Dead Space Remake, GTA 6 Leaks, and Development Transparency

EA Motive's transparency in developing the long-awaited Dead Space remake sets a great example for other studios to follow. The team's efforts are especially relevant against the backdrop of reactions to the now-infamous GTA 6 leaks.

Dead Space Remake, GTA 6 Leaks, and Development Transparency

Compared to most other forms of media production, video game development is still a pretty poorly understood craft. A lot of that comes down to the image and secrecy publishers want to keep around their big titles. Unsurprisingly, games as huge as GTA 6 exemplify this in particular. But not all AAA developers are sticking to this tradition now. The team behind the upcoming Dead Space remake have been taking some promising steps to try and change these norms.

The Dead Space remake was first announced in July 2021 and will release on January 27, 2023 for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S. Development is being led by EA Motive, also known as Motive Studios. That team won’t involve original creator Glen Schofield, who is instead working on the spiritual successor to the game, The Callisto Protocol, over at Striking Distance Studios. The Dead Space remake will feature the same story as the 2008 original, with reworked assets and changes suited for next-gen consoles, such as a one-shot structure with no loading screens. The game has had a unique development path, which is now even more interesting after the news of Grand Theft Auto 6 leaks.

GTA 6 Leaks and the Gap in Audience Knowledge

On September 18, 2022, we witnessed what may go down as the most infamous video game leak ever, involving maybe the most highly-anticipated game of all time. The now-arrested suspected hacker leaked over 90 images and videos of an early build of GTA 6. Aside from the leaks themselves, the most notable element was the negative reactions of many on Twitter. Tweets described the game as looking “awful” and “broken”. Some criticised GTA 6 as looking “unfinished”, ignoring the fact that it literally is unfinished. One user claimed developers work on graphics before anything else, so the look of the leaks would be the final look of the game.

Unlike the Dead Space remake, the development of GTA 6 has been shrouded in secrecy, as most AAA games are. That means that there is a demand for information that isn’t being filled, which incentivises leakers to do so. Even before this, things like the female protagonist and Vice City setting were leaked before Rockstar even confirmed the game was on the way. Though still unacceptable, it, unfortunately, makes sense that hackers would go after GTA 6 in particular.

Meanwhile, negative reactions were the result of a different lack of knowledge. Most people who play games simply don’t know what goes into producing them. To be clear, I would be lying if I were to claim I do either. But that’s why I think it’s best to not say these things without a better understanding of the process, and why transparency is so important. But this disconnect in understanding is why, when a game which has likely been in the making for years looks unfinished, people are so quick to pass judgement unfairly. Developers could reduce this by following the steps taken by the Dead Space remake’s team.

Dead Space Remake Devs Are Doing What Others Won’t

EA Motive’s development of the Dead Space remake tells a very different tale to this. Since the game’s announcement, the team has aired behind-the-scenes videos and livestreams showcasing the process. Topics covered include the reworked sound design such as the new ALIVE system, changes to protagonist Isaac Clarke, gameplay clips, and the game’s art and graphics in progress.

Dead Space | The A.L.I.V.E. System | Audio Deep-Dive Part 1 (2022)

Of course, this is a unique case. The story and setting are already public knowledge since the original Dead Space was released in 2008. But that doesn’t mean there still isn’t something to learn. If developers are willing to show things that won’t spoil too many game details – such as art and audio work – then their audiences may better understand what the process looks like. The value here comes from actually letting players know what it takes to make a game. From showing them what it looks like a long the way.

There are a few reasons why this could be a good move for the industry. Looking at GTA 6, the desire for leaks arose from the lack of official info on the game. There’s some potential, then, that developers showing early stages of the game in a controlled way could mean hackers have less incentive to carry out these attacks. Additionally, it could also affect the quality of games and the working lives of developers. If fans know better what the development journey looks like, they may be more willing to wait for big titles and less frustrated by delays. That hopefully means better-polished games, as well as less development crunch.

The Collective Task of Understanding

Some argue that gamers won’t understand or appreciate what goes into making a game no matter what. However, the popularity of the Dead Space remake BTS content challenges this. While its true understanding is low, the efforts of devs and the patience of fans can change this. And at times, it does seem like the publisher-side emphasis on treating development like some secretive dark art for the sake of marketing harms any progress on this front.

Isaac's RIG suit in progress, as shown by the Dead Space remake devs.

Isaac’s RIG suit in progress, as shown by the Dead Space remake devs.

Several developers recently released footage and images of past games in their early stages, in solidarity with Rockstar devs. But there needs to be some acknowledgement of why consumers reacted in the way did. It comes down to the fact that it’s studios like these that don’t (or can’t) share the details that could teach gamers about what goes into the process. That absolutely doesn’t justify toxic responses to the GTA 6 leaks, but it certainly shows how there is work needed on all sides to prevent these things. The support that came after this shows how fans are willing to listen and learn. Many of them simply lack the resources that allow that.

As in most cases when a problem arises from unwilling ignorance, the best solution is to provide the relevant information. Thankfully, that does seem to be becoming more common. The Dead Space remake is one example, but even Ubisoft’s Behind the Creed documentary about the creation of some of the Assassin’s Creed games is a good sign. Even the conversations started by the GTA 6 leaks could be a learning experience for gamers. Elsewhere, people like Danny O’Dwyer at Noclip have been doing fantastic work with documentaries and other videos around video game development.

Dead Space Remake - Official Reveal Trailer | EA Play Live

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