Grand Theft Auto 5 Art Director Talks Los Santos, In-Game Lighting

By Prarthito Maity , Updated Jan 06, 2014 01:42 PM EST

Grand Theft Auto 5, Rockstar North’s newest open world addition to the massively popular Grand Theft Auto franchise, is easily one of the top games to have arrived in 2013. However, it seems like there’s more than it meets the eye for the game, and Rockstar was recently present to point all the finer details of the game that has brought so much joy to fans in all parts of the globe.

Rockstar North Art Director Aaron Garbut was recently in an interview with EDGE where he spoke about the game on a much larger scale, speaking about how the team always aspires to make their title as lifelike as possible, with real life incarnations of cities in the games holding the key.

Speaking about how Los Santos is the series’ closest analogy to a real life location, Garbut stated: We always use the same process: working with real cities, starting on a macro level to define the districts we want to use, and working down. I think the only variation is how many real landmarks we decide to use once we get to the individual building level.”

“I always feel we build our own world – we’re still a long way from being dictated by reality. Instead, we use it as a starting point. We’ll move entire districts about geographically, never mind individual buildings.”

“I’d never want to rebuild a city. I think that would be a lot less satisfying both for us to build and for the player to play. In a lot of ways, it would be less convincing, too. At least that’s how I rationalise it to myself. Only a relatively small subset of players ever get to know the real LA or New York. Most experience it through film and TV, or through short visits, and that’s a highly edited representation,” he further added.

“We do the same: we take the feel of a city, the one we get through visiting and through experiencing it our whole lives through media, and build that.”

“We compress, we edit, we emphasize certain things and we end up with something that in some ways, I think, feels more like the popular perception of the place than the actual city. Only because the popular perception isn’t the real city, if that makes sense.”

Additionally, on the topic of in-game lighting and how it successfully evokes the player’s mood, Garbut stressed on its importance in the game and stated “Good lighting makes all the difference; it’s what binds the experience together. We have an extremely good lighting team who have worked together to push and push what was previously possible.”

“It’s a hell of a lot of work and tuning, held together by extremely optimal and clever code with a layer of hacky tricks over the top to give us the things that shouldn’t be possible,” he added.

Grand Theft Auto 5 arrived worldwide on Sept. 17 last year.

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