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Former GTA Developer's Blog Taken Down After Rockstar Complaints

Obbe Vermeij's splendid blog revealing insights into the early days of Grand Theft Auto has been gutted

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Some Vice City artwork, showing a moustachioed man wearing sunglasses.
Image: Rockstar

Former Rockstar North developer Obbe Vermeij had been enjoying a few weeks of sharing some decades-old tales. Reminiscing on his many years with the GTA developer, Vermeij took to his personal blog to recall revealing inside stories behind games like San Andreas and Vice City, and everyone was having a good time. Until Rockstar North came along.

Obbe Vermeij had worked as a technical director on Rockstar games as far back as Grand Theft Auto III in the early 2000s, and was at the studio from 1995, working on parallel projects. He reprised similar roles on many GTA games the studio released, until leaving the studio in 2009. In the last few weeks, on his very old-school Blogger blog, Vermeij had been sharing some stories about the development processes behind the games, seemingly without any malice or ill-intent.


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These included interesting insights into the original GTA and GTA 2, like how much the PC versions of the games had to be compromised so it would run on the PS1. “I remember one particular time when all of the textures for the PS version had been cut down to 16 colours,” Vermeij writes. “When the artists saw the results there was cursing. There was no choice though. Difficult choices had to be made to get the game to run on a PS.”


A post about GTA III, the first 3D GTA game, mentions how it was originally prototyped on Dreamcast! The developer talks fondly about the process of making the game, how it was an idyllic, experienced team, and how crunch was minimal. Another post about bugs celebrates the testers, and how they dealt with 70,000 bugs in San Andreas. There’s a lovely recollection about how developer Alexander Roger created a gun that shot ragdoll characters to test maps on GTA IV.

One entry, from November 11, talked about how some of the artists at Rockstar wanted to make a zombie survival game after finishing Vice City. The working title was “Z,” which Vermeij explains was “pronounced Zed, not Zee.” It was intended to use Vice City’s code, set on a “windswept foggy Scottish island,” where players would be under constant attack from the undead. The main focus for players would be acquiring fuel for vehicles, but after just a month of work, apparently the team just found it too depressing. They got to work on San Andreas instead.


It seems the line was crossed for some at Rockstar after a couple of weeks of these lovely anecdotes and insights. On November 22, Vermeij removed most of the posts from the site, and added a new one explaining that after receiving an email from Rockstar North, “some of the OGs there are upset by my blog.”

I genuinely didn’t think anyone would mind me talking about 20 year old games but I was wrong. Something about ruining the Rockstar mystique or something.


This blog isn’t important enough to me to piss off my former colleagues in Edinburgh so I’m winding it down.


The developer, now working on multiple projects from Ottawa, Canada, added his disappointment that Rockstar refuses to speak publicly about any of their process, no matter how long ago it may have occurred. “I would love for Rockstar to open up about development of the trilogy themselves,” Vermeij wrote, “but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon.”

Of course, you know, nothing goes away on the internet. All the posts are a splendid, positive read. We reached out to Obbe Vermeij for comment, but he declined. We’ve also reached out to Rockstar, and will update should we hear back.


Hopefully one day Rockstar will drop all this self-mythologizing bullshit, and such fun and interesting tales about decades-old development can be freely shared. It seems today is not that day. As Vermeij concludes, “Maybe I’ll try again in a decade or two.”

Updated: 11/23/23, 14.30a.m. ET: This article has been updated to clarify that the complaints came from Rockstar North specifically, and that Rockstar did not demand the articles be taken down.


The headline has also been adjusted to make this clear.