A product designer spent over 400 hours recreating an extremely detailed physical version of the Grand Theft Auto V map using 3D printing and more.
Product designer Dom Riccobene spent over 400 hours creating a physical version of the Grand Theft Auto V map using 3D printing tools, custom design software, and more. The GTA 5 map is the largest of the entire Grand Theft Auto series, reaching more than double the area of its runner-up, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar Games is known for its meticulously detailed open worlds, and admiration specifically for its intricate game maps has led to fan-made homages in the past – especially for Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption series. Just this past July, a fan combined the maps from Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption games in order to show how the two worlds overlapped and their differences in scale. Along the same lines, an RDR2 fan took the time to make a five-part nature documentary showcasing the game’s expansively scenic world throughout each of its five fictionalized U.S. states.
In a similar vein, Riccobene told Kotaku that Red Dead Redemption 2 aided his process in bringing his 3D-printed GTA 5 map to life. The creator used a custom script to initially scan the physical characteristics of the world in RDR2 before porting it over for use in GTA 5. Riccobene explained that the script functions in-game, and “collects ground elevations in a 500-1000 meter radius around the player.” He scanned 500 million in-game coordinates and translated them to actual Earth map coordinates, enabling him to create an elevation grid and use professional mapping and cartography software. After all of that, Riccobene could finally reach for his 3D printer and start assembling the map.
The GTA 5 map was 3D printed in a series of smaller segment tiles. Tiles with fewer complications or details took only an hour to print, but more complex pieces sometimes took up to 12 hours. Printing alone was understandably time-consuming, but Riccobene also said that ensuring the tiles fit correctly or that the 3D printing settings were correct involved a good deal of trial and error. The printing process took around 125 hours, but the project – from start to finish, including various small adjustments – took over 400 hours. While some might find such an endeavor daunting and extremely time-consuming, Riccobene described the experience as, “probably the most enjoyable and technically challenging project I’ve ever worked on.”
Even after eight years since its release, GTA 5 continues to withstand the test of time – and some credit should go to fans like Riccobene, whose work contributes to GTA 5’s relevancy in the current gaming zeitgeist. Grand Theft Auto 5’s incredible in-game details and Rockstar’s devotion to intricate world-building definitely inspires projects like this 3D-printed map, as well. Regardless, there is no shortage of fan-made Grand Theft Auto 5 projects to be enjoyed.
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