Building the GTA V City Model

Building the GTA V City Model

This question orginally appeared on Quora: How long did the map* in GTA V take to build? Following is my answer in an edited and slightly expanded version.

The entire Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) model took at total of 4 years to build between 2008 and 2013.

First, Rockstar built a ‘white box’ city model (a 3D working model with no textures) that took between 9-12 months to build up but it was the constant iterations and tweaks of the model – based on playability – by up to 1,000 developers (preproduction, modelling, coding, art direction, creating textures, test plays etc.) that took the bulk of the time. Roclstar could invest so much time as the development and marketing budget for GTA V was reportedly £170 million or US$265 million.

A ‘white box’ 3D city model of GTA V re-created by the Playstation Gaming Channel before the game was release based on the official screenshots and trailer

The process of making GTA V is covered in detail in a series of articles on Develop, starting here: Inside Rockstar North – Part 1: The Vision. In the fourth part, Aaron Garbut (Rockstar North art director on GTA V) outlines the timeframe developing the game model/map:

…we have six to eight people on the design for around nine months to a year. At that point we have a pretty solid blocked in map.
(source: Inside Rockstar North – Part 4: The Art)

Rockstar North 8
Game developers working on GTAV at Rockstar North 8 studio

Garbut also explained the iterative process refining the model:

We have a chunk of preproduction where a subset of the art team lay out and build a white box city. We get the roads feeling good, the vistas working well and look at the skyline and landmarks. We spend a long time driving and building and tweaking and getting everything in place and feeling balanced, making sure the districts we have chosen will blend together naturally and as a whole create the feeling of the city.

(offline, cached source: Rockstar North’s Aaron Garbut on the making of Grand Theft Auto V | Edge Online)

Part of the game’s success is no doubt due to Rockstar’s obsessive refinement of the model. It is wonderfully detailed with all sorts of nooks and crannies (I’m still finding them after over 2 years of playing the game) and a distinctive character. Leslie Benzies, president of Rockstar North says:

That last five to ten per cent of work on the game makes a huge difference. This level of perfection is not seen or understood in the majority of the industry. We can all make a car drive down a street in a game, but can you do it in style?

There are also some good answers elsewhere on Quora that explain the (likely) production process in some more detail: How are large, open world games, like GTA V made?

A full wireframe model (no surfaces, no lighting) of Liberty City from GTA III (source)

Travelling back a bit further in the GTA universe, Building Liberty City gives a good overview of how GTA went from flat-world to all the glory of three dimensions in GTA III (2001). From there, via the refinements of Vice City (2002), San Andreas (2004) and GTA IV (2008), GTA V took a world of three dimensions to a wonderful and detailed new level of realism.

To see for yourself, click through for high resolution PS4 (1080p) and PC (4K) versions.

City scene of Los Santos in GTA V (PS4 version, source)
Country scene of Los Santos in GTA V (PC version, source)

Read my original answer on Quora. You can also follow me on Quora.

* My answer assumes that the term ‘map’ in the question refers to the entire virtual world of the game, ie. the model, and not the ‘texture maps’ of materials applied to the model.

Managing Passwords with 1Passwd

Managing Passwords with 1Passwd

1Password iconForget about trying to remember 50 different passwords. Avoid clicking the “Forgot your password?” link ever again. How? Use a password manager utility.

After finding that the number of my online registrations exceeded my (limited) brain capacity for recalling them, I realised I needed a way to retrieve passwords without using my Filofax. Because I used several browsers, my website passwords and registrations were all over the place. For a while, Ciphsafe was my secure haven. But a lack of recent development and limited functionality (ie. website autofill) led me to look for a replacement: 1Passwd.

As a Mac OS X utility, 1Passwd ticks all the boxes. Clean interface, tick. Fast loading and stable, tick. Stacks of features, tick. All you have to do is remember one “master” password and all your valuables (passwords, web forms, notes, identities) are locked away by 1Passwd’s 128 bit military encryption.

1Passwd also can easily manage important or confidential notes. I use the Secure Notes feature to record all the serial numbers of my valuables such as cameras, hi-fi and television etc. Each entry also lists when I purchased the item, how much I paid and where I bought it. Now, to some, this might seem pedantic but have you checked the fine print of you home contents insurance lately? I backup my Secure Notes on an external hard drive as well as online (off-site copy) – using 1Passwd’s export function – just to be sure.

Rather than list all the features here, go and check out the comprehensive 1Passwd website. Or check out a detailed review on thinkmac where 1Passwd is aptly described as a way to “Pimp your Keychain”.

Give 1Passwd a test drive as it seamlessly integrates with all major Mac OS X browsers and the developer support is excellent (yes, I’ve had some help). There’s a fully functional free version, albeit with a 12 Web Form limit, if you’re still not convinced.

Do you manage your passwords or just recycle the same old password? Leave a comment below.

Information Icon This is the first review in a series on handy Mac OS X utilities. Keep a look out for the next one… or better yet subscribe to

UPDATE 16 May 2007: This article recently won Agile Web Solutions1Passwd Bloggin’ for Tunes Contest. Cool! I’m off to buy some muzak.