The Grand Theft Auto VI leaks were big news for all kinds of reasons, but one of the more interesting talking points has been the revival of a discussion about how “bad” a game can look in front of the public.
Like I said the other day, while there have been and always will be arseholes who say the dumbest shit, I think the vast majority of normal human beings, when confronted with footage like that we saw from GTA VI, think either “neat” or “wow that’s really cool seeing the sausage made like that”.
Part of that fascination, of course, stems from the fact we almost never get to see big games in a state like this! And if the GTA leak does nothing else, I hope it can at least help normalise the idea (among the wider public at least) that, no, these games don’t look “bad” when they’re being worked on, they simply look like they’re being worked on.
In the wake of the leaks, and the wider discussion about a game’s visuals while in development, a number of other developers and studios have come forward and shared footage of what their games looked like early on. And it’s all great, every last frame of it.
Before we go any further, know that some of these comments you’re about to see are referencing the Tweet you see above, which was Very Bad, and which — alongside the GTA leak itself — prompted a lot of developers to drop (or dig up) a lot of this footage.
First up is Control’s lead designer Paul Ehreth, who earlier today tweeted:
Since graphics are the first thing finished in a video game, and CONTROL won multiple awards for excellence in graphics, here is footage from the beginning of development 🙂
Also making fun of the “first thing finished” tweet was the team behind Cult of the Lamb:
“Graphics are the first thing finished in a video game”
Here’s what early versions of Cult of the Lamb looked like pic.twitter.com/F5EyEH6M9r
— Cult of the Lamb 🙏🐑👑 OUT NOW (@cultofthelamb) September 20, 2022
Next up we’ve got Frozen Synapse, which for a year before becoming one of the most important tactics games of all time was a BBC Micro adventure game:
Here’s what Frozen Synapse looked like for like a year https://t.co/EKgboZpLNz pic.twitter.com/cIEqrabHOg
— Paul Kilduff-Taylor (@mode7games) September 20, 2022
Here’s what Sea of Thieves looked like in 2014 (which is four years before its eventual release):
This is Sea of Thieves footage from Novmber of 2014. An upgrade from the earliest pill pirates, but still very much a work in progress. It was using Unity for more agile, iteratative testing, while work in Unreal at this time was very early, aiming to create the reveal trailer. pic.twitter.com/yIPLtBLIUv
— Jeph Pérez (@rare_fanatic) September 20, 2022
One of the funniest/best was shared by Immortality’s Sam Barlow, who says “here’s what IMMORTALITY looked like for the first 2 years where we were focused on getting the A.I. and combat gameplay balanced”:
Here’s what that scene looked like in the finished game:
Outside of developers sharing their own work, here are a couple of more notable (and rare) examples of studios sharing in-development footage: