The idea of having a fully customizable main protagonist for a GTA game has been tossed around for years now, but normally the idea is shot down because people feel it would harm the storytelling aspect and make for a bland main character because they'd have to have somewhat of a neutral personality or none at all to accommodate for all the possible variations, Saints Row 1&2 are used as prime examples of this. But rarely do I see the idea of having a Commander Shepard styled character. If you've never played the Mass Effect games, Shepard is a broadly predetermined character who's appearance, gender, history, and class is chosen by the player, as well as some story choices and their overall attitude. But he's/she's always named Shepard, they always have the same mission and typically always hold the same allegiances and have the same enemies - so the story is still tight and coherent and not all loosey- goosey like in Elder Scrolls or Fallout because of all the freedom that is given to the player.
The Mass Effect series is largely considered to have a decent story, at least up until the end of 3, and Commander Shepard is one of the most popular and iconic video game characters to come from the last generation despite the fact that he/she is partially player made. So why can't GTA do the same?
Almost all of the components already exist within the series, all that has to be done is to combine them into one when starting the game.
For example: your character could be male or female, be any ethnicity and within any age group - they're background could be chosen from several options; generic career criminal, gangster/mafioso, hitman, smuggler, former law enforcement, average Joe/Jane etc. and that could determine their standing with the local gangs and how cops react to them (former L.Es and average Joes could talk their way out of lower wanted levels) - then you choose their class to determine what skills they get bonuses for and what special ability they get e.g. "wheelman" class starts off with a high driving skill and has Franklin's "focus driving" special ability etc. etc.. The story could start off No Country for Old Men style with your character finding a suitcase full of money or drugs and is inevitably pulled into the criminal underworld, the Housers can work from there, leaving certain pivotal plot point choices up to the player. I'd like to see a dialog wheel included as well, not only will it dramatically change the storytelling in GTA, it would also add to the immersion if you're able to converse with NPCs out in the world - you could also add another layer to your character by making their temperament be anything between a Robin Hood-esque criminal with a heart of gold or... Joe Pesci from Goodfellas.
Considering the way R* is running things, this idea probably has a snowball's chance in hell from ever happening, but it's fun to think about. what are your thoughts, anything else you think you could add to this?