By Resident Video Games Expert William Miner

With many countries still in full lock down, many people are finding it increasingly difficult to keep boredom away. Hardcore gamers everywhere have been unaffected, though, and are actually wanting this period to continue, as many of them are getting paid by the government for not going into work. However, there’s been a growing community of fans who’ve been asking the various game developers to create content for the existing games that reflect how non-gamers are having to go about their business in the lock down. Rockstar Games, the developers of Grand Theft Auto V, have been the first to respond, and have just developed a huge DLC patch that alters the game game enough to allow players experience these lock down rules. I interviewed Hamish McSanta, lead programmer behind it all, to find out what the DLC entails.

TDJJ: “Mr McSanta, how important was it for Rockstar North to be one of the first companies to respond to these communities?”

HMcS: “We pride ourselves in how we communicate with our fans. They’re the ones who effectively pay our wages, and helpfully fill our message boards with their concerns about the various gameplay elements and childish name calling. So when we found out about this particular community that form, we felt it was right to start work on something.”

TDJJ: “When did you realise it was going to be the massive undertaking that it became?”

HMcS: “We thought it was going to be relatively straight forward, just take most cars and people off the streets. But then we realised it wasn’t just about reducing the these due to the lock down measures. We found that there was an added level of paranoia and fear towards other people in real life. Not many people know who’s got the virus, or had it already, or who’s more vulnerable because of it. Yes, the vulnerable should be self-isolating, but due to reports of some not heeding this advice, we felt we had to include these types of people in the game. So while there’s less people going around in the game’s streets, we had to alter the AI of everyone to reflect the general mood of the world. This took the longest time in development.”

TDJJ: “So I’m guessing this affects a lot of the existing missions then?”

HMcS: “It does yes, with all the social distancing measures as well. We’ve decided who’s self-isolating and who isn’t, so therefore a lot of the locations to find these people, and the ensuing fights and dialogue have changed. This in turn has made it more trickier in a way, added a lot to the gameplay.”

TDJJ: “Can characters get the virus as you play the game?”

HmcS: “Yes, and we’ve added mechanics to the game so you can find out if and when you get it, based on real world methods. But remember, you can still loot shops and hit people, so for the instances where you need to be a particular character, you can threaten doctors and that to help you with temporary anecdotes. Though I must stress that you must not do this in real life. The NHS are doing a great job in such awful circumstances. They won’t appreciate anyone kidnapping any of their staff like you would in the game.”

TDJJ: “Expanding on this, do you feel any enterprising gamer out there could perhaps find ways how to improve this situation in the real world?”

HMcS: “Possibly. I believe our game is comprehensive and has a big enough world of possibilities out there. Sure, there are many, many ways in which you can kill a hooker, but conversely, there might be as many ways to save her as well. These might not be as funny or entertaining, but I’m sure there are those out there with altruistic intentions. But probably not many.”

TDJJ: “And are there any missions that have been solely been developed with the virus in mind?”

HmcS: “Yeah. Apart from the alterations mentioned previously, for example, we’ve added one where you have to establish a fake side business where you extort money from people by saying you’ve got an antidote which, when coupled with the virus, gives the infected super strength, and other where you see how long you can send the police on a wild goose chase by going for a leisurely stroll in parks and other cordoned off council areas. Plus, there’s loads of side missions that involve queueing.”

Published by The Daily Jabjab

Hi, I'm from Stockport, Greater Manchester England. My plan on my blog is to hone my creative writing and write a post every day this year. It sounds daunting, and I'm sure things will evolve over time. Let me know what you think about my writing - any tips, useful websites and things like that would be quite lovely. Thanks for reading!

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