‘Grand Thef Auto V’, more commonly known as ‘GTA V’, stands out for, among other things, having a fairly large map. It is not the largest of video games (let’s not forget that there is ‘Minecraft’), but its size does not fall short: about 75.84 square kilometers. Seeing it in-game is impressive, but seeing it printed in 3D at scale is almost even more so.
This is what Dom Riccobene, product designer, has done. The map consists of 24 plates (about a kilo each) that represent approximately two square kilometers in area. The result is, quite simply, impressive.
One step before the ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ map
– Dom Riccobene (@DomRiccobene) July 30, 2021
According to Riccobene himself, his idea was to create the map for ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’, one of Rockstar’s masterpieces. Its size is approximately 75 square kilometers, so it is similar to that of ‘GTA V’, with the difference that its topography is much more complex. After all, ‘GTA V’ is a city, but ‘RDR2’ is full of trees, mountains, plains, rivers, etc.
“In order to do Red Dead Redemption 2 justice,” explains Riccobene, he decided to go first with the ‘GTA V’ map to optimize workflow. The project started between May and April and it took 400 hours: about 300 data collection and about 125 printing.
To get the topographic data from the map, the designer developed a data collection script. This was intended for RDR2, but managed to port it to GTA V. “It runs in-game and collect terrain elevations in a radius of 500-1,000 meters around the player when you press a hotkey, adding more than 1,000,000 data points per scan, “the designer explains to Kotaku. Scanning the entire map took about 100 hours.
The next step was to turn all of this scan data into manipulable and actionable data. To do this, he converted the 500 million coordinates I had scanned in coordinates of the Earth, thus creating an elevation grid and obtaining data such as latitude, longitude, and elevation.
Finally, and ignoring how complex this process is, he began to print. Each of the tiles (24, let’s remember) is an 800 MB model and it took time to print between 1.5 and 12 hours, depending on the height and level of detail. 400 hours later, the result is incredibly detailed.
And now that? Apply this same workflow to the map of ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’, something in which has already invested more than 200 hours.