Earlier this year I covered the GTA 5 community's attempt to find beta and cut content. Recently, that group hit the motherlode with images that give us a sense of how GTA 5 changed over development.
GTA Forums user ZT discovered these new development images, and they showcase concept art of early UI for GTA 5. These images were acquired through the digital portfolio of artist Steven Walsh, who has since taken them down with a message explaining that Rockstar had asked him to do so.
The images, however, are out there now (and viewable via the Wayback machine), thanks to hardcore fans who want to save them as a piece of history.
The most interesting images confirm something that was long-suspected by cut content hunters: GTA Online was originally going to be faction-based.
According to images, factions would include The Police, The Vagos, Bikers and Grove Street Families among others. The images also show skills that don't appear in GTA 5, such as "reliability" and "sniper". Perhaps "reliability" was an early version of the mental state feature that was added to GTA Online after launch?
Judging by the images, once players picked a faction, they would be able to help their gang complete missions and take over enemy territory:
The specifics of territory ownership are unclear, but the images are reminiscent of the gang war system in GTA San Andreas.
The image above also mentions something called a "CNC heist", which seems to be a reference to cops n' crooks. I'm guessing it would have pitted the Police against players who associated with criminal factions.
There are more details to be found in other images. Above is a visual mockup for the in-game single player HUD, and there are mentions of a cut radio station named Los Santos Surf.
Also in the same image, there's an icon for a sawed off shotgun, and it seemed to be based on the weapon available in GTA San Andreas. Eventually, Rockstar added a short double barrelled shotty like the one in the icon to GTA Online via the Lowriders update, but it's cool to think Rockstar was apparently planning on it for almost three years before we finally saw it added to the game.
Other images show finer GTA 5 details. For instance, the images below showcase a logo that appears within the game in an early state. It's not a megaton, but given Rockstar's secrecy, I love being able to see behind the curtain a little.
One of my favourite discoveries is the early designs for the GTA 5 pause menu:
Very stylish — and different from what we actually got. The current pause screens are pretty bare boned and subdued, often displaying white text on black backgrounds.
Together, all of these images paint a picture of a GTA 5 that could have been. But hey, who knows. GTA Online is still getting updates, maybe Rockstar will add some of this stuff in the future.