In an interview with Develop Online, Leslie Benzies, Studio President at Rockstar North, has revealed that the creative team has enough ideas to see the Grand Theft Auto franchise continue well into the second half of the 21st Century.
“We’ve got about 45 years worth of ideas we want to do. We don’t know what GTA VI will be, but we’ve got some ideas. GTA Online is the focus right now. There ain’t no rest between finishing V and then Online. Plus we have some other things – stuff, DLC, I don’t know how to describe it exactly – that we’d like to do, and we’ll pick the right ones.”
Benzies is part of the core team consisting of Rockstar Games co-founders Sam and Dan Houser and Rockstar North art lead Aaron Garbut who initially come together to pinpoint the initial ideas that will then develop into the next GTA title.
“It comes from the idea first. Where is it going to be set is the first question. Then that defines the missions; you’re doing different things in LA than in New York or Miami. The map and story get worked up together, and the story is a basic flow of how it works out so you can layer the missions in… We throw stuff in the pot, and the good stuff stays and the bad stuff disappears – there are a lot of gatekeepers at the studio, who ensure not much of the chaff makes it through. Some of the good ideas, like the three characters, stick around.”
Benzies reveals that the idea of a trio of protagonists was raised in development for GTA: San Andreas, with one from each of the three cities, but was shot down due to technical constraints. He also reveals the thoughts of the team, that they are not making game-like movies, but music albums, with Grand Theft Auto IV reflecting the challenges and difficulties that took their toll on Rockstar.
“GTA IV was dark times. We’d been Hot Coffee-d. We were thinking ‘We make video games, and [the US authorities are] doing this to us?! Our darkness showed in IV, and we realised that. So the DLC lightened it up a bit. Gay Tony especially was more flamboyant and bigger. The expansions added more energy.”
With the launch of Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online now past them, no doubt Benzies, the Houser brothers, and Garbut will soon be meeting again in London to figure out the initial spark that will eventually unfold into Grand Theft Auto VI.