My GTA 4 Stunt and Glitch Run In GTA 4 with X-Play’s Gamer Challenge

15 09 2008

Glitchin' and Griefin' in GTA 4 with the X-Play Stunt Crew

Earlier tonight MediaSapien was one of about 14 people who participated in a multiplayer stunt challenge in Grand Theft Auto 4, hosted by Mr. Sark of the show X-Play and slated to air on G4TV this Wednesday or Thursday. Let me say right off the bat, I admire Mr. Sark’s cool and steady leadership under conditions that can only be described as unnerving. It takes a lot of patience to direct actors. It takes even more to direct non-actors. Now imagine trying to wrangle a dozen hyped-up non-actors, all chattering on headset, and many of who are holding rocket launchers and AK47’s.

Hmm, Focus! GTA 4 needs me!

The group assembled was a varied lot – a few kids who seemed up past bedtime, a couple of rambunctious 20 something’s who were willing to focus, there were one or two quiet players who were very good at the game and focused to boot, and naturally there were a few griefers. Mr. Sark managed to be diplomatic – answering everyone’s questions about the stunts, when the video would air, thoughts on Morgan Webb’s relative hotness – all while coordinating players and recording videos of each stunt.

We tried at least 4 or 5 different stunts, with varying degrees of success. First up was a glitch involving a city bus and a swing set. The goal was to have players stand on top of the bus as it hit the swing set and hopefully fling the players clear across liberty city. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to work too effectively. A few avatars did get oddly crushed to death, and some were tossed around a little, but nothing from my vantage point looked particularly thrilling. Next it was on to the airport for some runway bowling and coordinated stunt jumps. Both of these were fun and seemed to work out pretty well, in spite of the griefing from the circling helicopters. From there we all piled into helicopters to try another type of “flinging” stunt. By jumping off a roof and onto a hovering helicopter, one can sometimes be chopped and flung in dramatic fashion. Again it didn’t seem too effective. One issue was the sheer number of players, which kinda overwhelmed the Xbox whenever it had to draw them all at once. Clearly the physics of the game was affected as well. Lastly we took a chopper ride out to the Statue of Happiness to get a group shot of all the players leaping off the scaffolding under the secret beating heart of Liberty City’s iconic statue.

Just a few of the the GTA 4 Heroes

We worked at it for about 4 hours, really rallying together as a group in the last hour or so, and ultimately we got the footage Mr. Sark needed. It was fun to be a part of a directed and coordinated project in a multiplayer game. Usually these environments are anarchy, with games descending into pointless team-killing and juvenile name calling. It was refreshing to feel like part of a team – a thing that is so easy in RL, so taken for granted – a dozen or so people following instructions and working together to achieve a common goal. But in the facelessness of VR, it can be nearly impossible to accomplish such coordination.

But this was no ordinary multiplayer game, and no random group of players. We were assembled with a mission. – to create some of the biggest and most elaborate stunts ever performed in GTA 4. And under the leadership of Mr. Sark we accomplished our goal. Are we heroes? Yes, I think we are. We are among the pioneers and patriots – those willing to jump into a chopper blade or take a rocket to the face – if it makes a kick-ass stunt clip.

Check back later this week. I’ll try to post the video here when it becomes available.

Here’s the video.  If you look closely, you can see me (Gamertag: Spark415) during the bowling sequence (00:52)…

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more about “G4 – X-Play – Features“, posted with vodpod



Grand Theft Auto 4 Law Abider – A GTA 4 Performance Art Project

17 08 2008



No laws were broken during the making of this video.

The map is not the territory“.  How does that statement resonate in today’s digitally rich context, in which we visit countless simulacra of territory, reference maps that signify maps, and have deeply fulfilling personal experiences in the non-territories of virtual space? Are there any original territories left, or has literally everything become a signifier for something else, an infinite loop of maps leading to maps eventually leading back to the first -but not necessarily the original – map?

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1 08 2008

I am fascinated by the HUD.  No, not the 1963 Western starring Paul Newman, but the Head’s Up Display found lurking in the corner of many video game interfaces.  You know what I mean.  The small map-like radar scope or grid view of the game world that lets the player know at-a-glance his situational awareness.  The player is usually presented as a dot in the center of the HUD, with various icons and graphics representing other players or items nearby.  Every HUD is different, and their variety and depth and significance has become a minor obsession of mine. 

When I first came across this site from Cornell University my jaw hit the floor.  Collaborating with Buddhist monks, researchers created a stunning animation of the Kalachakra Mandala – a 2D image that represents the three-dimensional palace of the Kalachakra deity.  Basically they took a 2D sand painting, and extrapolated a 3D model of a five story temple. Go look.  You will never look at sand paintings the same way again.

There is an interesting parallel between the visual language of HUDs and Mandalas.  Even though they come from radically different sources, there is a similarity in the use of icons and signifiers to represent elements of value or importance.  I can’t help but take the analogy one step further and imbue the HUD with the kind of spiritual relevance and guidance within the game that the mandala has in reality.  Think about it, while fighting it out in GTA 4 multiplayer, the player needs the information in the HUD.  To a l337 gamer, the HUD is the difference between life and death.  I definitely do NOT want to sound glib, or suggest that real people’s spiritual practices are in any way trivial. I’m trying to say just the opposite.  In some small way, as games become increasingly relevant in our lives, the language of the HUD reflects this significance, and serves as a visual reminder of the in-game experiences and values of the player.

Recognize any of these?