Devs behind Control, Sea of Thieves and more share their own unfinished game builds to put the GTA 6 leak in perspective

A chunky pirate with a goatee surrounded by friends in Sea of Thieves
(Image credit: Rare)

Update: Game developers across the industry continue to share footage and screenshots from their own early, in-progress builds and projects to show how normal the leaked GTA 6 footage really is – and to shut down a hilariously wrong and now heavily-memed remark about graphics coming first in development. 

Jeph Pérez of Sea of Thieves developer Rare shared a video from a November 2014 build to highlight the "agile, iterative testing" that the game was seeing at the time. It's a blocky pastiche of the polished pirate adventure we know today, and this was after the build was upgraded from the "pill pirate" character models emblematic of the Unity engine's default assets.

EA community manager Kevin Johnson also shared Pérez's clip with his own sentiments. "I wish the industry would be more proud to show that side of [development]," he said, calling the wave of build showcases one of the few good things to come "from the recent topic of leak culture and how destructive it is."

Sam Barlow, the lead on the newly released Immortality, chimed in with his own before-and-after, showing how the game looked for its first two years while the team at Half Mermaid "were focused on getting the AI shipped and combat gameplay balanced." (Check out our Immortality review to find out how this trippy, beautiful story comes together). This is one of the starkest examples yet, and it hammers home just how secondary graphics can be. It also sums up one of the key arguments behind this conversation: you can't, or at least shouldn't, spend time polishing a game that isn't built and balanced yet.

Breakout indie darling Cult of the Lamb got in on the conversation too, with developer Massive Monsters posting some familiar-looking but rough versions of the game. 

Likewise, Brace Yourself Games, perhaps best known for Crypt of the Necrodancer and Zelda crossover Cadence of Hyrule, shared the amusing placeholders once used in Rift of the Necrodancer's yoga minigame.  

Bungie senior game designer Josh Kulinski even dug up an old personal project to demonstrate that "games look really rough for a long time before they start looking great." Meanwhile, Knockout City developer Velan Studios shared a draft of one of the game's multiplayer maps, proudly reveling in all its untextured glory. 

Animator Robert Morrison from Studio Bend also shared a clip of an untextured sequence from 2018's God of War, which still looks impressively fluid for how blobby everything is. 

Similarly, co-game director Kurt Margenau of Naughty Dog reposted a blockmesh version of Uncharted 4's iconic street chase sequence, offering a helpful side-by-side look at how projects evolve graphically throughout development.  

Solo Japanese developer Nama Takahashi also pounced on the trend to share a stark before-and-after of ElecHead, an electrified puzzle game previously announced at a May Nintendo Indie World showcase

Original story follows…  

A Control developer has shared in-progress footage from the beginning of the game's development.

In response to a Twitter debate over the past weekend which, if we're being completely honest, is too silly to waste words on here, Control developer Paul Ehreth took to Twitter to show off what an actual game looks like early on. In the tweet below, we can see very early in-progress footage of protagonist Jessie Fayden running about, taking cover, and returning fire at enemy troops.

The footage also shows Jessie picking up objects from the surrounding environment, a staple of Control's action-packed combat, before hurling them at the enemy troops. As Ehreth rightly points out, this is the same game that would be go on to win numerous awards for excellence in graphics, not to mention overall Game of the Year awards from outlets and pundits.

Avoiding the Twitter debacle which brought this tweet about, we can instead pivot to the recent GTA 6 leaks. After over 90 videos of in-progress footage of Rockstar's sequel leaked online, some social media users were left somewhat surprised at the rough, in-progress state of the game as it continues through development.

Ehreth's tweet is aimed at educating social media users, showing them that yes, a stellar big-budget game really does look rough in the early goings of the overall development cycle. In fact, it's not just Ehreth that's published early footage with the aim of educating users - Naughty Dog director Kurt Margenau has always drawn attention to some very early in-progress footage of Uncharted 4, seen below.

As for the GTA 6 leaks however, Rockstar confirmed their legitimacy shortly after the leak took place over the past weekend. The developer wrote that it was "extremely disappointed," in the leaked footage, but elsewhere around the industry, Cyberpunk 2077 and The Last of Us devs have come together to voice support for Rockstar developers who have had their work leaked online. 

Here's why you should ignore the GTA 6, because the final reveal from Rockstar will be worth the lengthy wait. 

Hirun Cryer

Hirun Cryer is a freelance reporter and writer with Gamesradar+ based out of U.K. After earning a degree in American History specializing in journalism, cinema, literature, and history, he stepped into the games writing world, with a focus on shooters, indie games, and RPGs, and has since been the recipient of the MCV 30 Under 30 award for 2021. In his spare time he freelances with other outlets around the industry, practices Japanese, and enjoys contemporary manga and anime.

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