%HTMLlat1; %HTMLsymbol; %HTMLspecial; ]> Liberty City Dimensions
Roland van Ipen­burg
To be stolen or blogged

Lib­er­ty City Di­men­sions

Satur­day 1 Au­gust 2009 19:00

Since FUEL brags about over 5,560 square miles of map, I want­ed to find out how that com­pares to GTA IV. So you steal a car, dri­ve to Fran­cis In­ter­na­tion­al Air­port, get to the end of a run­way, check the ve­hi­cle stats for miles dri­ven in a car, dri­ve to the oth­er end of the run­way and check the ve­hi­cle stats again. Turns out the run­ways are about 0.45 miles long. Which is a bit short for a 747 that is about 230 feet long. In com­par­i­son, the short­er run­ways of JFK are 2 miles long, so about 4 times as long as those of Fran­cis In­ter­na­tion­al Air­port. By scal­ing the map like that you can eas­i­ly get away with only 1/16 or 1/36 of the con­tent need­ed for the real thing. On the Lib­er­ty City Area Street Map that run­way is about 7.5 cen­time­ters long. Which means that map is scale 1:10,000 mean­ing 1 cm is 100 me­ters. I dou­ble checked that by dri­ving the full length of Al­bany Ave, which mea­sures about 20 cen­time­ters on the map and adds about 2 km, 1.3 miles to the ve­hi­cle stats. Al­bany Ave runs al­most the full length of Al­go­nquin. Com­pare that to Cen­tral Park in New York, which is about twice as long. What this boils down to is that Lib­er­ty City's com­plete map is only about 5 km x 3 km, 15 km² to­tal. But it can feel like 20 km x 12 km, 240 km² or maybe even 30 km x 18 km, 540 km². It makes Union Drive West about a mile long, so speed­ing up and down that in a su­per car at 200 mph dur­ing Drag Kings wouldn't take that long. Which prob­a­bly means that if you mess with the con­tent den­si­ty scale of a map, you also have to mess with with the speed of the ve­hi­cles, and while it looks like you're go­ing pret­ty fast, you aren't mov­ing that fast on the map. That prob­a­bly also ex­plains why fast cars aren't that much faster than slow cars, they most­ly just sound faster. You can't use re­al­is­tic high speeds in a re­duced map, so you are slowed down to have the map ap­pear big­ger.

FUEL has about 5,560 square miles of map. But how that feels de­pends on how it's con­tent den­si­ty is scaled, and how the speed of the ve­hi­cles is ad­just­ed to that. What they claim is prob­a­bly that if the map was square, the sides would be about 75 miles long, mean­ing it would take one hour at 75 mph to go from one cor­ner to the next. But that doesn't mean much if the game it­self is telling you you're go­ing 75 mph. Mess­ing with POV and stuff can make it ap­pear you're go­ing some­thing like 75 mph, but it could also be maybe 40 mph. There's a dif­fer­ence be­tween the feel­ing of do­ing 50 km/h on a skate­board and 50 km/h in a car, and the game can choose to cre­ate what­ev­er feel­ing they want. But say­ing 40 mph would bring that im­pres­sive 5,560 down to only 1,600. It doesn't change much of the game­play to make it ap­pear you're go­ing re­al­ly fast when in fact you aren't, in fact it's a nice piece of work to get a big­ger ex­pe­ri­ence out of lim­it­ed hard­ware. It shouldn't both­er any­one that Lib­er­ty City is only tiny com­pared to New York City. But you prob­a­bly can't com­pare it to an F1 sim­u­la­tion where the cir­cuit is a copy of the real thing and you're sup­posed to get the same lap times and ex­pe­ri­ence as the tele­vised event. And maybe that's ex­act­ly what I don't like about F1 games. Games should be mea­sured in hours of fun, not some made up size of a map.

And I found out the GTA IV map on my screen is the same size as the Lib­er­ty City Area Street Map on pa­per.


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Roland van Ipen­burg

Wed­nes­day 5 Au­gust 2009 00:06

Does Man­hat­tan Need an Air­port In­stead of That Park?

Well, it could be fun­ny if it would ac­tu­al­ly fit: Does Man­hat­tan Need an Air­port In­stead of That Park?. Don't un­der­es­ti­mate the size of an air­port.


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