Original Grand Theft Auto Design Doc Online

Thanks to the wonders of online photo sharing, the passage of time and the migration of employees, we can all take a look at the original design document for Grand Theft Auto. Design documents, for those of you not familiar with them, are like a roadmap for a prospective project. The aim is to outline what you want to do and then effectively list all of the things you plan to do to reach that stated goal.

Sometimes these documents are little more than a page or two in size, sometimes they stretch a little longer. They often go through many revisions during a project’s development and can be updated as development progresses. As you will see, the game was originally saddled with a less than enthralling title. All of the key elements are outlined though, as they should be in a good design document. It really is a fascinating insight into how one of gaming’s landmark titles was born.


The design document has been posted to Flickr by it’s creator, Mike Dailly (who also designed Lemmings, if memory serves). So for the full document you should head over there and check out his photo stream. We’ve posted a couple of small previews of pages below to pique your interest but for anyone interested in the history of modern gaming or the design process itself, viewing these scans is a must.



  1. Oh wow, this is a good read, off to read the rest!

  2. This has some really fascinating stuff in it. Interesting to see how it developed into GTA1.

    • I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief that they didn’t keep their working title!

      • ha yea very bad game name, but the games modes have been realised in the online mode for GTA:IV, thats interesting. wonder if they keep these docs and the bits they didnt fully explore, they drag out the dust for another go?

  3. Wow, a great insight into one of my favourite classics. I’ve still got the original disks for the first GTA games somewhere, I may have to print off these to go with them!


    • Kuuueeeeiiiiil frenzy. Or was that GTA2? Either way, fantastic stuff :) I’m off for a blast on Chinatown Wars.

      • China Town Wars, need that for my PSP Slim….

        **searches ebay**

  5. I kind of remember reading an article when it first came out, the journalist was talking to the designer about Lemmings or Worms, can’t remember for sure, and he happened to noticed what was eventually to be called GTA in the background. “oh, that’s just some rubbish we’ve been messing around with” he said.

  6. 4MB of RAM required.. those were the days!

  7. fantastic find and a great post. thanks TSA

  8. GTA Relic :P

  9. For anyone who didn’t know, GTA1 and 2 are free to download totally legitimately…


    Hope you’re okay with me posting that TSA, should be some good nostalgia!

    • nice one, thanks.

    • Oh thanks will have a look at those later.

  10. Fascinating stuff. Big things have humble beginnings!

    I was at the Game-On exhibition a few years ago at both the science museum and the Barbican centre and they had a big wall chart of all the story paths (i.e. post-its) as nicked from Rockstar’s GTA3 design, I’ll see if I can find the photos at home, also quite interesting.

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