Hixie's Natural Log

2008-12-25 02:00 UTC Give me my sandbox back

If you really care about GTAⅣ‬ spoilers, stop reading. I keep this pretty vague, though.

GTAⅣ‬, in the tradition of GTA games, is very non-linear. If you can find a better way to do a mission, then that's a-ok. Prefer to land on the target building's roof with a helicopter and then infiltrate from the top rather than entering from the basement? Go ahead. Prefer to escape from the cops through a more distant exit from the subway than the default suggestion, no problem. I love this about the game. GTAⅣ‬ even goes further than earlier incarnations by giving you specific choices sometimes, kill or don't kill, pick a side, etc.

So. In the mission "Out of Commission", I figure that instead of fighting my way through the hoards of minions, chasing the target with the bike, and so forth, I would instead sneak in through the back of the building, chase the target out of the building, sneak back out onto the road, and then fire at the target, who for some reason is waiting patiently in his boat, using a sniping rifle.

He didn't die. He barely flinched, though there was some blood. What is this? Our target, a major character in the plot, is actually an undead? Well then. Rocket launcher. That will sort him out. Rocket away, boat explodes... "You have abandoned your bike." Mission failure.


The bike hadn't moved. The goal was to kill the now dismembered guy. I achieved the goal. What has the bike to do with anything? Why didn't it work?

Look, I love the GTA series, and GTAⅣ‬ has fantastic levels of detail. But please, keep the missions non-linear. Let me solve them them the way I want to solve them, don't make me jump through hoops to satisfy your desire for a particular set of mission points. The gameplay is ultimately far more important than the rest of the game. The missions in GTAⅣ‬ aren't as flexible and as varied as in previous games, they almost all consist of either driving somewhere and shooting someone, or just going through a set of hoops that the mission designer came up with.

It's sad, but as detailed as GTAⅣ‬ is, it loses on poor mission design.

Here's an idea for GTAⅤ‬: instead of having specific missions, have characters with motivations, and make the missions be generated based on that just like the cars and pedestrians are driven by simulation. If I shoot a major character, don't fail the mission, just continue from there. If a particular building is some gang's stronghold, then it should always be that stronghold, whether I'm in a mission or not. If I kill them all, they should stay dead, and I should find their stash. If I call the cops while in the middle of a giant shootout, the cops, if they aren't being bribed by someone, should turn up and start arresting people (including me), just like they do if a shoot-out happens outside of a mission.

If I want to play a linear game, I'll play a game like Half Life.

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