October 1, 2022

Following last weekend’s gigantic GTA 6 leak, several developers have come forward in solidarity with Rockstar against erroneous claims that the graphics are among the first aspects of the game to be completed during the game’s development. How did they do it? By posting pictures and screenshots of their early builds, as well as basic and often hilariously patched early assets.

The source of all this, the aforementioned GTA 6 leak, has been confirmed as real. With a video of an early version of the highly anticipated open world wilderness title, anyone and everyone could see the leak if they wanted to. Some of them, including one (now locked) account that said “If you knew how game development goes, you’d know that visuals are one of the first things done. The game started 4 years into planning and development. What you see is almost exactly what you will get.”

After this, watch this Uncharted trailer and try to imagine what it looked like in blockmesh.

This is obviously completely wrong. In response to this viral nonsense, several developers from various major and indie developers took to the internet and showed off unfinished visuals in early builds. Kurt Margenau — the co-director of Uncharted 4 — retweeted a previously posted clip of a downhill car chase with blocky environments. This same video moves between three different stages of completion and comes with the statement “there are a million stages in between”, further emphasizing the amount of work that goes on before the visuals are finished.

Freelance journalist Cian Maher has posted a screenshot of Horizon: Zero Dawn, specifically a block-and-mesh Thunderjaw being shot with an assault rifle from Killzone. Again, a great example of how so much of the video game experience is created and locked down before the visuals we end up seeing are applied.

Moving away from Western titles, user Farrens pulled a screenshot from an old GDC presentation showing an early version of Splatoon in its “Tofu Prototype” stage. There are no bright colors, kids or squids to be seen anywhere. Just big blocks and gray blobs of paint.

This whole moment of support has also encouraged various indie developers to show early versions of their own projects. This includes the team behind I see Red, who posted their current project and an unfinished and barely painted build side-by-side. The Rift of the Necrodancer Twitter account also posted a video of the yoga scene, where one of the developers put screenshots of himself and his own voice into the primordial version.

At the end of the day, it’s good to see an outpouring of support and a few laughs from an otherwise disastrous time for the staff at Rockstar. GTA 6 leaks are the perfect breeding ground for some hilarious opinions, and it’s great to see other developers posting their work-in-progress to shed light on how game development really works.

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