Writing, Video Games, and How to Make the next GTA-Online Awesome

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SOURCE: http://media.edge-online.com/wp-content/uploads/edgeonline/2013/08/GTA-Online.jpg

I’ve put my writing on hold while my wife is in school. We don’t have a good option for childcare and the responsibility falls to me. This means I’m home for 90% of the time, but when I write I tend to ignore the outside world. Due to this fact, I’ve put my writing on hold to focus on my kids.

I tried sneaking writing during nap times, but the combination of Word and my fingers on the keyboard sends out a subsonic pulse which ends naps in a thrashing bawl of crying. Surprisingly enough, video games don’t cause the same fit. In fact, with the help of an unplugged light-up controller, the kids are more than happy to let me get some game time in.

The majority of my time has been taken up by Grand Theft Auto Online. Online, not the single-player part of the game. I used that long enough to get the hang of the controls and then launched into the other side of things. For those of you who don’t know, Grand Theft Auto Online is a game where you create your own avatar of criminal destruction and are set loose in the city of Los Santos. You can create your own character, do jobs for various ne’er do wells, and level up to unlock more customization options like houses, vehicle, weapons, tattoos, and clothes.

While the missions are fun, I’m not one for just causing random lengths of chaos in the streets. My greatest enjoyment from the game actually comes from other players. The game is made for a competitive edge. Special encounters are setup for a limited time (armored cars to rob, 1 special car to acquire, or bounties on other players) and it’s a battle to get there first. Sometimes it’s a simple smash and grab, or perhaps the other players are too busy to make a run for it, but then there are the other times, and this is where the game shines. A group of random players all going after the same prize, trying to take each other out in the process, and starting a chain reaction of smaller conflicts that can turn the entire city cage match.

I really enjoy it. I like crime thrillers, the Parker Novels are one of my guilty pleasures. I play by certain rules, I do my best not to harm any NPCs on purpose, I avoid the police more than I fight them, and I give other players the shadow of a doubt. This may lead to me getting shot a few times by trigger-happy gamers, but there are times that it leads to me and my new friend citywide crime spree.

It’s a bit of escapism, my second book kind of hit the skids even before I decided to put writing on the back-burner. Both of the projects I was working on need major rewrites. It’s to the point where I think I should just scrap the WIPs and start over. I don’t really have time for that now, so to the flashing box I turn.

Due to my investment of time on this game I’ve come to realize a few things.

1. If there is a GTA 6 that is single-player only, I’m not getting it.
2. A stand-alone GTA Online would be awesome.
3. I might switch to straight up crime fiction.

Thank you for reading this far. Below will now be my ranting about how to make a full fledged GTA Online game work. If you don’t care about video games, I’d suggest you leave a like, and get along with your day. Stay away from Imgur & Tumblr, they eat time.

 

AND NOW HOW TO MAKE GTA ONLINE A STRONG GAME:

1. Multiple Cities
Have Liberty City, Vice City, and Los Santos connected via the airport. Players have to pay for a ticket & then hop a plane to the city of their choice. They keep their money, but would have to have a house/garage for each city they visit. Jobs and contacts could carry over across the country, not that you’d suddenly load up a job in Vice City if you in LS, but a contact from VC would get in touch with you for a job. That way a level 50 wouldn’t have to do starter jobs in another city.
Maybe charge a bit extra to transfer vehicles across state lines, or provide an online real estate option for other cities.

2. Better Character Creation & Customization
This is a given. The current setup, while interesting, isn’t very deep. I like the way the skills are setup, but the cosmetics are a bit wonky. On that subject, location based selections aren’t a bad thing. The fact that I have to go to the high end clothing store to get a suit isn’t an inconvenience. Add in City-based options for vehicles, clothes, and weapons, and add the option to dye said clothes, hairstyles, and such more than just the basic setup. I would love to be able to get my characters hair dyed some crazy color, but alas that isn’t currently an option.

3. Random Events and Jobs
In the single-player campaign there are triggers that cause random events. When you’re driving along a person on the street will get robbed and you have the option to take down the thief. Once that’s done you can either keep the booty, or return it for a small reward.
The one thing I miss is the option to do side jobs. Sure, you can ferry around people around in a taxi in the single-player, but that would be kind of cool in the Online mode too. Not only do you have to go from Point A to Point B, but you have to dodge other players along the way. Taxis, police cruisers, firetrucks, and ambulances used to allow for a different form a gameplay, in a fully Online games, variety would be a good selling point.

Now, these ones are a bit out there and take things to more of an MMO setup:

1. Bioware inspired ‘dialogue wheel’
When dealing with important NPCs it would be cool to have a dialogue tree available. Like how SWTOR did things, the right answer could lead to special jobs, or gear while the wrong one could get you stiffed, or even a bounty on your head.

2. Background Selection
Again inspired from Bioware, but this time from Mass Effect, a simple ‘origin’ selection would be pretty cool. Depending on your choices and the combination thereof would allow for different contacts, access to side missions, and a ‘special item’ (be it clothing, weapon, or vehicle modification).

Just my thoughts. If you enjoy the game, toss in your input in the comments, or if you have something else to say, let me know.

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