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News for March, 2007

Saturday, March 31, 2007

New York City Upset by GTA4's Setting

Posted by DigitalD at 20:31. Category: General

New York City authorities are upset at the new Grand Theft Auto being set in their city. According to the NY Daily News (via Game Politics and /.), the city councilman and other city authorities have spoken out in condemnation of GTA IV. The city councilman had this little gem to add:

"Setting Grand Theft Auto in the safest big city in America would be like setting Halo in Disneyland."

With Rockstar Games' headquarters located in New York, this debate is just getting started. Can't wait to see the lower east side activists demonstrating on Broadway.



Friday, March 30, 2007

First GTA IV Preview Announced

Posted by DigitalD at 17:15. Category: General
Game Informer

Quickly on the heels of yesterday's trailer announcement, Game Informer magazine has announced a world exclusive GTA4 preview in their May issue. The may issue will be reaching subscribers next month, and we'll have the information up once we get it.

A few things to bear in mind. Game Informer was the same magazine that had a world exclusive preview of GTA San Andreas (our reporting), way back in June of 2004. That preview was 10 pages long and included a lot of new screenshots. We are expecting nothing less this time around.

Discussion topic on this, as usual, at our forums.


Trailer Observations

Posted by illspirit at 07:46. Category: General

Now that the chaos has died down a bit, we've had a chance to pick through the trailer to see what kind of technical upgrades might be hiding under the proverbial hood of GTA IV. Note, these aren't all confirmed features, per se, but they do seem to indicate things will, in fact, be different.

GTA IV shadowsPerhaps the most obvious technical upgrade visible in the trailer is the real-time lighting and shadows. Now, seeing as this is a next-gen title we're talking about, one might say this feature is a given. However, after experiencing and modding the GTAIII Trilogy, I think this deserves a lot more attention than it will probably get.

In every title since GTAIII, all the environmental lighting has been done by pre-lit vertices. For those not technically inclined, this basically means the highlights and shadows were painted into the models, then multiplied all together to roughly match the time of day.

While the results looked good at any given moment, as time passed by things just didn't seem alive. With real-time lighting, on the other hand, the "living, breathing city" concept of GTA has just gotten a whole lot more dynamic.


normal mapsAnother possible no-brainer for a modern title is normal mapping. But considering the history of somewhat blocky peds in the series, and if this is what we think it is, it is a welcome change.

If you look closely around the arm and face of this ped, you can see that the lighting appears to be smoother than the actual polygonal mesh. This trick is done by creating a smooth, highly detailed version of a 3D model, rendering a texture which stores the vertex info, then applying it to an optimized version of the model.

The end result is a more detailed model with a much smaller file size. Which of course is a good thing when you've got a dozen or so on the screen. It also looks as if both peds in the picture have individual fingers..


ped outfitsOne of the most annoying and downright bizarre things about the series has been that it's seemingly inhabited by an army of clones. Granted, San Andreas fixed this a bit by adding tons of different peds, but nevertheless, one would always run into the same person in the same clothes over and over again. Day after virtual day.

Hiding amidst the time-lapse portion of the trailer though are clues that this may be about to change. To the left are a series of screenshots from the trailer showing an otherwise identical person wearing mixed and different color outfits. If you go through the trailer frame by frame, it seems that there are a bunch of other peds wearing random outfits.

Yes, it is possible that they are four unique ped models. But after the player clothing options in San Andreas, it's only natural that Rockstar North expand this to peds. And if that's really the case I would expect the variety to grow even more as the game draws closer to completion.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

GTA IV Trailer Released!

Posted by adamcs at 21:54. Category: General
Straight to the trailer download!

Breakfast is served. Fetch the GTA4 trailer over at http://www.rockstargames.com/IV/ or on our own GTA IV trailer page. We have our downloadable torrent up and streaming version coming shortly, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, check out our screenshots page.

Digg it!


D-Day!

Posted by Adriaan at 09:07. Category: General

The most anticipated moment in a long time here at GTANet, the GTA community and in all of the gaming industry is upon us today and we're excited as you are. We're moments away from getting the first glimpse at a new era in the GTA series and we can just speculate what it all will entail. Will it be London or New York, or even both? Rockstar Games did an excellent job at keeping things silent so we just can't say until then...

Last night a dedicated section for the game was added to Xbox.com, for the first time confirming the obvious that the trailer is going to be in High Definition. The site always lists "key" info of a game on the left navigation and in this case it tells us that it will have one player functionality (although this can increase), surround sound, downloadable content from Xbox Live Marketplace and played at 720p.

Don't start panicking about the 720p (720 lines at 1280 x 720 resolution) just yet, most of the powerful games these days are designed for 1080i (1080 lines at 1920 x 1080 resolution), but because the HD support for the Xbox 360 is dynamic it will always employ the best resolution your TV or monitor can display. But as you can imagine this is not necessarily confirmed info, so the game could be designed at 1080i.

Another small piece of news made its way around the web last night, putting PS3 owners in panic and giving Xbox 360 fanboys something to rant about towards them. It started off when GTA IV was added to the support page of the Rockstar Games website and only the Xbox 360 platform was seen. Missing a PlayStation 3 title, this gave reason for many sites to post about this and create confusion. Rockstar Games later added a PS3 version of course, after they had gotten a little bit of free publicity before the trailer release.

The recent influx of users here at GTANet, most notably GTA4.net, reflects on the high excitement for the trailer release and we're expecting it to increase even more tonight. As previously stated, we'll have downloadable links, a streaming version as well as a torrent file on our own GTA 4 trailer page as fast as possible. We'll have a detailed analysis afterwards as well as anything else of interest surrounding the trailer. Be sure to take part in our pre-trailer chat prior to the release by going to the chat room applet or if you prefer an IRC client such as mIRC the server is irc.gtanet.com and the room is #gta.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Screenshots Too?

Posted by adamcs at 16:14. Category: General

SPOnG have been in touch with Rockstar and say they were promised that the trailer will "not be one of those annoyingly short teasers", but instead will be the first substantial look into what GTA IV is all about.

Interestingly though, they also claimed they will be recieving a bunch of new screenshots from the game which will be shown on the SPOnG site along with the high definition GTAIV trailer. This is the first we have heard about screenshots being given out to sites, as to this point we were only expecting a trailer. Linkage.

UPDATE: SPOnG have now changed their story, presumably at Rockstar's request. It looks like we won't be seeing screenshots afterall...


Pre-Trailer Real-Time Chatroom

Posted by DigitalD at 15:30. Category: General

We'll be hosting an IRC chatroom for real-time anticipation and discussion prior to and during the release of the trailer. You can join into the GTANet internet relay chat room by going to our chat room applet and selecting GTA Chat. Or if you know how to operate mIRC, the server you want to connect to is irc.gtanet.com and the room is #gta.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Trailer Day Plans and Staff Addition

Posted by DigitalD at 21:49. Category: General

In 2 days and then some hours the GTA IV trailer will be revealed. According to the drastic rise in activity at our GTA4 forums, this is an event the fans are eagerly awaiting. If you're planning on staying up on Thursday night (or Friday morning if you're east of Europe) to see the trailer the moment it is revealed, you might end up experiencing some difficulties trying to access Rockstar's official website, simply because there will be so many people trying to see it.

In light of this, we'll try to have the trailer up as fast as possible after release on our own GTA 4 trailer page. We'll provide a high-resolution streaming version of the trailer, as well as download links. A torrent file of the trailer will also be available (for those that are in favour of peer-to-peer distribution methods). In addition to that, expect screenshots of the trailer to replace the fake images at our GTA4 screenshots page, and to top it off, we'll have a detailed analysis of the trailer up on the news page by the day's end.

In addition to all our plans, we'll have Adriaan helping us with the GTA 4 coverage from now on. Adriaan had a short stint at the GTA Network a few years ago, after which he established several of his own Grand Theft Auto websites, which have become very successful. Among these are GTA Portable and GTAViceCityStories.com. Adriaan is very passionate about Grand Theft Auto and is looking forward to being part of the team. We look forward to a productive relationship with Adriaan and are proud to have him with us at GTANet.


GTA IV Trailer, More Than a Teaser

Posted by illspirit at 20:45. Category: General

Since the countdown to the trailer has begun, there has been much debate and worrying around the internets as to whether it would just be a brief teaser containing only a few glances of the game. According to this article posted at GamesRadar.com yesterday, it will be anything but.

"The official trailer for Grand Theft Auto IV is only a few days away as of this writing, and publisher Rockstar has promised that it won't just be some infuriatingly quick teaser. Instead, it'll offer up the first substantial look into what the game is all about, and internet speculation over what that might be has kicked the rumor mill into high gear."

Be sure to read the rest of the article, as they've compiled seven pages of good (and some just plain crazy) ideas for the game.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

GTA IV Desktop

Posted by illspirit at 06:41. Category: General

Being that it's a slow news day, here's a shiny, high-res/high-color version of the GTAIV logo I threw together which is suitable for a desktop background.

GTA IV logo
Download: 1024x768, 1280x960

Friday, March 23, 2007

"Things will be different"

Posted by adamcs at 23:45. Category: General

This is what it says at the bottom of an email sent out to subscribers today. So just how different is GTA IV going to be? More different than we expected perhaps? It looks like R* are really trying to emphasise it...

GTA IV
This email was sent to subscribers today

Discuss.

(NB: To subscribe to the GTA mailing list click here, or send a blank email to [email protected])


More GTA IV Advertising

Posted by adamcs at 00:07. Category: General

These posters were spotted by "Chris" in New York City, and submitted to Kotaku. It follows news that a 30-minute GTA IV countdown trailer was shown yesterday on the FX Network channel, which you can now see on YouTube courtesy of Raab @ GTA-Xtreme.de.


GTA IV posters
GTA IV posters spotted in New York City

GTA IV countdown trailer shown on FX Network channel

Thursday, March 22, 2007

GTA IV Trailer to Air on Television?

Posted by adamcs at 09:21. Category: General

Users at NeoGAF and GameFAQs have reported seeing a GTA4 countdown on the FX Network channel (a channel owned by FOX) early on Thursday..

"If you turn to the FX channel right now, there's a big black screen with 'IV' in the Grand Theft Auto font, along with the word 'trailer' and a countdown leading up to next Thursday, March 29 at around 6 p.m. EST. Then there's Rockstar's GTA4 Web site listed below with the Rockstar logo."

"With each second that counts down, there's a 'KA-chung, KA-chung, KA-chung' noise that resembles the 24 countdown noise, but with less clang and not so much beep. It's annoying, until you've been listening to it for a few minutes and it just becomes hypnotic."

The question is whether this is just advertising for the web trailer, or a hint that the trailer will be aired on television once the countdown hits zero. Stay tuned, and we'll do our best to find out more.

Thanks to our partnersite PlanetGrandTheftAuto for this one.

Related Link: GTAForums Topic


Sunday, March 18, 2007

GTA IV Setting Expanded: New York

Posted by DigitalD at 23:23. Category: General

The ticker on the top of our GTA IV site shows just 11 days remaining until the release of the first trailer, yet we are no closer to knowing where the game will be set. All options are still in the open, and in light of this we have expanded our GTA IV setting page to include New York as a possibility.

London has been a strong candidate ever since GTA 4 was announced, but rumors of New York have grown stronger. The latest case for a New York setting seems to be a topic at NeoGAF forums (topic has since been removed), about a 80's New York-based band called Breakdown being contacted by Rockstar Games for licensing rights to some tracks. Drawing a conclustion between this and GTA4 being set in Liberty City is rather far fetched, yet in any case, the setting page will be refined if the trailer does gives us an indication of GTA 4's setting. Else you're free to keep speculating.


Friday, March 09, 2007

PS3 Not Enough for GTA IV

Posted by adamcs at 08:45. Category: General

Sony's Phil Harrison has responded to concerns that the PS3 doesn't have enough third-party exclusives, by stressing that they would come in good time. When asked about GTA IV, Harrison said:

"I don't think PS3 has the install base to support Rockstar's investment in GTA IV on its own."

Source: IGN


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Euphoria Engine's Possibilities for GTA IV

Posted by DigitalD at 17:37. Category: General

Rockstar and NaturalMotion announced a partnership on February 27, 2007. While the announcement itself was predictably vague, GTA fans immediately caught on, and found several revealing clues. The announcement itself, reads as follows (shortened and emphasized at GTANet's discretion):

"Oxford, UK -- Feb. 27, 2007 -- NaturalMotion, the award-winning developer of 3D animation technology based on Dynamic Motion Synthesis (DMS), today announced a partnership with Rockstar Games, Inc., [...] to integrate NaturalMotion's revolutionary euphoria engine into upcoming next-generation Rockstar Games titles. Rockstar's integration of euphoria is well advanced, with today's announcement following several months of close collaboration between the two companies.

"[...] euphoria uses the processing power of [the PlayStation 3] and [Xbox 360] to simulate the human body and nervous system, thus creating fully interactive game characters that act differently every time. [...] Games move away from canned animation, towards a [...] life-like experience that is unique to the player.

"Further announcements regarding specific titles will follow at a later date."

Source: NaturalMotion Press Release.

As the press release makes no mention of Grand Theft Auto IV, and to that matter no mention of Rockstar North (the development studio where Grand Theft Auto IV is being produced), this announcement in itself had no connection to GTA IV. Nevertheless, the story was covered by virtually all of the online GTA community, and several gaming media websites put a GTA twist on the story. Suffice to say, the announcement stirred up a lot of hype.

Over the past week, we have learned that NaturalMotion is not only working in collaboration with Rockstar Games, the publishing label, but more specifically, with Rockstar North, the development studio in charge of making Grand Theft Auto IV. Rockstar has several developers' studios, including London (Manhunt 2), Vancouver (Bully), and San Diego (Midnight Club). Rockstar North, however, has been in charge of developing the last 3 big GTA games (GTA 3, GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas), and has been reportedly working on the next-generation GTA since 2005.

In this light, the inclusion of euphoria in GTA seems quite definite, therefore we would like to take the opportunity to clarify what it is that NaturalMotion and its euphoria engine can do, and how its functions can (and will) be used for the next Grand Theft Auto. More information on the euphoria engine and its uses for GTA IV on the GTA IV features page.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

GTA IV Trailer Countdown!

Posted by adamcs at 23:19. Category: General

R* have updated the official site with a countdown to the first GTA IV trailer. The trailer will be shown on Thursday 29th March at 18:00 EST!

http://www.rockstargames.com/IV/

GTA IV countdown
GTA IV countdown at the official site

We're expecting something along the lines of what Rockstar pulled off with their other upcoming game, L.A. Noire. The L.A. Noire trailer was revealed by Rockstar as the first visual image of the game, and lasted 2 minutes and 30 seconds. The GTA IV trailer will probably include some characters, the scenery and some music. At the least, it'll give us an indication of where the game will be set.

Discuss this development @ GTAForums.


GTA4 Episodic Content Downloads in 2008?

Posted by DigitalD at 16:13. Category: General

Take2's latest financial results press release gives us some indication of Rockstar Games' plans for GTA IV. The release suggests that 'exclusive episodic content' (we have yet to decipher what Rockstar means by this) will be available for download in 2008. Both Sony and Microsoft are expected to have exclusive content for their consoles in GTA IV. Yet Take2's announcement seems to hint that perhaps the games will be identical on release, and platform-specific content will simply be made available for download in 2008 (months after the official release date). Or perhaps the games will be released with different content, and the additional content will be revealed for both platforms in 2008. You're free to speculate for yourselves about what it means. So from the horse's mouth:

"Grand Theft Auto IV, the next-generation console debut of the genre-defining franchise, will be shipped simultaneously for the Xbox 360 and PLAYSTATION®3 in October. Starting in 2008, Rockstar will introduce exclusive episodic content downloads for Grand Theft Auto IV."
Take 2 Games, February 28, 2007

Related Links: GTAForums Discussion


Rockstar to Use NaturalMotion's euphoria Engine

Posted by DigitalD at 16:06. Category: General

"Oxford, UK - Feb 27 2007 NaturalMotion today announced a partnership with Rockstar Games, Inc., the world-renowned publishing label, to integrate NaturalMotion's revolutionary euphoria engine into upcoming next-generation Rockstar Games titles.

Rockstar and NaturalMotion announced a partnership (PDF), which will allow Rockstar to use NaturalMotion's "euphoria" dynamic motion engine for "upcoming next-generation Rockstar Games titles." We cautiously assume this to include GTA IV, so this is one indicator of what we might see in the next GTA.

The purpose of the engine is to create a dynamic environment, in which a body has a skeletal structure and is able to react to any sort of movement. Instead of animators having to animate all possible motions for the body, the engine creates this animation in real time. NaturalMotion was formed from research at Oxford University, as you can read from an interview about the euphoria engine. One of the most known games to use the euphoria engine is Indiana Jones 2007 on the PS3.

There are two videos in particular which I want to draw your attention to. The first one is an animation demo of the 'Adaptive Behaviors' in the endorphin engine (also produced by NaturalMotion), which gives a good idea of the kind of things the company is doing. The second video is of the actual euphoria engine, showcasing how the engine was used for both the Indiana Jones 2007 and Star Wars games.

Video 1 (3min) - endorphin engine - via GameTrailers.com
Video 2 (7min) - euphoria engine - via GameTrailers.com

As we have no videos from GTA IV yet, videos of other games using the euphoria engine give us a good idea of what the animations in GTA IV might look like, if the partnership is indeed used for GTA IV and not one of Rockstar's other projects (such as LA Noire).

Related Links: GTAForums Discussion


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