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  • Writer's pictureKadin White

GTA VI and Capstone Vertical Slice

Welcome back, fellow game lovers. Thank you for returning to the humble abode, that is my blog. I talk about happenings within the game industry and give my thoughts and insight, as I work to break into the industry myself as a producer/project manager. If this is your first time here, welcome and check out my other blogs if you enjoy this one. 

November was here and gone in a flash. I hope you all enjoyed the Thanksgiving break if you had one. Before diving into the main topic of GTA VI, yes, it's not clickbait I'm talking about it. I was able to finish Spider-Man 2 over the Thanksgiving break. All I can say is WOW! What a story. What a game. What a studio. Insomniac Games did it again and told a story of so many themes. Handling insecurities in relationships. Trying to save the ones you love even if they can't be. A father's love for his son, and so much more. Peter, Miles, you know who else ;) The character arcs they have are amazing. The gameplay improved in so many ways. I talked about the game last month. I don't want to spend much time other than I finished it and I loved it. Bring on a new game plus mode. 

This month's topic is GTA VI. For those that may not know God of War, the 2018 reboot, is the reason why I'm pursuing a career in the industry today. A story for another day. But the Grand Theft Auto franchise, specifically GTA V is hands down the game I've put the most time into. I've played through the campaign more times than I can count. I've been playing GTA online since New Year's Eve 2014, four ranks away from 200, and have 30 days' worth of time spent. The online portion of the game is fascinating.

From a production standpoint, you have to have a combination of an agile production methodology mixed with some waterfall because if you look at their history, especially in recent times, the massive updates of the game come out in the summer usually June or July, and then a big update in December every year. That's in terms of major content updates. It's slowing down now because of the impending marketing campaign of GTA VI. I'm getting there, I promise. You also then have to include the seasonal stuff for holidays they do such as Valentine's Day, Halloween, and Christmas. 

To make all these updates happen the production team has to be on point because you're not only talking about releasing updates consistently, but you also have to make sure your pipelines and communication channels are as transparent as possible. Rockstar has employees that work not only in their offices but also contract from all around the world. 

So now let's talk about GTA VI. People, and by that I mean the spirited GTA community, have been asking for VI or some news from it for years. My message to the community would be to stay patient. You love GTA V so much you want the next one. GTA VI more than likely has been in development since GTA V launched, pure speculation on my part. However, when you're talking about a studio and a game that has so much of a cultural impact in terms of levels of excitement. I mean, I even saw Lebron tweet about it. They know they have to have a great plan. From a design, programming, art, and production pipeline and perspective to bring it all together. 

The production and likely marketing team have been working on the announcement for months and years. Also side bar, if you are a member of the community and you find yourself with information about game trailers, story beats, whatever, please don't leak it on social media. Some people spend years to make that and plan to have it revealed when its ready. It's bad for the community. It hurts the human beings that make the game. Please just don't do it. 

Back on the subject. I can only imagine how long preproduction would have been for this game 3 to 4 years maybe. Going into development fully when RDR2 launched. You're talking 5-7 years of full-blown development. Wow. Talk about planning. Rockstars team knows what they're doing and I love being able to break down and analyze how they handle the development of their games.

There are a few things I've observed. One, things might leak and you have to have a plan for that unfortunately, they adapted and handled the situation as well as anyone could've by just dropping the trailer and essentially saying, we tried to keep it secret we're sorry, but you might as well just see it. Two when your teams are going to be working on a game for a decade plus you have to make sure they have everything they need to execute efficiently, and that they're taking care of themselves, this isn't necessarily a teaching from Rockstar, just a human thing check in on someone you haven't talked to in a while. It might just make their day. Lastly, shifting resources where it's needed. I.e. shifting resources from GTA Online to RDR2 back to GTA Online for a stretch, to give a creative break, then back to full resources for GTA VI. It's fascinating how they handle the pipeline looking in as an outsider. 

That largely is my "professional" insight into Rockstar, GTA, and their development pipelines. Now I'm putting my fan hat on to talk about the trailer.

Holy cow. Where to even start? I mean Vice freaking City let's go. Right off the bat Lucia. Awesome. I'm getting major Bonnie and Clyde-style vibes in terms of the relationship between her and her partner. And if they make me care as much about a character as much as I did about Arthur Morgan, who I will stand by and say to this day is the best protagonist created, then man am I gonna be emotional when this game launches. 

I'm so interested to see the role social media and news media play in the game considering it makes up a good chunk of the trailer. Graphically speaking the game looks awesome. While it didn't say specifically, I'm willing to bet that's pretty close to what the game is going to look like, and it's probably only going to get better over the next year of development. To others it may seem dumb, but the way the water looks and reacts in that trailer, as someone who loves to go boating, is realistic, and looks awesome. I just want to drive a boat around on the water in the game. 

I was eleven when GTA V launched. I'll be 23 presumably, if it launches in 2025. Again, as I mentioned, let devs have all the time they need. The game regardless is going to break every record known to mankind when it comes to the game industry. People who don't look at or pay attention to the games industry will pay attention when it comes out. It's just that huge of an entertainment phenomenon. That's how much excitement and joy that game brings to the world. It's a game that I want to work on and be a part of someday. I'll blog in the future about it as more info comes out but for now, I couldn't be more excited for the game. 

Onto the capstone update. On November 20th our Vertical Slice build went live and is currently up on our itch page if you want to check it out.  We aced our vertical slice build. Literally. Lost Water Studios crushed it and I'm honored to be a part of such an awesome team and produce a group of individuals who are so talented. Helping them bring those talents together to showcase to the world is an absolute pleasure. 

We still have a long way to go obviously before our gold build launches next year. We have our iterative build, meaning a build that improves upon our vertical slice, launching in a week or so. I'll comment here when it's up. Our player communication needs improvement and, spoiler based on feedback from industry professionals and playtesting data, our world is going to look a lot different next year, it won't be an open world and be more linear in design. 

We weren't able to get the current world to work in cohesion with our core gameplay. Moving to a more linear format helps with that and we also hope it will help our players understand where to go in the world better. Plus from an art standpoint, we get to differentiate each level more, but that's just a bonus and our art team is awesome. That said glad we had the opportunity to try the open world format and fail and more importantly learn than not having done it at all.

Now don't get me wrong we have one more semester before the game goes gold and we are starting with this shift in design next semester. The roadmap and pipeline will have to be on point to execute the remaining milestones we have. You can be darn sure I'm going to have it as on point as it can be to help this team bring the game through those milestones. 

At the time of writing, we are also preparing to go on winter break. So I most likely won't have a blog for the end of December, but will be back and ready to go at the end of January. I will talk about more topics and viewpoints within the industry. Also of course talk about how Project Lost Water is going. The game name has a soul ;) I promise. Will be revealed in January. :) 

I've enjoyed the start of this blog. Being able to talk about how I view different topics in the games industry and offer my insight and takes as I work to break in as a professional myself. I want to thank you all for reading and being on the journey with me. Hope you have a great holiday season and here's to an exciting 2024.

Thanks for reading and take care of yourselves,


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