gtarl.de was the trigger for me to get in touch with programming. I enjoyed playing computer games my whole life and eventually I found San Andreas Multiplayer (SA:MP). It is a modification of the famous GTA: San Andreas, which brings a scriptable online mode to the game.
So I joined the community in 2008 and stayed there many years. At this time we were one of the largest German servers in our genre ‚real-life roleplay‘. In this genre, the game has no specific goal to reach. You start with a little bit money, which you spend on a small hut or apartment and a car or bike. Your home will be your spawn point and the vehicle brings you to your job: You can work as a mechanic to repair others vehicles or as a medic to heal if someone got shot. Or you go to the SAPD, the police department of San Andreas, to catch and jail the gangster users. In all these jobs you get money for every minute you are in duty, which gets transferred to your inGame bank account and you will also get some money for every task you execute in your specific job (e.g. repair a car, heal a patient, …). There are many other possibilities to spend your time: Be a shop assistant to order and sell vehicles (Offroad Shop, Bike Shop, Aero Shop, …), be a taxi driver, be a dustman/delivery man or pick one of the other checkpoint based jobs or fill up the gas stations in San Andreas as a Xoomer truck driver.
Which brings me to my next point: The car system. As one of the most fundamental system, a lot of effort was put into this. As I mentioned before, shop employees can order vehicles. Those orders will be delivered one day after to the port, where a delivery man (another player) have to pick it up and bring it to the specific shop where the customer can eventually pick it up. Every vehicle (211 different models in total) has its own fuel-class (gasoline, diesel, kerosene, electric) with its very own fuel-consumption and tank size. Throughout San Andreas are a lot of gas stations to refill your car. Also, you can repair your car there (expensively), but the better way is to call a mechanic. If a vehicle gets totally destroyed, it will respawn at its saved location with an engine damage. A mechanic has to tow the wreck to the next gas station in order to repair it.
In addition to all that, you can (among making money) have fun with other players by joining different kinds of events. Be the first in a race, discover the secrets of GTA:SA in the easteregg tour, start a gangster career and defend your area against the other gangs, chill in a bar and get drunk, write an article for the newspaper which gets published once a week in our own forum and so much more. In fact, so much I could write a whole essay about it, no wonder I spent so much time playing and developing this amazing game mod!
Maybe some last words to the forum: When I got developer („scripter“) we had over 10.000 registered members in the forum. Up to 80 users were on the game server simultaneously online, all in the same game world! The forum was the interface to the game world, where you could apply for jobs, see your game statistics and communicate with others.
In conclusion I can say, that with gtarl.de I learned a lot of things. Not only I got pretty good in spatial thinking, because I knew every corner of the 36 km² big map (and with every corner, I mean every cm²!) and how to come from A to B with the shortest way regardless of where A/B was. My skills in focusing things got better because a lot of actions in the game require concentration and short reaction times – you know what I mean if you chased a criminal on an NRG500 (fast bike) with a cop car. But the most important thing: I’ve learned so much about programming, logical thinking and relational databases that I’d say without gtarl.de I would not be at this point today. For me, it was and still is the biggest project I’ve worked so far and I’m very proud to have been part of it.
Unfortunately, the project is slowly dying, due to its age. But stay tuned: One of my colleagues at TUM is developing a similar game mode in GTA V!
- complex vehicle system
- event system with unique events
- synchronized weather system
- house system with broker’s office and hotels/motels
- about 25 different job and side job profiles some with several departments (firefighters, police, medics, mechanics, taxi drivers, trash masters, several delivery jobs, Xoomer gas refiller, shop assistants, mapper, atm filling services, …)
- in-game bank system with connection to the forum: deposit your money to get interests, do payments to other players
- mobile phone system: find the closest/cheapest gas station, call a mechanic/the police/… to get their services
- an auto-functional game-ecosystem
- all data is saved to a central MySQL database
- Pawn (C like scripting language)
- MySQL database
- some Lua, when I tried MTA:SA the counterpart of SA:MP
I unfortunately know only the nicknames. There were many many more, but here are other developers that I have remained in memory:
- Martin08 (Me)
- snoop => project head and hoster of the server