Recently we reported on one enterprising Grand Theft Auto Online fan who, armed only with a simple disassembler and plenty of programming knowledge, managed to singlehanded reduce GTA Online load times by 70%.
It turns out that their relatively simple fix, intended as only a proof-of-concept, is actually applicable and Rockstar Games announced an official implementation, alongside thanking the author.
GitHub user tostercx, also known as t0st in GTA Online, posted an in-depth investigation about why the multiplayer mode requires such a notoriously long time to get players into the actual game. The issues were mainly found in two specific contexts - the main problem was a CPU bottleneck that resulted in just one processor core being used during loading, even though any PC capable of running the game will have more at its disposal.
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Second, every time the game booted it ran through a list of every item available for purchase in the game, all of which was dumped into one large JSON file. The problem wasn't just the size of the file, but that each time there was a successful return, the function to check the list would hop back to the start and re-check every entry prior. For a more in-depth explanation, check out our article linked above, or tostercx's own even more in-depth blog post linked within.
At the time, the fan made fix was widely reported on, and there was no doubt it would have caught the attention of the folks at Rockstar. While the fix was freely available on GitHub, tostercx stated that it was a proof of concept and not designed for casual use, though based on his findings it would take a single developer "less than a day" to implement.
Luckily, Rockstar Games seems to agree that is really is the solution the game needs. The developer released a statement today that "after a thorough investigation, we can confirm that player t0st did, in fact, reveal an aspect of the game code related to load times for the PC version of GTA Online that could be improved," continuing on to reveal that an official patch implementing a fix based on this method is upcoming.
The statement doesn't reveal when exact the fix is coming, since it will be rolled into an upcoming title update instead of being implemented as its own hotfix. It also isn't clear if we can expect the same measure of improvement - 70% faster loading times - or some other degree, be it more or less. Rockstar also confirmed that they are in contact with tostercx regarding this development, and "thank him again for his efforts."
Considering how major an issue this has been for years now, and the amount of work tostercx did in their free time to solve it, we're hoping that gratitude also materializes in the form of some of that Bug Bounty money Rockstar has offered in the past for programmers and white-hat hackers who solved issued in their games. While usually Bug Bounties refer to security vulnerability, we'd say something this major would qualify.
Update: tostercx has since confirmed to us that they received $10,000 via the aforementioned bug bounty program, as an exception.
Stay tuned for more news about the upcoming title update that will include this loading time fix!