Grand Theft Auto III was the game that catapulted the series towards the mainstream, but plenty of folks seem to forget that the original game, created by DMA Design, was also massively successful in its day. But according to Gary Penn, a member of the original development team, the original GTA was almost canceled.
According to Penn, GTA had multiple difficulties early in development.
"It never really felt like it was going anywhere," he claimed. "It was almost canned. The publisher, BMG Interactive, wanted to can it, as it didn't seem to be going anywhere."
Apparently one of the most crucial elements of the game - the behaviour of the cops and the fun that came from avoiding them - emerged late in development, and by mistake.
"One day, I think it was a bug, the police suddenly became mental and aggressive. It was because they were trying to drive through you."
"Their route finding was screwed I think and that was an awesome moment because suddenly the real drama where, 'Oh my God, the police are psycho - they're trying to ram me off the road.'"
"That was awesome, so that stayed in."
You can read the full interview at Gamasutra here.
Penn: First Grand Theft Auto Was 'Almost Canned' [Gamasutra]