March 21, 2023

Following last weekend’s massive GTA 6 leak, many developers have come out in solidarity with Rockstar against misinformation claims that the graphics were among the earliest aspects of the game to end during game development. How did they do that? Posting pictures and footage of their own construction, and rudimentary and often-hilariously patched together primary resources.

The source of all this, the aforementioned GTA 6 leak, was confirmed to be real. With an early version video of the highly anticipated Open World title out in the wild, anyone and everyone has been able to check out the leak if they so choose. Some of them, including a (now locked) account that posted “If you knew how game development works, you’d know that visuals are one of the first tasks. The game is 4 years in planning and development. What you see is almost exactly what you get.”

Next, take a look at this Uncharted trailer and try to imagine what it looked like on Blockmesh.

This is, obviously, wildly wrong. In response to this viral nonsense, several devs from various sizes and independent developers came online and showed off unfinished visuals in early builds. Kurt Margenau — co-head of Uncharted 4 — retweeted a previously posted clip of a downhill car chase with a blockmesh environment. This same video transitions between three distinct stages of completion and comes with a statement “There are a million stages in between”, further emphasizing how much work happens before the visuals are finished.

Freelance journalist Cian Maher posted a screenshot of Horizon: Zero Dawn, specifically a Thunderstorm made of blocks and mesh being fired from a killzone with an assault rifle. Again, a great example of how so much of a video game experience is created and locked down before the visuals we see are implemented.

Moving away from the western title, user Ference pulled up a screenshot from an old GDC presentation showing an early build of Splatoon in its “tofu prototype” stage. No bright colors, babies or squid anywhere. Just big blocks and gray splashes of paint.

This whole moment of support has prompted various indie developers to show early versions of their own projects. This includes the team behind IC Red, who posted an unfinished and barely colored build alongside their current project. The Rift of the Necrodancer Twitter account also posted a clip of a yoga scene, in which a deity puts screenshots of themselves and their own voices into an original version.

At the end of the day, it’s good to see support and some laughs coming out of an otherwise disastrous time for Rockstar’s employees. GTA 6 leaks are the perfect breeding ground for some hilarious opinions, and it’s great to see other developers posting their own unfinished works to shed light on how game development really works.

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