Open World Analysis — GTA 3

A look at Liberty City — Portland Island

The map
  • Portland Island (far right)
  • Staunton Island
  • Shoreside Vale

Portland Island

  • Road/Path Connectivity
  • Landmark Distribution
  • General Orientation
Streets in Portland.
  • Everything is drabbed in dark brown colors;
  • The Streets are dirty
  • Seedy shops and other services can be found on all the streets.
  • Hardwood — To the north — also serves as the entry point from that direction. It consists of grassy areas and gas stations
  • Hepburn Heights — Right next to Hardwood — Serves as a connector area between Hardwood and Saint Mark’s
  • Saint Mark’s — Together with the Chinatown section it serves as a Downtown area for the entire Island
  • Chinatown — A pretty central location consisting of Chinese/Asian Restaurants and stores.
  • Portland View — Here you can find both the General Hospital and the Police station.
  • Trenton — Trenton is a bit of an industrial area consisting in garage places and support buildings for the nearby Portland Harbor
  • Atlantic Quays — This area consists of a street directly south of Trenton
  • Callahan Point — Is a strip of road leading to Callahan Bridge
  • Callahan Bridge — It ties both into Saint Marks’s and China town. It’s a large scale bridge leading to to Staunton Island.
  • The Giant Black Building → It sits in the Saint Marks District (in the middle of the map, thus being a good element that we can use to sling shot around as we explore the map.
  • The White building on the left →
  • The suspended highway → Acts as a both a path and barrier at times facilitating directionality.
  • The Autos Sign → A landmark that is fairly visible and helps at framing Hardwood as a district overall.
  • We can also see a clear wide road going forward.

A quick note on SlingShotting around landmarks:

The path on the right leads towards the exit of the district
The path on the Right leads to wards the Autos Care Sales and also the Head Building

The mental model

  • Everything seems to look pretty much the same
  • Landmarks are very low key
  • Roads and path seem twisty and confusing
  • Not a very good use of hierarchical street separation.
  • Large roads usually serve as paths that break a district into sub districts
  • Sub-Districts are there subsequently splint into smaller and smaller chunks.
  • Think: Main Roads, Secondary Roads, Alleys.
  • Main Roads → Long, lots of lanes, carry a lot of traffic
  • Secondary Roads → Shorter, carry less traffic but are good for distinguishing where you can leave a main road
  • Alleys → Smalles type of path.
  • Some larger arterial roads start as arterial and end up as secondary roads
  • Some roads just end into walls
  • Some roads have the appearance of 1lane-2way street tied into a high arterial system only to end up in a weird dead end.
  • Right lane goes to Trenton
  • Left lane goes into a dead end

Syntax Analysis

Tim Stonor does a great job at explaining how this works and how you should use it.
  • Identify and catalog all the important paths in the map
  • Make sure to give them a proper identifier (1,2,3, etc)
  • Take a deep look at how they connect to each other.
  • Try to include only the Main roads that split the district into chunks since the secondary paths can always be re-articulated later as you start to work at the micro details.
  • First we choose a Root node for example Road 1 → We can consider it to be our Root Node.
  • We determine the connectivity value of this root node → Connectivity simply looks at how many other streets is RN1 connected too.
  • We then determine the depth factor associated with the RN1 → Depth Factor simply looks at how many nodes does it take for a person to go trough to reach the center of the road system. Usually it’s 3.
  • We then do the math
  • There is a lot of traffic on the middle paths (RN9) specifically around the Chinatown area.
  • RN3 is also seeing a lot of, so does RN7.
  • RN6 however is totally green, meaning that for a road that has two multiple lanes it is very unused.
  • Same thing for RN8
  • There seems to be a disconnect between between RN1 and RN11. A large main road that comes from the outside of a district should gather all traffic from that district and move it outside of the district on the other side.
  • One leading to Trenton
  • One leading into Portland view and into RN6+RN9+RN8 road.
  • Avoid T Shaped Intersections
  • Allow for natural Path Splits to occur
  • Avoid Trope Repetitions
  • Align landmark naturally around intersections
  • Make sure road hierarchy is respected.



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Iuliu-Cosmin Oniscu

As a level designer I am not a creator, I am a facilitator. Senior Open World Designer. #Leveldesign #Open World #Design @notimetoulose.