Rockstar Games has invested a lot of time in transforming one of its most successful games into a new portable experience. Grand Theft Auto III, which recently celebrated its 10th Anniversary, is now available for portable devices. Rockstar Games worked with developer Trendy Entertainment and NVIDIA to bring its revolutionary open world game to the latest Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 devices. A Rockstar Games reprentative talks about the new game and what role the latest processors play in the current tablet revolution in this exclusive interview.
What were your goals heading into this mobile adaptation of Grand Theft Auto III?
The big emphasis was on playability on a touch screen. We support a controller for those who want to plug in and use one, but most people will be using the touch screen to navigate this game. We’ve made every aspect of this game completely customizable so the player can get the exact controls they want, whether that’s using the accelerometer for steering or using your fingers to control the on-screen steering wheel during the driving portion of the game. In many ways, this game is easier to control with the tablet than it was with the PlayStation 2 controller. We’ve added things like auto targeting to make it easier to shoot your weapons.
How did the mobile device impact the way this game was designed?
These are mobile devices and people will be on them for short periods of time or get phone calls or other interruptions. We added a Quick Save feature that can be used at any point. We also now offer Mission Retry, so you can easily go back and play again right away. These are portable experiences, so we tried our best to get players in the world and moving around quickly. A lot of this work was doing under the hood, where we tinkered around to come up with the best way to make this gameplay experience solid for short durations without ruining the core of the game.
What’s an example of the Tegra 3 that people will get when they play this game?
It’s all about fidelity. Our goal is to get 60 frames per second at 800p HD at maximum draw distance with every single subtle detail turned on. Little details like papers flying all over the place, little car antennas etc. NVIDIA gave us a really great quad core processor and we’re making full use of it. All of the assets here were built off the PC version of the game so we can do high resolution textures without things looking grainy or stretched out. Anything that did look bad we actually redrew and touched up so that the signs and other details will be clear and don’t look like it was made ten years ago off a compressed JPG.
From a development standpoint, what’s it like making this game so that it works well on both the tablet and the smartphone screen?
It’s a little tricky, but definitely not too much. There’s always a tell in the processor that will detect what you’re running on, which you see with a lot of today’s PCs. It’s like with Tegra 2 versus Tegra 3, there are ways for us to detect relatively easily so that the game experience is the best it can be for that device. If you’re playing on the Tegra 2, we lock you in at 30 frames per second to ensure a fluid experience. There are parts in the game that support 45 and even higher. The other parts go as low as let’s say 29.
How does the gameplay experience compare from Tegra 2 to Tegra 3?
The experience is the same. When you put this game side by side on two different devices, you’ll see the graphical distance but the hope is that the gameplay will feel good across devices. They both will give you smooth experiences. There’s a line that we drew that if the device couldn’t play properly, we didn’t release the game for it.