Facepalm: While some were excited to see leaked pictures and video of Rockstar's upcoming Grand Theft Auto 6, others found it an opportunity to bag on the developers and nitpick the game's graphics, saying that what we saw is what we'll get. Game developers responded with proof that such sentiments are completely unfounded.
The Grand Theft Auto 6 megaleak didn't just spawn piles of DMCA takedown notices and an FBI investigation. It also brought out the armchair game designers who complained about the game's visuals. One complaint, in particular, sparked a flurry of counter-tweets from developers.
On September 19, shortly after GTA 6 images and videos leaked, a Twitter user going by AvgGuy (@Design4Mind317) tweeted:
"If you knew how game development goes, you'd know that visuals are one of the first things done. This game is 4 years into planning & development. What you see is almost exactly what you will get. The next year is mission coding and debugging. All backend stuff. It does look ass [sic]"
AvgGuy made his Twitter account private shortly afterwards, presumably out of embarrassment and shade-throwing DMs, but not before Know Your Meme captured it for posterity.
The post whipped the industry into a frenzy, with real developers from all over the AAA and indie gaming sectors tweeting, "Graphics are the first thing finished in a video game," followed by examples proving that statement is patently untrue.
Remedy's Paul Ehreth, the lead designer of a little game called Control, pointed out that his game won multiple awards for its visuals, then supplied a clip of some pre-alpha gameplay showing the game's graphics were quite rough around the edges.
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 :)--- Paul Ehreth " (@bacon_sanwich) September 20, 2022
Full video here: https://t.co/l2g7oPhtk7
Making judgments about a GTA 6's visuals this early in development is hardly fair. Saying, "What you see is almost exactly what you will get," as AvgGuy did, is just plain stupid. So the memes kept rolling in.
Bungie Senior Designer Josh Kulinski showed some early footage from a personal project he worked on before landing a job at Bungie.
Graphics are the first thing that is finished in a video game (footage from a personal project I was working on a few years ago before I started at Bungie) pic.twitter.com/Vw22EDn6yf--- Josh Kulinski (@JoshKulinski) September 21, 2022
Hey! At least he got the animation right from the chest down.
Indie studio Massive Monster tweeted a side-by-side alpha/finished video of its latest success, Cult of the Lamb. While MM designed the title with an intentional cartoonish flair, early versions were primitive, with many placeholder assets. In some cases, backgrounds and textures are entirely missing.
"Graphics are the first thing finished in a video game"--- Cult of the Lamb 🙏''' (@cultofthelamb) September 20, 2022
Here's what early versions of Cult of the Lamb looked like pic.twitter.com/F5EyEH6M9r
Sam Barlow, the creator of Immortality, shared screenshots of a scene in the game before and after launch. The before image shows textureless blobs on a generic horizon background. He explains that the team used these placeholder blobs for two years while ironing out the AI and combat gameplay. Another perfect example of how the statement "Graphics are the first thing finished in a video game" is wrong.
"Graphics are the first thing finished in a video game"--- Sam Barlow, offering IMMORTALITY (@mrsambarlow) September 20, 2022
FYI, here's what IMMORTALITY looked like for the first 2 years where we were focused on getting the A.I. and combat gameplay balanced vs. how it shipped pic.twitter.com/lXoBQeKYUO
We could literally go on and on with these memes, but you get the point. If you want more, Resetera is cataloging the best ones.
Gamers are a jaded bunch, and when they think they know better than the actual developers, they are even worse.
There was a time when we (gamers) stared in awe at the latest blocky graphics wondering how the developer made the models so realistic. However, we got spoiled after a while and nitpicked a game's most minor graphical flaws. It's only natural then, I suppose, that the next evolution of this jadedness is to nitpick games that aren't even finished.
Let us close with a tweet from former BioWare Producer Mark Darrah, who sums it up nicely with an anecdote from his Mass Effect 3 days:
In Mass Effect 3 (3!) 2 years out Shepard didn't have a head.--- Mark Darrah (@BioMarkDarrah) September 19, 2022
It was the third one.
On the same engine.
No head. https://t.co/4hjmzz0Oho