When the creation tools for Grand Theft Auto Online were released I got hooked. I was making new custom 'jobs' left and right in all the new game modes that Rockstar were adding. I didn't have anyone to play them with so testing and publicising them was hard but I had so much fun filling the beautiful open world with new challenges and activities. I even made a Tumblr page to document my progress as I went along.
Deathmatches, races, captures... I made a lot of custom jobs (I think over 100!?) so I can't detail them all here, but I'll discuss a few of my favourite ones and throw in some links to play them in the PC version of GTA Online. These were all made on the PS3 version of the game, which meant I was using a much more limited version of the creator than the PS4, Xbox One and PC versions got later on. This meant I had to get creative to work around some of the strict limitations.
If you want to see all of my custom jobs and play them for yourself, click the button below and filter the results by the console you play GTA Online on. Each individual job discussed below will also have a direct link to its Social Club page where you can view the level layout and download it for use in the PC version of the game.
How to Play
Find a Job you want to play (either by browsing through this link or by clicking an individual link below) and click on it to go to the Job Page
On the Job Page, click the Bookmark Job button
Launch GTA Online
Pause the game and navigate to the Online tab
Select Jobs -> Play Job -> Bookmarked
Select the category of the Job (Races, Deathmatches etc)
Find the Job in the list and select it
You'll be able to launch a lobby to play the Job just like any other one in the game
For Deathmatches and Captures it's recommended you use the 'Forced + Pickup' weapons setting for balance reasons.
Note: sometimes Rockstar make changes to the mechanics and editor functionality which can result in unintended behaviour (e.g. locking out interior spaces in matches after enabling interior jobs to be created previously).
There was a period of time where it was a Christmas tradition between my dad and I to play racing games on our PS2. Despite all the content in the games, we'd pretty much exclusively play on Mt. Panorama; an Australian racetrack in Bathurst. It got to the point where I pretty much knew the track back to front. Once my coworkers and I got treated to a few hours in a racing simulator and I totally tanked in every race - except when we raced V8s on Mt. Panorama.
When making races in GTA Online I knew I had to somehow try and recreate this iconic track in the race creator. I grabbed an outline of the track and superimposed it over the GTA V map, twisting it and scaling it to try and make it fit along the roads somewhere. Believe it or not, I managed to do it. Even more remarkably, the location in-game actually fit the inclines of the real track quite well. I had to use a lot of props to try and close racers in and give the track the same claustrophobic feel that the real thing does. I even managed to simulate The Chase (a ridiculously sudden turn that tricks you into speeding into a dirt trap) through clever checkpoint placements and using cardboard box props to act as a substitute for dirt.
The biggest issue I had was trying to connect the freeway to the mountain turns. While most of the roads fit Mt. Panorama's design perfectly, there was one section where there were no connecting roads where I needed them to be. I had to use ramp props to let players speed over the barriers on the freeway and into an off-road section. It wasn't an ideal solution because it was very easy to miss the ramps and get stuck, but after lots of testing and tweaking I managed to position them just right where even players unfamiliar with the track could make the turn reliably.
When Rockstar added Capture (a series of modes similar to Capture the Flag and Rob the Nest) to the content creator, something I knew I wanted to do right away was make an asymmetrical Capture Job where both teams had totally different objectives. The first thing that came to mind was a job where on team had to fly the slow, bulky Titan plane to a far-off hangar before the other team could steal many faster vehicles. And that's how Titan Haul was born (it's a pun, get it?).
One team needed to fight off bikers near their clubhouse and confiscate their bikes, while the others had to clear a runway of mercenaries and obstacles so that they could steal a Titan and fly off. In practise it didn't work near as well as I envisioned, but I learned a lot during playtesting even if I could only ever get small groups of players together.
One issue quickly surfaced when a stranger ended up outsmarting me in my own game. To stop me from winning, he stole one motorbike and then got into his own Titan and flew off where I could never reach him. Smartass. I added a second Titan to the runway to mitigate this issue.
This also made me realise that there was nothing you could do once a Titan was in the air; if you were supposed to steal the Titan then tough luck, and if you're meant to protect the Titan then your only option is to hurry and steal all the bikes before the Titan arrives. Not an easy ask. So I added some smaller, faster planes to the map that you could use to pursue and ram the Titans out of the sky. I also snuck an enemy with a rocket launcher down the path to the hangar to keep pilots on their toes.
While this job wasn't as successful as I was hoping, I still applauded myself for trying something unique like this when all the other Capture jobs I was seeing placed players on as equal a footing as possible.
Towers of Terror
The area surrounding Hookah Palace immediately stood out when I was scouting for locations to set Deathmatches. The towers themselves are an interesting location because of the different levels; players can move up and down between them, having to keep an eye out for enemies in front of them and on the vertical from them, and once they'd reached the top of a tower they could take shots at enemies on the other towers across from them. But what added a whole new dimension to this area was all the other vertical elements in the immediate vicinity of the towers.
There's a multi-story parking lot right in front of the towers, there's climbable buildings all around, and then of course there's the crowded streets on the ground level. Players can move between each of these elements and move vertically with ease, making for a huge playing space within a single city block.
These different locations interact with each other in really interesting ways. You could be climbing up a tower in pursuit of someone only to come under fire from someone in the parking lot. While having a shootout on top of the parking lot someone might unleash chaos by tossing up grenades from the ground level, blowing all the cars you were using as cover to hell.
The action in this map is frantic and chaotic, but felt quite balanced when I managed to play it with other people. Players have so many options available to them at any point that even the seemingly broken elements like the attack helicopter on one of the towers are kept in check. There were times where opposing players would make spontaneous, shaky alliances to take out pesky snipers or pilots that were taking the lead and it made for some really interesting dynamics.
This capture job was a better attempt at asymmetrical design that I tried to pull off in Titan Haul. While players are after the same objects in this job (duffel bags) the layout of the map is interesting because it pits each team against different challenges. My design goals for a lot of my Capture jobs were to make them like competitive GTA missions and have players competing to be the first to complete objectives, or stopping their opponents from completing one task while also completing a task of their own. So with this job I was trying to set up a series of 'mini missions' that teams would need to clear in order to find the bags they needed to recover to win.
This worked well, because it ended up being fun to play even when by myself in testing. I managed to distance each of the set pieces fairly so that one team wasn't at a disadvantage, and each of them provided frantic shoot-outs against gang members.
But where this job really shines is when you can get other people to join in, because this is a Hold Capture which means that there's a finite number of bags to collect. Once they've all been taken back to the teams' bases you'll need to storm the other team's base to steal the cases that they've already collected. The size of the map means that you'll be having action-packed car chases across the city in pursuit of enemies who are returning bags to their base. I encouraged this in my design by using props and ramps to make shortcuts and paths through each of the set pieces to each team's base, making traversal of these areas smooth and exciting. You can even speed ahead to intercept the opposing team when they're making a move for a bag instead of going for the bags closest to your base. There's a lot of options available to players.
This job rewards players with good map knowledge of the whole city, because they'll know all the shortcuts to take and won't need to be stopping to place waypoints to the other bags.
This was a fun learning experience in how exploring an idea can lead to an even better one. I wanted to make a deathmatch surrounding the rapids near the whitewater sporting complex. I envisioned two teams on opposite sides of the water taking shots at each other and people trying to traverse the rapids only to get swept away by the current, and all the goofy fun that could ensue. However, when attempting to place objects and spawn points along the banks of the river it quickly became clear that there was just not enough playing space there. So I expanded the play area a bit to include the road and paths running alongside the river. I ran a test, and discovered an amazing gimmick of this area that I'd never taken into consideration.
This was a busy road that was always host to a large number of speeding vehicles. And when gunshots go off, the AI drivers of GTA V go ballistic. I'd discovered the strong core of this map I should be focusing on, and so I redesigned it to encourage use of this whole space and for players to move across the map. First I needed to find some safe neutral ground to start both teams off in so that they don't get run over or drowned before they even see an enemy. A nice little stop with a fruit stand off to the side of the road worked well, and I set the teams up in a sort of Mexican Stand-off like Red Dead Redemption's deathmatches began. This means that right from the get go the driver AI is going to be set off, and players are likely to die and get shuffled around the whole playing area. I placed pick-ups in the middle of the road and at the far sides of the map's width in order to encourage people to move around. There's spawn points placed on either side of the road and riverbank, meaning that when players die they're going to be placed somewhere that will force them to cross over in order to find other players.
The result was a hilariously fun map that was even fun to play against bots. The environment itself is just as big a threat as the other players, and things are just pure chaos.
One of the things I really like about GTA V is how enjoyable it is to traverse its world. The vehicle physics combined with the design of the roads and terrain makes just driving around fun because of the great sense of speed and ease of performing stunts. I wanted to make a Capture that played into this, and I knew the perfect location for it - the quarry. The quarry is made up of spiralling paths and steeps slopes that make for a perfect motorbike stunt park, and I knew it'd be possible to make something that led to fun chases in here.
Since this is a Contend Capture, it means that the cases that need to be collected don't respawn until they're taken to a team's base. I only places one case in this map, which means that people will always be contending over this one case. Players have to decide between chasing down their opponents or camping out at the spawn waiting to get the jump on the case once it respawns. The area surrounding the case spawn is set up to prepare for shoot-outs when players make a move on the case, but it's usually better to rush in there and rush out.
The layout of the quarry means that you can use parts of it like a half-pipe to get air and quickly turn around. I intentionally placed the bases where they are so you could make manoeuvres like this to speed in there with the case and turn around to get straight back to the spawn point. This can be a bit hit-and-miss though because Rockstar have tweaked the bike physics a few times.
There's a few elements that spice this map up. Firstly, the enemies guarding the briefcase are treated as law enforcement, and I left the Wanted level system on for this job. This means that when players attack the enemies to get the briefcase, it will call cops to the area. This means cop cars speeding around the quarry and more enemies.
The next was that I added a few ambient NPCs to the quarry. Most of these are quarry workers driving vehicles around, adding some unpredictable obstacles to the roads around the quarry. What was a clear path one time you played could be cut off by a giant dump truck the next. There were two weirder ones as well. The first is a motorbiker who must enjoy the quarry for the same reason I do because he's riding his dirt bike around the place. He's easy to anger, too, so if he sees you shooting at someone he's going to retaliate. The last one doesn't add anything to the gameplay, but I thought it was a cool detail to add - the premise for this job was that the government found a mysterious object in the quarry, and eagle-eyed players will be able to spot a paparazzi up in a vantage point trying to snap some photos of their discovery so he can break the scoop first.
There was one final element which I forgot about until I replayed this job recently, and to be honest I'm not 100% sure what I was intending with it. Throughout the quarry there's a few destructible construction fences blocking some of the paths. I think what I was going for with these was to keep players on their toes and force them to take different routes, but I found them kind of annoying on replay so I'd probably remove them if I were fixing the map up.
I came up with the idea for this race when trying to fit a race into the lake at the bottom of the Land Act Dam. I looked to my left and saw the little barrier things that control how much water flows from there into the river by the sewer and subway (forgive my technical talk) and I realised something... they're at the perfect height to jump onto. So I set up some water ramps and got the jetskis to leap up onto them and use them like slippery-dips into the river. I had my race.
Unfortunately, I hit a little snag shortly into racing down the river - there's a little bridge blocking it off that's at just the wrong height where you can't go over or under it, and the game's finickiness about where you can and can't place water ramps meant I couldn't use those to vault it. So I got a brilliant/terrible idea - I'd use props to funnel racers onto the land around the bridge and have them slide over to the other side.
I mean, it worked, and added something really unique to the race because how many boat races have land sections? But it was a bit messy. I had to cover the area in blinking lights pointing out the way to go, and even if you knew where to go you would occasionally be approaching the funnel at just the wrong angle or slightly too fast a speed and you'd crash into something and die. It was hilarious to watch happen but this part of the race was definitely rough and unpolished. I did my best with what I had though!
Once I sorted out the bridge issue I ran into a new one; it was hard to find a natural ending point for the race. The river is so long and there was no real iconic section that felt like a good place for the race to end. As a result I let the race go all the way out into the bay, which makes the race feel a little too long. Despite that though, the race still has some interesting parts. The river has some forks and chicanes which stop the race from just being a linear straight line, and I added a couple of jumps and buoy obstacles to spice things up a bit.
So this race has its issues and isn't my best work, but it shows the kind of creative thinking and risk-taking I like to explore.
I've always had a fondness for this service station (Australian for gas station, see also: servo) in GTA V. It's a decent distance out from the main city but isn't quite in the country either. It's got a kind of 'road trip' feel to it; far enough of a drive from home for it to kick in you've left, and the last stop you make before adventuring out into the unknown. And then you rob it, naturally.
So I wanted to set a custom job here to bring attention to a spot in the world I really liked. It had a lot going for it as a deathmatch location - the petrol pumps make for an explosive threat, the alleyways make for exciting close-quarters face-offs and there's even a bunch of stores that players can take cover in. I wanted to accentuate these aspects in my design.
I played up the explosions by adding fuel tankers into the carpark and placing pickups near them and the fuel pumps. I added some explosive throwables into the map, but not too much because it would get too hectic. Instead you'd need to make some clever shots to reliably cause some booms. And, of course, once you've got explosive weapons you can transform any of the cars in the carpark from convenient cover into explosive traps.
To help the gameplay stay focused on the close-quarters shoot-outs I kept the weaponry more reserved than some of my other jobs. It's mostly just pistols and SMGs aside from some stronger weapons placed in dangerous and out-of-the-way spots. I added some props in the tight spaces around the area to provide cover you could use to ambush foes. Some props also enable players to climb on top of buildings and structures to add some slight verticality that keeps people on their toes.
One of my favourite aspects of this map was that there were a bunch of buildings in the vicinity that you could wander inside mid-match. I placed weapons and pickups inside them to alert players to this possibility. These provided great ambush opportunities because all the counters and shelves could serve as cover. But you had to be careful, because if a stray grenade wandered in there you wouldn't get out in time. Unfortunately, Rockstar didn't like people having fun and using interior environments in their custom jobs, so they removed the ability to enter most interiors when playing user-created content. I had to remove most of the interior pickups and couldn't rely on them for a unique twist, which ruined some of the appeal of the map and really bummed me out.
In any case, I liked Pit Stop as a small-scale, relatively simple map compared to some of my more radical ones.
Simmet Alley stood out when I was scouting for good locations to set my custom jobs in because it was such an interesting self-contained area that didn't need much work to be converted into an exciting arena. The cluttered laneway through the complex was full of places to hide, and the tight space meant walking through there was really tense when enemies could be lurking anywhere.
One of the really cool things about this location is how layered it is. The rooves of all the buildings that make up Simmet Alley can be traversed; you can even get on top of the arched glass ceiling right at the top. Each of these areas is a different height from the others, so it's not just a matter of being in the high section or the low section. I used a few props to enhance the upper spaces but the architecture of the buildings already provides some great cover and shooting spaces. Some of the routes up and down the complex are there naturally (like some ladders in the alley that let you climb up top) while some I had to construct with props to allows multiple entrances and exits from the high points. I wanted players to have plenty of movement options so that they could make full use of this rich playing space. I also threw some more powerful weaponry in the harder to reach areas to reward people who made an effort and exposed themselves. It encourages people to not just use the main laneway as a meat grinder, and instead keep moving around the whole map.
There were two main issues with my design that I uncovered during playtesting. The first is that while there were lots of paths you could take to move around the map vertically, these were sometimes too obscured and people didn't notice them. I had to play around with prop placements to aid players with making that connection between the prop and a roof and realising they could climb it. In some instances I had to use props that stood out in order to make people pay attention. There's a convenient ladder within the main laneway that gives players a direct line to a protected overlook area but it's hidden way. I placed a brightly coloured scooter nearby that pokes its head out and makes people look over in the direction of the ladder. It makes sense for the scooter to be parked where it is, but the bright colour contrasts it with its surroundings allowing it to stand out.
The other issue was that the exterior of the complex was wide and open without a lot of interesting features. I liked the idea of some more open space to contrast with the rest of the map, but there needed to be some cover added in in order to keep shootouts engaging. I wanted to add some cover and excitement without betraying the style of the location so I added things like crates and boxes haphazardly scattered around just like in the main alleyway, and a few more exciting props like hotdog stands and some postal vans near a delivery bay on the east side. A nice bit of happenstance was that there was a clothing store that players could enter on one corner of the complex. These stores are great if you can work them into a map because there's enough space for decent shootouts and so many things providing cover, like dressing rooms and clothing racks.
There's one neat little detail in the exterior section that I'm proud of, but it's so subtle that most probably wouldn't notice if I didn't point it out. There's a ladder leading to a fire escape which connects to the upper areas of the map. However, the ladder doesn't reach all the way to the ground. I put a crate prop there for players to use to get a boost up to the ladder, but then I got a better idea - I replaced the crate with a dynamic pile of boxes, which players can knock over. This allows you to smash over the boxes to cut off a route to the top of the building, changing everybody's movement options and potentially catching opponents off guard.
Make It Rain
This was another weird Capture job inspired by the skyline of Los Santos. I thought it would be fun to have shootouts across the rooftops of these buildings and maybe have a need to travel between them, making yourself vulnerable.
There's not too much to this one, it's pretty much just a mad dash across the rooftops in your helicopters, with some of the larger rooftops set up for shootouts. I added enemies to some of these to encourage you to take teammates in your chopper with you, and I added some extra helicopters around the map as a safeguard because I realised it was possible to survive a fall down to street level or have your transports destroyed and then you're totally stranded.
The main reason I mentioned this one here is because a GTA YouTuber actually played it and featured it in one of his videos, which was a cool feeling.