Photo realistic to be precise
When GTA V was first released by Rockstar 3 years ago, people were wowed by the graphics. The beauty, the terrain, the city and the vastness of blaine county. It was truly on another level for 'sandbox' style games. But modder Josh Romito has taken it to the next level with Redux - A huge mod that adds photo realism to the game, texture updates, fixes to various bugs and glitches and that's just scratching the surface. He's also taken the time to overhaul the weather effects, weather scripts and even the way the police AI responds - effectively re-balancing how the game in general treats players when they are up to no good in their various schemes.
The update becomes available for download in August for PC users and goes without saying its for story mode only (Rockstar bans players with mods enabled attempting to play online. You've been warned').
According to Josh's website - GTA5Redux.com, he's used 4K textures with 'improved injury and damage overlays'. Shadows, light pollution, improved terrain detail have all received tweaks. He's even altered the way the game applies motion blur to make visuals more realistic when moving at speed.
Josh has certainly been busy with prepping the code for public release and dealing with the hype from his video (above) has generated. But we caught up with him earlier this week via email to discuss the project, what's next and
Josh thanks for your time - I guess a great place to start would be with what caused the creation of Redux - If it was a fact you loved playing GTA but thought there was room for improvement or if there was a larger plan behind it (i.e, movies with the Rockstar creator studio.etc),
[JR] What caused the creation of Redux, was largely the fact that the game allowed for such vast editing, and there are many community supported tools to allow access to the games files. Aside from that, I have always been a huge fan of the Grand Theft Auto series, and have always idolized what the mods could bring to the pc version of that universe. With that in mind, I was eager to create an expansive overhaul mod in a massive sandbox environment, where it seems there is almost no limit. As well, the introduction of the Rockstar editor, and fan made movies/videos has also become a large factor in creating a more visually appealing environment. People love making video's, and they of course want them to look as good as possible - that's where I come in.
How much time do you (estimate) you've put into this project? and did you work this project alone or with help from contributors and/or team members?
[JR] The exact amount of time would be very hard to judge. However, my steam account has logged me at just over 1000 hours, from merely bug testing. I definitely spend more time working with textures and code then I do testing, so I would place the amount of time at around 2000+ hours.This is over more than an 8 month time period. There has only been one other contribution to the Redux project from other authors, and that is a weapons sound overhaul. It was developed by Baka & Suspect.
You received some backlash a while back for a previous project (The Pinnacle of V), Did the lessons learned change the way you approached a large project like Redux?
[JR] They most certainly did. During Pov, I was open with the community and accepting everything and anything that was handed to me. This time around, I have only accepted one addition, and that was after careful scrutinizing. I have still had at least a dozen or more offers of content, and at least the half that I've checked out, have been stolen. I am very disappointed when I see this. I am almost using Redux as a second chance, to recover from what happened with Pov. To see the same things being attempted, and some of the attitudes I am receiving from other modders, is disheartening to say the least. All in all, lessons learned, the internet is a fishy place and you never know who is on the other end of that connection, be careful what you accept!
What tools did you use to help create this mod?
[JR] The main tool used by any Gta modder is OpenIV. A community developed tool that allows access to all the games inner files. It also provides the use of a "mods" folder, to allow users to easily switch from a modded singleplayer experience, to a clean online mode. Aside from general access to the files, I largely use photoshop for all my texture work, specular and normal maps, and even to help work out rgb color codes for specific shader files. Other than that, simple notepad++, a keyboard, and a few pots of coffee are all the tools needed to modify the code!
Have Rockstar reached out to you about Redux?
[JR] Not as of yet, no. I don't believe Rockstar to be very fond of modders and the entire community in general. And to be fairly honest, I wouldn't be too happy if I owned multi-million dollar software and it was being re-engineered and posted all over the internet either.
Although its all in fun, us young developers really need access to games like this, to help us learn and develop an interest in the type of work we could be doing, before we venture off into seeking a career with it.
I thank Rockstar for not stepping up the encryption, and keeping us locked out of their software. If they had, I may be on an entirely different career path right now.
What do you anticipate is next for you / Redux? If Rockstar were to offer you a job would you consider it?
[JR] After the release of Redux, there is not too much else planned at the moment. I will continue to update the mod, as required from Rockstar game patches, and I will probably slowly add optional settings. I am heading to school in the fall, and will hopefully be seeking out a career in the video game industry. So, if Rockstar were to contact me and offer me a job would I consider? I would be on the first plane to their office! To be given the chance to work with the rage engine from the inside-out (opposed to outside-in as a modder) would be a dream come true!
At the time of writing, Rockstar and its parent company Take Two have not responded to a request for comments regarding their stance on the modding community and/or thoughts on Josh's work. Once again, Redux gets released in August and is anticipated to be a very popular mod.