GTA Ideas Pages
Apart from fxt2txt, the Handbook was my admission card to serious GTA hacking. On seeing this, some great people, busy themselves "hacking" GTA, would contact me and share information with me. Although it may not look like much, this handbook was my great success.
The handbook was a logical continuation of the work people like Zyntax had done before me. By putting down what I came to know about GTA's data files, I would enable other people to build on it, and hopefully soon someone would produce an editor for GTA. I knew I couldn't do that alone, because I wouldn't have time to decipher all the GTA files or build the thing myself.
Since the handbook was meant to grow, I adopted a design that would guide the layout of the pages. It was derived from the UNIX manual pages format, slightly adapted to fill my needs. I have never seen anyone but myself navigate it, so I don't know how successful the idea of putting the uplinks in the page headers really was. From the number of people who downloaded the handbook in zipped form I can certainly say that it must have been widely used.
Without the help of some people who grew to be friends of sorts the handbook would never have become what it was. I've acknowledged most of them in my Site of the Week acceptance speech. It felt good to work with those people. While the do-all easy-to-use editor for GTA hasn't appeared yet, seeing the present run of excellent utilities and user levels for GTA gives me a warm feeling for knowing that I helped bring this forth.
Maybe the biggest single success of the handbook was also its demotivating freeze. Some fine January day 1998, I received an email from Mike Dailly. You don't know Mike? Watch your GTA credits closely! When I did, I felt very honored. Mike basically wrote that DMA was watching the user community, liked what it saw, and considered releasing some internal documentation to help us produce an editor. A week later, the Cityscape Docs and the Mission template description were up on DMA Design's web site. Suddenly a lot of the information we had worked so hard for and had so much fun discovering was thrust in our laps. Sam Jessup finished M1 for DOS, Paul Ashton made gtagfx, Gavin Rudd published gtaed. The time for editors was ripe now, Junction25 would soon follow. Who needed the handbook? Never would I run awk scripts again to run statistics on the data structures of cmp files.
It remains for me to double-check on DMA's information; the distributed version is known to not always completely reflect the documentation. The tools to do so that would completely parse the files in question wait, partially built, on my hard disk. Unless demand for a better GTA editor arises (maybe if DMA Design release a mission add-on) or the GTA sequel's game engine will be based on similar data formats, it remains doubtful whether they will be completed. Should that happen, I'll probably not only have published the first GTA utility, but also the last.
If you now want to see the latest in GTA documentation, check out my Tech Docs page in the Utilities section.
GTA Ideas Pages
by Michael Mendelsohn