Why Rockstar chooses fun over realism

GTA IV art director on building cities.

Grand Theft Auto IV art director Aaron Garbut has said that the developers "never reproduce real world locations" in GTA games because it results in "hollow" environments.

"It's about taking inspiration from real places and producing something that captures the essence of it. We're trying to take our impression of New York and keep it as that, an impression, not a laboured reproduction," Garbut said in an exclusive interview with Eurogamer.

Grand Theft Auto IV's Liberty City location has a lot in common with real life New York - the Statue of Happiness, Broker Bridge, the island structure, and the city's cultural diversity, for instance - but the team stopped short of a facsimile out of a desire for "more flavour" and "more intensity".

"I've seen it in other games that set out to rebuild a city street by street, not only do compromises get made that favour realism over fun but a lot of the life is lost and all that's left is a hollow representation of a real place," Garbut said. "I'd rather have the right vibe than an accurate roadmap."

Elsewhere in part one of the interview, Garbut revealed how development of a GTA game actually begins, and how the character of Niko Bellic took shape. Look out for part two tomorrow.

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About the author

Tom Bramwell

Tom Bramwell

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Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.

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