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Let’s pretend for a moment that the best part of GTA Online [official site] isn’t seeing who can go furthest when leaping off the Hollywood sign and deploying a parachute to scoot to victory before having a little bike race to the foot of a hill. Have I lost you already? Fine. I’ll wait for you to finish the bike race.
Back? Okay. So there’s apparently an update called “Gunrunning” coming. I’m tentatively interested but only because of the running part and not the gun part. Running with guns sounds unsafe. Even more unsafe than running with scissors. … [visit site to read more]
Grand Theft Auto 5 is years old at this point, but it’s found new life on Twitch thanks to one thing: roleplaying. On a secret third-party server, dozens of the most popular streamers are acting out the insane lives of criminals and the cops who are forced to bring them to heel. It’s bizarre, hilarious, and sometimes even outright offensive—exactly what you’d expect from Los Santos’ citizens.
“We started popping up in streams on Twitch months ago and it ignored from there,” Jim Kelly, the owner of the State of Emergency GTA 5 RP server, tells me. “The more it was streamed, the more it attracted new members, and the more bigger streamers started coming in. It's like 30 separate stories unfolding in one world.”
Built using the FiveM mod with a host of custom addons, State of Emergency is a private 24-person server that has exploded in popularity over the last few months due to its crazy antics. While the Evol PC Gaming community that runs the server has public RP servers where anyone can play, this particular server is for recognized Twitch streamers and a few regular players who have taken their roleplaying to the next level. Forget classic characters like Trevor or Michael—Avon Barksdale, Slappy McGaffy, and the Dankweed Brothers are the new faces of Grand Theft Auto.
Here’s streamer GiantWaffle busting out a rap of Dante Dankweed’s life story.
Unlike my journey into Ark: Survival Evolved’s most prominent RP server, GTA 5 players make a (feeble) effort to lead normal, everyday lives. They’ll meet at restaurants, go on dates, and even work mundane jobs to make a little extra cash. Or they’ll call 911 and pretend they’re about to commit suicide unless the responding officer agrees to go on a date with them.
Given the nature of GTA, it’s no surprise that most of the characters are criminals. But where GTA RP differs is that there’s some semblance of order to the usual chaos found in your average session of GTA Online. Many of the server admins and moderators have taken up the role of Los Santos police officers who patrol the streets doling out justice to any of the streamers caught breaking the law. The dedication to simulating actual police work is incredible, with cops using proper call signs and police codes when communicating with one another. No crime is too small either, as players are frequently pulled over for broken tail lights or failing to stop at red lights. It’s these mundane interactions that often spiral into hilarity.
Sheriff Eli Thompson is easily the server’s most famous cop. Channeling his past experience as an actual police officer, Thompson’s commitment to being a no-nonsense hard-ass has made him one of State of Emergency’s most beloved characters. Before then, Thompson had only appeared as a supporting character, but viewers loved his serious demeanour so much they rallied to help him upgrade his PC so he could begin his own stream. He’s only been streaming for little over a week, but already has more than 121,000 followers.
“I was beyond surprised,” Thompson told Kotaku. “I could not feel more humbled and lucky by the outpouring of support from the entire community.”
In a very rare moment of breaking character, streamer PmsProxy captured the moment Thompson learned that the community had raised over $10,000 to help fund his new PC.
That moment of breaking character is strictly a one time thing. Otherwise, Thompson is known for his stern manner and amazing catchphrases. During one stream, Thompson tried to arrest a random NPC for driving erratically and ends up exchanging fisticuffs with him. “Nice try you son of a bitch, I’m going to beat seven shades of shit out of you,” he taunts during the brawl.
Another newcomer who is climbing the ranks thanks to his absurd character is Miltonpike1, who plays fashionista Kiki Chanel. This moment where he critiques anatanome outfit goes from mildly funny to alarmingly dark rather quickly.
With some of the biggest streamers on Twitch now participating, it’s easy to find a character that appeals to your sense of humor. As a Canadian, I was a big fan of Gordie Whitman before his visa was revoked and he had to return to the true white north. I’m sure the fact that he assaulted a police officer during a field sobriety test had nothing to do with it.
If you’re keen on participating, Evol PC Gaming has public roleplaying servers that you can play in—but only if you’re patient enough to wait for an open slot due to the server’s popularity. If your character is especially good, you could be chosen to play on the private server among some of Twitch’s biggest channels.
We’ll have more on Grand Theft Auto roleplaying in the coming weeks.
There's an AI driving on the streets of Los Santos. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop. Ever.
...Unless it drives into a tree, or a fence, or careens off an embankment and does a serene, elegant flip into the ocean. Which, it turns out, happens every two or three minutes. But such stops are only temporary for Charles, a "convolutional neural network that learns to drive through deep learning" on the Twitch channel sentdex. Right now, about 2500 people are watching the AI swerve in and out of traffic before inevitably getting stuck on a rock, flipped upside down or sunk underwater.
"At the moment, Charles learns and takes all actions based on single frames at a time, and bases his decisions on just pixel data," the Twitch page reads. "Charles only sees exactly what you see. In time, I intend to give Charles some short-term memory to hopefully improve his driving."
I've watched Charles long enough to see some genuinely impressive driving. The AI can weave between cars and mostly stays in the correct lane, making microadjustments to avoid completely stalling out or smashing directly into another car. But it's not so good at avoiding cross-traffic or taking corners—those usually result in some sidewalk pedestrian casualties. Charles seems to care much more about driving than human life. Let's hope our self-driving cars have slightly different priorities.
Charles' wrecks mostly come when the AI's attempts to avoid traffic send it unpredictably off-road at high speeds. While it may be pretty decent at quickly dodging cars, it doesn't quite have the logic necessary to navigate cramped spaces. Even the worst driver's ed students are better at parking than this.
After the AI determines it's stuck, it resets to a road and starts driving anew. Never tired, never hungry. I find myself oddly hopeful while watching Charles continue on so valiantly. Maybe someday it will get where it's going.
You might have heard that some folks making self-driving cars used Grand Theft Auto V to help train their AIs. You might have wondered what that looks like. You… might not learn that watching this Twitch livestream of an AI learning to drive in GTA V. The compubrain, named Charles, is less advanced, though Charles sounds fancy in creator Harrison ‘Sentdex’ Kinsley’s description: “a convolutional neural network that learns to drive through deep learning.” Charles often ends up atop highway barriers, ramming walls, or battered in ludicrous police chases. This makes Charles no less fun to watch. … [visit site to read more]