ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

The Haze of Possibility —

The game Grand Theft Auto V will send you on a large variety of missions and quests, many of which will require travel between the southern, more urban locations and the northern, nature-filled expanses. A number of roads and paths connect these areas, including mountainous trails, single-lane routes and a number of highways. One of these is the Great Ocean Highway, a multi-lane affair that swings along the west side of the island and into the city.


The day in GTA V is shorter than “real time”, so it’s a good chance you will catch yourself on this highway in the sunset or sunrise, the twilight hours, the golden time. This popular highway is filled with cars making their way north and south, driving at various speeds into the city or away from it. Among them will be you, often caked with blood or carrying passengers to the next quest, or both.

In the mile or so before you get into the city, the view ahead of you stretches far into the distance, and besides the lights of buildings and skyscrapers intermingling with the stars, comes the boardwalk, bright and beautiful, a hazy line stretching into the ocean. At the end of this horizon line of glowing activity is the blur of the ferris wheel and roller coaster at the pier’s end, turning ever so slightly, twinkling into the darkness.


That view, that hazy view into the boardwalk, has a lot of special, internal meaning to me. It’s a view that promises, just over the horizon, the fun and excitement I might be wishing it was part and parcel of. I didn’t always have the free agency to find my own fun – sometimes I’d be somewhere because the family or the group I was with was on its way to another function, one not as fun, and seeing the glow and promise of things in the distance might be all I got, and I’d craft a dream and hope from it.

Grand Theft Auto V is a marvelous thing, technically. The world is full and real. When I run into the edges of it, the places the engine and the construction fall short, I am so far deep into a situation that my complaint seems ridiculous: Emergency services fail to arrive when I explode cars at busy intersection. Strip club appears to have no roof access to service air conditioning, requiring scaling from other nearby buildings. Specific style of taco truck seems unnecessarily prominent around city.

But far and away, the most brilliant, beautiful thing is the lighting, which ranges the gamut from sun showers to cold nights, and from summertime-quality days to buzzing, foggy evenings. To remember the process of generating a functional, single-color sprite on my Atari 800 by calculating the binary behind each set of 8-16 pixels, it has been a privilege to witness how far the technology has come in my lifetime.

That a moment in the game, a simple one of driving into the city on the Great Ocean Highway, music blasting on the radio, could call me back to a feeling and emotion that has been a part of my life since the beginning… well, that’s maybe the highest compliment I can pay.




Categorised as: jason his own self

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  1. phuzz says:

    Although I played most of the way through on the 360 last year, I think I’ll still be picking up the PC version when it comes out because it just looks so pretty.

  2. dballing says:

    I did 100% on the XBox version, but got it for my PS4 when it came out and am having a blast going through the story-line one more time. 🙂