GTA 6 leaks: Forget what you think you know about game development

Like many, my first thought on seeing the GTA 6 the leak was ‘damn’. The second was a rollback on the protocols that had happened when security leaks or vulnerabilities, no matter how minor, had happened when I was on the development side of the industry: typically, angry-faced men would burst into a room and demand that no one touch anything. . The third thought was what rock star, the king of image control and information flow, would now do the trick. I thought of this sequence from The Bourne Identity, where an embattled CIA station chief asks the agency to “get everybody up.” Everyone, in this case, being a collection of assassins, each with cool names and even cooler intentions.

To my knowledge, Matt Damon is not involved, and Rockstar management did not dispatch Clive Owen to have a philosophical conversation at gunpoint with the person responsible for this leak, although they may wish to. be. He did team up with the FBI though, so maybe I wasn’t that far off. Either way, the response will be quick and global, like what happened with the closest thing I can think of, the Half-Life 2 leak. (And we all know what happened). went there.)

Will GTA 6 look as good as GTA 5 running like this? (You know, when it’s over).

The reasons for such a reaction are obvious. There is a gigantic financial element at play here. There are source code security issues and other exposures that could well derail an entire project. And then there are the reputational damages, which have happened before. Seconds after the leak, the internet was flooded with people disappointed by her appearance. That looked like shit. That if that was what it looked like it would be a huge disappointment and, quietly, what have the (lazy?) devs been doing all this time?

These were some of the more lucid takes: at least the words made sense in order. Others seemed to simply bark into the universe without any regard for sense or sanity, as opposed to reality as it was. What is this reality? Mainly is that I’m amazed that a video game ever came out, and if you could see what all your favorite games looked like just three months before release, you’d insist that some kind of magic arcane has been performed to complete them.

I know this because since 2007 I have worked either directly on the games themselves or on high profile or visible franchises/brands (including Battlefield, Harry Potter, Burnout, Half-Life, Total War and others ) as a writer. In this role, I saw them in a pre-release state, mostly while a very nervous PR guy begged you to remember It is not finished. In part of my current role, I advised and consulted on mechanics and mods for high-level builds. Regardless of my work in the industry over these 15 years, one thing remains the same: making games is hard, and either it all fits together in the end or it doesn’t. The margin between success and failure, especially for what is called triple-A, is extremely small.

Can the ‘Thelma & Louise’ dynamic live up to this collection of idiots?

For example, on a well-received shooter that you got to play very well, the guns didn’t work until about two months before release. The pistols. On another shooter, weapons didn’t have crosshairs until very deep in development, so team members had to stick a tiny bit of blu-tac in the middle of the screen to aim the gun. It was a port of a game that had been out for years, I might add.

On an admirably ambitious and utterly overkill open-world racing game that people are desperate for a sequel to (and I’ll never play again), even running it at all a few months before its playable E3 demo – which in itself caused a lot , lots of collapses – was a challenge. Particularly on PS3, which at that time was like trying to program advanced graphics on a kazoo. When, finally, a teammate and I broke the E3 demo, causing the entire PS3 itself to launch into a tizz, the sound of anguished groans would have made Michael Corleone blush.

There are many, many more stories like this. I once got a promotion to the battlefield a few months after an ambitious turn-based strategy game launched, when I came in for the night shift (people were on it around the clock trying to set the release date) and my boss said ‘you’ve been promoted. I quit and just walked out of the office.

The reason: the much-vaunted naval battles, the main selling point, just didn’t work. Every morning at the end of said shift, I had to write the handover reports (to the incoming test teams as well as the development and production teams), telling them as diplomatically as possible that, yes, we have the regret to inform you is still totally screwed up.

It takes a lot of work, making the old Vice City look like the new Vice City.

Guess what? Each of these games came out and, to a greater or lesser extent, looked little like what it literally looked like weeks before. (Some games, especially annual sports titles, can change drastically even between review stage and release.) Some of them got brilliant scores, most of them you’ve played or don’t. you’ve heard of, and at least one of them caused a real problem on service day. . One August, a major magazine gave the game an 8. A developer of the project said “I would have given it a 10”. Someone replied “that’s why the people who make the games don’t review them”. Cue the fight music from the saloon bar.

Fortunately, he calmed down before spiraling out of control. But that kind of emotional response wasn’t necessarily out of the blue either, and that’s the other part of leaking GTA 6 (or indeed, any game) that can have dramatic consequences. and invisible: these things aren’t made by robots, they’re made by an army of people whose motivations to make it happen are varied, but whose commitment and sacrifices usually aren’t.

It’s exhausting to spend years of your life working on these things, especially when it doesn’t appear to the outside world (or even to a bean counter in the production office) as if progress is being made.

So to have around 90 videos is, I imagine, overwhelming – especially when people who don’t know anything about it are kicking it off. (An example of how online opinion can change in seconds: The top-secret E3 trailer for a game I was attached to was uploaded during the broadcast without any leaks. There was a long intro, and people in chat were literally saying “what the fuck is that lol.” When it was revealed, the place fell apart. It’s such a fine line.)

Thankfully, there’s been a lot of backlash on social media, with many game developers – big and small – showing what Metacritic’s darlings looked like in development. Will that be enough for Rockstar teams, I don’t know. But, in my opinion, what I saw looked really, really good for where it seems to be in the development cycle.

And with that in mind, imagine what it will look like when released in 2148.

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