GTA Online can cut 70% of loading time thanks to a hacker!

The news is spreading like wildfire in the community of GTA Online lovers: they will no longer have to wait six minutes to get going! The game is rather old (it was launched in 2013) but publisher Rockstar has been adding lots of exciting stuff, like the luxury Diamond Casino & Resort in August 2020. Fans had to wait for years, while an “Opening Soon” sign at the doors of the shining building kept baffling them. Rockstar finally staged a gala launch in the downtown Vinewood area in July 2020, and finally, the resort threw its doors open. Gamers can find tons of additional entertainment there, but they are strongly advised to study this Blackjack strategy guide before venturing into the GTA Online casino business.

As for the hack that is now promising to make the game faster, a GitHub user by the nick tostercx has provided the solution. He also kindly uploaded his code on GitHub and provided a detailed explanation of both the problem and the solution. An unbelievable six-minute wait is what tostercx experienced when booting GTA Online up. This got him going on a mission to find out what was causing the sluggishness. Part of the explanation is a lousy optimization of the code and a 10MB JSON file containing 63,000 item entries. After a little investigation, it turned out that the mammoth JSON is a “net shop catalog.”  The list describes every single item GTA Online players can purchase with in-game currency. Now, a 10MB file should be parsed by any modern computer without so much trouble. But what happens here is that every time an item is found, the check then runs again… and again. The result is around 1,984,531,500 checks, as estimated by tostercx.

The hacker found a way to cache a string length value to speed up those checks. This first tweak resulted in an over 50 percent reduction in load times. The following problem is that after parsing the JSON data, GTA Online apparently loads it into an array and then checks for duplicates from scratch as it grows. The solution is to replace this process with a hash table that can quickly check for duplicates. A further 25 percent load time reduction is achieved this way, according to tostercx.

These two fixes combined reduce GTA Online’s load time from six to less than two minutes on the hacker’s test machine. He graciously made his code available so that anyone interested can build a similar DLL to speed up his game. There is a catch, though: players must be aware that they thinker with the code at their own risk. One possible unwanted consequence is to trigger the game’s anti-cheat checks if the modification is not applied correctly.

The best solution is for Rockstar to take the initiative and provide a fix for all players. The opinion of  tostercx is that it “shouldn’t take more than a day for a single dev to solve.” Hopefully, the publisher will act, now that the discovery of an individual hacker has driven so much attention to the issue.

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