Part 107: Behind The Scenes - Hidden Interiors
So, it's time for a look at Hidden Interiors.
You may recognize this scene from waaaaay back in Chapter 3 of the LP. It shows CJ and Ryder shortly after leaving B-Dup's apartment, where they discovered Bear was B-Dup's personal bitch and B-Dup had become a dealer. However, this hallway and apartment isn't ever accessible in the game again, which seems odd since all cutscenes in the game take place "in-game". Nothing is pre-rendered, everything uses game resources, so "where" is this apartment that you only seen once more in the game (in the hallway with Sweet where you find the stoned GSF Homie) and can't find even if you return to where you initially entered?
The answer is - Hidden Interiors.
Because everything takes place in the game world, and because there is so much action going on constantly in that world, Rockstar fudges things slightly by making some entrance markers take CJ to interiors as separated from the rest of the world as they can be. In some cases this is because the interiors are bigger inside than they could possibly be on the outside; sometimes because the outside world might negatively impact on the gravity of a situation (police shooting dead an old woman during a serious "moment" for Carl, for instance); and sometimes because Carl is only supposed to be able to access the interior during a particular part of the game (burglary missions, Area 69, Liberty City etc).
Because people are great big fucking nerds, and because some people love exploring a "game" even more than they do playing it (World of Warcraft, for example, is famous for the high amount of "between the cracks" exploration that goes on), access to the "heaven" in which these hidden interiors exist were quickly discovered and the locations extensively mapped. This update won't look at all of them, because there is at least 150 and some require enormously convoluted workarounds to access, but it will cover the basics - how to get into "Heaven", what can be found there and what else is out there to be seen.
The first thing CJ needs to do is to access "Heaven". The only hidden interior I'm aware of that can be accessed from the regular game world is the one shown in the previous update high above the Cluckin' Bell in Fort Carson. Most hidden interiors require only the jetpack to access, but some require game devices or "trainers" that allow CJ to do things he couldn't otherwise do. For the purposes of this update, we'll just be looking at interiors CJ can access using only the jetpack cheat (ROCKETMAN in the PC Version).
CJ travels to Ganton Gym in his pursuit of "Heaven", once inside he must (for reasons beyond my understanding) kill all four people inside or else this little jaunt will go nowhere. Once the trainer, two fighters and one spectator are killed, CJ spawns a Jetpack with "Rocketman" and steps up to the yellow exit marker (as long as CJ is wearing the jetpack, he won't enter or exit a building).
And that's when things get weird.
Essentially what has happened here is CJ has flown through the roof of the Gym, but instead of coming out above the Gym outside, he's disappeared into a black void of nothingness. From here, if CJ travels 2 blocks west AND keeps on a roughly even level (without any reference point to tell if he is rising or falling) he will discover a yellow marker in the infinite black void of nothing.
Now it's at this point that I ask myself what I often ask myself in situations like this. Sure it's all mapped out now and I know what I am doing, but who the hell first figured this out? I'm sure there is some reasonable explanation involving someone poring over game code or something, but I prefer to think that at some point, the following line of reasoning occurred.
"I'm kind of bored hanging out here in Ganton Gym I'm going to kill everyone man now I'm still bored I'm gonna cheat me a jetpack and fly around inside for no reason whoops I hit the roof by the door hey why am I in this black void? Man I think I'm gonna turn directly West and fly straight and level for two blocks hey what's that tiny little spark of yellow I'm gonna fly that way and jiggle my way around the collision detection then take off my jetpack at JUST the right point..... oh wow, I just found a secret location in the game!"
Anyway, landing Carl on the yellow marker (not as easy as it sounds), taking the jetpack off causes Carl to "enter" the interior. What secret location lies within this inky void? What treasure trove of mystery and unearthly delights?
It's a brothel.
Actually, in this case I took Carl a little too far South, the real entrance to heaven isn't through a brothel, of course, that would be ridiculous.
It's a strip club.
Once there, Carl has reached the entrance to "Heaven", and now you'll learn why it is called that.
The black void that Carl traveled through has been replaced by a blue one. Depending on how high or low you go, you'll find clouds or a thin brownish vapor, but in general it's an eternal sky which had lead people to refer to it as "Heaven". San Andreas isn't monotheistic, apparently, as there are a series of different "heavens" accessed from different locations, each leading to different hidden interiors.
For whatever odd reason, even within the confines of this one "Heaven" CJ will be exploring, some locations can only be accessed if certain parameters are met. As I said earlier, the heavens have been "mapped" by enthusiastic fans of the game who go into great detail on exactly how to do this. I won't bore you (or confuse myself) by trying to explain these steps, instead, let's just take the opportunity to take a look at some of the Hidden Interiors that can be found through Ganton Gym's Heaven.
This is the Record Studio hallway that CJ and Mad Dogg chase OG Loc into towards the end of the game. It always warms my heart to see how much detail gets put into a quick cutscene where the location will be seen maybe once in the game, and during which most viewers will be concentrating on the characters. I feel like CJ has walked onto an abandoned set, like "Heaven" is backstage on the movie lot where San Andreas was made.
This Inside Track Betting Parlor is one of the hidden interiors that you can see but not enter, although maybe that changes if you fulfill other required parameters. Again, there are "maps" and "guides" out there that will take you through every permutation you can think of.
One of the major issues with exploration without a trainer or game device is that there are very few visual references that will tell you if CJ is keeping level or not. It is quite easy to lift too high or fall to low, and though you yourself will not be able to tell until it is too late, often times CJ will end up "outside" of Heaven, and a reload is required to get back into Heaven. Here is one such instance, where Carl ended up in a strange grey void, a polluted fog empty of anything except for Carl.
Right towards the far edge of the map several more yellow entrance markers can be found. They an be aggravating as hell to land on, and one in particular seems to sit flush against the ceiling of "Heaven", which can cause some.... odd.... visuals as you try to find entry.
Once through though, CJ discovers the "warehouses"
The warehouses, as far as I can remember, do not appear within the game. This leads me to believe that they may just be a coding leftover, though it's possible my memory is just faulty. The important thing is that Warehouse 2 (at least) is one of the locations that must be entered in order to open up access to multiple other Hidden Interiors within Heaven. Just a little to the right of Warehouse 2, right on the far edge of the map are two locations that share a link. The first is B-Dup's apartment as shown at the start of this update.
Bear didn't do a very good job of cleaning up.
And the other is B-Dup's Crack Palace.
Something that takes a little getting use to while exploring (and the reason CJ should always have his jetpack on) is that some of these interiors are fully constructed and others are just slapped together enough to create the necessary framework to hang details on and film the cutscene. As a result, collision detection is uneven and sometimes CJ can be walking on solid ground and then suddenly falling through a hole in world. Like so....
It's a long way to fall when you've got infinity to go.
The Mod Garage where you "pimp your ride" before meeting Cesar
OG Loc's Party never stopped, the music plays and the lights flash... forever.
Las Venturas Planning Department - I was disappointed it wasn't still on fire.
If you go exploring, be warned that there seems to be a sudden drop on the edge of Los Santos Police Department. If your jetpack isn't fired up and lifting when you step off.... down you go.
The diner where you can take dates, such as Katie.
The smoke from the Well Stacked Pizza Co. lifts up into the void, and can be seen even from Victim Clothing Store.
But finally, this....
....this is something different.
Most of the hidden interiors CJ has seen have been empty. A few have had people walking around in them but those have been almost all closed off to access. This interior is something different again. Once CJ enters, he cannot leave, and there are people inside. Once those people die, they will simply respawn, over and over again, forever and ever.
And the location?
San Fierro Police Department.
If Carl attempts to leave, he will be told he is entering Ganton Gym but simply reappear inside of SFPD HQ. There are multiple floors, many, many rooms, and cops everywhere, all armed and out to kill Carl for stepping armed onto police turf. No matter how many he kills, more will come, and if you happen to have a No Damage cheat enabled, Carl will be there forever, fighting and killing cops without end.
Maybe it's hell.
Or maybe.... it's heaven.
Whatever the case, that's it for Hidden Interiors - or at least, for this update's look at them. As said, there are at LEAST 150 known Hidden Interiors to be found, and if you're interested in seeing them for yourself (and the very act of exploration itself is a major part of the fun) then all I can do is point you in the right direction to get started.
As always, Game FAQs has a serviceable starting FAQ that'll show you the basics of exploration. From there, a site called GTA Domain has more in-depth information and guides, as well as screenshots, movies and game trainers. Hell, a simple search on Google for "San Andreas Hidden Interiors" will find you something very similar to this (website name removed to avoid advertising):
Go exploring, hell, if you find something then post about it here and let us know! There's so much hidden away in-between the cracks of the world, let's see it!
But it'll have to be you who shows us, because for me, this is....