Following the gigantic GTA 6 leak last weekend, several developers have come forward in solidarity with Rockstar against misinformed claims that graphics are among the first aspects of a game finished during game development. How have they done so? By posting images and footage of their own early builds, and the basic and often-hilariously patched together early assets.
The source of all this, the aforementioned GTA 6 leak, was confirmed to be real. With video of an early version of the highly anticipated open world title out in the wild, anyone and everyone has been able to see the leak if they wish to do so. Some of them, including one (now locked) account which posted “If you knew how game development goes, you’d know that visuals are one of the first things done. The game is 4 years into planning & development. What you see is almost exactly what you will get.”
This, obviously, is wildly wrong. In response to this viral nonsense, several devs from a variety of sizable and independent developers have gone online and shown off unfinished visuals in early builds. Kurt Margenau — the co-lead for Uncharted 4 — retweeted a previously posted clip of the downhill car chase with blockmesh environments. This same video transitions between three distinct stages of completion and comes alongside a statement “there are a million stages in between”, further emphasising the amount of work happens before the visuals are finished.
What art looks like for a video game in development. https://t.co/15bo6L6qMa— Kurt Margenau (@kurtmargenau) September 20, 2022
Freelance journalist Cian Maher posted a screenshot of Horizon: Zero Dawn, specifically of a Thunderjaw made up of blocks and mesh being shot at with an assault rifle from Killzone. Again, a great example of how so much of the experience in a video game is created and locked down before the visuals we end up seeing are applied.
"Graphics are the first thing finished in a video game"— Cian Maher (@cianmaher0) September 20, 2022
Here's a Thunderjaw from an early build of Horizon: Zero Dawn pic.twitter.com/Xq6fw5fS0e
Stepping away from Western titles, user Farrens pulled up a screenshot from an old GDC presentation in which an early build of Splatoon was shown off in its “Tofu Prototype” stage. Nowhere in sight are the bright colours, kids or squids. Just large blocks and grey splashes of paint.
"Graphics are the first thing finished in a video game"— farrens (@farrens_ak) September 21, 2022
Splatoon was prototyped with Tofu pic.twitter.com/1hhv2vfDEZ
This whole moment of support has also prompted a variety of indie developers to show off early versions of their own projects. This includes the team behind I see Red, who posted a side-by-side of their current project and an unfinished and hardly coloured build. The Rift of the Necrodancer Twitter account also posted a clip of a yoga scene, where one of the devs placed screenshots of themselves and their own voice over into a primordial version.
"Graphics are the first thing finished in a video game"— RIFT OF THE NECRODANCER 🎸 (@NecroDancerGame) September 20, 2022
Here’s what an early iteration of Rift of the NecroDancer’s yoga minigame looked like pic.twitter.com/U8O42YrV0n
At the end of the day, it’s good to see an outpouring of support and some laughs come from an otherwise disastrous period for the staff at Rockstar. GTA 6 leaks are the perfect breeding ground for some hilarious opinions to come out, and it’s cool to see other developers post their own unfinished works to shine a light on how game development really works.