April 2, 2023

Following last weekend’s huge GTA 6 leak, some developers have come out in solidarity with Rockstar against the false claim that graphics are one of the first aspects of a finished game during the game’s development. How did they do that? By posting images and footage of their own early builds, as well as rudimentary and often fun cobbled together early assets.

The root of all of this, the aforementioned GTA 6 leak, has been confirmed to be real. With video of an early version of the highly anticipated open-world game released in the wild, anyone and everyone can see the leak if they so desire. Some of them, including a (now locked) account posting “If you know how game development works, you know that visuals are one of the first things done. The game has been planned and developed for 4 years. You see What you get is almost what you get.”

After that, take a look at this Uncharted trailer and try to imagine what it would look like in blockmesh.

This is clearly a big mistake. In response to this viral nonsense, several developers from various large indie developers have gone live, showing off unfinished visuals in an early release. Kurt Margenau – co-leader of Uncharted 4 – retweeted a previously posted clip of a downhill car chase with a blocky environment. The video transitions between three different stages of completion, and is accompanied by the statement “There are a million stages in between”, further highlighting the amount of work that happens before the visuals are finished.

Freelance journalist Cian Maher posted screenshots of Horizon: Zero Dawn, in particular a Thunderjaw made of blocks and grids being shot by Killzone’s assault rifle. Again, this is a great example of how a massive experience in a video game can be created and locked in before the visual effects we finally see are applied.

Leaving Western Games, user Farrens pulled a screenshot from an old GDC presentation showing an early build of Splatoon in its “tofu prototype” stage. Invisible places are bright colors, children or squid. Just chunks and gray paint splatters.

The whole moment of support also prompted various indie developers to show off early versions of their own projects. This includes me seeing the team behind Red, who released their current project and their unfinished build with little color side by side. The Rift of the Necrodancer Twitter account also posted a clip of a yoga scene, in which one of the developers put his own screenshots and his own voice into the original.

At the end of the day, it’s great to see a lot of support and some laughs from a disastrous time for Rockstar employees. GTA 6 leaks are the perfect breeding ground for some hilarious views, and it’s great to see other developers releasing their own unfinished work to shed light on how game development really works.

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