game, is an ART game. Just compare the atmospheres between the two games.

That is all, thanks for reading and excuse me for potentionally bad english.
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Old 08-27-2012   #15
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Himuro, regarding the juvenile brand humour - They aren't supposed to be big laughs or anything, they're just a way to make the background stuff more interesting. You get the pun/joke/satire/parody and maybe the first time you have a quick inner smile or micro laugh and that's it. It's either this, or your suggestion of real advertising, or realistic fake advertising.

If you've played Sleeping Dogs you'll know the radio adverts in that are just fictional adverts... there's nothing entertaining or funny about them and they don't even help with world building. A bad (or at least bland) option in my opinion.

I don't know how others feel, but there are two main reasons why I wouldn't want real brands in a GTA game. Firstly: It's advertising. Do we really want stuff like T Mobile or KFC adverts in the game, on the radio, billboards, trucks and any other media it might have (TV, internet). Secondly, it wouldn't really make sense have real brands in a fictional place like Los Santos. Plus I doubt real world brands would want to be associated with a GTA game anyway, the legal issue's would be nightmarish when you consider there are hundreds of brands in the GTA universe already so they'd need hundreds of real replacements.

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I love GTA for its satire. But I miss actually creative satire like,"Maibatsu Thunder: Mine's Bigger" or "Fernando's New Beginning's" or "Giggle Cream" or "PROTECTING YOUR RIGHTS Vice City Ammunation commercial". Not "Krapea" or "TW@". How are those two things social commentary? They're not. It's just the guys at Rockstars seeing Ikea and putting crap in the name - except with a K! Or seeing Twitter and going,"twitter? lol, more like twat! Put in a @ in it and call it a day, let's get some beers." In the past, when GTA made satire, it did so through a veil of truth and honesty. When GTAIV made satire, for the most part, it was the sake of being as vulgar or juvenile as possible. There is a difference. Notice how in GTAIII trilogy, they'd make a product something based on reality that people would actually buy? Like, I can picture Maibatsu existing. Or Eris Running Shoes. I CAN'T however, picture Krapea, or TW@ Internet Cafe existing. My issue with GTAIV is not that it contains satire; my issue with GTAIV is that it contains VAPID and STUPID satire that is one-dimensional.
Comparing "Maibatsu Thunder: Mine's Bigger" or "Fernando's New Beginning's" or "Giggle Cream" or "PROTECTING YOUR RIGHTS Vice City Ammunation commercial" to Krapea or Tw@ is a bad comparison because the first four things you mentioned are radio adverts with lines and lines of dialogue, while Krapea & Tw@ are one word each. You're complaining that that a one word joke name has less social commentary than a radio advert that could be around 30 seconds long.

Also you mention that III era stuff had more believable products & brands... remember it also had such rediculous things as petsovernight.com and Liberty City Survivor.

There are plenty of low level/broad humour examples from the III era and plenty of smart stuff in IV.

III era:
Cherry Popper Ice Cream
Fudge Packing Corp.
ProLaps
Glory Hole Theme Park
Vank Hoff Hotel
Rusty Brown's Ring Donuts

All pretty base level stuff that's in line with what you've called "vapid and stupid".

IV era:
MeTV
The Science of Crime
FLEECA
Ambulate Motorised Scooter

All satirizing real things, just as good as anything from previous games.

You clearly don't like GTA IV - no problem - but you're trying to reinforce your opinion by being selective about what is and isn't in the III era and IV era in-game media, when they actually have a similar mix of clever and silly.
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