Rockstar Games are publishers who have been able to establish themselves as the most dominant force in AAA gaming over the years. Time and time again, they have been able to produce cultural mainstays like the GTA franchise and Red Dead Redemption.
Many studios and publishers would be happy to ride off into the sunset if even one of their games reaches the level of success that a GTA game usually achieves. However, Rockstar Games aren't ones to be satisfied with a single cultural phenomenon and have made it their business to put out landmarks with each release.
GTA 5, along with Online, has been able to stay relevant 7 years since the game's release. Meanwhile, Red Dead Redemption 2 dwarfed many of the year's biggest movies in terms of financial success.
Should Rockstar Games opt for a smaller map for GTA 6?
With that kind of success, Rockstar Games should be looking to stay on their toes and ahead of the curve. The map of a GTA title is as integral to the game's quality as its characters or story.
The open world presents a lot of options to the developers but it also raises the stakes and presents a whole new set of challenges. With Rockstar's infamous attention to detail, the level of work that goes into the open-world map must really take a toll.
Does a bigger map always mean a better game?
Players and several critics will often cite the size of the maps in GTA as one of its glaring positives. However, players and studios must really take a step back and question the purpose of a huge map.
Essentially, a large, sprawling map represents opportunity, freedom and scope. Ideally, it should encourage the player to explore every corner of the map and discover all its secrets and immerse themselves in the open world.
However, more often than not, a large open world dissolves and runs into the "checklist" problem. This means instead of the players being encouraged organically, they are merely checking things off of a list in order to complete the game.
This adds a certain robotic feel to the game, taking away from the immersion. The GTA games have been able to alleviate this issue and typically, bigger has not always been better.
Several game developers have expressed their concerns regarding open-world games and the increasing size of the maps. Their concern is that the player simply doesn't feel encouraged to explore the map as it is too vast.
Without actually having things to do on the map, the player feels little to no incentive to actually explore the far-reaching boundaries of the map.
What is the ideal map size for the GTA franchise?
Games like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided worked so well with their small map size as they were able to fill it with a vast amount of details. Even a smaller map can feel expansive simply by allowing the players to explore it in a variety of ways and by incentivising exploration.
If the map feels denser, with many things to do and allowing for more interactivity, the game will subsequently feel more rewarding. The map size of GTA 5, to a large portion of the audience, feels like the adequate size for a GTA game.
Red Dead Redemption II is far from a flawless game but it does a lot of things right. Due to its more methodical nature, Red Dead Redemption 2 excels at giving players a lot of free room so that they would be able to explore at a more methodical pace, working in favour of the game's narrative.
The GTA games are paced faster and, thus, require more detail packed into a giant map. While Rockstar could go for even bigger maps than Red Dead Redemption 2, perhaps it might not be the best option.
The 40-second rule of the open-world
Although the number isn't exactly precise, the open-world games tend to follow a "40-second rule" in order to keep the player on their toes and interested in the game.
Players have often experimented and checked the veracity of this rule and whether games like GTA tend to follow that structure. Essentially, what the rule dictates is that every 40 seconds, the player must encounter something interesting in the open world.
This ideally means that the game world isn't simply vast for the sake of being big but also has a ton of interesting elements in it. Red Dead Redemption 2 and GTA 5 both adhere quite well to the rule.
However, increasing the map size further would mean compromising on the quality of the game world, and the player will not feel incentivised enough to explore it.Published 07 Oct 2020, 13:07 IST