Why More Games Need A Built-In Editor Like GTA 5’s

GTA 5 released on PC, shortly after there was a flood of content pouring from the built-in editor. Do more games need one?

GTA 5 released on PC, shortly after there was a flood of content pouring from the built-in editor. Do more games need one?

Grand Theft Auto 5 released on the 14th April 2015 for PC, after being pushed back several times the PC version came the Rockstar Editor. This is a built-in video editing suite that allows you to set camera angles, cut, export and everything else you would expect from an editing program. It works by creating a 3D ‘bubble’ around the player, within this is where you can move the free camera.

Camera angles only work in third person, first person locks the recording to that view. Other recording programs simply record what you see and give you limited cutting and colour tools (e.g. brightness and contrast).

After playing around with the GTA 5 editor, it made me realize that I want an editor with that level of detail in more games, if not all games.

Some platforms have clip editors built into them

…the PS4 makes it much easier to record gameplay.

The Xbox One has the Upload Studio and Game DVR apps, the latter allows you to record footage, and the former allows you to manipulate it. However there are no camera angle changes, and you can only stitch together a limited amount of clips. In the Upload Studio you can either use one clip and simply cut it, you can use a picture-in-picture mode to run two clips simultaneously (one of the clips can be from the Kinect). And then it gets strange, as you can then string together 3 or 5 clips, and exactly that many; no more, no less. Game DVR allows for a maximum of 5 minutes recording time. You can either record the preceding 30 or 45 seconds or 1, 3 or 5 minutes, or you can choose to record any future gameplay for up to 5 minutes at a time.

The PS4 has the SHAREfactory and Share button. With the share button you can record up to 15 minutes of gameplay; the PS4 makes it much easier to record gameplay. On the editing side there are not as many restrictions as on the Xbox One, you can have plenty enough clips to edit a good length video, in fact I have not yet found a clip limit beyond what can be stored on the hard drive.

As with the Xbox One app, you can also have a picture-in-picture mode, but in addition you can add your own music as well as a set of more interesting transitions.

The PS4 offering is the closest video editor to the Rockstar Editor for on-console solutions, all it lacks is the 3D bubble mechanic to allow for the camera angles.

Who thinks it would be possible for games to allow for the built-in recording and editing suites on consoles to tap into the games and record a 3D bubble? Of course, this would mean the game needs to be open to this from the start, and somehow interact with the console. I guess it’s a technical hurdle that may now be able to feasible with the current generation.

Games with clip cutting from the past

GTA 4 on PC also had a fairly substantial editor, it was a great first step towards what we now see in GTA 5, but it was not the first. The earliest game I can remember to have an editor, which allowed you to change camera angles, was Driver on the PS1 with the Director Mode.

Come to think of it I think it may have been the first game to have this type of feature. Director Mode also featured in the newer Driver: San Fransisco. The camera angles are limited as you can only select from preset angles, and the editor is not quite as intuitive as the Rockstar Editor.

Having said that the Rockstar Editor is far more powerful than anything I’ve seen before. There are some great car chases that came out of the Driver Director Mode, some remind me heavily of ’80s cop show and action movie chases, so having a harder to use or more basic tools doesn’t stop it being used for some great stuff.

Halo 3 was the first in the Halo series to feature the Theater mode; the game automatically recorded all your gameplay from multiplayer which you could then scrub through and make a video from. To my memory, Halo 3 was also the first game to feature a free camera within a video recording context. It helped boost Rooster Teeth’s Red vs. Blue from something that was very popular to one of the flagship web shows, even with such a simple editor as seen in Halo 3, the free camera gave the series a much more professional and cinematic feel.

So why do more games need a video editor?

All of the built-in video editing tools I just mentioned are steps towards what is now possible in GTA 5′s Rockstar Editor, but the one thing they are missing is that all important bubble. Halo brought the free camera, Driver brought the camera angles, the speed changing, and the character tracking. The console options show that a reasonably powerful video editing tool can be brought to console, be very user-friendly and that the consoles themselves are powerful enough to handle it.

That now brings me to my reasons:

1. Creativity

Many gamers are creative. I think this is part of being a gamer, creatively thinking about how to tackle the situation put in front of you. Now you can create your very own short videos, even create an entire film using your favorite game. Imagine creating a short video about your Skyrim travels or your epic voyage across America in The Crew, all with tools available in-game.

2. Free promotion

Developers will no longer need to make 150 trailers about their game, as this is a massive waste of time and money, why not let the game speak for itself? Players could create videos that basically act as free advertising for the game. Sales can happen at any time, they don’t all need to happen in the first week.

3. Filmic play throughs

Imagine instead of simply watching a 10-minute playthrough wouldn’t it be much more awesome to watch a 10-minute action movie? My answer is yes!

4. It’s just fun

For me, it’s just a double win, I get to play games, which I love doing. Then I also get to let my creative side out and make my terrible game playing skills look amazing. I can then promptly share that with the world.

5. Glitches can look epic

Have you ever had one of those glitches where you just wished you could get a better angle of it? Well… now you can, and you would also be able to slow it down, and add fancy effects to it.

Too complicated?

Maybe I just have Rockstar Editor love, I may have just fallen for an impossible love…

 Maybe I just have Rockstar Editor love, I may have just fallen for an impossible love which only GTA 5 can realise. It might be too much of a technical hurdle to pull off, and may take too much time to implement. But how amazing would it be if we lived in a gaming world where all of the games had their own editors? Imagine the longevity that a game could reach.

Mods give Bethesda games exceptionally long lives, and the current way to keep people playing it to have an XP based multiplayer system, but which brings more stories and keeps people playing longer? I would say it’s the user-created content which gives games longer lives than XP systems. Developers make games, but communities keep them alive. Why not help communities grow by giving them tools to not only create mods, but then create professional looking trailers for those mods? Or maybe there was just a cool story a gamer wanted to share.

Would you like to see tools of this sort in more games? Tell me about it in the comments below. 

About the author

Pierre Fouquet

-- Games are a passion as well as a hobby. Other writing of mine found on at www.scrncheat.com