Today, on the way to work, I saw a special collector’s edition of a magazine in the newsagents and just had to buy it. It was a retrospective of ten years to celebrate GTA, marking the release of GTA IV. So far, nothing odd about that, except that I haven’t played GTA and haven’t actually played much of anything in the last ten years. So why did I consider it a must buy?
You see I was, in a minor way, involved in the creation of the original GTA from DMA Design. It was created there in the last few years of my time at DMA, where I worked on stories and manuals and stuff like that. This was late 1996, early 1997 and through a combination of opportunity and circumstance, I was going freelance the next summer.
Meanwhile I was writing the story for Body Harvest and trying to keep both hands on the keyboard instead of one of the keyboard and the other one with a fistful of my recently removed hair. Some of the decisions about the story that were being imposed on me from Nintendo were, frankly, barking as well as contradictory. Long story. So it was a relief to be asked by Gary Penn to write some dialogue for GTA.
My task was the write some “mission briefings” which were to appear on the pagers within the game, something which was quite refreshing, being completely non-science fiction. So in the relative “quiet” of my home, I cranked up the unreliable WordPro and wrote. This went on and off for several months, during which all kinds of pop-culture seemed to make its way into the pager messages, all of it at an entirely subconscious level. Trainspotting was big at the time and I somehow managed to name a character Renton, despite not actually seeing the film for another five years!
I cringe to imagine what Gary thought when he saw that apparent lack of imagination, though I suppose I could have spun it as a currently hip pop-culture reference. None of that mattered, because what actually happened was that I nervously presented the printout of the dialogue so far and Gary read. And read. And read.
“Very entertaining,” he concluded, “but they’re way too big to fit on a pager.”
Development of GTA continued past my time at DMA and as far as I know, none of my dialogue was included; certainly not any of my characters. I’ve still got the files and have spent some time going over it and wondering at the amount of swearing I included in it.
Still, that’s GTA for you. Dangerous to know!
Incidentally, my own games entry is here. The information there is not entirely accurate.
Sci Fi Now
Arthur C Clarke
The Stone Unturned
Where there’s a Sea
Edinburgh Book Festival
Predicting the Future