Over 90 videos of GTA 6 in-development gameplay footage flooded the internet last week, sparking a backlash from people who said that it looked ugly and unpolished. So, in response, other developers started sharing early alpha footage of their own work, to shine a light on what games really look like pre-release.
The key point being made in all of these tweets is that graphics aren't the first thing to be finished in development, so GTA 6 – years out from release – won't look like a complete game. Developers tend to use stand-in models or recycle old assets, whether that's using Killzone's characters in Horizon Zero Dawn or real photos of devs doing yoga poses in Rift of the NecroDancer.
EA has been showing more in-development footage in the past couple of years with Skate and the Dead Space remake, giving us a glimpse into how the sausage is really made. It isn't always pretty. Dead Space, for instance, has blocky one-colour textures as stand-ins for the art, with an unfinished UI.
Cult of the Lamb's cutesy animals once looked like humans with horns, awkwardly bobbing about the campsite. The textures were blocky and lacked detail, while the animations were far jankier. One early build even saw the player as a demonic bunny rather than the namesake lamb.
Control – as pointed out by lead designer Paul Ehreth – won awards for its visuals, but it wasn't the prettiest game in development. The floor was an orange grid, the scenery was grey and without detail, and throwable objects were blocks with text marking "throw me".
Immortality, where you piece together lost film footage, was no different. Untextured grey shapes represented table and chairs, with text at the bottom standing as a placeholder, "Marissa_Marcel: Insert Generic Bark Here".
GTA 6 wasn't meant to be shown off yet given that this was a leak of in-development footage, so it's no surprise that it doesn't look like a fully polished final release. Games come together in pieces, and graphics aren't the first thing to finalise.
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