Rockstar North has been considering developing Grand Theft Auto Online - the ambitious multiplayer component included with Grand Theft Auto 5 - since the studio began work on Grand Theft Auto 3 at the turn of the century, it's been revealed.

Discussing the online game in this month's issue of Game Informer, Rockstar North president Leslie Benzies revealed that "Grand Theft Auto Online has been in our minds for a long time - since we started on Grand Theft Auto 3.

"We've always wanted to create a world with the complexity of a single-player Grand Theft Auto game with the addition of real players. We wanted a world where people could spend years without getting bored of playing the same content over and over. I think we've managed to achieve something very close to our dream."

GTA Online is a 16-player multiplayer modes that transforms the entirety of GTA 5's open world into an online universe where players can team up and take on over 500 missions.

The mode is set to go live two weeks after GTA 5's launch on October 1 with ongoing additional content expected to follow in the future.

Benzies also offered more detail on GTA Online's inventive approach to character creation, which sees players choosing their character's parents and lifestyle to determine their personality.

"I've always felt character creators in games to be a bit wacky," he continued, "pulling the ears and noses to change the way they look seems wrong. That's not how humans are made in the real world. Normally it involves a man, a woman, and some sexy time.

"This is the basis of how we do it in Grand Theft Auto Online: Choose your mum, dad, and grandparents, then out pops your character. You then spend time choosing your lifestyle, making choices about the kinds of things your character spends time doing, whether they spend more time partying or sitting on the couch or doing criminal activities than sleeping and being athletic - and your character is complete."

GTA 5 launches next Tuesday, September 17 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Source: Game Informer | October Issue