Rockstar needs to play this GTA V police mod
© Dehan Mathew
We chat to the creator of the GTA V’s ‘Police Mod’ that finally lets us cross the thin blue line.
GTA V was an instant classic when it arrived two years ago, but things have only got better for Rockstar’s latest heist-athon over the last two years, thanks to loads of new multiplayer content, the massive ‘Heists’ update, an insane first-person mode and beautiful new releases on PS4, Xbox One and PC.
Arguably, GTA V PC has contributed more than any other platform currently. Grand Theft Auto has always had a strong mod-scene, and GTA V is no different, with fans creating new content left, right and centre. Amongst the clutter, Police Mod stands out as an example of how a great mod can bring new life and new perspective to a game. Although coder Dehan Mathew’s mod started as a labour of love, it quickly became far more than that, and is now one of the most popular mods on GTA V PC – equipping players with standard-issue handgun, notebook and siren to hit the streets and extend the long arm of the law across Los Santos.
We caught up with Mathew to find out how he thinks Police Mod managed to capture the attention of the GTA V PC community, and what the future holds for his creation.
So Dehan, tell us a bit about yourself – how did you get into modding GTA? How long have you been doing it?
I’m a student in Western Australia, currently studying software engineering. I started modding Grand Theft Auto when I was a kid, just messing around with simple vehicle modifications and textures in the beginning, but I ended up learning how to program. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was a huge part of my childhood – I spent hours and hours on San Andreas multiplayer with numerous clans. And modding has always been a big part of GTA in general, I think. It’s fairly easy to install mods on the end user side, but it’s not as easy developing them.
Where did the idea for a Police Mod come from?
It’s a typical answer, but it came from playing different police mods in GTA IV. Originally, Police Mod was just meant to be a sort of interim mod, to keep people busy until something better came along. But in the end, loads of people preferred Police Mod to the alternative police mods, so I decided to continue with it. Police Mod has a tonne of active users, and loads of celebrity YouTubers playing it too, like Jeff Favignano, Typical Gamer and NoahJ456. Honestly, seeing all these people playing it regularly and providing continuous feedback and support for Police Mod is the reason why I decided to continue it.
What’s inspired you most?
It was GTA IV that provided the inspiration really. There were loads of great mods for GTA IV and the police mods in particularly were great. I actually didn’t think Police Mod itself was going to be anything at first, but like I said, it was the overwhelming positive feedback that convinced me to stick with it. It’s still kind of mind-blowing to think that Police Mod has over 160,800 downloads now!
What goes into modding the game? Is it a straightforward process? How have you been able to add in plenty of what makes the Police Mod as compelling as it is so far?
Programming is generally a straightforward process. Essentially, I use the overall modification program ‘ScriptHook’, which allows developers to modify pretty much anything in the game, for example, something as simple as ‘GAMEPLAY::SET_WANTED_LEVEL’ can stop the wanted level from being raised. There’s definitely a learning curve there for people who have no programming or modding experience, but it’s quite straightforward if you know what you’re doing and you can learn if you’re willing to invest some time into it. I think Police Mod is popular because I consistently update it every week with new features and bug fixes, but it’s also based on a real-world perspective. Everything you’d expect a police officer to do in real life, you can do in Police Mod, and you can choose how you want to play in the virtual sandbox of Los Santos.
What plans do you have for the mod in the future? Would you want to do a total conversion of the game? What features can we expect coming up?
I still have a long list of things I want to implement, like ambient arrests, door knocking, and a police computer. Police Mod has its own dedicated Trello page where people can see a full list of all the current and future plans, as well as suggesting their own ideas. ScriptHook already lets me control most aspects of the gameplay already, so I don’t think Police Mod will ever need to be a total conversion of the game, to be honest. Plus, with Police Mod 2 just released, and the GTA V modding scene getting stronger and stronger, I think Police Mod is going to thrive for a while yet!
What’s been the most challenging process of the mod?
Working alone. Don’t get me wrong, I think it works well for me and I prefer it this way, but it’s stressful making something on your own! Code is not always fun, and when things do not work the way you want it can get incredibly frustrating. That’s another area where the Police Mod community has been incredibly helpful to me – they’ve been very supportive throughout the Police Mod development period, and that really makes things easier.
Are you working on anything else apart from the Police Mod?
Yeah, I’ve worked on quite a few actually. I worked with Flare Point Interactive on Steam indie title Feral, and have done various smaller Android-based applications. Police Mod is my first successful solo project, though.
Do you think we’ll see ever see a full game from Rockstar in the same vein as your mod – as seen from the police side?
It’s an interesting one, but I can’t see Rockstar ever making a GTA game from a police officer perspective. Honestly, I don’t think it would be that fun. Police Mod is fun because it’s a mod. It’s updated regularly and changes, it’s not just one unchangeable build. Mods generally make everything fun, and people prefer to play something different sometimes, and get away from linear, more ‘vanilla’ gameplay. That said, we got pretty close to a police simulator when Rockstar published L.A. Noire, albeit with a historical angle to it. Anything Rockstar makes is going to be popular, and I can speak from experience when I tell you that lots of people are enjoying playing a police perspective in GTA V right now! So, hey, I guess it’s possible, but I’d be surprised.