Virtual Set, Real Problems

When making the I Shot The Sheriff -post, I came to realization that it’s not always as straightforward as one would think to operate in virtual setting. As we all know, in real life, doing something creative on location can be a mess when dealing with so many variables, in contrast to controlled studio environment. So, when I was up to snap some screenshots inside the realm of Grand Theft Auto IV to illustrate my point in said post, those “on location variables” really did came into play, since GTA IV simulates brilliantly various real-life phenomena.

First of all, I knew I wanted a police car so I had to first find one and not to mess it up before shooting it (in more ways than one). So, I did the obvious and called 911 with my cell phone and then stole the police car arriving at the scene, which is seldom an easy task to do without taking a few hits here and there. Of course at this point you can go and park it in front of the safe house and save.

Secondly, I had to find a place where to park the car so I could take a screenshot from a good angle. This was a lot like real-life location scouting.

Thirdly, there was a dynamic time-of-day –system to take account, so I had only so much time to take a screenshot in proper lighting. It was almost stressful trying to take a good screenshot when you constantly saw the sun going down and the shadows moving, given that you can’t save at will in GTA IV and just quickly reload the situation. This time-based lighting is a constant problem in film industry when shooting on location.

Fourthly, when everything else was set and ready to go, I had to then shoot the car with the shotgun to get the holes I needed, which naturally raised curiosity of the nearby police almost every time. So, at one point I was struggling to take a screenshot from a proper angle basically in a bullet storm coming from the police, my blood splattering all over the place at the same time. Ok, this wouldn’t be so much a real-life problem but it can be seen analogous to otherwise distracting bystanders on location.

Virtual is by definition something speculative and not real, so in theory it should be free from real-life constraints we experience daily basis. However, in my case, it thought it would have taken more effort from me to get rid of those constraints by hacking and using cheats than dealing with them, but I may have been wrong. In any case, I still didn’t feel genuine irritation or frustration at any point, but quite contrary.

I felt “I really love this medium.”